[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]There are lots of helpful articles about how to write the perfect headline for blogs, but not many about finding the perfect image.
Since we process pictures about billion times quicker than text, I thought I’d pen a piece on imagery before we stop being able to read words altogether.
So here are some tips on how to illustrate articles, web pages, etc, when the content is hard to illustrate.
You’ve just about hit the deadline, proofread the piece, thought of a cool headline, and now you just need to plonk an image in.
But the topic is savings and investments and you don’t have much time. So you reach for your fail-safes — a clock for ‘deadlines’, a piggy bank for ‘security’ and *shudder* a open palm, some soil, and green shoots for ‘growth’.
Big mistake. Huge.
There are already hundreds of these images floating about, so your piece is never going stand out. You’ve chosen something far too obvious.
I call this the ‘Homes Under the Hammer’ school of imagery
Homes Under the Hammer is in many ways my perfect programme, in that it appears to be hermetically sealed in the 1980s – going by the presenters’ sun-bleached hair, deep tans and fondness for double breasted jackets. And we haven’t mentioned the music yet.
But that’s where I fall out of love with it. You might already know what I’m talking about here.
HUTH is famed for matching the content to the music in a painfully literal way.
So let’s say the person buying the property makes mirrors for a living – they’ll play Human League’s Mirror Man. A house that’s being renovated on a budget? Simply Red’s Money Too Tight to Mention. A home with an unusually bright green door? Shakin’ Stevens Green Door.
And these are the more imaginative ones.
Your audience will be more alert than the hung over students that HUTH is aimed at. So there’s not quite the same need for the bulldozer approach.
By being a bit more subtle you’ll invite your reader in and get them to do some thinking of their own.
According to Hubspot, a relevant image can also help the reader remember what you’re saying – people who were shown information with an image retained 65% of the information three days later vs 10% who were shown the information without the image.
The key word here is indeed ‘relevant’.
So how do you do it?
Firstly, make sure the image is good quality, the right size and you have permission to use it. Some great sites that take care of all this include Pexels, Unsplash and Deposit Photo (all free apart from Deposit).
With that out of the way, it’s time to find something relevant yet compelling.
So pause a sec, sit back and go through the piece again as if you’re the reader. Look for the sentence, word or quote that stands out, that’s a bit different, and that has the potential to engage on a wider level. If it resonates with you, it’s bound to with your audience too. Then find an image that goes with it. Here are some examples.
- Sign with the word ‘exit’? No
- A door? Ok I suppose, but a bit dull
- Fire exit sign? Perfect! It’s instantly recognisable, the figure of the man running implies ‘exit’ but also something urgent. Potentially dangerous even. And this piece is about planning ahead and not panicking, so the image works on two levels. And the more levels the better.
A piece on tips for tax year end – published two months in advance of TYE, so the theme is being organised for the deadline.
A ticking clock is too obvious. Someone running? We’ve just done that.
What about themes or phrases that go with that concept? What about… ’Getting your ducks in a row’ – the rubber ducks make it playful, they’re universally recognisable and a nice bright image. Colour being an essential too – especially in a financial context.
Or how about a row of pencils, sharpened, ready for action – and it also works with the word ‘tips’ – boom!
The image doesn’t have to be a photo.
A piece on property and retirement planning – the HUTH approach would be a picture of a house. But we’re better than that.
Within the piece is an interesting stat showing peoples’ emotional response to the word ‘home’ versus ‘property’.
So illustrating the piece with a child’s drawing of a house connects with that emotional aspect while still being relevant. It’s also colourful and intriguing.
This one is about meeting clients for the first time – two smiley people shaking hands? A close up of those hands? You know the answer to that!
So let’s think bigger. First meetings can make you feel under pressure and apprehensive. A bit like a first date – except we don’t have the budget for an image of Cilla Black.
But look, here’s a pic of two dogs having a chat and wagging their tails. Even if you hate dogs (how could you?!), it’s relevant yet not obvious, it’s cute as well as unexpected, which means, bingo!
So there you go. Hopefully that’s helpful.
In short, our brains are pretty clever. We only need a few clues, and when our minds do the rest, they get involved. And that’s what you want your over stimulated reader to do, so they read your brilliant piece.
Try telling that to Martin Roberts though![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]