FREE TRAINING: WRITE A BETTER WEBSITE
Nine lessons to help you write a website your customers want to read
Aaagh, no! Please, say it’s not so!! It takes long enough to write a business blog without having to faff about with images too. Stock images, custom images… what does it matter?!
Wait. Hear me out, it’s easier than you think.
You already know there’s so much blog competition these days that even Google’s pushing for more richer and longer content in your posts.
Quicksprout did some A/B testing and showed long-form copy doesn’t just boost your conversions, it increases your rankings too
BUT although blog posts are getting longer, coming in at around 1150 words now as opposed to 800 words a few years ago, the average reader spends only around 16 seconds reading them (Hosting Tribunal.)
That’s 16 seconds to read what you’ve spent so many hours writing. That’s not even skimming. It’s speed-skimming.
It’s okay! Read on to see how to work with this.
Skim-readers skim for many reasons:
Everyone’s reason is personal to them and doesn’t really matter to you.
✅ Catching the eye of the people that need your information
✅ Having these people enjoy your work so much that they’ll find a way to look you up in future
✅ Understanding *everyone” is a skimmer — even you
When you hear information, you’re likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. But if a relevant image is paired with that same information, you retain 65% of the information three days later.
🌞 The right images help file things away in our memories. Choose a unique image that goes with your words and your readers think of you when the subject comes up.
Stock images are a quick and easy way to illustrate your content. But they come with risks.
Stock photos are available for free and to purchase and everyone’s using them… and therein lies the problem. So many blog posts and articles carry the same tired images that readers have become blind to them.
Let’s leave over-used stock photographs to your competitors 😇
No, images aren’t everything. Your content has to be good too. Your tone matters. Relevance matters.
A good image is like seasoning that lifts a meal and adds emotion to your words, making them more engaging and shareable.
Think of images, and layout in general, like wearing a suit to an interview. The suit won’t guarantee you get the job, but it gets you through the door, giving you the chance to layer in a second impression.
A wall of text is hard to manage when you’re skim-reading. You know this, you’re a skimmer too. Help readers out by giving them ledges to rest on as they’re scrolling down the page.
Ledges are things like:
Subheadings and lists are easy enough, but images take a little bit more work. Especially as most people would rather run a marathon than be forced to do anything “creative.”
This is precisely why the stock photo market is so huge. The latest statistics say there are 350 million stock photos out there and the industry growth rate is 5% annually.
While it’s hard to stand out using the same tired stock imagery as everyone else, sometimes only a stock image will do:
With the huge number of stock photography sites out there, you can find something that stands out from the crowd while fitting in with your article.
I’ve certainly been guilty of settling for the low-hanging fruit, especially when it’s for a personal written piece and not something for a client. Don’t be me.
In fact, when either of us is choosing a stock photograph, let’s make this pact:
Custom artwork sounds expensive, but it can be as cheap as doing it yourself. Here are several ways to find your own brand-appropriate images.
Custom artwork isn’t an indulgence anymore. It’s a business strategy.
Here at Wednesday Genius, I create custom graphics and looks for brands to use across their websites, blogs, brochures, and products. Finding an artist to work with is the way to go if you’re looking for a consistent look and feel across your business.
Some artists offer digital downloads for commercial use. It’s an excellent compromise between affordability and originality.
Many topics lend themselves well to pie-charts, column-graphs, and tables. If you have any data you can display in a graphical format, you can knock up something in PowerPoint or Excel and then take a screenshot and save in .jpg format.
Canva has a wide range of free infographic templates to choose from. Pick out the important elements from your article and display them in the infographic. You can make them small like the one earlier in this article, or longer like this one about how to be a better listener.
If you have any artistic desire, no matter how latent, try branding yourself with your own style of art. Here are two examples of businesses who use their own artwork as branding:
But Jessica, Leo Babauta has 2,000,000 breath-taking readers and he doesn’t have a single image on his site.
You think of ZenHabits and you feel the simplicity because simplicity is the brand. No blurring of energy with other sites. No images. No-fuss.
Would it work for you?
It depends on what you’re selling and how consistent you can be. ZenHabits is a carefully constructed dish with no added flavors or preservatives. But a clean-diet isn’t for everyone. You and your readers might prefer things spiced up a bit.
As a writer and a businessperson, you want people to resonate with your work. Use other sites as inspiration but don’t copy them.
Know that stock photography is generic and you choose from what’s in the pool. You have your own voice and your own style, give yourself the space to find a style of imagery that builds your presence and sets you apart.
Choose your images carefully because that’s how they see you online.
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