We live in such a visual world now more than ever, especially with Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest being three of the most popular social media platforms today, it’s no secret that employing the right visuals is a critical part of connecting with new visitors and helping them convert into clients or customers.
The fact is, we are hardwired to be attracted to images over text, and we need to factor that into how we produce our written content online.
I’m always trying to find meaningful images for my projects and so I know how overwhelming it can be to find the right one.
If you’re new to creating online content and aren’t sure how to get started with including images, I’m here to give you what you need to it find the right ones even if you aren’t a designer.
Do images really matter?
Short answer? Yes! Images make websites, pages and products memorable and connect with the audience much better than blocks of text.
The types of images you choose will affect the amount of trust your visitors have in you and your product, how they will remember you and if they will buy from you.
That is the reason why billboards on the highway, commercials on TV, and the posters at the nearby bus stop are age-old tactics that are still effective to this day: Because it works!
The human brain is more likely to remember something for longer just because there was an accompanying visual – almost three times longer! It’s the one element that can help you to efficiently increase views, boost engagements and help to convert sales online.
That’s why photos are responsible for about 90% of interactions on Facebook and give your tweets a better chance of being retweeted.
The more multimedia you include in your online posts, the more views you’re likely to get – actually, you stand to gain 94% more views than if your article had no images. Adding images helps to break up your content into manageable chunks to be consumed by the reader. Long blocks of texts are hard on our eyes and give us literal TL;DR moments.
To take it even further, a potential client is even more likely to contact you simply because they searched your company name online and get images as part of the search results. That extra bit of memorability goes a long way, huh?
If you are not including images in your content yet, realize that there is an untapped potential to bring attention and increase engagement on your site.
That’s where this post comes in! So, how do you go about finding the perfect images for your next project?
Choosing the Right Images for the Job
1. Think Value First.
Before you grab a nice picture of a sunset over a beach house and put it with your next post, think about whether the image is relevant to what topic you’re discussing.
Making the connection between the written and a visual is what will make a memorable impact. Your visuals need to be intentionally chosen with your readers in mind so they support your brand and the value of your content. Ask yourself:
Does this image help the viewer understand or bond with the content?
Sometimes, just having a visual representation of the post topic can make the difference between someone stopping to read your content or clicking back over to Facebook.
While there are other ways to display this, like a pie chart, you can still evoke emotions in your viewer with a well-chosen stock image. If you can find a vivid and/or creative image to add, it will make them bond and relate to the content more, especially your messaging is in line with the common problems you know they are facing.
I laugh super hard when I’m reminded of how silly and exaggerated infomercials can be as they show people fumbling to blend a smoothie, squeeze toothpaste out of the tube or mow their lawns, only to be alleviated by the product being sold. And while I’m laughing, someone who is faced with that issue is relating to it and already considering calling the toll free number!
Is this image valuable to the viewer or just a picture I like?
Get out of your head as far what looks good or appeals to you because that may not be what your audience wants to see. You should like the images you add to your content, but you need to factor in how your ideal customers and clients will react to them as well.
Does this image contradict with my subject or the audience I am speaking to?
Sunsets are always nice to look at- I love them! – But it won’t be appropriate or connect with your audience if the topic of your post is time management. Images that feel arbitrary and don’t align with the content your writing about jars your reader and affects their overall trust in what you’re sharing with them.
2. Seek High Quality
It seems obvious, but your images need to be of high quality – sharp, clear images go a long way to making your whole web page or postcard look more professional and engaging.
A high-resolution image means there is more data (in the form of pixels) contained in the image, making it sharper and more defined. This is important in making sure your images look just as good on a 42” TV and on a 6.2” phone screen. Users will be turned off if they have to pinch or zoom on their smartphones in order to make sense of what they’re seeing on your page.
3. Consider the Human Element.
You want to connect with visitors as soon as they reach your site and interact with your product. That’s what makes people become brand-loyal, returning customers.
