How To Create a Blog Post Image That Gets Noticed And Drives Traffic

How To Create a Blog Post Image That Gets Noticed And Drives Traffic

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Are your blog posts falling flat because of your dull and generic post images?

Blog images are often an afterthought, yet they can make the difference between a shareable post and an unread masterpiece.

Throwing any ole image on a blog post that you labored on for hours is like riding to the prom in a hoopty.

Your content needs to travel in style across the social web.

Why should we, overwhelmed and highly underpaid bloggers, even think about adding original blog post image creation to our already numerous daily hassles?

Here’s why:

blog post image is a poem - quote from Horace

Incredible blog post images could definitely make the difference between a shareable post and an unread masterpiece.

Just take a look at these original post images from some of the bloggers you may or may not, but absolutely should, know and tell me that they don’t just suck you in:

And here’s another reason you should consider creating your own unique blog post images: it will save you the headache and the bank account ache of getting sued.

‘Why You Should Create Your Own Post Images’ <Pep Talk from Ana>

Ever used Google Image Search to find an image for your next blog post? Even though you probably knew better than that…?

Or what about your guest authors? Have you checked to make sure every image they used in their contributions to your blog is theirs to use to begin with?

If you don’t think it’s a big deal, here are just some examples of why you might want to create your own blog post images from now on:

♨   This agency got sued $8,000 for using an image on a blog post that got less than 100 visitors. They called it their “most costly mistake since starting the business”.

♨   Likewise, this agency got sued $4,000 for an image that would have originally cost $10.

♨   This company was republishing newspaper content under a CC licence for others to use. However they didn’t have a licence from the original creators of the content to do that, so they got sued.

♨   Persephone Magazine used an image with a Creative Commons licence and were later sued for $1,500 for using it. It turned out the photo did not belong to the person who uploaded it with a CC licence, which led to 73 companies being sued who used it.

♨   GoodReads faced one of the biggest copyright cases ever, when they were sued $150,000 for an image someone uploaded of a boy band member.

(hat tip to Why Your Blog Images Are A Ticking Time Bomb at Koozai.com for these examples – you can find several more in that post)

So no more of this please:

google image usage for blog posts

(from a comment on Free Blog Post Images: Where to Find Them, How to Use Them)

How to Use Reverse Image Lookup

When looking for free images to use as a base for your blog post image designs, it never hurts to do a reverse image search to see if you can track down the original sources. That way, you can do your best to make sure the image doesn’t originate from a copyrighted source.

As one of Traffic Generation Café readers, Howard Lee Harkness, recommended in his comment on this post, TinEye.com is the best free tool for the job.

how to use tineye for blog post image search

From TinEye.com home page, enter the URL of an image you are interested it and the search results will return all instances of this particular image found online.

Make sure to avoid any images that even smell of copyright.

Additional Reading on the Subject of Copyrighting/Free Blog Images

Free Blog Post Images: Where to Find Them, How to Use Them – TrafficGenerationCafe.com

Creative Commons Licenses Explained In Plain English  – Sara Hawkins at sarafhawkins.com

The Insider’s Guide to Proper Photo Usage [VIDEO] – a definite must-read from Peg Fitzpatrick

And even more resources listed in this G+ post (feel free to share it!):

</Pep Talk from Ana>

 

So with that in mind, I asked Darren DeMatas of IntertwineMarketing.com, whose original blog post images I’ve been admiring for a while now, to tell us how he does it and how we can do it too.

Here’s what he had to say.

How to Create Original Blog Post Images: Tutorial with Darren DeMatas

Let’s face it, unless you are Picasso, starting from a blank canvas sucks.

The good thing is you don’t have to. You can build yourself a pretty decent image library using free images.

The problem with free assets is they are generic (by design). They are created for all sorts of projects: yours, mine, your neighbors’… you get the idea.

