Using visual aides to improve content is how marketers have increased the connection between the words on the page and the meaning of the words for readers, for ages. Like all marketing, online marketing with content also needs added visual interest. This is especially true as the Internet becomes more visual in nature. Interesting pictures increase views, shares and engagement exponentially.
Thankfully, you don’t have to be a professional photographer to take, find and use appropriate images for your content.
#1 Know Your Audience
That’s right; everything you do starts with knowing your audience. Understanding what kind of images will evoke the type of emotion you want them to, and what sort of images will get the reaction you are seeking is imperative.
#2 Photograph Your Products
People like to see images of products along with product descriptions. Hire a photographer to take great photos. If you have a small budget check out your local colleges and universities for students who need to fill out their portfolio.
#3 Finding Images for Service Based Businesses
If you have a services business you might think it will be hard to find the right type of images. You can hire a professional photographer too, but the images will be more abstract than direct in many cases. A professional or student might be able to come up with innovative ideas. You can also use actual examples of your work with permission from clients.
#4 How to Discover Reputable Sources for Images
There are a lot of websites, memberships and individuals selling images. To ensure that they are credible, ask for references, and always read the terms of service completely for rules of use. Ask friends and colleagues online about image clubs and services that you can join. One of my favorite is ImagesMonthly.com.
#5 Consider Using Stock Photography
Sites like istockphoto.com and stockfresh.com are abundant, but not all are of the same quality. Be sure to read the terms of service for these sites too, and before downloading pictures ensure that you get the right size because you’ll have to pay again for a larger size. It’s easy to make them smaller but the image quality will be poor if you buy a smaller size and want to increase it for certain themes.
#6 Ask for Model Release Signatures
If you take pictures yourself, be sure to get people in the photographs to sign model release forms. If you are taking pictures in a public place you don’t always have to ask, but it’s a good practice. People will often be happy to agree for their images to be used for a good reason. Ensure that sites you use to get photographs with people in them follow the right legal procedures too.
#7 Don’t Forget the “alt” Tags for SEO
One thing that is often over looked are “alt” tags for images. In WordPress you can easily add an alt tag for each image as you upload it, or as you add it to a particular page or blog post. Be creative when adding the “alt” tag using keywords in the first word or two but provide a real description of what the photo is so that if for some reason your viewer cannot load the picture they know what it is.
#8 Ask Your Readers & Customers to Help
Nothing quite gets the conversation going as user generated content. That type of content isn’t relegated to only text based content. You can have a contest, or a request that they share images of them using your product or service, collect them and make fun collages, or social media updates using these images.
#9 Use Free Online Editors to Make Your Visuals Stand Out
You don’t have to purchase expensive photo editing software; instead you can use online editing software like Pixlr.com and Canva.com to edit photos to use on social media and on your website in blog posts. Adding some kind of special effects to photos and text can make the imagery more effective.
#10 Understand Which Size is Best for Each Purpose
Each social media site, and even each theme used on your website requires different sizes and resolutions of photography to make it look right. For instance, if you have a theme set to show thumbnail images on blog posts in shares, and on the front page of your site, before clicking through it’s important to know how those effect the size and layout of the images used.
#11 Create Visuals from Data You Already Have
Believe it or not images don’t have to be photographs exactly. You can use visuals and infographics for your social media and blog posts. Images can be used as backgrounds to create interesting infographics and other data loaded imagery.
#12 Learn about Framing & Composition
In composition there is something called the “rule of thirds”, this rule basically means that to make any composition whether a painting or a photograph look most interesting, the main subject should be to the left or right of the entire composition rather than front and center. This will work great for blog post images, Facebook covers and other uses. However, the “rule of thirds” won’t work for profile photos or many square images due to how it’s laid out, in those cases, center your main subject.
#13 Study Up on Proper Lighting
When taking your own photos learn to use the lighting settings on your camera. Read up on white balance and ISO settings to find out more information about improving how your images look as you take the photos. It’s amazing what the right light can do for your photography.
#14 Don’t Forget to Check the Background
When taking pictures to use with your content marketing consider how the background looks. Everything in the picture matters and can either add to or distract from the emotions you’re trying to evoke.
#15 Use New Angles and Settings on Your Camera
Taking pictures front and center isn’t your only option, try different angels, from below, at eye level, and from above.. Also play with the different settings on your camera that control how the picture looks such as wide angle, portrait, and focal lengths. These settings can change how your photography looks. Read about digital photography, this Kindle book offers tips that can help your pictures stand out.
#16 Buy the Highest Resolution Camera You Can Afford
You really don’t have to spend a lot of money buying a super expensive camera to get great results taking your own photographs to use to enhance your online content marketing. PC MAG has a great comparison chart of the 10 best digital cameras to buy. As you can see you can get a great camera for a good price.
#17 Clean the Lens of Your Smartphone Camera
You can use your Smartphone for some social media shares if you have a high resolution camera. But one of the problems is they are often fuzzy due to dirty camera lenses. Keep your phone in a case and purchase some lens cleaner to clean it before taking pictures that you’ll use with your online content.
#18 Screen Shots Work Too
Don’t forget that photography used with content marketing doesn’t always have to be a picture taken with your camera or smartphone. Instead, it can also be screen shots taken as examples of the work you do, or part of a how to article.
#19 Create a Style Guide for Your Online Property
Even if you’re the only one publishing to your blog, website and social media accounts it’s important to be consistent. If you write a style guide for all your online real-estate and keep it updated when each social media network changes, then you can just look at that to remind you what size you need for each property.
#20 Be Unique
The most important tip I can give you when it comes to photography used for content marketing is for you to be yourself. No one can do you the way you can do you. So, the most important thing you can do for yourself and your audience is to do you.