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The ONE thing your written content needs. (And it’s not what you think!)

This is a guest contribution from karen gunton is a blogger, teacher, and visual marketing specialist.

Bloggers hear a lot of advice about content marketing, email marketing, and social media marketing, but you may have noticed something new pop into the online landscape lately – visual marketing.

So yes, even though you are a blogger and your job is to create written content, I am here to tell you that you need some visual content too.

Visual marketing is simply using images to communicate a message about your blog or your business. The images you use can come in a number of formats (jpeg, video, PDF, slide, print etc.) and can contain a wide variety of content (text, photographs, diagrams, icons etc.) so the definition of visual marketing is actually a lot wider that in seems. You can create visual content that suits you, your blog, and your audience… the key is to get visual.

Here’s why:

social-media-update-frequency.png

1. Social is visual.

If you are using social media platforms to engage with your audience and market your blog then you need visual content.

Social media is visual: brands that share visual content on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ get more engagement than brands that do not; and visual platforms like Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram drive traffic back to blogs.

2. People are visual.

Visual content catches people attention: it often resonates in a way that words alone do not, and it is generally more memorable. The saying “A picture is worth one thousand words” came to be popular for a reason! People are visual, so it makes sense to incorporate visual content along with your written content as a way to engage with your audience.

3. Visual stands out.stand-out-from-crowd-blog.png

We are bloggers. Words come easy to us! But I am sure we all experience a similar problem in our respective niches: there are a number of bloggers blogging about the same topics we blog about. Visual marketing is your chance to stand out, particularly if it is not popular yet in your niche. And visual content is a great way to share your message in some new and engaging ways.

So how do you get started?

Number 1 imageStep one is to realise that any type of blog, in any niche can use visual content. You do not need to have “product photos” in order to do visual marketing. Think outside the box to come up with ideas for visual content that suits your blog, your brand, and your niche: before and after photos, behind the scenes photos, sketches, maps, flow charts, diagrams, humorous memes, inspirational quotes … there are many ways to get visual!

Number 2 imageStep two is to go beyond the typical blog “stock photo” and use blog images that double as social media images. Creating an image with your blog headline, a quote from your blog text, or a helpful tip from your blog content will give you something to post to Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, even your email… any place where your audience is hanging out!

When you post your image to social media, include the link back to your blog and a call to action to click for more. If your images resonate with your audience they will do they sharing for you – that’s why I call these types of images “shareables”!

Number 3 imageStep three is to look at content that you already have and think about how you can make it visual. Repurposing existing, popular content is a great way to engage with your audience in new ways, plus it doesn’t have to take a lot of extra time.

Consider creating a slide show and sharing it on Slideshare, adding your voice to the slide show and uploading it to YouTube, turning your content into a printable PDF guide or checklist, or creating an infographic.

Think back to when you were in school and you realised that kids learn in different ways – adults are the same. Sharing your written content in new ways will help you engage with your audience. Not to mention that these different formats give you the opportunity to share content on new platforms, and include your own visual branding to build brand recognition.

It is win-win-win.

I know that one of the big things that holds many bloggers back from creating visual content is the whole “But I am not very creative!” thing. We are into writing, and that sometimes means we aren’t as comfortable with images.

But I bet that there was a time when you didn’t feel like a writer either! You have probably heard the advice that the best way to learn how to write is to start writing. It is the same for visual content. The more you play with creating images the more comfortable you will feel with it, and the more you will learn what resonates with your audience.

And with so many amazing free tools and tutorials online, this is indeed something anyone can learn. To get started, try picmonkey. It is my favourite online tool: it’s free, it is very user friendly, and it is a fun way to create social media shareables that will help you promote your blog posts.

Go on, give it a try… give your audience something they can pin, share, tweet, and print – they are waiting for it!

karen gunton is a blogger, teacher, and visual marketing specialist. she is passionate about helping micro business owners SHINE online. take her FREE visual marketing class to learn how to create your own branded shareable images for social media – no photography or design skills necessary!

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Comments

  1. Hmmmm..
    Dear Sir All points are here cleared.
    and your steps are also Good written, and clearly explained.

    and yes! dear need to write content is Really Most imporant to Bloggers.

  2. Daryl says:

    I’d actually never really thought about how using visual media can differentiate you from all those other blogs…thanks for the tips!

