Every successful modern blogger incorporates of images into their blog posts. Why are they important? What visuals should you be exploring? What are the tools available to help you manipulate the media for better user experience? We will answer all these questions in this article.
Why are visuals important?
The reasons to include visual content in your blog today outweigh the reasons not to.
1. It increases the number of views – An MDG Advertising study found out that if you use photos when publishing a press release, you can increase the views by 14%. Another study by Skyword shows that your content views can increase by 94% on average if you use the relevant visuals. Increasing your blog views will increase your blog’s appeal to advertisers giving you a chance to monetize the blog or earn more money.
2. It increases your blog’s social media engagement – Every blogger wants to increase the odds of visitors sharing the content on social media as it means more exposure and ultimately traffic. Using visual content will do just that. Zabisco also indicates that 40% of the people will respond to visual information better than text. Allowing visitors to share the visual content itself can boost the number of shares for your blog.
3. It increases leads for businesses – Businesses are looking towards blogging as a marketing channel and those using visual content are winning. Including a video and a photo on that press release will increase its views by 45%. About 60% of the consumers will most likely contact or at least consider a business that has images online. It builds trust; so share the photos of your business online.
4. Helps visitors process the information – If you want your blog visitors to understand some information better, use visual art. The Optimal Targeting blog used an infographic to illustrate this point showing that up to 90% of the information that is transmitted to the brain is visual. This information is from 3M Corporation and Zabisco, who also indicate that the brain processes visuals 60,000X faster than text.
5. It allows you to say more – Not every blog visitor will find time to go through your blog. If you can say more with less, the better. What better way to do that than with visual art. According to Visual.ly, you can boost your post engagement by 60% if you keep it below 250 characters.
6. According to SEOmoz blog posts with videos attract three times more inbound links than plain text posts.
Popular bloggers using visuals well
Many bloggers have mastered the art of using visuals. They captivate their audience knocking their competitors off the park. Here are some of them.
a) Information is Beautiful – This blog uses infographics to inform while inspiring your next data visualisation, layout, or colour scheme. Their infographics are also interactive which make it fun. It is simply artistic.
b) Infographics Showcase – This blog shares infographics collection from around the web. The content is mainly infographics with minimum texts (exclusively for the title and a brief introduction).
c) This is Indexed – This blog uses wit to convey serious information and lessons. A quick browse on their blog might end up with you sharing their simple, yet powerful post on your timeline.
Types of Visuals
a. Images – When it comes to visual art, photos are the bare minimum. Choosing the right photo for your post will help drive your point home. The image can illustrate what the blog is describing or so simply inspire your audience. It can be thought provoking or expressive. Use original images when you can. You can also free images on sites like Morguefile.
b. Videos – Videos are ideal for informative or descriptive blogs. Videos enable your audience to relive a moment or see it actually happening. You might be a very talented writer but sometimes, there are no words to describe some things (like a music performance), and you can just lose your audience when explaining a point (like an exercise variation). They have to see it, to believe or understand it.
c. Infographics – Infographics helps make complex data and statistics more understandable. It makes otherwise boring content more compelling. Infographics are more likely to be shared due to their intelligible visual displays. Using an infographic reduces the word count which is good for you and your audience.
d. Memes – A variation of images, memes are images with a humorous caption. Humour is a good way of engaging your audience whether online or offline. A good meme can easily go viral so you may want to watermark yours to create more awareness of you blog.
e. Presentation – Presentations help break up complex and lengthy content into small, understandable slides. They make communication more effective. You can make a presentation on tools such as SlideShare and embed it on your blog.
f. Cinemagraph and GIF – What if you can use video or animated content together with a still image? Well, you can with cinemagraph. You can use this visual art to enjoy best of the both worlds. You can also incorporate either an image or video element to form a GIF. GIFs are, however, usually used for light moments.
g. Emojis and Emoticons – If you love feedback on your blog why not ask your visitors to click or use an emoji instead of text. They will most likely be more receptive to your request as emojis allow them to express themselves accurately. A study found that almost 70% of people say emojis help express their thoughts more precisely. You can also substitute the emojis for the much simpler emoticons or stickers.
How to create visuals
Now that you know all the main visuals and their importance, how do you create them? Well, you could hire a designer who is an expert in creating them or do it yourself. You will first have to decide on which type of visual is more appropriate for your blog post. For example, if you have business content, a slideshow would be more professional while comedic content would work well with a meme. Mixing up those will be disastrous.
Decide on the call to action if any or just think about what you want the visual to communicate. You can hyperlink your visual and if you want to, think about the landing content. Think about the content on you visual in general and get it. Ensure that this content meets your goals. Ensure that the final visual adds value to your blog post. If you are creating the visual yourself, there are many tools out there that will help you create the perfect visual once you settle for one.
What tools are used to create visuals?
You could always go for the popular Photoshop to create images but Canva is a cheaper alternative. It is also easier and fun to use, and you can use it to create social media images to boost your blog. It comes with the Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, among other image sizes and types to choose from. It also comes with backgrounds, banners, layouts, templates, fonts, and even free images to choose from but you have the option to use yours too. You can also use Pixlr, BeFunky or PicMonkey as an alternative to Photoshop.
This is a tool to create infographics easily. It saves you time, and you do not have to be a designer to create the infographics. They have over hundreds of professionally-designed infographic templates for you to choose from, and they are constantly updating the library. They also have numerous templates for posters, presentations, and reports. You can add charts, maps, icons, videos or photos to the infographic. They also have several free images for you to choose from. You can also use Infogr.am to create infographics or charts.
Plain images can be dull, but this tool makes them interactive. It allows you to add an informative icon on a picture or video. These icons will appear when you hover around the visual.
When it comes to slideshows, you can either use PowerPoint, Slideshare or Haikudeck. Haikudeck is a free tool to create simple slideshows or presentations. They offer free backgrounds, but you can upload one too. Haikudeck allows you to embed the presentation on your blog.
If you want to create an animated video or presentation but you do not have any animation skills, you can use PowToon. Animations are fun, and this tool enables you to create them for free although you can upgrade for more functionalities.
If you want to use memes instead, you can create one on QuickMeme. All you need is a good caption as they have all the popular templates.
Where to source visuals
1. Free Icons
If you are looking for free icons, The Noun Project has over 500,000 of them. While they have a NounPro where you have to pay $9.99 per month for unlimited access, they also have a free membership where you can download icons for free
3. Free Images and Graphics
There are many sites to get free photos and Death to the Stock Photo is one of them. You can sign up and receive free, high-resolution photos monthly to use in your blog. If you are looking for free historic pics, you can get them at New Old Stock. For the bloggers looking for free graphic files, you can get them at Free Pik.
3. Free Infographics
Piktochart & Canva allow you to create compelling and attractive infographics for free using their templates. These tools are easy to use, and you do not have to be a professional designer to create them. They also offer you a free stock library if you do not have images to use on your infographic
A paid option is infogr.am. Prices start from $19.00 per month.
Your first stop should be giphy.com. Find GIFs with the latest and newest hashtags! Search, discover and share your favourite Gify GIFs.
WP plugins to help source and create visual
1. WP Smush
This plugin allows you to compress images saving you space and speed up your website. Many agree that it is the best plugin when it comes to image compression and optimisation. The images can be optimised either manually, automatically or in bulk.
This plugin makes it easy for video thumbnails to be automatically displayed in your template. It supports sites such as YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, Vine, Dailymotion, TED, among others
3. Infographics and Charts Plugins
A plugin to show the embed code for a proper link to a graphic/image
Allows to easily add watermark to images automatically on upload or manually.
Find quality CC0 Public Domain images for commercial use, and add them to your blog with just a click – attribution is voluntary.
Ideal images size for your blog and social
What is the ideal size of a picture? Adding the wrong size of an image to your blog can slow down your load time. This makes many people avoid adding images on their blogs to improve the speeds. However, using the right size of visual content when blogging will increase the user experience as the load time will be acceptable and the content exceptional. One thing to note when uploading images is not to exceed the blog content width.
When it comes to uploading photos on social media, it depends on the platform. Instagram’s display size is 1,080 pixels by 1,080 pixels, Twitter – 1,024 x 512, Facebook 1,200 x 628, LinkedIn – 700 x 400, 735 x 1,102 for Pinterest, and 800 x 1,200 for Google+.
Recent social media developments have shown us the importance of modern visual art. Furthermore, the growth of smartphone users means that users can now access such content seamlessly even when on the move. Adding visual art to your blog can increase your audience. Adding great blog images is an inexpensive exercise that you can do yourself, once you follow the steps outlined in this guide.
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