Once upon a time, it was relatively easy to make a blog popular. All you required was a website and a practical writing skill.
As we move into the latter half of 2017 and beyond, it is no more adequate to write quality contents and hoping that the blog gets popular. Of course, content is still the king, and everything else revolves around it.
However, the accessories around the contents are now as important as the content itself if not more than it. What are these accessories? They are social media, SEO, and graphic materials.
The focus of this article is the third point - graphic or visual contents.
As per a study, by 2018 more than 84% of materials in social media & websites will be visual. What is the significance of this information?
The visual contents act as a bridge that enables your blog to take full advantage of social media platforms and SEO.
In this post, we will explore some points why you must seriously take up creating images for your blog. I will also share my experience of creating graphics for my blog posts which have resulted in a consistent increase in traffic.
Why is it necessary to have visual contents in your blog post?
1) Images make the blog posts more organized and that increases viewer retention and page views:
Nothing is more annoying than multiple lines of texts after texts. The content itself may be informative and of high quality but the readers will not have the patience to go through the entire post.
To break the monotony, you should use images in regular intervals throughout the length of the blog post to convey ideas. They are like marks on a map that guides your readers to read the complete blog post.
2) Increased social media traffic and shares:
For the growth of your blog, social media is a valuable tool. Another interesting trend to notice is that in all the social media outlets, visual contents are the most popular ones that receive maximum responses.
Therefore, images in your blog post are like social media magnets. Readers are already in the habit of sharing the images they like on their social profiles. They will readily share the graphics in your blog post if they find it interesting.
Services like Missinglettr can pick up the images in your blog article and share it automatically to social media profiles.
All this sharing leads to greater social media referral traffic to your blog.
3) Graphics make people remember your blog:
The Internet has millions of blogs covering every possible niche. So, what is different about your blog so that the readers can recall it.
Nicely designed graphics can be that difference. It is a well-known fact which all the top companies use in their marketing to sell products worth billions.
You may not sell billions, but at the least, you can use the images to make a mark in the minds of your readers. The end goal is always to convert the new users to returning ones and to increase the brand value of your blog.
In spite of the visible benefits, many bloggers are yet to utilize the full power of graphics in their online properties.
Traditional reasons why many bloggers are still not using images in their blog posts and their solution
1) The assumption that creating graphics is tough and time taking:
It is the most common reason that stops people from actively using graphics in their articles. They assume it to be challenging and requires the knowledge of sophisticated software like Photoshop.
Solution: Many services can make graphic designing easy for you. Though I am good at using Photoshop, it is not simple enough to create multiple images for a blog post in a short time.
I have been using an online graphic designing service DesignBold for last few months. Using DesignBold, I have been able to create all the necessary images for my blogs in minutes. (More on this later).
2) The notion that designing graphics is a costly proposition:
I once asked one of my fellow bloggers on why she is not using more original images in her blog posts? She replied it was just too expensive. She listed 3 points for it:
- Hiring a professional designer is costly. (experienced designers charge around $50 per hour)
- Buying stock photos is expensive. (Prices can go up to $49 per-month for ten images. Source Shutterstock)
- The additional cost of purchasing the high-end designing software.
Due to the above three cost related points, she was using random images taken from google search without giving much thought to copyright violations.
Solution: At present, many online resources provide copyright free images you can use on your blog without worrying about intellectual property violation.
Currently, I am using DesignBold which has covered all the three points of cost mentioned above.
It has an excellent free plan with 200,000 free images to use. I am having the pro plan (for $14 per month) where I am getting to use 60 million royalty free stock images and vectors.
The easy to use drag and drop designer comes free for everyone. You can find more on the price aspect here.
Therefore, with the remedy available, no blogger should consider cost as a factor for not designing original graphics for their blog and social media outlets.
Types of images needed for your blog posts
For every standard blog post, three types of images are essential. They are:
- Featured or Header image
- In post images or images within the body of the blog post.
- The concluding picture.
Let us see each type in little more detail.
The featured or header image:
Header images as the name indicates are used at the beginning of a blog post. You can use the header image to express the goal of your article visually. A well-designed header image goes a long way in creating an interest in the readers to read and interact with your writing.
A featured image is also significant when you share your blog post link on the social media. It appears as the thumbnail for your blog post in social media timeline of viewers.
Big thumbnails like above, drive more click on the shared links and thus generates a greater amount of referral traffic to your blog.
The best size to create an optimal header or featured image is 700x400 or 810 x 450.
Here are the templates of some header images I have used in my blog posts. You may modify the images for your requirement.
Images within the blog post:
After the header image, the next tactical place to add images is within your blog post. Numbers of in post images can vary depending on the size of your blog post. The longer the post, the better it is to place images at regular intervals.
Points to take care:
- Do not stuff unrelated random pictures. The graphics must convey a direction to your post. Try to add images related to the texts below and above the picture.
- Keep a watch on numbers of pictures in the post. Too many images can have a negating effect.
You can use various sizes of pictures as inline images, but ideal ones that are displayed well in both larger and mobile screens are square images (1:1) and high vertical images (800 x 1200).
