“A picture is worth a thousand words.” So what are the featured images you choose saying about your content? How can you choose the right picture for your blog post?
Everyone wants to make a good first impression. When it comes to social media, that first impression is all about the picture. Facebook, Twitter, and especially Pinterest and Instagram are all visual mediums where readers are hooked by the imagery you use.
Some blogs easily lend themselves to pictures. In fact, some industries, like photography and floral design, rely on imagery to sell the services entirely. But when your business is more about words and ideas than it is about products you have to get creative.
Choose Relevant Imagery
The first step to choosing the right picture is to figure out what your blog post is about, visually speaking. Sure, you may be writing an article on a change to the statute of limitations, but that doesn’t mean you need to take a picture of the Michigan Compiled Laws section. Instead think about the issue more figuratively. Statutes of limitations, for example, evoke the feeling that a plaintiff is running out of time.
For especially esoteric topics, you can also pull imagery from your examples. So if you are discussing the tax implications of a corporate gift and you use an example of a business that buys its CEO a sailboat, that sailboat can be the inspiration for your post’s picture.
Choose Evocative or Emotional Imagery
The most effective blog posts tap into people’s emotions. So when you are choosing an image, think about what emotion you are asking the reader to feel. Are you a family lawyer, writing to make a parent feel protective of their child? Or a tech company trying to make busy entrepreneurs worry a little more about cyber-security? Choose a picture that goes with that feeling. Choose an image with a main color or mood that evokes that emotion. You can also choose a black and white picture and give it an evocative tint of blue (for calm), red (for anger) or sepia brown (for nostalgia).
Choose Royalty-Free Imagery
It is worth a note here that you shouldn’t be doing your image searches in Google. Even using the search engine’s advanced search options you could still accidentally create a copyright infringement issue unless you click all the way through to the source image. Even then, sometimes an uninformed blogger could have accidentally (or intentionally) stripped a photo of its proper attribution. Instead, go to websites that explicitly provide royalty-free imagery.
I like Pixabay for its variety of images (no this is not a sponsored link). When I am looking for a public figure I sometimes use Wikimedia Commons, but there you must be careful to read and comply with the licensing on each image. It may seem like a hassle, but digging through and removing all the copyrighted imagery on your blog later will be even worse.
Choose Properly Formatted Imagery
As a last step, think about the format of the image you are uploading. Is it oriented for landscape or portrait view? Does the size and resolution match your website’s feature image settings? It can be embarrassing to take the time to select a relevant, evocative, and royalty-free picture, only to have it cropped in a way that destroys the effect. Free photo editing software is built in to most computer operating systems that will allow you to crop the image to suit your website’s needs.
But remember, that formatting same formatting won’t necessarily serve you well across social media platforms. Since websites are often designed first with a desktop monitor in mind, many of their images are short and wide banners that run along the top of the page. However, Pinterest is designed to be viewed from a phone (most of the time), so its ideal formatting is tall and thin. Also, it probably doesn’t make sense to superimpose your title into your blog post’s featured image. But Facebook and Pinterest both are much more effective if your picture says what the attached article is about.
Don’t stop at the featured image. Adjust your formatting for each of your major social media platforms to make the most of your time and money by baiting the biggest hook for social media readers.
Lisa Schmidt is an author for Legal Linguist. She writes blogs and web content for lawyers and small businesses. If you need help creating high quality web content for your company, contact Legal Linguist to schedule a meeting.