Text is not Enough: Include Images in Blog Posts

My name’s Mark Armstrong. I’m a commercial illustrator. I’ve been blogging on WordPress since March, 2010. More than 4 years. Which comes as a shock to the system — my system, anyway.

No one helped me more when I was starting out than timethief. She’s the best blogging resource on the web, IMO. It’s an honor for me to do a guest post on her blog, One Cool Site.

 

What I’m going to say here is not original, but it’s something every beginning blogger needs to hear; namely: Text is not enough.

 

More precisely: text is not enough if you want your blog to be successful. If you want readers, Likes, comments, and the gratification that comes with knowing that people are interested in what you have to say.

 

That means you need to include images in your posts. Consider this one, for example:
AppleText

 

 Notice how your eye slides over to that silly apple dispensing cider, and tends to stay there. The human eye is partial to images. They get readers’ attention, and motivate them to keep reading.

 

I can think of 3 other reasons to feature images in your posts:
  1. we live in a visual age: people expect them;
  2. they break up blocks of text, making the text easier to read;
  3. people are more apt to Like and Share posts with images.

 

You don’t need to be an illustrator or photographer to obtain images. There are thousands of images available on various sites. Many are free, others simply require you to credit the person who created the image.
Good news: timethief has done a lot of the research for you.
Looking for images? Read TT’s post, More Sources of Free Images for Blogs and Websites.

 

Thinking how nice it would be if TT had rounded up many of her best posts on images, and put them all in a  single  post? She has. It’s titled Spotlight on Images.
Footnote

 

 Would it be worth your while to learn how to edit images using Photoshop  or other editing programs, or free online software like PicMonkey? Sure– then you could end your posts with a silly joke like this.

 

Guest author Mark Armstrong blogs at Mark Armstrong Illustration: Nothing Succeeds Like Humor And Good Illustration. Be sure to pay his blog a visit.
Related posts:
Another Update

30 thoughts on “Text is not Enough: Include Images in Blog Posts

  1. Who’s been hiding information? Mark, my dear friend, you posted this here without sending a bird to announce it? Just as well, Mary directed me here!
    You are the ideal person to speak about this. Chapeau [my collection has gone out of proportion ever since I met you!] :-)

    Timethief, thank you …again! :-)

    1. My dear Marina! You didn’t get my tweet?? I sat outside on a telephone wire, chirping away for over an hour. I thought it would be more personal. Guess I should have used Twitter instead… : )

      Thank you for that lovely chapeau-tip! Hat was so nice of you… : )

      Sorry for this terribly tardy reply– it took me a long time to climb down off that telephone wire!! : )

  2. “The human eye is partial to images. They get readers’ attention, and motivate them to keep reading.” Couldn’t agree more, Mark!

    A while ago I wrote a blog post on why graphic design is crucial for successful advertising (and to help creatives talk like marketing experts.) The post (http://www.flauntmydesign.com/how-think-like-marketing-expert-ad-processing) definitely touches on this subject – the power of imagery. If used well, visual elements – images, white space, layout, colors, typography – they all boost processing of ads. Boosted processing means:

    • More will notice it
    • More will read it
    • More will understand it
    • More will remember it
    • More will like it

    It should work the same for blog posts. :)

    1. Thanks for that very kind comment, Tomas, and for providing some powerful corroboration.

      One thing I’ve noticed about truly memorable ads: the images are totally unique. They are not stock photos or illustrations. They’re custom images, created specifically for the ad. They seem to jump out and capture our attention, because they’re not like anything we’ve seen before.

      Ideally, a blog post image should do the same. Most have a much lesser effect, because they’re stock images, not customized in any way. And many times they have little in common with the text.

      A generic image is better than no image for a blog post, but I have a feeling that the power of generic (stock) images is in decline. We’ve seen too many of the same images over and over again. I find myself wondering if someday soon, we won’t even notice the typical stock image.

      And on that happy note– thanks again for your comment! : )

  3. I’d like to agree and disagree. I totally agree from a design and ease-of-reading perspective that text should be broken up, and white space is critical. Few people understand how to use space. So I do use (my) photos on most of my blogs, particularly on the Land Rover one where photos are essential to illustrate repair and maintenance. But I also have one that is purely text-based. I think there is a place for serious blogs that don’t need the distraction of one or more graphics. I’m not keen on illustrations, I find them visually too busy. And, I’m not a fan of photo blogs either. Great if you know your macro from your fisheye and like reading other similarly geeky photo blogs but by and large, the odd caption might help, let alone a little explanatory text.