With a little creativity and a basic understanding of design principles, you can make these generic images uniquely yours, like I did for the featured image of this post:

how to create free images for blogs

Ready to rock a branded post image? Keep reading; I’ll show you how.

Blog Image Design Principles For Non-Designers

You don’t have to be an award winning designer to create an amazing blog post image. You just need to have basic understanding of core principles.

Depending on who you ask, there could be as many as 100 design principles.

But you are not a designer, so you don’t care about learning the nuances of form, space, grids, and color.

You just want to create a blog post image that will get attention without getting slapped with a lawsuit.

Let me boil down the 4 core design principles you should know.

Creating Blog Post Image Principle 1: Have A Concept

Let me tell you a secret.

I spend 99% of my time thinking about the visual concept behind my featured images. The other 1% is pulling the images together.

There is nothing wrong with checking out all the free image library for ideas, but finding images for your blog shouldn’t be a scavenger hunt.

When your content is shared around the web, people will see your headline along with your featured image and maybe a little excerpt. This is why you need to have a concept that can tie it all together.

Your post is original, so don’t slap a generic image on it. Once you have your copy complete, you may need one more iteration to tie it together with a visual element.

Creating Blog Post Image Principle 2: Use Color And Type With A Purpose

There is no getting around it: font and color can speak louder than words. They can make the difference between a lame overused stock photo and a memorable post image that gets pinned, plussed and tweeted.

Creating Blog Post Image Principle 3: Don’t Be Afraid Of White Space

White space is your best friend. Don’t decorate it with non-essential design elements.

Your message will be more clear with a little white space.

Creating Blog Post Image Principle 4: Size and Contrast Matter

Bigger is not always better; especially when everything is big. Yikes!

I’ve spent years telling business executives and small business owners “If everything is big, nothing is big.”

Try varying up font size, and not by just a few points. Make it look like it was on purpose. You can create much more visual interest through contrast.

Creating A Color Scheme for Your Blog Post Images

Everyone has a favorite color.

You probably are already using it in your logo or as a main color on your website, so build your color scheme around that.

You don’t need to be a master on color theory; just don’t pick colors at random.

Use free tools like Kuler, or ColorPicker to develop a color scheme using your base color. These tools, can help make sure your colors “go together.”

When building a color palette, I recommend having 2-3 base colors, but a larger range of supporting colors. This can gives you long term design flexibility. Try making everything two colors for a year. Boring!

If you are just starting out and not sure which color system to use, I recommend using compound. If you don’t know what it means, just trust me on this: this option will give you a a wider range of colors to work with.

You want more than 2 or three colors in a color scheme. A larger color palette gives you long term flexibility and consistency.

Check out the Slideshare below to see how I developed a color system for Traffic Generation Cafe using the tools mentioned above.

When Ana asked me to do this write up for Traffic Generation Cafe, one of my first questions was “Do you have a color scheme?” Like most people, she had a few main colors she liked, but no defined color palette.

Below is the resulting color scheme using the two colors from her logo. I grabbed the HEX values from her logo and website using imagecolorpicker.com and used Kuler to create a compound color using the brown and red from her website as base colors.

how to pick color palette to create blog images

Now that we have a color palette, we can leverage some free assets to create a featured image.

Putting Your Blog Post Image Together In Photoshop

I do all of my artwork in Adobe Photoshop. It’s not free, but it’s what I have been using for ten years. I have way too many files endings in .psd to switch now!

If you have access to Photoshop, check out the Slideshare presentation below to see how I created the featured image for this blog post.

Putting Your Blog Post Image Together With PicMonkey (free)

I figured this post would be pretty useless to most of you if I didn’t include a free version.

PicMonkey is a great alternative to Photoshop. Being a long time Photoshop user, I was disappointed in the limited text, effect and texture options; but hey, its free.

Last Step Before Publishing Your New Blog Post Image

Make sure your finished blog post image passes the test:

  1. Is it Original?
  2. Does it Fit your Brand?
  3. Can it Stand on its Own?
  4. Will You Get Sued If You Misuse The Original Image?

