It’s rare that I don’t take an extra ten minutes to select a photo for each of my blog posts. Yes, no more than ten, but often it’s done in under a minute. I’ll share my tips for saving time on this. (This photo, from iStockPhoto.com took 35 seconds to find and upload…)
Why bother? Because the brain is attracted to photos and if you choose an interesting photo that evokes curiosity, you’ll draw more people into reading your blog.
Go to any photo site and register as a user (free). These are royalty-free photos you can use. If you’re using any photos for commercial purposes, you should purchase credits.
Use the search box to type in what you think you’d like to use as a photo. If you don’t know, just type in a keyword, especially an emotion or an abstract concept that you’re writing about. You’ll be surprised the variety of photos a word pulls up.
For example, in my previous post about grabbing readers’ attention, the emotion I wanted to convey was curiosity. A search for “curiosity” provided 787 pages of photos that included people, animals, babies… Most of which I wouldn’t want to use. I chose one of giraffes because it looked curious.
I’m looking for one or two photos that are attractive to the eye and pull in the kinds of readers I target – smart professionals. So I don’t want any boring photos of people who look happy and content. That may sound strange, but there’s nothing that’s compelling about happy and content people. It doesn’t trigger any reaction on an emotional level.
A while back I wrote about a book called Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation, by Sally Hogshead. This is a great book to read that explains what fascinates people and gets them to take action. Here’s the author’s list of fascinating triggers:
I have to add humor to the list of triggers you want to keep in mind when looking for good photos. Funny pictures tap into several of the triggers, because humor looks at things in an unusual way, pairing up odd things together in a contradictory way.
The thing is, we live in a busy world with a lot of messages to read. The eye seeks out relief from reading and text. You have to earn people’s attention. Readers are in a hurry, they want to quickly know what’s worthy of spending time reading, and they want to be entertained while they get informed.
Quite frankly, if you’re not using photos to illustrate your blog posts, you’re missing the boat. You’re not doing your job as a professional when you don’t do everything you can to ensure people read your message.
Here’s how I do it to save myself time each day I post and pick a photo for my blog:
While I search for a photo, I’ll probably find 2-3 I think are worthy. I right-click and save image to several photo folders on my computer.
I have folders, for example, with photos labeled as Animals, Emotions, Blogging, Marketing, Landmarks, Music, Cartoons, Communicating, and Writing, etc.
Then when I finish a post, before I publish, I’ll go to these folders and find a good photo that I’ve already pre-selected. These folders get populated each time I do a search on a photo site because I’ve already done the time-consuming part of searching.
Start your own photo folders. When you have extra time, search for fascinating illustrations over on a photo site and preselect a few you’d like to use.
This is just one more way you can connect with readers on a subconscious level, tapping into emotional triggers that persuade readers to know, like and trust you.
Please note that your photo probably won’t show up if people see your blog post delivered as email. Instead, they may see the title of the photo. The one here is called “funny guy”… because I named it that way.
Readers would see it if they have their email set to display images, but if not, it’s important what you call your photo. Use keywords or curious words. This same tip applies to the way photos show if your blog post is delivered by RSS to feed readers.
There are many resources online with talented photographers and graphic artists sharing their work. I use iStockPhoto.com, but in the past I’ve used Shutterstock.com and other sites. What’s your favorite photo site?