As a blogger, you are under a lot of pressure. The open nature of the Internet and the way that media is shared means that any site can become popular at the drop of a hat. But with that positive comes the fact that you have to fight your way through a huge crowd of competition, some offering next to the same content you are. That is the downside to running a blog, and so it is less about getting readers as it is about keeping them.
There are many things that as a blog owner you can do to engage your site visitors. With the expansion of the viral media scene, using videos is one, as is hitting on topics of current events to launch yourself under the scope of Google News. But a simple (and highly flexible) way is through images. Using pictures will go a long way towards both promotion and satisfying your readers (here’s one example of great images in a post!).
Here are 10 simple ways that you can use images for your own blog:
1. Watermark your photos.
Since we have an online world based on sharing these days, pictures circulate constantly with no identifiable source. Due to this, certain blogs have started to watermark images in order to tell viewers where they started.
These watermarks will often remain when they are reblogged from others, or shared through social media. That provides a quick boost in visibility, and increases your chances of bringing the viewer back for more.
2. Use Creative Commons images.
Sites such as Flickr and Smart Photo Stock have made finding public domain and creative commons licensed photos easy to find and use. Since you have to offer proper credit for most, unless they are strictly public such as through an official organization such as the US Navy, you are opening up a potential dedicated network.
Often, people will search and find their image on your site, and see that you offered their name and a link to their gallery. From there, they might tell their own readers that you have been featured there. This is a great way to engage them and those that come to you from their site.
3. Take your own photos.
One of the downsides of media sharing is that so much has already been posted, seen and then seen again. If you just post the same old photos that we see everywhere else, you aren’t going to manage to keep people coming back.
Using your own photography, or that of someone hired to provide it for blog, will go a long way to making people want to see what’s new. You can also use drawings and digital art to this purpose. I have noticed more people using little cartoons along with blog posts to help illustrate their point. This has always been a great tactic in books, newspaper articles and magazines.
4. Use reaction shots.
Part of taking your own photos is having the power to take shots in the moment of any event. Whether it is a convention, a huge sale, some kind of technology release, something weird or funny, or any other kind of interesting occurrence, you can share it with your readers.
That doesn’t mean having to have a camera with you, now that devices have become so advanced. It could be as simple as taking pictures on your phone to post later.
5. Utilize proper keywords.
Your post will always have some kind of keywords, especially placed in tags or SEO sections. But you should also be posting keywords with your images, to make them easier to search for. These can be the same as the keywords in your post, or something targeted only for the image itself. Just take a moment to stop and think about what keywords you would search for if you were looking for that particular picture.
6. Use animated images.
Gifs and other animated images are popular all over the web. Sometimes they just express things a little better. You can use software to create your own, posting them on your blog to catch the eye. You can even make short movies, if you choose. One good program to try is Animoto.
7. Use reader interaction.
I have read a couple of blogs and sites that like to ask for captions for pictures, or request Photoshop images of some primary subject. They then show everything that was sent in, with the winners receiving some kind of prize. This sort of interaction is a brilliant way to engage your visitors. It is also a lot of fun.
8. Make sharing easier.
You always run the risk of having images stolen and posted somewhere else, and watermarks can be removed. But most readers won’t have any interest in doing this, and will instead want to share it with social networking profiles more easily. They don’t credit, they just want to give their friends a laugh or share something interesting.
Putting profile buttons on your blog, so they can share the image, is a great way to do this. It will bring in traffic, and often people will end up subscribing or bookmarking to keep from forgetting where they saw it.
9. Provide screenshots with instructions.
If you are planning on providing an instruction service of some kind, screenshots of each step are always appreciated. In fact, any media structuring and illustrating the process would be great: screenshots, infographics, calendars, etc. It is a much clearer and simple way of readers making sure they are doing things the right way. The more comprehensive these screenshots are, the better they will be received and the faster you will establish yourself as a valuable resource.
10. Mind your hosting!
Images are cool but bear in mind that they increase your server load and possibly bandwidth (especially if your links get hot-linked). Use web hosting directory to determine best hosting packages for you!
Do you have any tips on using images to engage blog readers? Leave them in a comment.