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3 Ways to Create Better Images for Your Blog Posts


Without a doubt, creating images for blog posts ranks pretty low on my list of favorite tasks. Yet, I’ve found that having compelling images, not just stock photography, is important for getting social shares and keeping my readers interested, especially with longer posts.

I’m not a very good photographer, though. It certainly isn’t a passion of mine, and I don’t own a DSLR. However, I’ve still come up with a few ways to add compelling images to my blog posts. Here are my three best methods:

1. The Title Image

One of my favorite types of images to create is what I call the “title image.” I like this type of image for my blog posts because they look professional and are readily shared on Facebook and Pinterest. They’re also easy to make using stock photography. Here’s how to make a title image:

  • STEP ONE: Find some stock photography with licensing that allows you to edit it.

The image should be related to your post, but since you’re going to be adding text, the relationship can be looser than if you were only going to use the image. It’s very important that you look not just for Creative Commons images, but also images where the owner stated that it’s okay to alter, because you will be adding text to it. For our example, I’m going to use this image from NMX 2013. Since NMX owns the image, I know that I’m allowed to use it in this blog post and to alter the image with text.

title image example 1

It’s great if you can find an image, like this one of Tom Webster, that has a big blank spot. If you can’t, however, not to worry! Focus on finding a nice shot that fits your post topic rather than an image that is so-so image with a blank spot. I’ll show you in the next step what to do if there’s not a big blank spot.

  • STEP TWO: In your favorite photo-editing program, add your title.

I’m going to show you using PicMonkey, which is free and easy to use. You don’t even have to download anything; it’s an online editing program. You could use Photoshop or whatever other program you have that allows you to add text.

Select a font you like and add the text. It usually works to either center the text, adding breaks so it fits nicely, or to justify the text left or right depending where it is located on the image. If I justified the text in this image, I would left-justify because it’s on the left side. But let’s go with centering the text for now:

title image example 2

This is a nice font for our silly made-up title, but the line in the background is a little distracting. So, a bolder font would probably work better. I’m also going to add a shadow in a contrasting white color to make the words really pop.

title image example 3

That looks pretty nice, and it only took me a few minutes. You can also play around with using different fonts and sizes to make certain words stand out. Remember to create something that represents your brand and your niche well. Here’s an example of a more playful look:

title image example 4

This one took a little longer, but gives you a completely different look. There’s no formula for choosing the right font, size, and colors; you just have to play around with it until you get a look that you like.

But let’s say that your image didn’t have a nice open spot like this picture of Tom. Let’s say instead you have this picture of the crowd watching a session:

title image example 5

In this case, any place you add the text, the busy background will distract you and make it hard to read. So, I suggestion added a faded block of color behind the text. I usually use either black or white and fade to between 30% and 50% depending on how distracting the background is.

title image example 6

You can of course also make it snazzy with drop shadows, fun fonts and colors, etc. but keep in mind that this technique looks best when the title is on a single line, so longer titles don’t work will with this method.

2. The Collage

Another option you have if you want to make a highly-sharable image is to do a collage. I most commonly add the title of my post to these as well, but how you use a college is really up to you. This method is great for list posts or when you’re talking about several tips/products/etc. throughout the course of your post. It allows you to highly several images at once this way.

For example, let’s say I was writing a post called “NMX Speakers Who Make Glasses Look Cool.” I could do this:

collage example 1

Cliff Ravenscraft certainly does make glasses look cool…but if I want to highlight several different speakers in my post, an image of Cliff alone might not be the way to go. So instead, a collage will work well.

  • STEP ONE: Find images to illustrate all of your points.

In this case, I’m going to find images of lots of NMX speakers who wear glasses. As always, remember to use images under the Creative Commons license where the owner allows you to alter.

  • STEP TWO: Open PicMonkey in collage mode.

You can definitely use other image editing programs as well, but PicMonkey is hands down my favorite tool in this case because it has a mode specifically for collages.

  • STEP THREE: Choose a layout that will allow you to highlight your text and add images.

There’s no one right way to do this. You could, for example, choose to have a large box for the text (to add later) or you could create a college where you’ll later add the text over top of the images, like with the title slide.

Here’s the an example with the former:

collage example 2

And the latter:

collage example 3

  • STEP THREE: Add text to your college if desired.

To actually achieve the look you get with the above two images in PicMonkey, you have to save the collage and reopen in regular editing mode to add the text. This is where I also added the blue boxes in both cases. Adding text gives you more of the “title image” look, but a pure collage without text might work well for your needs.

3. The Quote Image

Lastly, a really easy type of image that is usually shared a lot is what I call the quote image. I’m taking a page from print design for this one! When you’re reading a story, especially in a magazine, there are often pull quotes – quotes from the actual text that have been pulled out and made into larger images because they are interesting or important.

This is so easy I’m not even going to break it down into steps for you. All you do is paste a line from your post into a photo editing program. You can use an image or texture for a background or use a simple colored background that coordinates with your blog’s theme.

Here’s an example of a quote I used for an image in a post featuring NMX speaker Dino Dogan:

dino dogan quote

Even better, you can connect an image like that to Click to Tweet and tell your readers via the caption to click on the quote to share it. A good quote is irresistible to share!

So there you have it, my three favorite ways to create images for my blog posts even though I’m not a photographer and don’t know much about editing images. How do you add images to your blog posts? If you have a great method to share or have tried any of the above methods, leave a comment!

How to Boost Your Brand with Photos


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

This is one of the recent pictures I used on After Graduation. It shows my personality and (I hope) makes you want to read the post to see why I’m making a goofy face.

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?

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