Types of inline pictures you can use:
Charts, graphs, and lists: (to convey data, timeline and results)
Use time line charts:
Quote graphics are ideal for post continuity. Readers also tend to share these images at a higher frequency. Below you will find one of the quote templates that I regularly use in my articles.
Every blog post is as good as it concludes.
Therefore, it is highly important that you end your blog posts in a way which makes the users take action, like sharing the post or leaving their email.
The best way for a blogger to create that response from users is to use a concluding "infographic."
Infographics are a great tool to summarize the points in your blog post, and concurrently, it provides you an opportunity to strengthen your connection with the readers.
Many popular internet entrepreneurs and companies use infographics to not only increase the inbound traffic to their website but also to pitch their business goals.
Smart marketers regularly use high-quality infographics to generate a buzz for their brand. You can also do the same.
The ideal size of the infographics that you can use is (800 x 2000) or vertically elongated image (800 x 1200). Both the sizes appear on the larger screens and the smaller mobile devices nicely.
Below is one of the infographic templates which I recently used to write a blog post on social media marketing.
How to design the images for your blog posts in a few minutes
There are many tools in the market which can help in creating graphics for your blog. You might be having your favorite one. In this last section of the post, I will be sharing my experience of designing images using an online graphic designing tool called DesignBold.
For creating graphics for your blog you need the following design specs and elements:
- Image of the correct size that will appear well on both the website and social media platforms (we have already talked about the best image sizes for your blog in the previous section)
- Stock images: No design is ever complete without using high-quality picture. Therefore, a collection of ready to use stock images can be convenient.
- Color palette generator: to create a suitable color combination for your design.
- Font Collection: Ideal fonts are necessary to add more message to your designs.
- Image optimization: To render a picture of excellent quality and size that will not put a strain on your website resources.
Moreover, this is how DesignBold is helping me in creating professional quality graphics.
1) Collection of pre-designed layouts of correct sizes that you need for your blog and various social media. When designing a header image, choose the size 700 x 400.
2) While you are creating the images for the blog post, it is also sensible to create your social media posts simultaneously. You can select the templates for various social media platforms and start editing it.
3) After you choose the template, you can start playing around with the design elements we mentioned above. You will find everything within the designing dashboard - Fonts, color palettes, and stock images. Everything works in the drag & drop format.
Collection of stock images to select and use:
In three simple steps, I can generate suitable graphics for my blog posts at a reasonable price. DesignBold also has a great free option with more than 8000 design templates and 200,000 free stock images. If you want to know more about the pricing and features, then you can look here.
DesignBold is not the only online designing service active at present. There are more than a dozen of them, for example the market leader Canva. All the online graphic design services more or less work on the same principles. As far as DesignBold goes, it has been helping me create some excellent graphics for past 4 to 5 months.
Irrespective of the designing software you are using, there are certain basic principles of graphic creation that are applicable every time.
Most important rules to follow while designing the graphics for your blog:
Using images for blog post seems straight forward, but in reality, there are many layers to it. As a blogger, you need to keep track of certain points while creating and deciding on any design.
1) Be minimal in your approach:
Do not go berserk while creating graphics. It only consumes your time and there are high chances that readers may not like it. As they are going through your blog post, images should be precise and guide them into the post. They should not be a distraction.
Points of minimalism:
- Clear and easy to read fonts.
- Use a balanced combination of images and fonts.
- Avoid mixing many colors in the design. Keep a primary color and maximum two accessory colors.
- Maintain the color of the font contrasting to background and image.
- Aim to make the design clutter free.
2) Be always mindful of copyright issues:
As a professional blogger, your website and your various social media platforms are your assets. Do not take chances and put your online presence at the risk of copyright litigations.
It is better to invest a little on an online designing tool and create original images exclusive to your blog.
For example, I am using DesignBold for generating unique images for my blogs that are different from images used on other blogs.
Copyright issues are sometimes confusing, but it is always better to have the basic knowledge about image copyright violations and how to avoid them.
3) Take care of size optimization and SEO of the pictures:
As bloggers, we take much effort in adding adequate SEO points to our blog posts so that they get indexed properly by various search engines.
However, many bloggers in their hurry to publish tend to overlook the SEO points for images. Search engine crawlers cannot read your blog pictures.
Therefore, you need to add "alt tags" to all your graphics. In the "alt tag," you can mention the name of the image.
The "alt tag" is invisible to your blog readers but search engine bots can read them and know more about your picture. That helps in the indexing of your blog images.
The most efficient way is to add the keyword of your blog post to the alt tags of the pictures.
Other than SEO, you also need to optimize the size and resolution of your blog post images. Enormous and high-resolution images tend to increase the loading time of your website. Even a delay of more than 1 second in page loading, results in visitors moving away from the page.
Therefore, before adding images to your blog post, optimize their size and resolution so that the pictures load faster on all the devices. Image optimization and SEO aspects are not something complicated. Bloggers can manage them efficiently.
In the current times, images and visual contents are the most powerful medium for every blogger to reach more people.
The planned use of original graphic designs can boost your blog traffic and social media interaction to a great deal.
I hope the points we discussed in this post will help you in doing so.