Adding a human touch to your images makes the content instantly more relatable. This is especially true if you only include a portion of a person (i.e. a pair of hands handling an item, a pair of feet, etc.). It allows people to visualize themselves using your product easier.
Even the direction in which a person in an image is looking can make your visuals more effective and increase engagement. People are more likely to interact with what the person in the image is looking at/interacting with.
Okay, so one of them is not human, but World of Warcraft still uses their famous characters that members can play with to pull the visitor’s attention to the sign-up form in the middle.
The caveat is that visitors can quickly tell if your photos look too staged, disingenuous or cliche. So while adding in people can be effective, the key is in being intentional about what the image’s it’s reinforcing the goal you are trying to achieve, whether it to convince someone to buy a shirt from your store or to submit an email and request a consultation.
Where to Find Quality Stock Images
You might think you need to pay an arm and a leg buy stock images – even if you’re not sure if they are going to be a good fit for your project. Not true! I have found plenty of image resources that had a great selection without leaving free/unpaid users with a lousy selection of images.
These sites have helped some of my clients and fellow designers pull together great presentations and designs without breaking the bank.
While I can appreciate compiling a list of 50+ websites to check out for stock images, I’ve done the work of narrowing down the ones that I personally love and stand by so you’re not swimming in endless options (like I tend to sometimes). These sites all have high-quality images that are unique and authentic. And, they are free to use for personal or commercial work.
Unsplash is one of my favorites! They have a great gallery with categories that makes finding your next set of images a breeze.
Pixabay is great for abstract illustrations and patterns along with some pretty real-life images.
Life of Pix
Life of Pix has a growing collection of images that feel very authentic and also varied in type and subject.
A Note About Copyright
It is worth mentioning that when choosing images for your projects and promotions, you need to be aware of the copyright restrictions attached so you honor the original artists.
Here’s a quick overview of the three popular licenses as it relates to stock images:
Rights Managed is a license that requires a fee in order to use the image for one specific purpose. If you want to use the photo for other uses then an additional license must be purchased.
Royalty Free images allow you to license an image for a flat rate (instead of repeated royalties every time the image is used in a new way).
Creative Commons is a public copyright license that allows you to distribute a creator’s work, even though it is still copyrighted.
This is the most common type you’ll see on stock image websites where photographers and creators donate images to a gallery, like the sites above.
You can use the images within the conditions of the license without worrying about copyright infringement or payment. There are variations to this license that determines how much (if any) modifications or reiterations you can make and whether you have to credit the author.
A lot of photographers are contributing to the growing community of stock images online but it doesn’t mean to say they want their images swiped or used in a way that violates their work. You don’t have to be an expert in copyright law, but it always helps to check and make sure you understand the rights for the images you use.
- You need images in your content to get people talking about you
- Find images that are high-quality, support your written content either logically and/or emotionally, and resonate with your audience
- Free options are readily available, you just need to know where to look!
If you can add even one image to your next article or post, you’re on your way to getting a buzz started. But this is not a “set it and forget it” process – As you get to know your audience better and tailor your offerings, you’ll always need to evaluate the effectiveness of your content.
Don’t be Afraid to Switch Things up
Not every image you choose for your website will work on Facebook, and not every photo that works on Facebook will work on Instagram or Pinterest – or your blog.
You can always split-test your images: Swap out one image (or style of image) for another to gauge which image gets better responses from your audience. As a matter of fact, I would recommend doing it, at least at first, to get an idea of how to adjust your visuals and your content.
And while this post focused on stock images, there are many other forms of visual media that can add value to your content:
- Pie Charts and Graphs, etc.
It’s important to see how you can use a mix of visual media in your content to create value and understanding for the reader as well.
Harnessing the power of images to support your product, content, and website is the missing piece to accelerating your marketing efforts and help your brand and product stay at the top of your customers’ minds. I hope this mini-guide will help you in ramping up your next project with quality photos!
How do you plan to incorporate more images into your content?