Using images in your blogs and online writing

Writing is about words, and as writers we all love to read and write. However apparently we are the exception, because it seems that at least 40% of the population prefer some form of visual imagery along with the text, in order to process and understand information, especially when reading digital material.

Image

Image sourced from webmarketinggroup.co.uk

The need for visual images could be because according to web marketing group  90% of the information that comes to the brain is visual. Other studies have also shown that visual content on social media, including on Twitter and Facebook posts, are more likely to be noticed and shared than text only posts.

This information has huge implications for content writers and anyone using social media to promote their work.  In essence a new form of writing, specifically related to digital marketing has emerged.

Digital Writing

The recent growth in image focused social media sites, such as Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat is another testament to the expected growth of imagery within our world. The other major way in which social media use has affected writing style, is through sites such as Twitter, where written communication is restricted to just 140 characters. There is now a cultural demand worldwide to access short and to the point text and/or to have an image.

Stairs of books image

Digital writing – a step too far?(Image found onlushhome.com)

For many writers this may seem like a step too far, why bother engaging with an audience that doesn’t even like reading? The difference though is that many people absorb a lot of information through the internet, but still enjoy reading books and longer articles.

However they have to wade through all the information on the internet in order to find these books, and that’s where your own social media strategy comes into play. You can help them find your work. And using images can help you do that.

This blog is an introduction to that digital style of writing and social media communication,which involves using succinct writing styles alongside images.

Using Images in Blogs and Online Writing

There has been large growth in the use of images on the internet and this also means that there are now numerous tools and websites, offering free and paid access to pictures and photos. Although there are lots of websites out there it is easier to use an image platform that collects pictures such as Pinterest. The advantage with sites such as this is that you can collect photos and build up your own collections of relevant and appropriate images, and then visit the source site as required.

Pinterest

One of the main tools that I am currently using to access and collect images is Pinterest. If you don’t have a Pinterest account there is a video walkthrough here that can guide you through the basics and explain how to set up an account. I find it is a great source of visual inspiration and an easy way to build collections of images which can be used later in posts and articles.  Each of your collection of images is placed on your own Pinterest board, each new picture or image is known as a Pin.

You can visit my Pinterest account here to see a sample of the different boards that I have collected for each of my blogs. This screenshot also shows a typical Pinterest account with a summary of their different boards.

Pinterest screenshot

Pinterest screenshot

Choosing Images

When it comes to writing and blogging it seems that not all images are created equally, so choosing the type and kind of image is also important if you want your writing to have the most impact. Neil Patel has written an article describing some research he carried out on the different uses of images in blogs. He was interested to know how this affected their social media uptake.  For the rest of this blog I will walk you through the various image types, and give you some examples of each type.

Infographics

One of the tools that has seen a huge increase in use on many blog sites, especially business blogs, is the infographic. For those of you not familiar with infographics here is one looking at the advantages of using images in your writing.
It’s All About the Images [infographic by MDG Advertising]
Infographic
by MDG Advertising

The advantage with an infographic is that it says everything you can write about, but presents it in a visual and easy to read form. Although infographics can be created from scratch there are already a lot of professionally made ones on available on the internet, if you google the topic and add the word infographic. Again sites such as Pinterest have lots of info graphics to choose from and you can trace the original site from an infographic that you like.

Screenshots

Although screenshots may not gain as many social media likes and share as other images, that is according to Neil Patel’s article;  they are still a useful way of capturing images and helping to explain things.  Many of the infographics can be quite large and take up a lot of space, however a screenshot of a segment of an infographic is another way in which information can be shared in a more visually interesting way.

For example the following screenshot is from an infographic about infographics, but here I chose one segment to illustrate a point I am particularly interested in sharing.

screenshot infographic

Example of a screenshot  -taken from an info graphic (source customer magnetism.com)

Screenshots can be another interesting way to edit images or choose parts of a picture to share on the internet.  As with all images that you use, the original source needs to be acknowledged.

Graphs and Diagrams

There are times, especially when sharing research findings or data, that graphs and figures become a more effective way to get the message across.

graph illustrated

Graph taken from an infographic source found at mdgadvertising.com

 

In this instance even the graph format has been adapted to be more visually enticing to customers. However even using ordinary graphs can help to break up text and encourage the reader to continue the article.

Photos

Not all the images that you use need to be educational. There are millions of photos and awe-inspiring images that can be used or adapted for any writing situation. The photo I’ve used here could be used in a number of different situations or associated with different themed articles.

photo pencils

Amazing photography is easy to acquire nowadays on the internet (Source Flickr)

 

For example the picture could be part of an article on ‘getting to new depths with your writing’. In the end imagination is the only limiting factor when using images.