    Question – where would you suggest is the best place to source images and why?

    Cheers,

    Daryl

    • karen says:

      hi daryl! great question. i personally think the best thing to do is create your own – grab your iphone, take some instagram shots… add text to them if you like, or just create text images. it really is the only way you can be absolutely sure that you have complete rights to the image and also to do what you want to the image. for stock photos that you can creatively edit try pixabay or morgue file. and i have also heard good things about death to stock photo. best of luck! =)

  3. Alexa says:

    Thanks so much for this, Karen. I feel like the visual marketing is one area in which I’ve been totally lacking. Sometimes I play around with Gimp but my skills are pretty limited. I will definitely try out picmonkey and sign up for your class. I can’t wait to get started!

    • karen says:

      thanks alexa. i have found GIMP to be a bit confusing so definitely do try out picmonkey – super easy. and fun! =)

  4. Thank you Karen for sharing with us your knowledge on visual marketing. That is something that I am going to do on my blog.

  5. Vukasin says:

    I definitely agree with all above. Great post from you Karen. Keep with good work!

  6. Yaisa Hagood says:

    I have always struggled to provide more visual content. Before this article I thought that the content needed to be a photo. However, this week I plan to try some of the options that you discussed in this blog post.

    • karen says:

      awesome! i love hearing that. there are so many types of visual content you can use, and so many ways to make it your own. have fun experimenting! =)

  7. John Smith says:

    Hi Karen,
    I agree with your points as now a day blogging is not only about written content it is all about provide information to our reader in any best way we can and by analyzing the growth of social media we can easily figure out that picture and video are also a great way to provide good information, we should include these form of medium in our blog too to interact with our reader in a better way.

    • karen says:

      i definitely agree john. just like with our writing, we can play with visual content to see what resonates with our audience. and just like with our writing, when we get it just right it can be so awesome! =)

  8. Always picture can tell more words than text. Visual marketing can be very helpful and picmonkey is a nice tool which is providing a great platform to design graphics fast. Very Helpful post. thanks a lot

  9. Hi Karen,
    Its definitely true that visual marketing is more effective than mere content marketing. Images, videos have been the new trend in blogging to gain audience and traffic.
    Thanks for this awesome article.

  10. Problogger is also considering visual aspects. I can see many images being published here.

    Good luck Karen!

  11. Steve West says:

    Great post Karen!

    Yes I totally agree, it really helps to ad visual images and videos to your blog posts, it really helps to make them much more interesting and engage the audience more. I like to try to use metaphorical images that help to enhance the topic of the post if I can, but it’s not always possible. Also, I found that using a funny image is much more likely to get shared round on social media, but of course it also has to be relevant to the post too!

    Cheers, Steve :)

    • karen says:

      totally agree steve! funny images do often go viral, but when they aren’t relevant to the post or to your biz/blog then they can actually backfire… even if people find it funny it won’t really build brand recognition or trust. just like our writing i suppose! =)

  12. Clare says:

    Hello Karen

    Thanks for a great post.

    We have so little time to grab someone’s attention before they leave the web page, and adding graphics will certainly help wit this.

  13. Kriscarcas says:

    Great post! Focusing on the importance of visual images to emphasize a site/blog.

  14. Great article I just can’t believe how many typos ProBlogger let slip!

  15. Pinody says:

    This is very well written and I agree 100% with the visual.

  16. Kostas says:

    I am all about visuals at the moment. I think it is a very important aspect of content marketing which cannot be ignored. It is human nature to be attracted by something visually pleasing.

  17. I agree 100% with this post!

    Visual aspects of a blog is very important! People love to see pictures, even since our childhood days when we only wanted to read books with pictures in them. A photo can allow us to better relate to what is being said and imagine ourselves there.

    Photos are really the way to go with blogging – thus is why those funny photo blogs do oh so well!

  18. ken murika says:

    I totally agree, am more intrigued by images in an article than plain texts, the quality of images also matters alot

  19. Yamina says:

    Visual media is certainly of great help to market good content. One should not be satisfied with only great content, how the content is presented is also helpful

  20. Gokhan says:

    You are totally right. Visual things attract more people rather then reading plain texts. If the image about your content is a quality and simply explaining about your content, than the reader may be convinced more to read your article.
    Great post.

