I have a theory based on no research or actual statistics that there are only 20 iStock photos that everyone uses for their blog images. All too often, we spend time researching relevant data, selecting the right keyword, meticulously crafting the content of our posts, and even rewriting the title multiple times, but then we just quickly grab the most popular picture of a business person to accompany this next piece of content and call it good.
Why is it that we put so much time and effort into carefully choosing the words for our blog posts but the imagery is merely an afterthought?
The photo is typically the last thing we add before we launch. And it shouldn't be. It deserves as much attention and thought as the text. Below, I've outlined some of the photo archetypes you should avoid using – as well as some tips for selecting the right blog image for your next article.
Disclaimer: I'm guilty of doing everything I'm talking about in this blog post.
Blog Images to Avoid (if you can...)
A person sitting contemplating the biggest decision of their life. If it's really important, they're turning their eyebrows down and have their hand on their chin. This image is so old and overused that it was around when Rodin sculpted "The Thinker" out of bronze 100 years ago.
A random person pointing at a random chart about a random thing. I get it, their enthusiam for what they're pointing at is unmatched, but this photo's overuse combined with a lack of meaning make it one to avoid.
It usually is attached to some tech or digital related post. I've used this before when I feel over my head with a tech topic. It's safe, and makes the reader feel like they're trapped in a Tron & Matrix crossover.
Closing deals and shaking hands! This might be the most overused of all blog images. This image shines like a neon sign over your posts saying "You probably don't want to bother reading this".
A free image is probably too good to be true. More often than not, the selection is limited and you end up settling on an image that doesn't exactly fit, but it's just close enough so you end up using it. Most sites also make you add a link back to them in your blog post. If you're set on using a free image, you might be better off making one yourself.
Blog Image Selection Tips
- Don't think too literally. Your "10 Tips for Writing a Blog Post" doesn't have to have an image of a person writing. Find a theme that weaves through your post that you can highlight with imagery.
- If you're limited in blog image selections, customize your own with text or design. If Photoshop isn't your thing, try Canva.
- If your image is set horizontally, don't be hesitant to switch its position. It doesn't ALWAYS have to be a square image in the top right. It could be full width at the top, or a longer full width image in the body of the text.
Don't sort image searches by Most Popular.
Most popular = most overused.
The blog post you created is unique. The insight is inspired by your years of experience and your content delivers tips that are helpful to your audience. Don't have the image be the one that your audience has seen on multiple other blog posts and websites.
It's all about finding the right image for your blog post. If the most popular stock photo of a business person is really it, then go for it. It's important to at least spend time thinking about the right visual, and when you find it, be able to answer "Why" you are using that particular one. If the answer is "Because we're a business and the people in this image are wearing suits," well, you have the wrong image.