I liken adding pictures to my blog as yard work. It’s something I know I have to do to make things presentable, but it’s not my favorite task in the world. Don’t get me wrong; I love taking pictures. It’s just all the pesky resizing and file naming and whatnot that gets me down for some reason.
Adding pictures is a lot more palatable, however, if you’re doing so in a way that boosts your brand. If you’re writing a group blog (like here at BlogWorld) or something that is heavy on information, but low on entertainment, stock photography might be all you need to keep your readers interested – but don’t discount how easy it is to take the photography a step farther. I’m not talking about starting a photography blog or even using an image-heavy design or becoming a strong Flickr user. I’m just talking about making smart decisions about your blog and the pictures you use. If you’re willing to put in a little extra time, it can have a huge impact on your traffic. Let’s look at three different examples, mini case studies if you will, at how bloggers are using images to successfully build a brand.
Images on After Graduation
I swear I’m not a total narcissist; I just wanted to start this discussion by looking at my own blog, After Graduation. When I started writing there, things were much different, and it looks more like what BlogWorld looks like. I made an effort to use a picture in most of my posts in order to break up the text (and fit my WordPress theme at the time), but most of what I used came from sxc.hu or another stock photography site.
Things took a bit of a turn when I realized that I wanted to get a lot more personable with my blog. I didn’t want to build something where people just came for advice. I wanted to build something that people actually stuck around and read through old posts and such because I was entertaining. To help readers connect more with me, I started adding pictures from my own life.
I certainly got a reaction. In just a few days, I jumped from a mere 3 RSS subscribers who had been hanging on for four or five months to 20. That might not seem like a lot to you, but for a small blog just starting out, it was huge to see that kind of increase in a weekend. And really, I didn’t do much different – I just used pictures of myself in the two posts I published. People, for some reason, responded.
Today, I use a mix of stock photography and personal photography. I don’t have a picture to illustrate every thought, so stock does work well sometimes, but when I post a picture of myself, there’s a real connection. We’re all voyeurs at hear – we want to look into the lives of others as we’re reading. Since then, I’ve definitely seen a greater response in terms of subscribers (both RSS and newsletter), time spent on the site, bounce rate, etc.
Images on Fluent in 3 Months
I’m not the only person who makes and effort to use a lot of pictures of myself. Someone else that comes immediately to mind is Benny of Fluent in 3 Months. He’s someone with a big personality, so I’m guessing that posting pictures came pretty naturally. I’ve told you what I see as a blogger who post a lot of pictures on her own site – and that’s only confirmed as a reader.
When I read Benny’s blog, I feel like I’m getting to know him personally, like he’s standing in front of me and we’re having a conversation. Yes, that comes from his writing style, but it also comes from the images he posts of himself. You get a little slice of him every time you log online and visit his site, like you’re part of his life.
That makes me trust him more. People talk a lot about being honest with your readers, and I think photography falls right in line with that. It shows me that you are who you say you are. It’s always quite jarring to meet someone in real life who looks nothing like their pictures or worse – to meet someone in real life who never posted pictures, so you’ve created an image of them in your mind that is completely wrong.
Images on Prolific Living
Posting pictures of yourself isn’t your own image option to build your brand as a blogger. Someone who doesn’t post pictures of herself often, but still does an amazing job with blog images is Farnoosh of Prolific Living. If you check out her site, you’ll notice that the photography she uses is gorgeous. She takes the pictures and does the editing herself.
It fits her brand. Prolific Living is a personal development blog, and Farnoosh is one of the most upbeat, friendly bloggers out there. The images she uses really help her readers connect with what she’s all about. It really elevates her blog above others that just use the same stock photography over and over again. Love it.
I want to challenge you to take a look at the images you use on your own blog. Does stock photography work for your blog? Or, with a little more effort, would there be a better option to promote your brand?