In the past, I’ve talked about “Dressing up your blog.” How to get your content all gussied up in a way that helps reel in readers through more than just the words you’ve typed. By showing them that “hey, even if you skim or read every word, there is something for you.” And by making sure that your post that started out being 500 words, but somehow grew to an astounding 2,500 words, doesn’t come across as one large, infinitely scrolling, boring, insurmountable phone book (do phone books even exist anymore?) of a blog post by breaking it up into easy to digest chunks of content. One of the things I touched upon that was a big factor was supporting imagery.
In recent months, I’ve been asked over and over by clients not just why they should use imagery to support their content, but HOW to choose the right image. And not by just pointing them to a few sites where they can download some dandy photos, (links below), but how to choose the right image for the right post. More importantly, how to choose the right image that doesn’t come across as cliché or having been used 1,000 times over.
Take A Step Back
The biggest mistake most people is trying to find an image that sums up the very specific topic you are writing about in its entirety. Honestly there is no way to really do that, just look at our site. If your content revolves around topics like “Everything A/E Firms Need to Know About Marketing Automation” or “Achieving Your Desired Email Open and Click-Through Rates” or maybe “Forget About Lead Generation – 3 Reasons Your Website Objectives Are Wrong,” you are going to be sorely dissapointed when you go to search for a photograph. There is just no way you are going to find an image that illustrates such elaborate and specific topics all in one photograph. So why even try? Instead, just take a step back. Think about one key point. One small word. One simple theme. And try and find something that illustrates it.
Paint With Wide Brush Strokes
If you look at “Forget About Lead Generation – 3 Reasons Your Website Objectives Are Wrong” you will see carrots. Not a website. Not a computer. Not lead generation. Not 3 reasons. But carrots. Do we reference carrots anywhere in the post? No. Not one single time. So why carrots? Instead of getting specific, we got broad and abstract. We simply took the phrase “lead generation,” distilled it to the simple idea of “lead/leading” and thought about abstract ways to show the theme of “leading someone somewhere.” We settled on the old idiom of dangling a carrot in front of a mule in order to get it to walk forward. Done. We could have easily shown a “horse walking towards water” or a “shepard herding it’s flock of sheep” and it would have worked just as well. Because really, the image you choose isn’t going to make or break your content. It really is just eye candy to grab someones attention. The icing on the cake. So think broad. Think abstract.
Stock Doesn’t Have To Feel Like Stock
Everyone wants to feel like the art in their posts are original unto themselves. Truth is, unless you are creating custom artwork for yourself, it isn’t. That’s why the broader you think about your topic the more chance that what you choose will feel more original. Listen, we’ve all seen an image of shaking hands. Shaking hands with blurry business people in the background. Shaking hands with a globe in the background. Shaking hands silhouetted over a window overlooking the big city. (Enough with the shaking hands!) Chances are when doing an image search, if something seems familiar it’s because it is. You’ve seen it before. Countless times probably. That would be the first indicator that an image you are about to choose is cliché and to walk away. Close your eyes and just hit the back button. If it reminds you of Microsoft Word/Powerpoint clip art, run away even faster.
Just remember that the simpler the idea, the simpler the photograph, the less cliché and more effective it will be. It will be the sophisticated tie your wife picks out, not the one with a hula girl and ketchup stains on it you wore to six weddings and one halloween party.
Handy Dandy Resources
Speaking of pointing you towards some dandy images, here ya go: