In my last blog post (The One Simple Reason You’re Struggling to Attract More Blog Readers) I explained the strategic importance of blog images. In this post, I am going to give you five actionable strategies for improving and optimising your blog images, regardless of budget
1. Consider Image Quality
I’m not a photographer, so I cannot, in good faith, offer you photography advice if you want to take your own photos. I do, however, read a lot of blogs, so I can tell you what I want to see, as a prospective blog visitor.
If you are taking your own photos, they must be:
- Clear and sharp
- Thoughtfully composed
Put simply, they need to look professional - nothing else will do.
Free Stock Photography
For many bloggers, stock photography is the best option. Check out this blog post I wrote sharing my five favourite free stock photography sites: Five Incredible Free Photography Websites.
The main benefit of using stock photography is the quality tends to be good. That said, you should still be selective when choosing pictures. Where possible, try and establish a cohesive look on your blog. Choose photos with a similar aesthetic. For example, you might opt for bright, vibrant images, ideally including a white background.
Always, always, always check the usage rights the photographer is granting you when you use free stock photos.
The downside of using free photos is you are likely to see them used by other bloggers. Particularly on sites like Pinterest.
Paid Stock Photography
I use Haute Chocolate for my blog photos. Haute Chocolate is a stylish and affordable stock photography membership service for female entrepreneurs, bloggers and creative professionals. You can find out more here: Haute Chocolate.
The benefit of using paid stock photography is that you don’t see it used everywhere else (although chances are, other bloggers in your niche will use the same photos... there is no getting away from that).
Also, because the photos are taken by one photographer, you can achieve a cohesive look and feel to your blog.
2. Add Text to Your Images
It’s true, a picture paints a thousand words, but you want to be confident your chosen picture paints exactly the right words for your readers.
We’ve established that images are essential for attracting prospective readers. To get those prospective readers to click your blog post link on social media, you need to tempt them further.
Social media users “skim”, so adding a few explanatory words to an image will increase the likelihood of a click on your blog post link.
I’ve illustrated the key components of a text overlay in the picture below.
To add text to your images, use a simple (free) tool like Canva.
3. Create Images Optimised for Social Media
I create at least four versions of my main blog post photograph to share on social media platforms. Each version I create is resized for the relevant social media platform.
Here’s what I create:
- Square image for Instagram and as my main blog header/featured image (1080 x 1080 px)
- Tall image for Pinterest (1102 x 735 px)
- Image for Facebook, Linkedin and G+ (940 x 788 px)
- Image for Twitter (1024 x 512 px)
Please note these optimal image sizes are correct at the time of writing, however, they seem to change fairly regularly. So check with the social media platform.
I share these images multiple times, along with a link to the blog post, via Buffer.
Top tip: if you want to hide your Pinterest image in your blog post so it does not clutter up the look of the post, check out this tutorial: How to Hide Pinterest Images in Blog Posts [Video Tutorial].
4. Consider the Speed of Your Blog
Ensure the images in your blog post are only as big as they need to be. Huge images take ages to load. This affects the overall speed of your website A slow website will stop many people coming back to your blog.
If you are following the guidelines for image sizes I outlined above then you should not run into issues. Your blog post should just include one main image at 1080 x 1080 px as well as a hidden Pinterest image at 735 x 1102 px.
You can optimise your images further by using a plugin such as WP Smush (Wordpress users only).
I have also noticed an improvement in the speed of my blog by switching from using PNGs to JPEGs.
Test your blog speed here.
Search engine optimisation sounds complicated, but it really isn’t - at least not when it comes to images. There are two simple steps you can take to SEO your blog images.
The screenshot below is from an image in my media library (please note, I am a Wordpress user, so your media library might look different).