Do you really need blog post images? Are they necessary?
What do you blog about? Who’s your audience? Will they be expecting images — or will images annoy or even confuse them?
Let’s dive into how to answer these questions.
Then, let’s ask the big question I bet no one has asked you yet…
Because it turns out wondering about blog post images can actually be a warning sign of something else.
The Image All Blog Posts Need
You definitely need a header image for your blog. This is also called the “featured image” and is super important.
This is the image that goes alongside your blog post on the blog page of your website to give people an eye-grabbing hook as they’re looking at your spread of posts.
An intriguing image might be the reason someone clicks on a particular post on your website, or clicks through from your marketing emails to read a full post.
It’s also captured by Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn when you share the URL of your blog post. While I’m no social media expert, common sense says that posts with images capture more attention.
As you can see, the featured image is all about inviting a reader to click on your post in the first place. It doesn’t make a whole lotta difference for the experience of reading the post. So the question is, do other images?
Blog Post Images by Purpose
If you can show people what you do through images, go for it! If you’re a stylist, an artist, a meal-prep specialist, a graphic designer, a landscaper, or a photographer, please show some gorgeous pics of your work!
Images are also a wonderful addition to a how-to or FAQ blog post. If you’ve written about something that you want people to visualize in order to understand it better.
An image is a good way to provide an at-a-glance intro to data or to a complex process. Consider creating a(n)…
- cause and effect chart
- pie, line, or bar graph of data
- side-by-side comparison chart
Sometimes images actually interrupt the flow of a blog post. If you’re telling a really juicy customer success story or providing a raw, real glimpse into your own journey, an image can sometimes feel like an interruption.
Pro Tip: Before adding an image to a post, ask what its purpose would be. Some good reasons to add images include:
- Showing an example
- Illustrating a process
- Making people’s mouths water (hello, ocean view from a private terrace!)
- Breaking up large chunks of text for audiences who don’t like to read long blog posts
Different Types of Blog Post Images
Whether or not to use images depends a lot on your industry and your audience. For some industries, readers will absolutely expect custom graphics or screenshots. For others, they’ll expect beautiful photography. And for some industries, images are rarely — if ever — used.
Infographics & Screenshots
Explaining how to use a certain feature in MailChimp? Telling people how to build an awesome Facebook business profile? Walking someone through how to create “smoky eye” makeup?
You’re going to need some images to explain the process.
This is a place where a picture is worth 1,000 words. If you don’t just tell but also show people how to do something, they’ll really appreciate it and keep coming back to learn from you. You can use infographics, screenshots, illustrations, or pics you take with your phone.
Insert images into the appropriate places in the text so readers can see what you’ve just described.
There are some industries that are begging for not just images, but beautiful photos. Lifestyle blogs and anything to do with vacation and decadent food need drool-worthy photos.
Lifestyle blogs often read more like magazines. People generally want a mix of photos and text, and if you give them more text than they’re expecting, they may pass on your post altogether.
Industries where readers expect beautiful photos intermixed with text include…
- Clothing & Accessories
- Lifestyle & Luxury
- Home & Garden Design
- Hair & Makeup
Make sure your images are professional-looking. They should stand out and entice readers. We’ve all been to the website of the restaurant that didn’t invest in a professional photographer. The food might taste good, but it sure doesn’t make you excited to go eat there.
If you can’t take high-quality photos yourself, make sure to invest in good stock photos.
In coaching and self-development industries, blog posts often have no images at all.
The goal of the blog is for the coach or mentor to share personal advice, tips, inspiration, education, and stories.
These types of blog post are about immediacy and a deep connection between writer and reader. They’re often on topics that are intense, emotional, and transformational.
In these types of posts, images take away from the substance rather than enhance it. Even if they aren’t distracting, images are unnecessary for these types of posts. Your voice and the story you’re telling are enough.
Pro Tip: Check out other blogs in your industry and see what they do regarding images. Use that as your guide to determine what your audience will expect.
If your audience is expecting images and you don’t have them, it’s likely people will click away when they see the blocks of uninterrupted text.
On the other hand, if you include images when people aren’t expecting them, those images can mis-translate as ads. (This happened to me on the blog of a business coach I follow. She had mini calls-to-action throughout her posts in the form of graphics, and I kept ignoring them because they were registering to my brain as ads.)
Why Are You Considering Images?
I’m just going to come out and say it: Sometimes the feeling that you NEED to make graphics or find amazing images for your blog is a distraction tactic. Here are the three biggest culprits:
When it rears its ugly head, it sound so reasonable. It promises that “of course!” you’re totally going to write the blog post… you just need to go spend a few hours searching through stock images first.
If it’s worried what you’re creating won’t be the be-all and end-all, perfectionism slams on the breaks, not wanting you to publish your blog post until it has all the bells and whistles it possibly could. Even if you don’t need those bells and whistles.
You might be getting a visit from fear — the fear of putting yourself and your ideas out there. Adding more tasks to the to-do list is one of fear’s classic moves to get us to stay small and safe.
Before you get elbow deep in designing graphics or hunting down stock photos, get really clear on your motivation.
Pro Tip: If you determine that you do, in fact, need images, this is a great time to use batching. Batching is when you do several of the same type of task all together to maximize your efficiency.
Check in with your blog editorial calendar and think through which posts will need images and what kinds of images they’ll need. Then set aside an hour or two to hunt down or create the images for several posts all at once.
This will keep image-finding and image-making from becoming your favorite ways to procrastinate from writing blog posts. 😉
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