  21. Alex Jobs says:

    Step 4: follow Problogger.net

  22. David Bourne says:

    Excellent Stuff, Karen

    Thanks for reminding me that we need to think in terms of *shareable* images, too.

    Do you think text overlays have become more important? I guess they are depending on your goals.

    And Picmoney looks awesome!

    • karen says:

      awesome question david. i do think text overlays have become more important with the rise of images being shared on pinterest, facebook, and even instagram. if you want to entice people to click through to read more, some text on the image can be really helpful. otherwise it may just be a pretty people that people will pin or share, but not necessarily click through to visit your blog. which is probably what we really would like! =)

  23. Tom McCall says:

    Couldn’t agree more, Karen. Excellent points. I am a firm believer of the importance of visual imagery to enhance your content marketing efforts as you can see: http://mc2branding.com/2013/09/09/dont-skimp-on-visual-imagery-harness-the-power-of-pictures-to-humanize-your-brand/

    • karen says:

      thanks for sharing that post tom. i especially love your point about branding each image – that is what i teach my students too and one of the big reasons i encourage people to create some of their own visual content. when you do you CAN add your brand to your images in so many ways – subtle and obvious. =)

  24. I love steps two and three I think they are a great way for people to reimagine thier old work.Also a good way to get over writers block. I am a very visual person and I used to love slide shows and I think its great to infuse that into my work thanks

    • karen says:

      thanks martha. i have “create a slide show for slide share to repurpose some old awesome content” on my to do list. i think it will be fun to make it visual and hopefully in doing so make it resonate in a new way. =)

  25. Reshu says:

    Very interesting article Karen! Visual content is indeed the key to engage your audience on social media
    platforms.

    Adding images & videos will help you to spark interaction, gain higher visibility, generate leads and build loyalty. Besides social networks, even email marketing campaigns with images have reportedly a higher click through rate than campaigns without images.

    I also want to add a point here: Your visual content also needs to be optimized for discovery. So, it’s
    important to optimize your title, description and tags.

    Also when creating visual content, keep in mind the action you would like to stimulate in your audience
    mind and create it accordingly. As per Dan Zarrella research, “On Facebook, photos perform best for likes, comments, and shares as compared to text, video, and links.” My thoughts: http://www.betaout.com/blog/13-ways-to-instantly-make-your-content-go-viral/

    • karen says:

      thanks for adding that reshu – i totally agree. there are so many additional tips and suggestions i could share – but then darren would have to publish my book instead of my blog post! one of the things i teach in my workshop is to always start with the end in mind – what is your purpose with the image? =)

  26. silviu says:

    Hello Mrs Karen,

    Beautiful post. Very rare these days. I think visual marketing is a new concept and I am very attracted by the idea.

    The principle seems to create relevant content that attracts attention and makes you stand out. The essence is not beautiful pictures but relevant, interesting pictures that communicate a message.

    Creating an image with your blog headline, a quote from your blog text, a tip from your blog content? These are very new to me. Never crossed my mind. I wrote them in my swype file.

    Adding your voice to the slideshow? I love the idea. WOW! What a tip. Thanks

    I want to add something to the conversation. You talked about calls to action. I think it would be a good idea to transform textual CTAs into buttons. Buttons comes in many shapes and colors and stand out more on post or a sales page. What do you think?

    Have a wonderful day

    • karen says:

      thanks silviu – glad these ideas resonated with you! i definitely think you could add call to action buttons to your images, in facet i have tried this myself and have seen some great examples of this. especially when an image is posted on pinterest (because when people click they are taken to your site) and on spots like a facebook page cover image or shareable image. however i do think we need to be careful not to do a “click here for…” type message on every image – that could start to feel a little salesy. sometimes the purpose might be just to let people know you get them or that you care about the same things you do. in which case a button wouldn’t be needed, it is enough the person loved it enough to pin it or print it out. =)

  27. Carlos says:

    Dear Karen, Great Info! I loved the part that you mention that we need to think out of the Box! We definitely tend to think that only a product oriented blog, or website can use Images… For my blog, I will definitely try to use more imagery, and cool pics, or something. I guess you need to find out like a style, or type that goes with your brand. I haven´t found it yet!

    Thank you for the info!

