You’ve written your masterpiece blog, something you believe everyone should read. But how do you get anyone to actually read it? Can you save yourself from obscurity with a picture?

We live in an increasingly visual culture. The social media trend of the moment has shifted from Facebook and Twitter (which traditionally focused on words) to Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat, which convey users’ messages through photos and videos. Now more than ever, it is what your blog looks like that generates readers, not what it says.

When Pictures Don’t Matter

A compelling photo won’t generate clicks from search engines. If you use Google or Bing to look up your industry, or anything else for that matter, you will see words on a page and a map. Search engines don’t care about imagery (although they do include images’ alternate text in their algorithms).

If your primary audience is coming from web searches, pictures don’t matter in getting that first initial click. Instead, a catchy heading and a clear lead-in paragraph will tell browsers that you have the information they are looking for.

Social Media Is All About Imagery

Unlike search engines, which drive people to your site to answer their particular query, search engines feed on curiosity. People aren’t necessarily looking for your content, but they click on it because something in the post catches their attention. It’s why many marketers rely on click-bait titles like “5 Reasons You Need a Lawyer Right Now, Number 4 Will Shock You!”

A large part of that comes from choosing an effective image. Pictures take up more room on the screen than text, so a compelling image can catch a social media user’s attention. By superimposing your title in your image, you can make the most of those image-forward social media platforms (make sure you create images that benefit from the standard format and layout).

Choosing Meaningful Pictures

Not all pictures are created equal. Some will inspire readers to click, but others allow browsers to scroll right on by. So how do you choose meaningful pictures?

Make it Eye-Catching

Bright colors, especially red, catch the eye and make people more likely to look at your picture. Try to choose a picture where the brightest, or most stark, part of the image is the part relevant to your post.

Make it Emotionally Compelling

Use your picture to create an emotion that matches your post. It could be excitement, wonder, sadness, or fear. (Be careful with fear. It can sometimes come off poorly.) You can use color or human models to convey this emotion. Natural beauty and animals also easily inspire certain emotions in readers.

Make it Informative

Sometimes, the best pictures inform readers directly, even before they read a post. Infographics can be a great way to summarize a “how-to” post or other process-driven articles. You can generate readers by using an online infographic generator to sum up your post. Make sure to include your brand and make it link back to the blog post. That way people can click through to learn more.

A Word About Usage Rights

A great picture can make or break your blog. But you can’t pull them from just anywhere. Just like lawyers expect to be paid for their legal advice, designers and photographers make money from their images. That’s not to say you need to invest a lot of money in your blog imagery. There are databases full of free images you can use. Look for the words “public domain” or “creative commons 0”. These pictures are free to use and distribute.

Be sure you are clear on the licensing of any picture you use. Some free pages (like WikiCommons, for example) require attribution for the use of their imagery. (Sometimes called “Creative Commons 1” or just CC.) This means you need to state the name of the photographer and link to where you found it. You can do this in a caption to the picture or as part of your text. I personally tend to put it at the bottom of the post in Italics so it doesn’t interrupt the flow of the piece.

Using compelling imagery is a great way to get attention on social media and drive readers to your blog. Whether you create an infographic or choose a free featured image, you can use pictures to pique a browser’s curiosity. This can lead to more clicks, and eventually more paying clients.

Lisa Schmidt is a writer for Legal Linguist in Ferndale, Michigan. If you need help generating high-quality blogs or web content for your business, contact Legal Linguist today to schedule a meeting.