Okay I know you’re all thinking it, so I’m just going to get it out of the way. “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Although a cliché, it does paint a good picture (pun intended) of how to help your readers visualize each post.
As humans, we are sensory creatures. According to Allan Paivio and his dual coding theory, when we use “verbal and visual-spatial representational systems,” we not only understand better but remember longer. This concept means we can use imagery to promote verbal understanding.
Think of it this way. What book have you picked up lately which doesn’t have an image on the cover? Check out a newspaper in its ever-decreasing paper form. What’s the first thing you notice? A big colorful picture you can see from across a room. A picture offers us a great way to invite the reader into our text.
Images for Blogs
There are three good reasons to use images with each blog post:
- More Impact
They help our copy deliver our message clearer with a more significant impact. Writers who wish to emphasize a point can do so by putting it under a corresponding sub-header with a picture beside it. But the image must be relevant to the text.
- More Memorable
Your readers may need a trigger to help them remember the theme of your article. Most people remember things through visualization. We don’t remember what we read as words printed in our memory bank. Instead, it’s more of a snapshot of the image our words project. When we anchor those words to an image, they become more memorable.
However, don’t think your beautiful image will replace a well-written headline. It won’t. The Headline is the most critical component for every blog post.
- A Welcome Break
I’ve suggested in a previous article; your blog posts should employ breaks for your readers. Although sub-headers are great vehicles to give your reader a break for longer projects, a picture gives them a visual oasis. Reading from a digital screen is not comfortable. Eyes get dry and tired, and sitting down in front of the computer can become weary as well.
A picture in your post will not make all of this go away, but it can give the reader some respite. Images can give them a welcome endpoint knowing they are progressing and are on the right track.
Using short paragraphs is an excellent technique to break up your text. With this practice, you will have multiple paragraphs which may need to be broke down as well. Images can do this for you.
Where Do You Put the Pictures?
Let’s start with the beginning. Just like the magazine cover and the front page of a newspaper, it’s the images which attract us. Think of those publications while waiting in line at the grocery. They use trending photos to get your attention with bold headlines. If a celebrity is in the news, you’re sure to see their picture on the shelf.
You also want to set the tone for your post. A picture can do this well if it’s on point.
Limit the Number of Images
Images should improve the readability of your writing. When there are too many pictures, especially in shorter posts, they can be a distraction. Most posts I write are under a thousand words. I typically put one at the top and stop. I don’t use more than two images on posts this size.
The right number is for you to decide. It’s like when you edit – you are the final judge. The visual aspect and how they relate to your copy will determine the number.
The size as well can dominate your post. The maximum size will span across your entire page. Although that may work for a page, I prefer to limit the size of a blog post photo to the width of the text. When embedded in the text itself, I use much smaller images, positioning them to a side with my text adjacent. Outside of a photography blog, your pictures should aid your text, not vise-versa.
If your post is describing a technical process, screenshots provide good learning imagery. Referring to your select screenshots will make it easier for you to explain and your readers to understand. You can include arrows or other supporting graphics to clarify your instructions. Here’s a great site on taking screenshots for your blog post.
Acknowledge Your Source
Okay, you got me. I never do this – but YOU should. If you are using photos which you procure off the internet for free, you should source them in the caption below each photo. I promise – I’ll start today.
Images are great ways to make your blog posts more compelling. You can make selections online, take your own, or purchase them from different stock websites. However, or wherever you find images, make sure they add to your text to illustrate your subject matter clearly and concisely.
If you have any additional suggestions you would like to add, feel free to comment.