Photos have been part of blogging for a long time.
They can be important.
It probably began with email marketing and using email to promote blog posts. You send the email, subscribers first see the nice photo at the time, they’re intrigued, they see the link and click.
Then it became important on social media. Most social channels now allow photos. They draw attention in the busy feeds.
Even Google messes around with photos.
But some of the best blogs don’t use them. Seth Godin, for example.
Photos shouldn’t be a top priority for a blog. But that can definitely be a trap. When you’re fighting for attention on email, social media, search engines, etc. you feel the need to have the best photo. You want to capture that first millisecond of a person’s eye.
But in this case, first is not always best.
With blogging, the written word will almost always win in the long run. If we were talking about Instagram and Pinterest then photos would be more important than the written word. But for blogging, the focus is on the written word.
There are some great sites with free-to-use photos. Some require attribution. Some don’t. Thanks to advancing technology, there are some really great photos available from some really great photographers.
What Photos To Use
The other big question for finding photos for blog posts is deciding what photo to use. This can drive a lot of blog writers and business owners and marketers crazy.
It probably falls back to the line of thinking that the photo is the most important element. Or that the photo can somehow ruin a great blog post.
I haven’t really found that to be the case.
The photo should be secondary. Something that makes the reader see it, but not think too much about it. Maybe just a thought like, “That’s nice…” or “Hmm…interesting…”, but really nothing more than that.
The photo can help your post. But you don’t want it to distract the attention away from the post for very long. You want to give the reader what they want, which is helpful or entertaining written content.
So I like to choose photos that fit the theme or topic of the post pretty well. Not too flashy. Not too weird. Just something nice. And maybe not even loosely related to content. Just something nice and ambiguous.
If I’m writing about goal-setting, for example, a nice photo of a mountain is fine. So is a photo of a person walking down the street or even of a person shooting a basketball.
There are certainly times when blog posts need photos. If you have a chart or graph, use them. If you’re telling a personal story and want to share a photo of you, do it. Those really elevate the written content. Not always, but a lot of the time they will.
But the focus should remain on the words when it comes to blogging. If you’re having trouble with blog photos, just stop using them. Or switch your focus to something ambiguous. Something nice, but vague.