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Blogging is the best way to create an image for your business that exudes success, and it’s the best place to put a constant stream of your latest work. Photos posted on a blog affect your customers’ perception of your business and how likely it is you will be hired by new clients. These tips on how to best use photos on a blog are vital for crafting a quality online experience for customers.
How Many Photos Should a Blog Post Have?
Your photo blog has only seconds or minutes to capture and persuade new visitors. For that reason, choose the photo sessions you post online with care. Then take it one step further by choosing only the best photos within each session for the blog.
Don’t treat a blog exactly like your portfolio. A portfolio includes the shining examples of your work in order to “wow” your prospects. A blog is more personal — the photographs tell a story. Be picky. Show only as many photographs as are needed to complete the story. When selecting photos, think about the word relevant. It’s not about how many photos you show, but how relevant they are. As the saying goes, “Less is More.”
[testimonial]Your portfolio is only as good as your worst picture.[/testimonial]
Tip: You might be your worst editor. You might feel an obligation to post a photo simply because of how much effort it took to create it. Consider having someone help you edit your work; a fresh pair of eyes will see good and bad things in your portfolio that you don’t.
Compress Blog Photos for Faster Loading
Photos can add a tremendous amount of data to a website. The heavier the load, the longer wait times — how long the website takes to download — you will pass along to users and Google, which uses load time as a ranking factor in its search results. When posting photos online, make sure to compress images as much as possible by reducing their quality or size. That said, you want photos that are large and high quality without impacting speed.
[testimonial]The optimal image size for blogs is 600-800px wide.[/testimonial]
In this range you have a high enough resolution for sharing across all social media sites. Widths above 800px will slow page load times and frustrate users. The problem gets exponentially worse as the resolution continues to increase.
Image compression also is important. First, change your resolution to 72 dpi because screens on desktop computers and phones don’t need as many dots per inch as a printed product to look good. Then “Save for Web” in Photoshop. Alternatively, many photographers and designers turn use the WordPress plug-in Smash.it. The plugin does the job by optimizing new and already existing images.
Keep design minimal. The viewers’ experience should be simple and intuitive. A happy viewer is more likely to spend more time on your site. You risk irritating users if you get too creative with navigation
Forget about scrolling, slideshows or sophisticated animations. Are you in love with Flash technology? Forget it. Yes, Flash makes for an impressive-looking site but it takes control away from users, especially on mobile devices.
Think carefully about the images on every page of your site, such as in the sidebar or footer. Not only do these add load time to every page, but they also might distract users from the primary photos in the middle of the page.
Finally, consider using an external image host so images load independently of your website. Consider Loadtr or Dropbox in connection with a WordPress plug-in, Photobucket, Flickr or Amazon content delivery network.
Protect Your Images
No matter how hard you strive to prevent it, people will find ways to steal and improperly use your photos. Here are a few ways to protect photos on a blog:
- Disable right-click (doesn’t protect against the print-screen button or screen capture programs).
- Edit the photo metadata in your photo editor as outlined by Cambridge In Colour.
- Monitor use of your images with TinEye reverse image lookup.
- Watermark your images.
Watermarking is a subtle way to protect your brand and remind users of the image’s source. Watermarks are a simple and universal option for labeling photos in all web environments, including social media. Big and bold watermarks detract from a photo’s beauty and destroy the viewing experience, so try to make the watermark subtle, opaque and not obtrusive.
Think with Search and Mobile First
Categorize content with clear sections, labels or names to help users and search engines understand your site content. The words you use should be relevant, obvious and familiar to the industry you are targeting. Abstract notions like “Investment” or “Raves” will likely be missed by a client seeking “Pricing” or “Testimonials.”
Title images appropriately so machines (like Google) can “see” the photo. Alternative text is a field where you can enter an image description that users won’t see, but machines will. Just describe the image naturally and you’ll be fine.
Next, write keyword-rich filenames for photos before uploading them to a blog site. Simply label photos with words your prospective customers might be looking for (beautiful-bride-dress.jpg). Keywords that are more specific increase the chance that photos and posts will be found.
Captions help describe the emotion of a photo, telling the story of your photos through the post. Captions add a considerable number of descriptive keywords for search engines and keep users on the page longer.
Avoid multiple images in one file, such as collages. These types of images are not friendly for search engine optimization (SEO) because they limit image descriptions to a single file.
For mobile users, the notion of “website responsiveness” is worth considering. A responsive site automatically adapts to different kinds of devices: desktops, tablets and smartphones. If your site isn’t responsive, you are missing out on a great number of potential visitors. Remember, what looks good on a desktop won’t necessarily look good on a smartphone screen.
Include Social Media in Design
Social networking is a wonderful marketing opportunity for branding, referrals and search engine optimization. Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are huge when it comes to spreading information.
Enable easy sharing by placing social media buttons on every page and post of your website. Only include the social networks your clients actually use. No need for LinkedIn or Reddit buttons if people won’t share your posts there.
When posting images to social media, remember to link back to your blog from every social post. That includes Pinterest descriptions!
Don’t forget to track social referrals to your blog using Google Analytics. Visit the Acquisition > Overview report and click on Social.
[testimonial]Social media is not a replacement for your blog.[/testimonial]
You might wonder: “If I’m on Facebook, should I continue blogging?” Absolutely. Both are complementary and drive traffic to each other. Ultimately, though, you don’t own content on Facebook. Blogging gives you complete control over your brand, photos, terms of service — and nobody can take that away.
Add an “About Me” Section
A headshot and well-written biography section are essential elements on a photography website. People build trust on a visual basis and make that determination in mere instants.
As busy customers spend less time on webpages, your job is to communicate who you are and why people should hire you as quickly and directly as possible. The photo and accompanying text should give an impression of what it would be like to work with you. As we all know, people will judge a book by its cover. Consider the About Me section as your book cover!
A blog is a living entity. Keep it up to date and share your latest work often and regularly. Applying the tips above should help you establish a more personalized brand and give a boost to your SEO and marketing. What’s more, it will reduce the clutter on your website and create a great first impression.