Offering great blog content is one of the surest ways to capture your audience. And an audience who takes the time to read your blog is one who’s interested in what you have to offer and one who may very well become a new client or customer. Problem is, not many people these days are willing to stop and “smell the words” (okay, bad metaphor). What this means is that folks aren’t going to stop and read your post if there aren’t any pictures (sorry to sound like Gaston from Beauty and the Beast, but it’s true). You’ve got to show them what you want to tell them.
Good writers and editors will both tell you that one of the most effective practices for drawing a reader in is to show, instead of tell, what’s happening in your story. So how does that translate into what you’re sharing on your blog, website, or social media? Well, in addition to writing to “show” readers about your business or product, you want to include visuals that capture the image of your business or product. So why visuals instead of longer, more-detailed posts?
Well, first and foremost, there is So. Much. Content.
You’re competing against thousands, possibly even millions, of other reasons as to why someone might scroll past your article, even if they’re interested in the topic, in your business, or are in the market for your product. But if you can capture the essence of what you’re trying to say in one image, scrollers are more likely to pause. The secret: catch their eye, then tell them a good story.
The brain not only processes visual information faster, it retains it longer. And this goes for everyone, not just visual learners. Social media is one place where this has been proven: content with visuals has been shown to boost follower engagement. It gets a whopping 94 percent more views. You may remember that we talked about what was going to rule the social media and blogging worlds in 2017—yes, the content wearing the biggest crown is visual content.
Now that we’ve driven home the point that visuals are a must, let’s get down to the real meat of this post—how to create visuals that capture the reader. As there are many different types of visual-content marketing pieces, the type of content you’re presenting will determine the type of visual piece you choose. Additionally, there are several tools and apps across the web you can use to create stunning images readers won’t be able to take their eyes off.
High-quality photos related to the topic at hand are always a great way to catch the eye as people scroll through content. Not a photographer? No stress. Everyone has a smart phone these days, right? Snap photos with your phone, then edit them using a free photo editing app.
- Let’s pause for a moment and chat about Instagram. We’ve already urged you to get on this social media platform (because over one million other businesses are!). Not only does Insta have fantastic photo editing tools, but you can share those edited photos to your other platforms in a snap (bad pun?). They’ve also added “stories”—short videos available only for a certain period of time (twenty-four hours, to be exact). There’s a sense of urgency with these, encouraging viewers to watch now or miss out—forever!
- If you don’t want to take your own photos, there are fantastic images available online. Sites like Shutterstock, iStock, and Adobe provide beautiful photos, although not all are free. You can find free nonstock photos online, but be cautious: you should research the site to see if they require royalties or attributions.
- In addition to editing your photos for quality, be sure to use your photo app to add creative filters, text, and to design backgrounds to bring your photos to life. Make them a snapshot (ha, ha?) of the post or article, encouraging people to read on.
- One of the top-rated tools for designing great images is Canva. Canva has free images, but you can also upload your own. And not only can you use Canva to design images for your social media posts, you can design eBook covers, invitations, photo collages, and infographics.
Infographics are a type of chart used to explain data and statistics. They make difficult or mundane information easier to digest (unless you like reading statistics and data) and more interesting.
- Create a short headline even the fastest of scrollers will pause for.
- Keep the infographic simple and focused.
- Choose eye-catching shapes, fonts, and colors that match the style and theme of your website and blog (style guides are important).
- Use tools, like the aforementioned Canva, to create your infographics (other tools include Infogram and Visually)
Videos are all the rage these days. There is so much you can do with a short (or slightly longer) video. Use videos to:
- Show product demonstrations or trainings.
- Present seminar recaps, employee interviews, client testimonials, vlogs, or behind-the-scenes clips of the business.
- Videos should have high-quality picture and sound—don’t cut corners. (Think you don’t have the equipment to shoot a high-quality video? No worries. Use your phone to shoot the video and then edit it for quality—as well as to add in some cool features—using a free video editing app).
Slide shows aren’t just for business meetings or in-person seminars anymore. Just about anyone can create and record visually stunning presentations to showcase a business or product. If the information you want to present is too long for an infographic, a slide show is the perfect way to incorporate additional visuals, like screenshots of how your product works (screenshots can also be used as a stand-alone piece of visual content). As with other types of visuals, slide shows should be simple and to the point so as not to overwhelm the viewer (use your style guide!). And be sure to use your spelling and grammar-checks before you publish. You can, of course, use PowerPoint or Keynote to create awesome slide shows, but in case you’d like a few more options, here’s a list of alternatives.
There are so many other types of visual content we could talk about (screenshots, memes, gifs, even your logo and avatar). So tell us: Do you want more information on visual-content marketing? And how do you really feel about it? Love it? Hate it? Do you have any tips for creating beautiful images? We’d love for you to share your answers in the comments below!