This guest post is by Karol K of ThemeFuse.
“A picture is worth a thousand words.”
I’ve always liked this adage even though it’s one of the biggest cliches ever. Pictures, photos, image—they are all great for visualizing your posts and making them more memorable.
I know that it’s the content of the book that’s important, but what would be a book without a nice cover? Okay, let me stop being poetic and get straight down to business.
Why you should use images in your blog posts
1. They help your written content to deliver the intended message with a bigger impact
There’s really no better way of doing this. If you want to really emphasize a strong point, you can do it by writing it in bold as a separate paragraph and then placing an image next to it. Of course, the image has to be of some relevance to the text, or it won’t work.
2. They make your post more memorable
We humans need an anchor of some kind to memorize things. Most of us tend to remember things in snapshots—by visualizing them. It’s not natural for us to remember something as text—a set of words and sentences. It’s difficult to make a snapshot of a piece of text. Images do this job a lot better.
(Quick note. Sorry, but a headline is still the most important factor for every blog post. Just wanted to make this clear.)
3. They break the text visually
In most cases, reading from a computer screen is not comfortable. Eyes get easily tired, you can’t be staring at a computer screen for more than an hour at a time, and let’s face it, sitting at your desk is not the most comfortable position either.
Images are not the magic-bullet solution to make all of these go away, but they do make it easier for the reader. If the text is long you—the author—absolutely must break it down into smaller chunks.
The first rule of breaking it down is to use short paragraphs, no longer than four to six lines. However, even if you’re doing this, you will still end up with a number of paragraphs, and they need to be broken down too. The solution: images.
When you place an image every six to ten paragraphs, the text gets really reader-friendly. Everyone can easily follow your way of thinking and do a little five-second break to look at an image. And then they can easily return to the place where they’ve left off.
I’m sure that there are many more reasons for using images, but I’m confident that the above prove my point well. And, of course, I’m not even going to discuss the situations in which a blog is totally image-driven, like all kinds of photo blogs, for example.
What’s the best place for an image?
I’m no guru here, but I think that the best place is the beginning of a post (somewhere near the headline). It’s where the reader looks first, so if we want to help them to memorize anything, this is the placement to use.
Of course, you can use more than one image in a blog post. So my recommendation is to use the first image at the beginning, and then spread other images evenly throughout the post so they do their job of breaking the post down visually. Which brings me to the next point…
Don’t use too many images in short posts.
Images should make reading easier not harder. If you break the text too much, the whole purpose loses its sense and turns into an obstacle.
The perfect number of images per post for your blog is for you to decide. It depends on the blog’s design, the average post length, and the content of the post as well. You can find your number by testing a couple of possible setups and deciding which one works best.
The size of images
The maximum size you can use is the width of the content block on your blog. So again, it’s design-dependent.
That being said, the most common approach is to use images that are smaller (except for photography blogs) rather than bigger. That’s because the image is just there to aid you in conveying the message; it’s not to be the message itself.
An image is an extra element. If it’s too big it becomes the main element. I’d advise you to use images that are either not wider than one-third of your content block width, or even up to the whole width but really small in height.
Now, there’s an exception to this rule—screenshots.
Screenshots usually work as main elements of a post, so they need to be bigger. Also, they need to be bigger for readers to be able to see clearly what’s on them. Another approach is to present a screenshot as a thumbnail along with a lightbox gallery link.
How to embed pictures on your blog
Before you stop reading, bear with me! I know that this is basic and everybody knows this, so there are only two things I want to tell you here.
- Upload images in the exact dimensions you intend to use: always resize your image to the exact size you’ll use in a blog post. Bigger pictures consume more space than smaller pictures, so there’s no point in uploading a large picture and then scaling it down inside of WordPress.
- Use an image optimizer plugin: something like WP Smush.it. I’m not going to go into technical details because, to be frank, I have no idea how it works, but what I do know is that it optimizes the size (the disk size, not the dimensions) of images with no loss of quality. And it’s free.
There are basically three types of images you can use:
- your own images
- free images
- paid images (usually referred to as royalty-free images).
Attribution is a thing you need to have in mind when using free images. It depends on the license a given image is shared with, but what you usually have to do is to somehow attribute the image to its author or creator.
The most popular way of doing this is by placing a link to the original image in your post. Some image directories require you to do this, and some don’t.
Treat attribution as a payment for the image—which essentially is exactly the case.
Do you have any strategies for using images on your blog you’d like to share? Feel free to share your opinion and advice in the comments.
Karol K. is a 20-something year old web 2.0 entrepreneur from Poland and a writer at ThemeFuse.com, where he shares various WordPress advice. Don’t forget to visit ThemeFuse to get your hands on some original WordPress themes (warning: no boring stuff like everyone else offers).