The world of blogging has exploded over the past decade or so.
From one-page rants, to fully designed page layouts that involve text, images and more, the face of a blog post has changed considerably.
Audience tastes have changed too over the years. Blogs without images don’t draw as much interest as those that have visually appealing images to support the topic of the blog.
According to HubSpot Stats 2017, when people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later.
A well designed blog post wins hands down.
These days relevant visuals and images are a must have for a blog post.
Writing a blog post is a time-consuming affair especially if you’re running a one man/ woman business with little help from anybody.
To top it off, adding images involves trawling the internet for stock photos which you can get free of charge or dish out quite a bit for the paid ones.
This can be a time consuming process and for a business owner time is what you don’t have.
Besides, if you’re looking to add customizations you need to wear another professional hat – that of a designer.
Now, not everyone is blessed with artistic skills or has the head for InDesign and Photoshop.
So what do you do?
Well you have options….
- You could use that stock image you found on the internet…but it quite doesn’t convey what you want to.
- You can redesign and edit that image
- Create a new graphic
- Or hire a content creator.
Hiring a content creator is a great idea. Let them work on your content, the design and the visuals while you concentrate on other aspects of your business and blog writing.
But if you insist on going it in your own then there are 5 vital steps to designing your blog images productively which will save you a lot of time and it will be effective in the long run too.
So what are the strategies to design blog post images and visuals productively?
1. START WITH A CONTENT PLAN
Planning is the key to getting regular blog posts published and have images ready for them.
The way to start is to create a content plan which includes a content calendar. A content plan is a document where you list and record your plans and strategies for your business content. It is a tactical document which is part of your overall content strategy.
Simply put, a content plan is a plan for your business content and will include details like key topics areas to cover, what content you will create, who will create it, how you will share it and what call to actions you will include.
A content calendar is another document that works in tandem with your content plan and is part of your overall content strategy. The content calendar is a time line or schedule which helps you create and publish your content effectively.
The content plan and content calendar don’t have to be comprehensive documents but simple spreadsheets will also do the job.
Once you have these two vital documents ready you can plan images and visuals for your blog posts based on this.
2. PLAN VISUALS FOR YOUR BLOG POSTS
It’s a good idea to plan your blog topics or content for every three months in one block.
So if you’re planning on publishing 2 posts per month, then for three months you need to prepare for six blog posts. Ideally you would be basing these posts on a key topic for those three months although it depends on your overall content strategy.
Say you’re a wedding planner and the overall topic for the first quarter of the year is based on spring.
Your content plan and calendar should also capture key dates and events. For example, there may be a wedding expo taking place in your area. You may then have several topics relating to weddings in spring and some of the posts will incorporate information on the wedding expo.
Depending on the topics that you have decided, you will have an idea of the type of photographs or images you want to incorporate in your posts.
Taking the above example you may want to take photos of spring weddings, flowers in spring and brides at the wedding expo wearing spring fashion etc.
Make a rough content map which relates a particular post to the kind of pictures and visuals you need. Also, make note of where you will source these from – Will it be stock photography? Will you take pictures or ask someone to take them for you? And will you design certain visuals and graphics or source them from online resources such as Freepik or Shutterstock?
At this point you should have a plan and many interesting ideas about the visuals and images you are going to use in your blog posts over the next three months. But make sure you are laser focused on the kind of images you want so you don’t waste time taking photos of things you might not use at all or waste time designing visual elements which don’t look right after all.
Every blog should have a main features images and also images for social sharing such as Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Images are one of the most important aspects of social media content and get more engagement than those without images. That’s because our brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text.
HubSpot has got a great post which includes a nifty infographic, called The Ultimate Cheat Sheet of Social Media Photo & Image Sizes which will help you plan your images for social shares.
So it’s time to schedule two to three days or even up to a week and concentrate on creating these images.
3. GET CLICKING, DESIGNING OR CURATING
This is the time you use to get all your blog post images ready for the next three months.
By allocating time, you can get all your images and visual assets prepared for the next three months productively.