 

The only important point when using photos, is to consider how they link into the message you are writing about.

If your pictures are nice but don’t really relate to the article, they will just distract the reader. The aim of the picture or image is to enhance your work not distract from it.

 

Different types of pictures

Sometimes the aim of the image might be to engage the reader and make them think or take time a longer time to look at the image. 3D images can be a useful way of stopping readers from skimming over your work, and force them to think more about what they have seen.

3D pictures can provide though provoking reactions from readers

3D pictures can provide thought provoking reactions from readers (image found on themetapicture.com)

Other types of images that have this effect are mirage and illusion type pictures. All of these have the same effect, which is to keep readers on the page and leave them with something to remember about your article.

Quotes and Images

Other ways in which readers can be inspired is to include quotes with the picture, or to provide a background image to accompany well known motivational quotes. This has two effects, it engages the reader to think about the quote and at the same time the image holds the readers attention for longer.

 

Inspirational quote writing

Image sourced from bugburrypond.wordpress.com

Using humour and images

Sometimes images and words have already been combined together by others in humour and cartoons. These can be used to emphasis a message in blog articles and to lighten the mood. They can also be useful when trying to break up complex or technical writing and ensure that readers can have a break without leaving the page.

Minnion cartoon

sourced from Instagram

Again the trick is to use cartoons or humour that links into the subject matter that you are writing about. Since this article is about images and photography, the minion cartoon is funny but also ties into the themes of images.

 

Emotional Pictures

The final group of images are those that trigger an emotional response in the reader. Some of the most common images to appear on the internet are successful because of the emotions that they evoke. This could be humour, joy, bewilderment.

Animals are a common theme of shared images, especially cute animals. They even have a scientific value as research has proven that looking at cute animal pictures increases productivity.

sourced from tumblr.com

sourced from tumblr.com

 Conclusion

Writing is obviously about the words and conveying an atmosphere or scene through description. However in a world of instant messaging, the challenge in digital writing is to convey the message and atmosphere as simply and quickly as possible. Images offer the opportunity to do this, if used correctly and with the same amount of thought and effort that is applied to the writing.

To sum up the key points covered today on using images –

  1. Use infographics as a way to provide readers with a lot of information or statistics  as these are easier to absorb than pages of plain text.
  2. Take screenshots of infographics and graphs in reports so that they are broken down into easier to read chunks.
  3. Use photos – but link them into the theme you are writing about.
  4. Set up a Pinterest account (training video here).
  5. Build up your own collection of images and set up different categories to be used in future articles and blogs.
  6. Remember to identify the source of any images used.
  7. Humour and emotional pictures are the most frequently shared images on social media sites, which could boost your own work if you include them.

6 thoughts on “Using images in your blogs and online writing

  1. Peter

    Hello Marie Great ideas about using images and some good thoughts to on where you can source them from I agree with you that the images need to be related to the text and be an enhancement and not a distraction. What I found interesting is the statement that 90% of the information received by the brain is visual. That in itself is enough to convince me of the power of using images in your text. Good work 🙂

    Reply
    1. admin

      Hi Peter and many thanks for your input, I agree the stats speak for themselves about the importance of images. Although I suppose if you think about it we always used our sight and visual cues long before writing was introduced into society, maybe it just supports our natural way of working.

  2. Jovo

    Hi, this is a really thorough text about images, rarely seen indeed. In the part about Pinterest you say that you use it to collect images. I am not sure what you mean by that. Are you sure that those images are free to use? Pity you did not elaborate about SEO for images, there is a lot of stuff related to this. Perhaps you plan to do it separately, this text is already long. Thank you.

    Reply
    1. admin

      Hi Jovo thanks for the comment. I suppose firstly I use Pinterest as a library really, from the images collected I can go then go to the websites directly and acknowledge the source of the image from there. Sometimes infographics and other media have been produced specifically to be shared, and many bloggers are recognising it as another way to get back links, but it is handier (I find) to have them sorted rather than starting each new search from scratch and Pinterest enables me to do that.

      I have just started writing a series of articles on SEO and will definitely do a post specifically on the SEO of images especially because it is an area that I really enjoy working on, so yes look out for that in the near future and thanks again.

  3. Lynne

    Thanks for a great post. I have learned a lot about using images from what you shared. I never thought about using infographics on my website which is strange as I really enjoy them myself.
    I love writing for my website and often find the images something I just have to add, sort of an afterthought lol. I guess I must put a little more focus on my images.

    Reply
    1. admin

      Hi Lynne thanks for your comment, like yourself I would have been a writer first and everything else second! I think the changing focus to ‘image first -writing second’ is going to impact on all types of content writing in the future, but hopefully that will become just as enjoyable.

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