I see so many blog images that are meaningless when taken out of the context of the post!

When people see your image, make sure your message can stand on its own.

Marketing Takeaway: Get To It!

After spending hours writing a killer post, the last thing you want to do is spend more time hunting for the right image.

Stop hunting and start creating! Thinking about how to tie an image into your post will make your story stronger and more memorable.

Now grab some free images, develop a color scheme and make those stock images your own.

 

Darren DeMatas

 

Darren DeMatas has over 10+ years of professional marketing experience working with large corporations and small businesses. Darren is Google AdWords Certified and has a MBA in Internet Marketing. Follow him on Google+Twitter and LinkedIn

photo credit: brutapesquisa via photopin cc

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45 Comments (click here to leave a comment)

  1. Another awesome piece! Thank you Ana!

    Like you said, “With a little creativity and a basic understanding of design principles, you can make these generic images uniquely yours”. And they would then attract visitors because of course these images would SPEAK.

  2. Great article Ana, I never paid such attention to images of the blog post. I tried to make them content relevant but these are great tips. Thanks a lot..

  3. Hi Ana,

    Really love your post and love the way how you present it. Images are really important part of our blog post, a best image can help to drive lot of instant traffic form social media while a poor image can ruin it completely.

    Thanks to share this lovely post.

    Regards,
    Jyoti

    • Ana Hoffman

      You are very welcome, Jyoti – wish I actually wrote that post, but can’t take credit for it.

  4. Hi Anna,

    I started reading this post because I’m a graphic designer and a blogger and had to laugh when the first example of why custom images are important happened to be about the company I work for getting sued! I can laugh about it only because it didn’t happen on my watch, the cool owners learned a valuable lesson from an innocent mistake and the resulting post about the case has been The Contact Factory’s most successful yet.

    I agree with you and espouse the same thing. Learn Photoshop, even basic skills, and customize. I spoke of this in a webinar I presented yesterday about creating content that will generate buzz for The Alternative Board.

    Keep up the great work.

    • Ana Hoffman

      I suppose getting sued is one way to get your name out there. lol

      Thanks for dropping in, Jason, and a valuable confirmation of why creating our own images is so important.

  5. gloria anderson

    Hi Ana-
    Your site is filled with great info and I learned a little; however- I’m really lost now because I’ve seen so much more here that I don’t understand. I’d like to develop a site reviewing companies that my better-half and I have done business with over the past 30 years. My mate has done very intensive study in various areas and is virtually an “all-in-one” data mining company by himself. He has vast knowledge about sailing, motorcycles, golf, music, and everything that goes with them. He is also a Science, History, Nuclear Medicine, Anthropology and skilled Greenhouse former owner. He has predicted various trends- even including how to determine daily street traffic! How can we do paid reviews on all these products/experiences without having to sign up as affiliates for them all? We were thinking more in terms of a “clearing house” concept. Any ideas? Thanks!

    • Ana Hoffman

      Tough one, Gloria.

      First of all, might not be a good idea to start a site that talks about so many different topics all at once. Hard to come off as a true expert, and without solid trust between you and the reader, money won’t follow.

      Speaking of money: you really have two ways for a review-based site. As you mentioned, being an affiliate for various companies, which might be the way you’ll have to start whether you like it or not.

      As you site develops, matures, and acquires more traffic and loyal readership, various companies might start approaching you about doing paid reviews. It’ll take time though. They’ll want to see an established site before offering to do any reviews with you.

  6. Great post Ana!

    I have to be honest, I’ve never even thought about putting this much effort in the pictures I use on my blog posts. I put all of my focus on the headline (to get people to actually want to read my posts) and the post content itself.

    You’ve really given me something to think about and I’ll be putting more effort into making my post images just as exciting and impactful as I do my post headlines and content.

