How to Use Photos to Get Attention
As a writer, I love words. I can talk to you until the cows are bored about how important the words are and how to put them together to explain to your reader exactly what’s on your mind. And, as a writer, I want readers. And, readers are attracted by photos.
So, as you expand your blogging and social media efforts, learning about how to use photos matters as much as learning about how to use the words.
Some guidelines to help you get started:
- Use photos as much as possible. A poorly written post with a great photo will get more attention than a fantastically written post with none. People are drawn in by photos. (However, a fantastically written post with a photo will do better than a poorly written post with a photo, so make sure the writing is fantastic.)
- Use the photo to help tell the story. Finding just the right photo does more than just grab attention. It sets up your words and gives the reader context.
- When choosing photos, start with the obvious. What is the post about? Find a photo that relates. Writing about Girl Scout cookies? Take a photo of the cookies.
- If you can’t find something directly related, expand your thinking. What could illustrate your point or help tell the story? Writing about how hard it can be to run a Girl Scout cookie sale? Use a picture of a climber on a steep trek.
- Quality counts (mostly). A high-quality, eye-catching photo is generally best. If the option is a really bad photo or nothing, it may be better to use nothing. But there are exceptions based on the content of the photo, the context of the post, and the brand voice.
- Professional photos are great, but your own can work. It’s easy these days to snap a quick pic with a phone and those pics have an authentic quality that can support your words.
- When evaluating a photo, look at the subject and the background to make sure it says only what you want to say. Look for photos that are in keeping with your brand identity. Viewers will be making judgements about who you are based on the content of the photos. Make sure it reflects what you want them to see and know about you.
When using photos on blogs and long posts, consider whether you need a cutline (also called caption). This can be a place to add information and context.
- Generally, don’t post pictures of individuals without their permission. You can, however, post pictures of crowd events and public gatherings. Check out this article for info on getting subject’s permission.
- Don’t use other people’s work without their permission. There are sites online where you can get photos to use for free. In those cases, the owners have given permission. You can also find many affordable images through stock photo sites.
Don’t hold off publishing because you don’t have the perfect photo. Usually, good enough is better than not at all.
Got a question about your blogging and social media strategy? Send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org