How many blogs feature generic stock images?
You’re probably making the same rookie mistake of lazy photo selection.
Humans are creatures of split-second decisions. You know whether you like someone before they even open their mouth. Shopping hapnes in an impulse. Amazon is shipping bacon fresheners every Sunday morning. And sometimes, you click on a story from a super-boring topic just because it features an interesting image.
My engagement is much better when I invest time in choosing cover photos.
But what makes for a brilliant image in the world of beautiful images?
Everything looks nice on Unsplash, Pexels, and other stock platforms.
Know what blog images you're looking for
We all judge the book by the cover. The blog posts are not different. The cover image complements the rest of your story. Sometimes, the right photo is under your fingertips, but other times you’re losing hair over gazillion free stock options. The truth: everything on Unsplash looks good.
Picking the right image is a chore. Knowing what you’re searching for can make the process easier. Photos are great emotional catalysts. Your stories are going to enjoy better engagement if you find a scroll-stopping image.
Search for an emotion that you’re trying to convey in your story. Find a photo that fills your gut with unexplained sensation.
The wrong formula to nail your blog images
Unsplash is a perfectly good tool for stock images. You know what you’re looking for now. You’re looking for emotion. The cover photo is there to make you feel something.
Ask yourself, what emotion do I want the reader to feel when he stops scrolling to click on my post. The cover photo is much like a tone. You can say all the wrong things in the right tone, and nobody minds. That’s humor usually. People get mad if you say all the right things but in the wrong manner. The right headline, featuring a poor photo, is much like the right words in the wrong tone.
Leave the cover photo for the end, or maybe find a time of the day to browse photos. Search for stuff that makes you tingle, cry or jump. Find a photo that lets you hear the music or feel the smell. Play it by the gut; look at each image until you have an epiphany.
The thumbnail - the most important image on the internet
Famous indie-author Chris Fox talks about losing book sales after debuting one of his books. At first, he’s not able to figure out what’s wrong. The cover is adequate; the market wants the book; loyal readers love it, but sales are falling.
Chris finds out his overpriced cover design is worthless. The picture is astonishing in full size, but fails to translate that emotion to 100x100px square. Chris realizes that thumbnails are a driving force behind clicks. The reader is going to judge your cover, and he’s going to judge it in every size too.
Blog covers are similar, on a lesser scale. Medium gives you a story preview before you hit publish. Pay attention to the focus. Find another photo if the essential parts don’t translate to the thumbnail.
Finally, visit Medium’s front page, and judge other thumbnails. Try to imagine your post among editor picks and triple-curated stories. If you can’t see your post there with the viral cats, revisit your design and headline.
Cheat sheet — pictures of people, animals, and popular posts.
When you’re in doubt, follow the cheat sheet protocol. The following picks are usually better than the alternative.
- Popular posts
The superficial reason behind every visit to your city promenade is to look at pictures of people. We love to look at others. When in doubt, find an interesting person or a group of people.
Faces are fascinating. Staring at random people up-close is a form of harassment. But you can stare all you want, as long as they’re a photo. When in doubt, find a lively face.
Animals are my favorite. Unsplash is full of adorable dogs and grumpy cats. Pets are fantastic at conveying emotion in photos.
Popular posts tactic is the ultimate cheat. Visit the trending page on Medium, NewsBreak or Apple News and search for your category. If you’re writing something in the self-help genre, look for a post that is crushing it in that niche. Analyze the elements of the cover, and search for something similar.
The alternative platforms for blog images
Most content creators usually ask this question. Do you need to pay for images when blogging?
You don't need to pay for stock images with platforms like Unsplash, Pexels, and Pixaby. The platforms are responsible for 85% of online cover photos. You can browse through millions of free images. You have every chance to find the right one.
But sometimes, the right photo is not there. The confusion usually comes when you’re looking for sketches and illustrations. The Internet is full of free images, but not these. Professional illustrations are expensive. You don’t want to break the bank for a post that’s probably going to generate $3.14 in revenue. You could either find a more affordable solution for stock images, like FreepIk or a similar service.
Alternatively, reach out to your old friend. Hit Google images and adjust the search filter. Search for pictures with reuse labels. You can find another whole world of great photos on Google. Also, read the copyright license to be sure. And don’t forget to mention the artist.
Cover photos are essential for eye-catching blog posts. Take your time to find the right one. Don’t let the cover ruin a perfectly good story. Humans are split-second creatures. We determine if we like something faster than we can say it out loud.
- Find your emotion
- Search for the stock image that makes you look twice
- Check the thumbnail
- Cheat Sheet: pictures of people, faces, pets, and popular posts
- Google search with the reuse filter
Your next post can flourish beyond the writing. Blogging is more than compelling prose. You’re a designer, artist, marketeer, salesman, and many other things. The right cover — just like the headline — can make or break your post.
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