A good image is worth a thousand words, use them to add impact, humor and personality to your writing.
Selecting images that get noticed is an art itself and a few things need to be kept in mind during the selection process:
1. The Internet audience is overwhelmingly male.
2. People are attracted to pictures of people, particularly faces.
3. Studies indicate that even women prefer to see women in advertisements.
I’m not saying add pictures of hot chicks to every post on your blog, I’m just saying for best results, know your audience and be clever in your selection.
What to Look For
That said, here are some tips:
White background - Chances are, the background of your text is white (if it isn’t, it should be). That means an isolated image with a white background will sit seamlessly in your copy, saving you editing time.
Avoid the obvious - Try not to search for the same keyword everyone else does to illustrate your topic. Find a remote association (or add one) and search for that instead.
Be unique - Select images that have the very few downloads; the more times it has been used, the more likely it is to already be associated with another brand.
Keep it simple - One good picture grabs far more attention than 10 of them. Too many images and your post becomes jumbled and distracting.
Where to Find Them
There are an endless number of places to find images online, from free user generated pictures, to professionally taken print-quality photography. Here are a few of my favorite spots to find pictures.
If you want to use recognizable shots of people from these sites, legally they must sign a release. Bear in mind that the amateur photographer who took and posted the image probably doesn’t have a signed release on file. Especially consider this when posting pictures of children.
Free Stock Sites
Generally offer decent quality stock photos, the selection is never as big as the paid sites, but they are handy on a tight budget. Licensing varies by site and by image, be sure you read licensing info.
Be sure you understand the creative commons laws and then follow them.
Social Photo Sites
User generated image sites are useful, and many offer an advanced search for images with creative commons licensing. Ask permission and always credit your source.
I recommending asking permission to use images, and always crediting the original source.
For a Fee
Paid Stock Sites
Growing in numbers, there are a wide range of these sites, from inexpensive stock photography, to higher-end print quality images.
Unique images go a long way in our istock world. Making friends with a professional photographer is a good way to keep your content fresh regardless of your topic.
Your own photos
Depending on your industry this is probably the cheapest option. If you don’t want to source free photos, take and edit them yourself.
How to Edit Them
There are a few essential things to learn when it comes to manipulating images (whether you use a web-based service or software like photoshop).
1. Cropping - Keep images simple, crop off excess so the focus of your image is clear. If you are going to align images to the left or the right of your text, be sure to make them a bit smaller for aesthetic purposes.
2. Padding - There needs to be a buffer of white space between text and images, this makes copy easier to read and looks polished.
tip: if you are using Adobe Photoshop, you can create padding by changing the canvas size about 10 pixels wider and longer than the image itself.
3. Sizing for the page - The size of your images depends on the type of post you are writing and the types of pictures you are using. In the end, they are the accessories, they shouldn’t distract from the words themselves.
4. Saving - Be sure to save your image optimized for the web, (photoshop offers a save for web option).