We're all busy.
Our social media feeds and inboxes are cluttered, but we still want to know what's going on. And we still need to reach our readers … so how do you stand out in a sea of content?
In today's article Frances Caballo shares how to use images to attract and engage readers to your blog or your books.
You might also find this audio interview with Frances on social media marketing useful.
A number of years ago, experts predicted that by 2014, mobile marketing would rule the Internet. Guess what? They were right.
So what’s the next trend?
It’s already here, and it’s visual marketing.
In 2015, the Pew Research Center reported that Instagram was the fourth most used social media network behind Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. That’s right Pinterest, another visually-based social media network.
Why are images so hot?
Mike Parkinson, the founder of Billion Dollar Graphics (BDG), explained the reason in an article titled “The Power of Visual Communication.” In that report, he noted that we process visuals 60,000 times faster than text.
Images encompass various forms of imagery from blog post images to infographics to social media images. Visual communication – regardless of the medium – grabs our attention more than text.
They grab so much attention that once you incorporate more pictures into your blog and marketing, your readership and engagement will rise. Look at these statistics, cited in a post from HubSpot, a tech company.
- Researchers found that colored visuals increased people's willingness to read a piece of content by 80%.
- Content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without relevant images.
- Shoppers who view video are 1.81X more likely to purchase than non-viewers.
- Between April 2015 and November 2015, the amount of average daily video views on Facebook doubled from 4 billion video views per day to 8 billion.
- Syndacast predicts 74% of all internet traffic in 2017 will be video.
- Articles with an image once every 75-100 words got double the number of social shares than articles with fewer images.
Interpreting these statistics for authors, we can conclude:
- Adding relevant images to your blog posts will increase views and adding colored visuals will increase readership by a whopping 80%.
- Want to sell more books? Consider purchasing a book trailer, and if you’re a nonfiction author, create tutorial videos and upload them to your YouTube channel. Or if you have a podcast, do what Joanna Penn does. Record the interview as a video in additional to an audio broadcast, and upload the video to YouTube.
- Don’t forget that while images will increase views on Facebook, videos will bring you even more engagement.
- Adding more than one image to a blog post will increase social shares.
In a post last year on Forbes, Jayson DeMers wrote:
“There are several reasons why visual content will continue to become more important. Wireless connections and Internet speeds continue to increase, giving people more capacity to access images and videos even while on the go.
The written content market continues to become more saturated, leaving users with a higher demand for more visual forms of content.
And users are becoming increasingly impatient, needing faster and more instant forms of communication. The result is a much higher demand for videos and other visual forms of content well into 2016.”
Even video ads perform well. According to Digital Book World (DBW), Facebook is hitting the ball “out of the park” with its video ads. DBW’s April 5th post noted that Facebook users watch “100 million hours of video per day.” In addition, “more than 500 million people watch Facebook video every day.” In other words, videos are so powerful that people will even watch advertising in the form of video.
Don’t worry, writers. You can overcome the aversion to blocks of black text by incorporating imagery into your blog and book marketing. Ready to boost your visual marketing? Here’s how.
(1) Add Images to Your Self-Hosted WordPress Blog
First a note: A self-hosted blog is one that you host on your WordPress website, not on WordPress.com. More on building your own author website here.
Once you’ve written your blog post and added it to WordPress, click the Add Media icon, and then click Upload Files to add your blog graphic.
After the upload is complete, focus on the right column of your media library. The title you used when you have the image to your computer will display automatically. Now match the ALT Text to your image title, which should match your blog post title. Don’t “keyword stuff” an ALT Text or Google may consider your image, post, or even your website as spam.
It’s also here that you can decide to align the image, add a hyperlinked page, decide on a size for your image, or even add a caption if you’d like.
It’s important to properly title your image. The name you assign to each image will appear on Pinterest and stay connected to the image on other social media. It’s also a good idea to add an ALT Text to improve your search engine optimization. In addition, adding an Alt Text benefits the visually impaired. Screen readers, browsers that the visually impaired use, search for the ALT Text to inform the person using the computer about the contents of a picture.
To learn more about why Google likes you to include an ALT Text, refer to this resource: Image publishing guidelines.
Here’s an example from Pinterest. The pinned image attaches my website address, to the picture and displays it along with the image title.
Six months ago, I started using Social Warfare social sharing icons, which allows me to designate an image and a description for my pinned images. See this example:
(2) Use Images on Social Media
Images with quotes from your books is a wonderful way to market your book and engage readers.
Here’s a quote from Joanna’s book, Business for Authors: How to Be an Author Entrepreneur.
Readers also enjoy inspirational quotes.
And book lovers might enjoy a collage of interesting bookshelves.
(3) Use Multiple Images with Your Blog Posts
Do you, due to the pressure of time constraints, pass on including images with your blog posts? As the statistics above indicate, it’s important to have at least one image with each post, and even better if you can include more than one.
You can see that Joanna does this for her site, as above top left. [Note from Joanna: I only started doing this consistently after Frances suggested it in this fantastic interview!]
Here’s one from my blog.
So how do you create images easily without worrying about sizing?
How to Create Images Using Canva
Canva.com is a free online, image-creation tool.
The beauty of Canva is that its templates have the correct photo dimensions built in. What this means is that you won’t need to look them up for each social media network. Plus, you can create images using unique dimensions, such as buttons for calls to action.
Let’s say that you want to create an image for a Facebook post. Select the Facebook template, select a background image or add the code for your brand color, and select a text template or one of Canva’s free layouts.
Canva also provides text templates.
And it provides collage templates that you merely need to add your images to.
You can also purchase low-cost images from Canva or select free icons and grids from it’s Elements store. Visuals you can create range from covers, banners, and headers, to business cards, letterhead, graphics for Tumblr, and book covers.
To create a book cover, go to https://www.canva.com/create/book-covers. When you arrive at the page, Canva will show you a 23-second video. (Canva also offers some free tutorials.) Select a photo with a template or upload your picture and decide how you want to organize the text on the cover. Within a few minutes, you have a new book cover.
There are other image creation tools on the web, some of which are free and some aren’t.
- Use ly to create infographics. Easel.ly offers a free account and a pro account.
- am is an infographic-creation tool. It’s pricing starts at $19/month.
- Canva provides additional features on its paid account. Monthly billing is $12.95 or $119.40/annually, which works out to $9.95/month.
- PowToon is a fun way to create animated videos. This tool offers a free plan, but its pro plan is $89/month.
- With PicMonkey, you can edit and crop photos, overlay words onto images, create Facebook banners, and mount images into a collage. You can pay $4.99/month or $33/year.
- BeFunky is a fun tool as well. Upload an image for free and start adding your creativity to it. You can crop it, resize it, rotate it, add a background, sharpen it, and more.
Where to Find Royalty-Free Images
There are several online sources that say they provide free images but you need to be careful. Some of this free sites actually offer few free pictures. However, the online venues mentioned below do provide gratis pictures right now. When indicated, be sure to credit the photographer. Here are the free sources:
- Negative Space
- Polar Fox
- Travel Coffee Book
- Morgue File
- Death to the Stock Photo
How do you plan to incorporate images into your content and book marketing efforts? Please leave a comment below and join the conversation.
About the Author: Frances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. She’s a regular speaker at the San Francisco Writers Conference and a contributing writer at TheBookDesigner.com.