  7. Hi Ana,
    I use a logo maker to make images for my blog so far I have found it the best way to create images as I don’t know how to operate the adobe illustrator.
    I have one question,
    Can I use images from the movies? Like I would capture an image than I would edit it. Can I do it?
    Thanks for the post!

    • Ana Hoffman

      That’s certainly a great idea, Anurag.

      Regarding your question about using movie images: definitely don’t do it, you might run into trouble with the production company. I’ve had that problem in the past when using an image of James Bond in our of my Slideshare presentations.

  8. Hey Ana

    Great post as always. I’ve been introduced already with the important of creating our own images for posts and putting them on the web. However, I think your post goes lot further and explain some things I didn’t know about.

    Keep rocking Ana!

  9. Hi Ana, I’m from Malaysia, thanks for the tips!

    I think this is my first time visiting your site. Overall for me there a lots of good articles to help me improve my blogging skills. Thanks again!

  10. You are right images in any post effect a lot. It is necessary to put original image into any post of a blog. But the main problem occurs as it is not that much easy for a normal blogger to design a image. We all are not designers but may be we can try to make our blog better. Is may help in the SEO of the blog. I have also tried to design my own images but failed. After reading this post I think it would be better to try again. Thanks for sharing.

    • Ana Hoffman

      I am not a designer either, Ravi, but I don’t think you need to be a creative genius to design decent images for your blog post. Practice does help.

  11. Peter

    I’ve been designing my own images ever since I bought The Logo Creator. This piece of software does not cost the earth and does a lot more than simply design logos. The only thing that limits you is your imagination.

    I used it to create the Sexy Sals series of images. It took awhile for them to come up in the Google image search but now they’re right there on the top. :)

  12. Hi Ana,

    Thanks so much for having Darren DeMatas as your guest. Images are so important on our blogs. Because of all the hoopla that has been going in with lawsuits, I’ve learned a long time ago to do my own.
    My problem is they don’t look professional. But Darren has given me so many great ideas I thank him so much.
    The best thing about creating my own images is that I put in “image created by….my blog ) and people have been coming to my blog via Google Images. It’s a win win situation.
    I’m sure glad you have given this shout out to so many bloggers that can be in danger using images that can get them into trouble.
    Thanks!
    -Donna

    • Ana Hoffman

      Darren did a great job on the tutorial indeed, Donna.

      What I’ve learned about creating my own images is the fact that it takes time to develop an eye for it – like any other skill, I suppose.

      I look at my old images and don’t like them at all and I see how much better I’ve gotten in the past few months.

      Thanks for coming by!

  13. Mohi

    You have written a very unique topic where we should concern. Because most of our blog post images are copied from other websites or Google. I can say almost 50% of all post images are grabbed from Google Image.

    So I really appreciate your efforts. Even, I would give a try on it to make some eye-catching images alongside my contents. I hope, it would help me to attract the readers. So thanks a lot.

  14. Hey Ana,

    All the images used by you are really mind blowing. Actually Images used for blog is the main center of attraction. Catchy and interesting images attracts every body to see the whole article . Thanks for sharing such a lovely tips.

    Regards
    Ritul Gangwar

  15. Samir

    Ana, great article about images.. I think in 2014 images ( not the stock ones that I stay away from ) but creative, individual branded images which represent your company will be big in 2014.

    Consumers relate to images and it can very quickly portray your brand in a way that identifies you and what you have to offer.

    Thanks for sharing.

  16. Hi Ana, I left a comment in the Google Plus share, but I wanted to come down here and clutter up your comment section with another one :)

    I think people get caught up in the writing of the post, which is totally great! However, people are not responsive to text alone and sometimes they forget that social media is about the image. The color schemes you’ve got there are really helpful. I’ve learned that building a grey background with some bright coloring for the letters really help the image pop as well. There are lots of ways to attract attention through the use of imagery, but I think the image is most useful when it’s displayed on our social media posts. That’s the real tale of whether or not you’ve created something enticing or not.

