A picture is worth a thousand words. Right? Well, sometimes, but when it comes to your blog, a good picture really doesn’t make up for a well written article. However, that does not mean that you should not include pictures in your blog posts. Most of the experts (of which I am not) agree that a well placed, related image will entice your readers to read your post. After all, that is what we are all trying to achieve isn’t it?
Images have always been an important part of a blog and now with the scheduled demise of Google Reader, they are becoming more important than ever before.
What does Google Reader’s death sentence have to do with images? Everything. As bloggers we have all come to rely on traffic from our RSS feeds. I have written several posts about the importance of the RSS and have explained why I love Google Reader. Like most techno-geeks, I too have relied on Google Reader for the majority of my blog reading over the past few years. I have an extensive collection of RSS feeds that I monitor constantly throughout the day looking for insightful posts, new technology, and ideas for the church in general. However, that is all about to come to an abrupt end in a few months when Google pulls the plug on their reader.
Like thousands of others around the world, I too, am in search of a new RSS feed reader. (Google will not publicly release the numbers of exactly how many people use this service, but suffice it to say that there are many.) There are actually plenty of options to choose from on your desktop, your Android, and your iOS device to replicate the experience that we are used to with the reader. However, many of these new readers are delivering content in a more polished manner much like a news magazine.
These RSS readers have been used on mobile devices now for quite some time, Google even has their own version with Currents. But now these type of readers are becoming more popular for the desktop as well. For example, one of the main benefactors of Google’s decision is Feedly. They have announced on their blog that they had over 500,000 people join in the first 48 hours after the Google announcement.
Feedly is available for Android, iOS, and as a browser plug in for most operating systems and browsers. Feedly is one of many but they have risen to the top of the food chain once Google bowed out of the game. What’s so special about Feedly? It allows you to view your feeds in a magazine style layout.
As you can see in the above screenshot, as more people start to use this method of blog surfing, you need a related image in your post to capture the attention of your reader, and to give Feedly a reason to move you to the top of the screen. Because of this migration to magazine style readers it is now more important than ever to put some thought into your images.
If you are using WordPress for your blog or website, you have two basic ways to display a picture, depending on the compatibility of your theme. The first option that you have is the Featured Image. This image displays in different ways for different themes. Mine displays as a small square image beside the Post Title, as well as a thumbnail image for my recent post widget in the sidebar.
One thing that most themes have in common when they deal with Featured Images is that they do not export this image into your RSS feed. What this means is that if you are only using the Featured Image option on your blog, these magazine style readers will not see any image in your blog post and will display it as text only. The result is that your post is going to get lost on a page full of bright well cropped images.
The other option, the one that you need to use to maximize your exposure on these magazine readers, is to embed images in your post. I am not going to attempt to get into the reasons for putting the image on the right, or the left, or even in the center. Nor will I attempt to convince you that the image needs to be one-third down the page, or at the beginning of the post.
What I am trying to convince you is that you need an image, regardless of where you decide to place it.
There are a couple of things that you should keep in mind when choosing images for your blog. First, make sure the image is relevant to your post. For example, it would make no sense for me to choose an image of Jesus on the Cross for this post. Secondly, make sure that you have permission to use the image if you did not personally take the picture yourself.
I have mentioned it here before, Compfight.com is a great resource that will allow you to search all of the Creative Commons License images on Flickr by keyword. I use this resource daily and get all of the images that I don’t get from screenshots directly from Compfight.com. They also have a WordPress plug-in, however, I choose to manually upload the images to my server instead of relying on the plug-in.
Compfight has also recently made it stupid simple to get the copyright info correctly on your blog post. Now it is just a matter of copy and pasting the code and you will be in compliance of the Creative Commons License requirements for that image. As with the placement of images, the placement of the Creative Commons License disclosure is up to the blog owner. Some prefer to include it at the end of the post, while some will place it in the frame of the image itself. Regardless of where you place it, the important thing is to make sure that you do include the attribution to the holder of the CCL.
Is a picture worth a thousand words? Maybe, maybe not. But one thing is for sure: A picture can be worth a thousand views!
There are enough of us out here all wanting to capture the reader’s attention with our thoughts and words. Give yourself a fighting chance to get someone’s attention and throw a picture in the post.
Do you regularly post images within your posts? Where do you get your images?