December 3, 2020

Why Bloggers Should Include a Photo in Every Post

dandelion

This tip is going to seem obvious to many bloggers. Most of you are already doing it. Believe it or not, I think it took me almost two full years of blogging to get in the routine of doing it regularly. It is also something some of the newer atheist blogs I visit have not yet figured out. It is possible that this is adversely affecting their traffic. That's why I figured I'd mention it.

Include a Photo in Every Blog Post

Include at least one photo in every blog post. Why? The first and most important reason is that content with photos tends to perform better on many social media platforms, which is where many of your visitors are going to share, promote, or interact with your content. When it comes time for you or your visitors to share your blog posts on social media, those who encounter it there are more likely to interact with it when it contains an image. Professional bloggers and marketers have known this for some time and have shared ample evidence to support the impact of visual content.

I was skeptical at first, but my own testing quickly confirmed the impact of photos across many social media platforms. I'd send identical tweets, one with a photo and one without. The one with the photo almost always generated more interest. I found an even more dramatic effect on Facebook. Posting a photo on Facebook often generates more than 10x the interest as a text link, even if the text link also includes an image. I can't promise that you will see the same difference, but I'd be surprised if you don't find some improvement from adding photos to your posts if that is something you haven't already been doing.

A second reason to include a photo in every post is that it opens up some additional possibilities for sharing or promoting your content that you don't have without photos (e.g., Pinterest). I cannot pretend to have figured out how to get the most from Pinterest. It and Tumblr are two of the social media platforms that I have still not figured out how to effectively utilize for increasing blog traffic. But what I do know is that you need photos to get anything out of Pinterest. So including photos in your posts means that your visitors may share them on Pinterest, giving your blog more exposure.

Finding Photos You Can Use

Where do you find photos to pretty-up your blog posts? The one thing you need to be careful of here is copyright infringement. Most of the really good photos are protected by copyright, and the owner may come after you if you use one without permission. This is why I like Google Advanced Image Search for those rare occasions when I am looking for a photo of something in particular. Under "usage rights," you can choose photos with a Creative Commons license. Alternatively, Pixabay and Unsplash are great if you are more interested in going some browsing for interesting photos and do not have specific content in mind.

How much time should you spend finding photos for your blog posts? As little time as possible. From my own testing, I have come to the conclusion that finding the perfect photo for your post is less important than including some photo. If you find the perfect photo, you might get some additional traffic, but searching for the perfect photo can quickly become time consuming. I tend to grab something that catches my eye as quickly as possible and move on. But experiment, by all means, to see if being more selective might make a bigger difference for you.

Is There a Downside to Including Photos?

Yes, aside from possible copyright issues, I think there are probably two downsides. The first is simply the added time it takes to find and add the photo. I don't think this adds more than 2-3 minutes to most posts I write. That doesn't sound like much, but I suppose it does add up over time. The second and potentially more serious issue is that photos do slow down one's blog to a degree. Compressing them helps considerably, but even a compressed photo is going to increase the amount of time it takes the page to load. There are things one can do to help (e.g., not including more than one photo per post, using lazy loading when possible), but one needs to be okay with there being some impact on speed.