    @TT I’m catching up after a week off. Sorry to hear about your incident :(

    1. Thanks for that very thoughtful comment. Always a pleasure to meet another fan of white space! : )

      I’ll freely admit to a bias in favor of images, but I do think even a “serious” blog could benefit from at least a single image to lead off a post– to help draw the reader in, and to establish a mood. The blog equivalent of a book cover, perhaps. Covers do sell a lot of books, which confirms the importance of visual design in engaging readers.

      Re illustrations that are “too busy”: I consider those unsuccessful illustrations. They ignore the importance of white space, and they cram in too many competing and distracting elements. Bad illustration is a lot like bad writing: it fails because it’s confusing and poorly constructed.

      Thanks again, nice to meet you!

    1. Absolutely true, and beautifully expressed. A blog is much more than text and images. The best ones have a certain vibe that pulls people in. They’re welcoming, congenial, respectful, they engage readers, invite and respond to comments, and make you want to come back.

      IMO, the best art looks effortless, spontaneous, and perfectly natural– whether it’s a painting on a wall, an actor on stage– or a blog post. You know a lot of work must have gone into it, but it never seems labored– we can enjoy it because there’s nothing “fretful” to distract us.

      Thanks for a very perceptive comment– nice to meet you! : )

    1. Thanks so much, David, I appreciate your kindness. Being an illustrator does give me an advantage “image-wise,” but every blogger faces the same basic challenge: coming up with a worthwhile idea, and expressing it the best way we can.

      I consider every blogger a creative. It’s good to remember that. We all have our hits and misses, but we’re out there in the arena, and that’s what counts. Nice to meet you, and thanks again for your kind comment. : )

  4. I agree with everything you said, Mark. The right image is definitely worth a thousand words. It’s appalling to me that a lot of my early posts don’t have images. But they’re so old, it’s possible the platforms didn’t even support images.

    1. Thanks very much for reading my post, and leaving that nice comment. No need to berated yourself for not using images in your earlier posts. Their usefulness isn’t all that obvious when you’re starting out. It’s one of those things that seems obvious in hindsight– after you’ve discovered TT’s blog! : )

      Thanks for your kind support, nice to meet you!

  5. Thanks a million for this guest post Mark. Your three points on the impact of embedding images in posts are right on and can be backed up statistically.

    Today I am off to brave a barrage of more medical tests but will be thinking of you all. I’ll approve comments after I get back tonight before I head for bed.

      1. Hi Mark,
        I’m back from my appointments. Sadly I had another sudden medical event between two appointments but luckily expert help was close by. I am definitely resting as I can’t do anything other than that right now.

        1. “Sudden medical event…” I don’t think I’ve heard that expression before, but it definitely makes my hair stand on end. You really must cut back on these moments of, er, misguided showmanship… : (

          Very sorry to hear it, but glad you’re OK and safely back home. Got you on the prayer list, cancel your appearance on Dancing With The Stars, have some hot cocoa, and curl up with a good murder mystery (a cosy, not a serial killer). : )

          1. Okay so it was not as bad as last time and that is why I was not hospitalized. My hubby was with me and there was medical attention on the spot. I am at home and okay. I have not been fully diagnosed yet, Mark. However, though I am not a doctor, I know what I am being tested for, and I am quietly mentally preparing myself for the future. Thanks for your kind thoughts and prayers.

  6. Thanks for this great article! I knew about one of her lists … But not the spotlight post! Going to bookmark that one and take a look at the other links you posted as well. This is so helpful!!

    1. It was helpful? That’s what I like to hear! I was happy to publicize some of TT’s other posts– she’s got a million of ’em! Well, almost… : )

      Nice to meet you, Dianne!

  7. I always use images now – when I started I was erratic, now I use some sort of image that illustrates what the Post is about. Not sure how it works, but it looks better to me, same with a friends blog that I admin, I always go for the best picture they send to grab folks.

    However most of my traffic is search engines so not sure how images affect the plain search engine results – but one news site picks up some of my Posts and they always use pictures so I like to also make it easy for them to feature my Post

    1. Images– photos, artwork, illustrations– especially those with a generous amount of white space around them– attract the eye. They’re also a lot easier on the eye than a dense block of text– I think that’s also a big part of their appeal.

      You make a key point when you speak of an image “that illustrates what the post is about.” Doesn’t have to spell it out, but it should get the reader’s attention, make him curious, make him want to start reading. That’s image and text working together to everyone’s benefit.

      Nice to meet you, Cap’n, thanks for your comment! : )

    1. Ha! I know what you mean. Finding the words, finding a worthwhile topic– those can be big challenges for all of us.

      FWIW: sometimes the right image can help us there: inspire us, crystalize our thoughts, help us understand what needs to be said. I suspect paintings and illustrations have inspired a lot of great ideas.

      Nice to meet you, Gunta. : )

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