If you have planned to take some pictures yourself then make sure you take plenty of digital images. They could be photos you shoot on location such as photos of flowers and the beautiful spring foliage around or perhaps you need someone to model your products for you such as jewelry. You can then ask a friend to help you with that. Maybe you want to take some photos of beautiful objects laid out on a table or desk or shoot photos of people in a park ( in this case it’s always a good ideas to ask people if you could take their photos)?
All this takes planning and once you have decided on all aspects of your visuals, you will be clicking and creating in no time.
Curating images from the internet is also a great option to get the images you need for your posts. You can find many free resources such as Pixabay, Wikimedia Commons, Flikr, Unsplash and Kaboom Pics. While these images are copyright free, it’s always a good idea to credit the source. This just puts you in a good habit of crediting the person responsible for the photographs and images.
Another great place to look for images is Creative Commons which also gives you information about the types of licensing attached to images which you may want to use.
You will also find images on platforms like Freepik where you are required to credit the source for all images used. However if you use paid services like Shutterstock, 123RF and Freepik’s premium service, you can freely use their images.
In any case, its good practice to check the licensing restrictions associated with photos and images you use and its best to follow the licensing specification.
Sometimes you may find that you want to edit and enhance the photos you have taken. This can involve something as complex as using Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom to using online editors such as PicMonkey or Aviary.
You may also just want to add text, an icon or two or some other elements to your photos and images. Online editors like Canva and Stencil are great for doing just that with their easy-to-use interface and readymade templates.
You may have planned to design other visual assets such as charts, infographics and other visual representations which will complement your blog post. You can use online design editors which get the job done quickly as there is already a lot of premade stuff and the platforms which are easy to use.
Or you may be up to using design software like Photoshop, InDesign and CorelDraw, in which case you may need to allocate more time to your design project.
4. CREATE TEMPLATES
When people read your posts you want them to associate your posts with your brand or brand image.
One way of doing this is to standardize your images and design of your blog.
I know that sounds boring and kind of kills creativity. But in the long run you will be thankful.
Your audience will begin to recognize your style and your posts from the way you have designed your blog, from the style of images used, colors of your brand and other elements.
By creating a standard for all these elements, will save you a lot of time in your blog creation process.
Especially when you are designing your visuals, as it can be a time-consuming process.
One way to do this is to make templates for all your visuals and the design of your blog post. Templates will give your blog post a cohesive and a consistent feel making it recognizable to your audience.
This does not mean that you use only one type of blog format. Now that would be boring and will make your audience unsubscribe pretty quickly.
So write your posts in various formats but make sure each blog post looks similar to the other in terms of font used, font type size, white space and overall design.
When it comes to blog visuals, there should be consistency in all of them. This does not mean that you cannot add variety to the images but by creating a standard template, every blog post visual will look similar to the other blog post visuals and connect with your brand and identity.
To make a template for a visual asset, pick the design program you are going to use to create it and then decide on the size and overall format of the design. Will it be portrait or landscape? What will be the size? Are you using photos or vector images? What font types are you using?
Work out the overall layout and begin constructing your template.
Be sure to use your brand colors and be wary of using too many font types. Stick to one or two that are representative of your brand identity. But be creative without over-doing it.
I know that you’re tempted to use all those lovely fonts and get your creative juices flowing but when it comes to designing – keeping it simple is effective and productive and goes a long way in establishing your brand and identity with your target audience.
After you have saved one design as a template you can revisit the same design again for the next visual. Change the image, change the text and other elements but the format, layout and font will remain the same.
Make a template for each type of visual asset. For example, make a template for your blog header images, templates for images within your post and templates for images for various social media content and so forth.
With this process, you can quickly design your blog post visuals effectively and productively.
5. USE IT
Now that you are done with designing and creating your visuals and images for three months’ worth of blog posts, you can start using them.
Isn’t this easy? You write your post, edit and format it, add the images and visual and there – it’s ready to publish!
Once you have this process perfected you are ready to tackle the next three months of visual assets for your content. And because you have your templates ready and saved, designing them becomes a lot easier now.
Do you have any strategies for designing your blog post visuals productively? Share and let me know.