The use of images in your blog posts is a no-brainer.
Images are an easy way to break up chunks of text, add context, or give your readers a more accessible medium through which to digest your content.
With the growth of written content online, it’s harder to have your content be unique from others. Writers need to adapt to the changing landscape.
How can you continue to engage your audience when so many bloggers have written on the same topics—and will continue to do so?
The answer is original imagery.
Blog Image Trends: Why Stock Photos Are Dead
With more content available on the web every day, it’s more important than ever to stand out.
While finding ways to put a unique spin on your blog post topics is critical, there are only so many angles on one subject. You need other types of content, such as photographs and illustrations, to make your mark.
Unfortunately, stock photos just don’t cut it anymore when you have the resources and time to make an impact.
This reason is in part because blog images don’t only live on your blog. They make the rounds on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest whenever your posts are shared. Chances are, your users have seen similar stock photos many times already, and they’re bored with them.
With so many articles to read, videos to watch, and social media news to ingest, the average reader won’t spend hours looking for the best article on your topic. They’ll choose the most visually appealing option nearly every time.
This is backed by visual content statistics, such as those collected by Venngage. When surveying marketers on content that helped them reach their marketing goals, original images performed best 40% of the time compared to stock photos at 13%.
So before you use stock photography in your next blog post, ask yourself:
Will my readers interact with the same stale image they’ve seen numerous times when researching this topic? Or will they choose to interact with an original image that more perfectly captures the content?
Top Reasons You Should Use Interactive and Original Images on Your Blog
Your goal as a digital marketer is to increase conversions.
So how do you do this even better than you already are, given the changing online landscape?
There are plenty of ways to drive traffic to your website. But what’s more important is driving the right traffic—the users who will engage with your content.
Images can help. According to BlogTyrant, images can up conversions by over 300%.
But keep in mind the kinds of images you use can have an impact on your conversions, too.
For years, stock imagery was the norm. But, it’s time to move away from those pictures.
Why? According to a study done by Marketing Experiments, readers are 35% more likely to convert when presented with a non-stock photo.
Original images offer authenticity stock ones can’t provide. They offer your readers a peek behind the curtain, allowing them to see a deeper side of your content.
Unique blog image content can offer other benefits, including increased customer trust and brand recognition.
According to Brain Rules, a slogan alone only sticks in the minds of 10% of people. When related imagery is added, though, retention rises to 65%. That’s an increase you can’t ignore if increasing brand recognition is on your radar.
Original image content has an often-overlooked SEO benefit, too, and that’s the improvement of Google’s E-A-T score. The E-A-T score lets Google assess content quality based on these three standards:
How can original imagery improve your E-A-T rating?
Whether you shoot and edit photography on your own or you work with a digital illustrator, your unique imagery will have a personal spin. If done right, this will become a vital part of your personal brand strategy.
You show expertise by including images that clearly demonstrate you understand your content.
You show authoritativeness by having consistent, unique branding people recognize immediately.
You show trustworthiness by providing information through images that are accurate and increase user’s knowledge.
A strong personal brand will bump all three elements of an E-A-T rating.
Placing Images on Your Blog
Images, just like text, can also be perceived as “fluff.” Because of this, you need to know when to use pictures on your blog to optimize user experience and benefit your SEO.
You should use images to do three very specific things.
Break Up Large Chunks of Text
According to a study by Microsoft, the average attention span of heavy screen users is a mere eight seconds.
That means you have eight seconds to captivate your audience—and large blocks of text may make them click away pretty quickly.
However, you don’t have to write two sentence posts to make them take fewer than eight seconds to read. Instead, employ clever tactics to keep your readers engaged.
One tactic is to introduce other media, such as photos or digital illustrations. This creates a less intimidating reading experience while also making the post more visually appealing.
Explain a Concept
Some concepts are too abstract or complex to explain effectively in writing, especially if your audience isn’t strictly experts in your topic.
Custom diagrams and visuals can help readers understand the material.
Enliven the Content
As much as you like to think your content is witty and engaging, some topics just won’t interest readers for very long. You can use original visuals to add some life to otherwise “dull” content in these cases.
When Should You Use Custom Illustrations or Photos?
The cost of custom graphics may be prohibitive for some bloggers, but it is possible to find some middle ground.
Use custom illustrations and photography sparingly. Ask yourself where they make the most sense and insert them accordingly.
If you’re creating a landing page for a new product or service, for example, this would be the place to splurge. After all, you want this content to stand out from your competitors—what better way than with a custom graphic?
You can also utilize custom illustrations to drive a point home or explain data.
Whether a comic strip panel, a diagram, or a flow chart, you can use custom illustrations to share ideas with your readers in a way words simply can’t.
When Should You Create Interactive Graphics?
You can take your blog’s imagery one step further with interactive graphics.
Interactive graphics are custom graphics that support reader interactions like mouse pointer movement, clicks, or keyboard input.
This form of original imagery is commonly used in infographics, though other display types include side-by-side comparisons, flow charts, and graphs.
The most obvious use for interactive graphics is to catch the reader’s eye.
