Bloggers tend to underestimate the power of the art they put on their blog posts, professional looking art can make an immediate difference between an instant dedicated reader and the reader ignoring your blog altogether.
Blog readers do a lot of skimming, so it’s important that you concentrate making the photo that accompanies your writing both specific enough to let the reader know what you’re writing about, and powerful enough to solicit their attention.
I spent the last three years my life making blog photos better as the photo editor of New York Magazine’s blogs. Now that I’ve launched my own blog on minimalism and photography, and I’m working on my own projects, the art is always high on my list of priorities.
Here are eight elements of blog artwork that I contemplate every time I illustrate a story:
1, Simple is always better.
This is the golden rule, always choose an image that has one clear subject and one clear message. A photo with too many objects in it, or too dense a message can really throw your reader off. For my blog I often do a quick silo (art-speak for making a cut out) of every image so that the subject is on a white background for added simplicity.
2, Unique is better than generic.
Aim to provide a photo that your reader hasn’t seen a thousand times. If the image you’ve chosen bores you, it probably bores your reader. Invest the time to find an image that’s unique enough to peek your own interest and it’s a safe bet that your reader will feel the same way. Don’t go too far with this though, an image that’s too unique might confuse or scare your readers.
3, Choose an image relevant to your writing.
Be sure the image you choose is on topic. If you’re writing about writing, don’t choose a photo of a monkey eating a banana, pick an image of someone writing. You might find that your images start to get repetitive, but that’s fine, repetition will build your brand.
4, Stick with a common theme.
Aspire to make all of the photos across all of your blog posts have a similar look and feel. There are a number of ways you can do this: choose a consistent subject, if your blog is about concentrate or self improvement you can always choose photos of people meditating. Another way is by making all of your photos use a similar color scheme, like black and white.
5, Color-correct every image.
Get yourself Adobe Photoshop, or an inexpensive alternative and color-correct your images. The simplest way to do this is to make sure the black and whites in a photograph are pure black and white, by adjusting the contest of the image you can turn a poor looking image into a beauty instantly.
6, Size matters.
Keep your photo size reasonable. If the photo you choose is too big, resize it to a manageable size. Think about all of the different platforms your blog is being read on: RSS, Mobile devices, all sizes of computer screens. If the photo is too large you’re going to overwhelm some of these platforms and your reader in the process. Remember though, photo that is too small won’t be seen at all.
7, If the correct image doesn’t exist, make your own.
This is where you get to be creative! If you can’t find the image you want for your post, make it yourself. For this post I really wanted an image of a photo tacked onto a laptop screen. This didn’t exist, (no one wants to stick a thumbtack in screen, apparently.) So I created my own in photoshop. You can do this using a camera or photoshop, and the possibilities are only limited by your willingness to get creative.
8, Amazing art can save a poor story.
Let’s face it, every once in awhile every writer puts out some really bad writing. Whether you’re going through writers block, or you’re simply hung over and on deadline, you might need to cover up some unusually terrible prose. Outstanding art can tip the balance of reader perception into your favor.