These days, we all spend a lot of time skimming through webpages to find the information we really need. The last thing that’s going to capture a tired reader’s attention is long, unbroken blocks of text, and yet that’s exactly the approach many bloggers take. A much better strategy is to break up written content with headers and stock photos, which can promote not just readership but more reader engagement.
Here is our guide for doing it right.
Don’t Take the First Image to Come Along
Let’s say you enter, “Child swinging from tree” into a stock photo search engine. The results will automatically be sorted in order of popularity. But popularity, in this case, isn’t quite as good as it was in high school. Picking one of the first results means relying on a photo your readers will likely have seen elsewhere previously, which can make your blog look unoriginal and uninteresting. Scroll at least to the second page.
Along similar lines, do your best to avoid any stock photo cliches, like multi-cultural business people shaking hands, female call center employees smiling into the camera and women laughing while eating salad. If it’s appeared on the meme circuit or at least on a host of cheesy corporate websites, you won’t be enhancing your image and you might even be doing it harm.
<a href=”http://www.shutterstock.com/” target=”_blank” />Stock photos</a> aren’t the time to let your mind wander. If you’re blogging about skydiving, don’t post a stock photo of a cute dog playing ball. Unless, of course, that dog is decked out in skydiving gear and is unwinding after the big jump. You can use stock photography to surprise readers in a humorous manner by giving them the unexpected, but the connection between the content and photo must be clear.
Avoid Staged Photos
Have you ever looked at a photo of a model doing something obviously staged and thought, “Wow, I really identify with that person”? Probably not. Using photos that look unnatural will do little to capture reader’s eyes for more than a fleeting moment.
Make It Your Own
Just because someone else took the photo, doesn’t mean you can’t edit it to suit your needs. Give photos an older or more vibrant look by passing them through a filter, photoshopping in objects you’ve referred to in the post, or directing the model’s eyes towards important text. You’ve paid for the image, so treat it like it’s yours.
Try Vectors and Stock Footage
Editing can become an even more powerful tool when used with vectors. Vectors can be used to enhance comics or photos or better illustrate a point. So can <a href=”http://footage.shutterstock.com/” target=”_blank” />stock footage</a>- looped video of everyday scenes or complete abstractions. Used correctly, both approaches can draw a reader into a site and capture a blog’s mood, voice or tone.
Since the internet has taken off, we’ve gotten used to not paying for things. But free images are often of poor quality and ruin the look of a page. Plus, more and more photographers are protecting their artwork through copyright laws, meaning a simple posting could land you in the hot seat. Better to pay the very reasonable membership or single download rates at stock sites than to go through the hassle of a lawsuit or contacting each site ahead of time to ask for permission.
Overall, stock photos and stock footage are a quick, easy to use, and affordable method for enhancing those blog posts and getting those readers to keep on coming back for more.