Perhaps more importantly, they can also be used to break complex information down into bite-sized chunks. For example, take a look at this nifty interactive graphic that shows users how Google search works without becoming overwhelmed.
Examples of Successful Blog Images
There are plenty of ways to use images on your blog.
Here’s one creative example from Oberlo:
Instead of one lengthy infographic, the content creators chose individual infographic “slides” to answer each question on their post about social media statistics.
This use of graphics achieves two things:
- It makes the information easy to digest.
- It makes it simple for readers to share information on social media.
As mentioned above, one of the benefits of original blog imagery is the personal branding aspect. When you use a particular style consistently, it becomes synonymous with your brand.
Copyblogger provides an excellent example of this:
Their featured images consistently use quotes overlaid on eye-catching images. They work as a watermark of sorts, as anyone who sees their imagery elsewhere will be able to identify them as belonging to Copyblogger immediately.
And what about interactive content? Your options are only limited by your imagination.
Take a look at this comprehensive timeline of the Marvel Cinematic Universe:
As you scroll through the timeline, new images and text content can be seen. This example tells a complex story in a linear, non-intimidating format.
What to Use Instead of Stock Photos
You know you should be using unique imagery on your blog. But what should you use instead of stock photos?
There are plenty of options for every budget and skill level.
Take Your Own Photos
You don’t need a professional setup to take photographs for your blog. Even a smartphone camera can be used to take your own photos.
Depending on the amount of time you have and your budget, you can edit these photos on your phone or by using software like Photoshop.
Edit Stock Photos
Not all stock photos are bad, but you must be purposeful in the ones you choose.
It’s best to choose stock images that haven’t been used too often. How can you know. Using Google’s reverse image search, you can search images to see how many results they get. The less, the better.
Even more than that, though, you can make tweaks to existing stock photos to give them a new look.
Some quick edits include:
- Flipping the image horizontally
- Adding a text overlay
- Adding an image effect or filter
- Cropping the image (from rectangle to square, for example)
The easiest edits can be done using free or low-cost online tools or your computer’s in-built image editing software.
Use Online Tools and Software
Tools exist which enable you to edit or create images in any format and style. You can use these tools to edit stock photos, as mentioned above, or build imagery using digital assets.
Many tools like Lucidpress even have pre-built templates to inspire your designs.
Use Custom Images
Images are so much more than photographs, and you don’t need to rely on photography alone to add visuals to your blog.
Custom images can also include digital assets, illustrations, and iconography.
How to Get Original or Interactive Blog Images
It’s never been easier or more affordable to get original and interactive blog images.
When it comes to hiring a professional, you have options. You can easily find freelancers on sites like Fiverr or Upwork or use a service like Design Pickle.
If you know of a digital artist with a style you like, you may be able to commission them. They are often more expensive than the freelancers you’ll find on the websites mentioned above, but they’re great if you need a specific style.
For bloggers strapped for time, there are services you can hire to do the heavy lifting. The service may be a creative agency or a blog content specialist. Either way, you provide details, and they’ll commission work on your behalf.
Do you have more time than money? You can also create blog images using tools like Canva, Pixlr, or PicMonkey. For a more professional finish, you can invest in a creative suite like Adobe Creative Cloud.
How Much Do Original Blog Images Cost?
As with most services, there are options for almost every budget.
If you hire a freelancer for a one-off gig, then the price varies based on the number of images, the complexity of the work, and how you plan to use the final product.
In some cases, you may be able to get a discount when you buy in bulk.
Commissioning a professional is likely to be the most expensive option. Unless you have money to burn, this should be reserved for high-impact projects, like illustrations for sales landing pages or campaign launches.
Tools to Create Blog Images
Whether you’re on a limited budget or just want to let the creative juices flow, you can opt to create your images.
There are free and low-cost options, such as Canva and PicMonkey. These tools have limitations, including watermarks, if you don’t opt for premium memberships. You also need to be sure all assets used in your design are copyright-free.
For 100% original work, you may find creative suites like Adobe to be the best bang for your buck. With access to tools like Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator, you can create and edit various blog illustrations, diagrams, and original photography.
There are plenty of tutorials available online for creating graphics using Adobe Creative Cloud—so if you’re unable to pay a designer for their services, you don’t have to just guess about how to do this.
If you’re in a time crunch, there are even services that offer quick turnaround times on unique illustrative designs. With tools such as Laetro, you can have a one-of-a-kind illustration in only 24 hours.
There’s no need to scroll through page after page of stock photos to find the right images for your blog post. You can create original blog images, whether by yourself or with the help of a professional.
Original blog imagery, including photography and graphics, can take your blog posts to the next level. It also helps build your overall brand and take your marketing to the next level.
With plenty of options at your fingertips, from free tools like Canva to paid software like Adobe to freelance artists, there’s no reason not to use original images on your blog.
Which of the tools mentioned above are you most likely to use to create images for your blog? Or do you prefer ones we haven’t mentioned? Let us know!
The post Stock Photos are Dead: Create These Blog Images Instead appeared first on Neil Patel.