  28. Paul says:

    I love how social media provides you such a great platform for visual marketing. Great article Karen

  29. Rohan Mod says:

    Agreed because when i embedd graphs, and facts images my posts get many shares and when i just link share i get less exposure so images, graphs are the key and people love it.

  30. Forgetfulone says:

    Not once did I see in your post a mention that you should either create your own visual content or be aware of copyright infringement if you use someone else’s visual content. Most images are copyrighted as soon as they are created unless the author/owner of the content specifies a creative commons license. Where do you get visual content? If you create an image yourself, you likely will include some sort of watermark or copyright statement; however,if a blogger uses a Google image search (whether it’s a picture, graph, chart, diagram) and fails to document the source of the visual in the blog post, he or she has just committed a crime. Be careful, or you just might find yourself in court for copying and posting someone else’s visual content.

    • karen says:

      hi! thanks for adding that comment. you are right i haven’t gotten into that here but i have written about that extensively on my blog and teach people about this in the workshops, workbooks and classes i offer. just like with written content we do need to be aware of protecting our own copyright and also not infringing on others’ in our efforts to share content. this is definitely a big topic that everyone needs to be aware of. =)

  31. tamour says:

    Thanks for a great post.

    We have so little time to grab someone’s attention before they leave the web page, and adding graphics will certainly help wit this.

  32. Joanne says:

    I couldn’t agree more with you, Karen. Yes, a well-written content is effective when it is informative, but adding visual to your already effective content makes it more powerful and appealing. I appreciate that you even included a “how to” part in your content. This will be very helpful for bloggers and marketers to increase their traffics and conversions.

    Nice post!

    • karen gunton says:

      thanks joanne. teaching is my thing so i do always try to add the “how to” – the trouble is keeping it short and sweet. i have so many things i want to share with people! i am grateful for a chance to share these ideas here =)

  33. Rhonda Franks says:

    I’m so happy to see Karen featured on your blog today. She is such a champion for creating original visual marketing content, and has sought tirelessly to educate users on social media channels to protect the copyright and ownership of images created by others. Her Visual Marketing Do It Yourself course is excellent for those of us who desire to create our own images but did not know how. Certainly visual content is important for everything in marketing these days, even in embedding things into your emails (attachments are so passe)…She makes very practical suggestions here to stimulate one’s creativity in figuring out how to morph ideas into shareables, even for those who do not feel that they are “artistic creators”. Original content that you can tag with your branding/site will go farther to advance your brand than any other type of images you can share. Fabulous post, thank you.

    • karen gunton says:

      thank YOU rhonda! i really appreciate you sharing this feedback here, you are a star. =)

  34. Jacqui says:

    Hi Karen, just wanted to say thankyou – I have learnt so much from you in regards to visual marketing from your weekly newsletters in terms of tools to use, strategies etc. Also just recently watched your free brand strategy class and the trick you shared in there I thought was so valuable – am definitely going to use it to help clarify my brand :)

    • karen gunton says:

      thank YOU jacqui. i really appreciate that feedback and i am so glad to know that my content has helped you. =)

  35. Joyce Agee says:

    This is great information. I am going to put it to use next month. I’m glad that I had the opportunity to view it.

  36. Kevin Bradberry says:

    I just picked up 3 links from this site for finding and editing photos. Much thanks.

    I’ve recently being practicing sketches on an iPad and I’m thinking about developing my own illustrative style of sketch that could be featured as my blog post thumbnail.

    • karen gunton says:

      i love this idea! i have been wanting to experiment with sketching and doodling too… a fun way to put your own spin on visual content =)

  37. I agree with you. Infact I also assist students in writing assignments. Originality in content is very important and helps in students fetch good marks..But blogs like yours are helpful in updating ourselves and know more..Thanks a lot dear :)

  38. Sia says:

    I always use images in all my posts. I couldn’t think of anything worse then all words. Too boring. The more photos the better it really livens up a post.

  39. Alexa says:

    I think all that is quite obvious. But such articles can be really helpful for beginners.

  40. Robb Jarrett says:

    Great post. To add to it, remember video! Video marketing and video elements in general are the hottest thing going right now and we see it as a crucial elelment to anyone wanting to deliver the kind of content their customers want.

    • karen gunton says:

      i totally agree. video is definitely great visual content to use for blogging and/or business, and is such a great way to connect with people.