Time was bloggers just worked with words. They spent time coming up with catchy titles, great opening “hooks” and wrote engaging, informative, entertaining, or inspirational text. Great bloggers do have to be great “wordsmiths” for sure, but in this age of content overload, they have to now be great “visual-smiths” as well. For the blogger who has not been using and is a bit nervous about incorporating visual content into his/her posts, the learning curve may seem daunting. Actually, it’s not. There are many great tools and lots of research to help out. And lest you think that you’ll just forego visual content, think again.
Stats on the Importance of Visual Content
- Take a look at your Facebook wall and do a quick count of the posts that include some type of visual content vs. those that contain just text. If your wall is average, 63% of the posts will have some type of image or video. Most of those visuals are re-posted, but a
surprising number of people are also posting original visuals (54%) PDF
- Content with visuals gets a whopping 94% more views.
- Tweets that contain visuals get 150% greater re-tweets.
- The brain will process an image about 60,000X faster than words. Because so much is now received by our brains in visual form, we are “programmed” to
process it faster. To demonstrate this, Optimal Targeting blog prepared this Infographics:
Clearly, no blogger can get away with avoiding visual content anymore.
So, how does an inexperienced blogger provide the visual content that is now required? By creating that content with the best tools available and understanding the science and psychology of visual content.
The Science of Visual Content
Visual content includes photos, images, slides, videos, Infographics, etc. – anything that is placed on a page that is not text. Of course, you can re-post visuals within your blog posts, so long as you provide credit and so long as those visuals are not copyrighted with restrictions. There are stock photos, and you can pay small fees to gain access to huge databases of photos and images. Eventually, however, you will understand that just posting photos and images to have a visual is what everyone else is doing. You want your visuals to be crafted specifically for your content. With some motivation and the right visual creation tools, you can create your own images, and with a great phone or camera, you can have original photos. As you create those images and photos, however, there are some “scientific” rules that should guide you.
1. The Rule of Thirds: This rule is understood by every photographer. When you take a photograph or create an image, you want to divide it into thirds both ways like this:
The circled intersections are where the eyes travel first and are called the power points. Therefore, the focal point of your image should be in one of these intersections. Here is an example of an image that uses this rule:
2. The Golden Ratio: This is a bit more complicated than the rule of thirds and involves some math. Fortunately, there are great tools that do this for you, but the idea is this. There is a ratio that is considered ideal for the eye – the ratio of a smaller segment of an image to a larger segment of an image should be the same as the ratio of the larger image to the entire piece. This sounds confusing, but don’t freak out about it. Here is a depiction of the golden ratio on a blank canvas:
This is a good guide as you plan how you create images with definite segments. Artists and architects have used this golden ratio for years, superimposed on the rule of thirds. This is a useful tool for you if you are thinking about height and width of an image; it might also be useful on a blog page to divide the post and a side rail. People are comfortable with symmetrical ratio, and that is part of the psychology of visual content too.
But don’t get too caught up in the “science” of visual content. Many designers create stunning visuals without it. Experiment and be your own creative self and get input from others as you create your own visuals.
The Psychology of Visual Content
Psychology in visual content is all about emotional responses to our images, and there is a lot of research that you can tap into as you select shapes, fonts, colors, and image content itself to create an emotional response.
3. Mood and Tone: Your visuals should match the content of your post in tone. If they don’t, your reader will be psychologically confused.
If for example, you want to create a mood and tone of excitement, you visual will create that mood. Twitter wants people to be excited about joining.
Rolex, on the other hand, wants a tone of sophistication. Here is a part of its landing page – muted colors of blacks and grays and good filtering.
Contrast Rolex now with Lego. Here is one of their landing pages:
It’s all about entertainment and fun. So, if you write a post that is entertaining, make your visual match.
Some posts should be humorous. Get creative and create images or take photos that evoke smiles and laughs. Here is a great Infographics about how many people view salads:
What you want are visceral responses to your visuals that fully coordinate with the purpose of your post.
4. Choosing Colors: As you create visuals, use what the research tells us about the psychology of color. Here is a graphic that will provide you with some information about the emotions that color evoke:
Visual content can be fun to create. And experimentation is really what it is all about. You are not out there all on your own, though, as there is an ever-increasing supply of tools that make creating images, videos, Infographics, animation, etc. easier and easier.
Guest blog post by:
Loraine Ortiz is a professional blogger. Today she is freelancing and working at GloriousEssays as a part-time blogger.
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