Set the Tone with the Best Blog Banner and Blog Images for Your Message
Blog images are the first thing your potential audience will notice about your blog content. It will be what stops them mid-scroll in their social media to take a look. Discovering what blog images mean may be what makes them click through to your blog.
Be sure you choose the best blog banner to engage your audience and deliver your message. We’ll discuss choosing appropriate blog images in this, the latest in my professional blog writing articles.
The Best Blog Images Put Engagement Before Messaging
Don’t choose blog images that are an on-the-nose repeat of your message. You have an entire blog to sell your message. A blog banner’s primary purpose is to get attention. It must stand out from all the other content your audience is bombarded with and scrolls through. When you choose message over engagement, you risk not delivering your message at all.
Choose the Best Blog Banner by Thinking Outside the Box
Use your imagination.
Go with a choice that suits the blog article’s message but may require some thinking to figure out. This extra thought increases engagement. The audience is more likely to stop to try and figure out the connection to your content. You’re also less likely to choose images often used by other bloggers with similar messages.
Let’s look at what I mean.
An Example of a Poorly Chosen Blog Banner
My predecessor at a not-for-profit I worked for used blog images that were too obvious. For example, a photo of people wearing shirts with an emblazoned “volunteer.” The problem? The article was about volunteer recruitment and retention. Aside from the specific blog image repeating the article’s message, it is often used by others while discussing volunteers.
Aside from the topic being so obvious in this blog image, what about it excites the reader? Where is the imagination? What engages the audience to think about the topic and go on to read the attached article? Not much, frankly.
An Example of an Engaging Banner Blog Image
Once I took over, I immediately got more creative with the blog images. The following is a blog banner I created about empowering volunteers. The image communicates the topic’s empowerment elements instead of focusing on the message’s volunteer aspect. This shift of focus produced a more creative outcome with imagery less likely to be used by competitors.
(And notice the logo — more about that to come.)
On its own, the above image can be confusing — but it’s not on its own. The blog banner becomes engaging when coupled with the blog’s topic or social media content linking to the article, though.
My Rules for Professional Blog Banner Selection
I have three simple rules for choosing blog images while working for a professional organization. Come up with your own to suit your situation, as appropriate to your needs and goals. Like all rules, you can break them when doing so results in creative outcomes.
So, here are my three most common rules:
- No suits. Everyone uses people in suits to represent people in a professional, office environment. Your person in a suit won’t stand out from the competition.
- No topic-based locations. Is your topic set in an office? Don’t use blog images with offices in them. Is your blog about teaching or training? Don’t choose a classroom.
- Keep your message word-free *. Don’t use images that include words that outright state your topic. Is your topic socializing content? Don’t go for blog images that say “Social Media” on them. You’ll note most such images are also very generic, using the same photo but replacing the word with what’s needed. This means lots of people with little imagination will already use them.
* This does not include adding titles, branding, or the like. More on this to follow.
Everyone Loves Animals
People love filling up their social media with videos and photos of animals. Don’t be afraid to use this to your advantage by anthropomorphizing the fuzzy creatures. If you can find animal photos of behaviours that seem to match your topic, people will be intrigued. They’ll be curious to see if they correctly understood what the animal’s use means, and are likely to follow on to your content. They’ll become engaged.
Here’s a blog banner I used to experiment a bit using animals plus headings and text. As you can see, I was pushing the boundaries for how divergent from the topic blog images can be and still have a relationship to the message. I had to argue a bit with my boss to let me try it, though. He was initially skeptical and thought it might have been too far from left field.
But it worked!
This blog was very successful, with significant social media engagement. After its success, my boss trusted my judgment more and gave me the freedom to choose blog images as I saw fit. What can I say?
Everyone love animals.
Adding Text to Your Blog Banner
Although you want to avoid using a blog banner that incorporates text in the image, consider adding your own. Do so with blog images you like but feel may be a bit to obscure for your article’s message. Even adding a title or a brief phrase can help clarify the connection between your article and blog banner. (This is what I did in the previous example using meerkats.) Don’t go overboard, though.
Adding a title or the like to every blog banner can reduce engagement. You lose much of the audience’s curiosity to learn more, same as with blog images that are on-the-nose.
Experiment with adding dates before you decide on a policy if your topic is date-specific (e.g., an event.) Adding relevant dates to a blog banner may seem a no-brainer if you want someone to know when something is happening. Doing so can reduce engagement and click-throughs to your content, though. Why? Because the reader can decide if they are available that day without yet seeing the content. If you at least get them to click-through to the content, they may find it interesting enough to shuffle their calendar around.
Branding and Trade Dress
Don’t be afraid to add your brand and trade dress to blog images. Indeed, I recommend always branding your blog banner. Doing so means your brand goes wherever the blog article gets shared. This keeps your brand in front of your audience at all times, no matter where your article travels. Branding your blog banner also differentiates it in your audience’s memory if someone has seen your blog images used elsewhere. Not branding your blog banner is a significant missed opportunity for some low hanging marketing fruit.
Knowing Which Blog Images Not to Use
Even though the best blog banner is one that’s a bit off the wall and creative, that doesn’t mean you can be unprofessional. Understanding which blog images not to use, and why, is just as important as knowing which are okay. But how do you know for sure which to avoid?
To start with, figure out who your audience is. Always keep them in mind. Next, avoid anything that could be misconstrued as stereotypical or offensive. Don’t use anything political unless that’s what your blog articles are about, for example. No matter how much of a softball you think political imagery may be, there’s always someone who will take offense (rightly or not.)
Check if Your Intended Blog Banner is Popular
So, you found a great, creative, quirky image that doesn’t merely repeat your message. Unfortunately, that still doesn’t mean it’s the best blog banner to run with. Before using an image, run it through tineye.com. This website will search for other online content that is using your image. If the software returns a lot of hits (especially with other blogs), don’t use it. You want your blog images to stand out rather than be something people will recognize as already in use.
Coming at Blog Image and Topic Selection Backward
When a blog topic eludes me, I sometimes come at the process backward. Instead of seeking out an image that suits my topic, I go cruising through image resources until I spot something that stands out and inspires a topic. Start collecting images that immediately grab you and keep adding to your collection. Whenever you are stumped for a topic, go look at your collection and see if an image inspires a topic. If not, go cruising for more images and expand your collection until inspiration strikes.
I would estimate roughly one in ten of my blog articles traces its origins to this technique.
Experiment, Experiment, and Experiment Some More
You won’t know your audience very well when you first start your blog. Sure, you’ll likely have a good idea of who you want your audience to be, but you won’t know for certain. Experiment with the sort of blog images you use and keep track of their metrics. Although other factors (e.g., blog article topics, length, time of publication) will affect these metrics, over enough time, you should get a sense of what’s working and what isn’t. Also, a helpful audience will provide positive or negative feedback to let you know how your choices are going over.
Even once you figure out who your audience is, keep running experiments. Blogs should always strive to expand their audience, which means your audience is potentially still changing. As such, ongoing experiments are needed to ensure your blog banner choices remain relevant.
Also, ongoing experiments will help keep your blog from stagnating. If you’re always trying out new things, your audience is more likely to be surprised and engaged by your blog images.