    • Ana Hoffman

      Clutter away, Wade! lol

      You are absolutely right: a lot of our traffic comes from social media and it definitely pays to take a few extra minutes to create an image that pops and maximizes that traffic. And contrast always works!

  17. I have wondered about all the free image sites out there. I mean are all the images really legitimate? I don’t see how they would be able to verify that the person that uploaded them was the original creator. Even if you pay five or ten dollars for an image do we really know that you are paying the right person for licensing usage? Hard telling these days.

    I tried making my own images on a number of occasions, but unfortunately it’s not one of my specialties. I envy those that can and do make decent quality custom images though. Even more when they do so in a timely manner.

    • Ana Hoffman

      You are very right, Ray – even when you find images under Creative Commons, they might actually be copyrighted work uploaded as creative commons work by someone who had no business or right to do so.

      I do hope those cases are rare though and websites that offer free images must’ve thought about that and have some screening process accordingly.

      I am definitely not great with creating my images, but I did notice that practice helps – the more I do it, the better they get.

    • There is a web-based (free, at least for now) service called TinEye (tineye.com). In FireFox, you can install an add-on that will invoke a TinEye search with a right-click on the image in question. If I get a lot of hits on that search, I look for references to Getty Images, iStockPhoto, or other well-know commercial stock photo sites. If any of those show up, I either buy the photo or find another.

      Note that the Big Guys in the business of selling photos have caught on to all of the common manipulation tricks like reversing, stretching, color changes, etc., so don’t do that. They can even find their stuff in your mash-ups.

      • Ana Hoffman

        Great tip, Howard; haven’t even thought of using TinEye to possibly track down the roots of an image.

        Will add this to the post (and a credit to you, of course); thanks again.

  18. maxwell ivey

    Hello; I followed you here from the interview you did with Harleena. as a blind blogger I depend on friends and family to tell me which images to choose for an equipment listings or blog post. I am pretty sure that i am using the best images available to me, but this post has me wondering if I should b thinking about hiring someone to do more than just tell me which of the ones i have is the best. I also have thought for a long time that my whole process would b improved if I could start getting out and meting my clients in person so i could get better photos and videos to work with. I am not sure what I can do with the information, but you have definitely given me a lot to think about. thanks, max

    • Ana Hoffman

      Looks like you are doing great with what you’ve got, Max.

      I think the bigger issue (and the point of the post) was to make sure we don’t use images we could get into trouble over; that’s why creating them ourselves is a way better option. So yes, if you can get out there and “mingle” with your potential clients, it’d probably be better for both your business and its online presence.

      Thanks for coming by!

  19. Hi, Ana and Darren- thanks for this post! Images are indeed important for our blog posts to keep out the drab and make things lively…but you’re right- we have to be very careful where we grab our images. Thanks for the tutorials on how to create our own attention-grabbing images using tools like Picmonkey.

    • Darren DeMatas

      Demetria,

      I just finished reading Neuro Web Design. The author has an entire chapter dedicated to how images help people remember messages better.

      Images are more powerful than words (in terms of recognition and memory).

      Thanks for reading!

  20. My preferred graphics editor is GIMP. Free, open-source, and will do pretty much anything that PhotoShop will do.

    GIMP has a moderately difficult learning curve. But then, so does PhotoShop.

    • Ana Hoffman

      I’ve never tried it, Howard – I am pretty sure the ‘learning curve’ was what stopped me. You are right though – most of these types of software will have it; just a part of learning a new skill.

  21. Hi Ana,

    That was a lovely post indeed :)

    I think we all love images, and they do speak a thousand words if done up well. I love the way you put up such awesome images on ALL your posts – they are so apt and well made. Always makes me wonder the amount of time you must be spending on doing them – but the results are always do good overall.

    I know Rebekah is another blogger well known for her images, need to check out the others.

    Thanks for sharing this with us. Have a nice week :)

    • Ana Hoffman

      I really enjoy working with images, Harleena; only wish I did indeed have more time to make them even better.