Did you know 20% of our brain is dedicated to visual processing—something that is as natural to us as breathing. Many of us are visual learners. We need to “see” a concept, rather than just reading about it, in order to really grasp it. I think this is why making sure your blog is visually appealing is so important. It’s not just about making it “look pretty”. You also want your visuals to appeal to your audience, or to the audience you are hoping to attract. This is why your blog images are so important, and even more so for social media channels that are image-based, like Pinterest and Instagram.
Here are my TOP nine ideas for how you can really make your blog content “POP”. I mean, what is the point of taking the time to write a post, if no one actually reads it? Right?
Curate Other People’s Visual Content
You don’t have to create every graphic from scratch. Keep your eye out for visual content that really speaks to you, and build a blog post about it.
The correct way to curate content: Take a graphic, video or post that really speaks to you and, in your own words, tell people why (i.e. your own take on the topic). Provide a link to the original content, and credit the creator—but include a short summary and graphic from that content as the focal point of your post.
(Check out the ‘big’ aggregator sites like DIGG—they curate content so expertly half the time you’ll forget they did!)
Capture Them with Motion
Remember that motion catches our attention somewhat akin to the way a laser toy catches the attention of a cat! Motion also feels interactive—we are participating just by watching a video, whereas photographs and illustrations are static: One glance, and we’re done. We know what it was about and—unlike with a video—we don’t have to wait to find out. (Go to DIGG’s video section and note how the live-streaming videos compare with the static video covers.)
Use this principle whenever you have an extra-important message to impart.
A love of repetition is hardwired into human DNA (that’s how we first learned how to learn). Just think of your three-year-old, wanting the same story, night after night. It isn’t the surprise ending that delights her so: It’s the same words, said in the same way. It’s the same scenario repeated multiple times (think “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”).
We carry that early imprinting over into adult life. That’s why audiences respond to repetition in movie memes; why we read what is basically the same cozy mystery plot told in seven different ways. Why we trust people we know more than people we don’t know.
Use that bit of basic psychology in your blog. Always include repeating graphic elements in the same spot—for example, a logo in your resource box; a cartoon ‘mascot’ for a particular newsletter column; the same template for your newsletter every month; the same graphic placement and size in your posts.
Use Fonts to Reinforce Your Message
Take a tip from movie makers and book cover designers—use fonts to reinforce your message. For example, you will often see fantasy novel book covers with titles in ‘medieval’ or ‘Celtic’ fonts. Or you will see a movie title whose font and font effects reinforce both the actual meaning of the title and its mood. For example, see how “The Shining” is written in text that seems to glow … but the peaceful scene it is overlaid upon and the very blurriness of the text seem incongruous, hinting that in this case, ‘shining’ might not be a positive attribute. (The immense, grey masses of mountain underscore this.)
You can find this example plus several more on the Videomaker.
Remember ‘Less is More’
And now that we’ve given you tips for enhancing your graphics, remember that too many special effects and too much repetition within a graphic is kind of like melodrama in a soap opera or a romance novel. By the third time you read that “tears poured down Lucretia’s face” you’re ready to throw her a towel (as you close the book) … and by the fourth time she “trembles visibly”, you’re confused whether you’re reading about Lucretia or Bambi.
The ‘less is more’ principle is ESPECIALLY important for graphics most of your audience will view on mobiles. Too many elements in a picture detract from the message.
Use graphic elements wisely. Once your visual has made its point—you’re done!
Make Sure Your Images are Relevant
For a graphic to be effective in your blog, it has to not only catch attention, it has to be relevant. It should repel people who won’t benefit from your message and speak emotionally to people who are your ideal reader.
You will increase your chances of achieving this if you ask yourself three questions before using any particular graphic:
- “Is this graphic the best one I could use to illustrate this point/post?”
- “Why is it the best graphic?”
- “Is there anything in this graphic that contradicts my message?”
- Try Placing Your Headlines UNDER your Graphic
Graphic designers and magazines such as Resource magazine know this trick: Putting a post headline UNDER the graphic that illustrates it.
Try it—and see if you notice an increase in conversions.
Use Images that Tell a Story
The most mesmerizing images are ones that tell a story. They make your reader wonder things like, “Why is he doing that? What’s going to happen next? What is she crying about?”
(And make sure it’s the same story your text is telling!)
Keep Background Images Understated
Make sure they enhance your blog’s mood and message—but never, ever get in the way of your headlines and posts.
Invest in Images that Trigger Emotions
Nothing will make your blog post more irresistible to your ideal reader than an image that triggers the correct emotion. So don’t be afraid to use highly-charged photographs … and do remember that positive emotions trigger more shares than negative ones.
Don’t Use the First Image You See
When choosing images from a stock site, don’t go for the first image you find—especially if you have actually seen the image before on someone else’s site. Keep searching until you find the perfect image.
Overused stock images can actually detract from your blog’s value, making you seem slick, insincere and ‘the same as all those others’.
That’s my TOP NINE for you. Please sure this post, or share feedback below. I would love to hear from you.