Executed with some strategy, a blog is an asset for expanding your company’s thought leadership. The hardest part is the commitment, not the actual act of blogging. They can be short in length; in fact, some are better that way. Words (or copy) aren’t your only source of content. Yep, that’s right, images, video and logos are awesome sources of content.
Say it with us, “Video, images and logos are AWESOME sources of content!”
Let that be your blog mantra.
Images Within Posts
Images can be your best friend or worst enemy. Here are some important rules of thumb:
- Show Images at the Top of the Post – Begin your post with an image. This gives visual punch to the post in the list screen and can draw people in.
- Keep a Standard Width – Allow images to span the full width of the content column. Always present images with this width. See “Formatting Images for the Blog” below for more.
- Use Logos or Illustrations – When you don’t have solid images, logos or illustrations can do in a pinch. Logos in particular can be powerful provided they are beautiful. It makes for an excellent visual compliment to the post.
- Focus on Quality – We can’t stress this enough. It’s akin to “Dressing for the job you want, not necessarily the job you have.” Images are [Your Company’s Name] clothes.
- Manipulate Bad Images – If you must use an image of poor quality, spend time adjusting it as best you can. It’s amazing what you can do in Photoshop with levels, brightness, sharpening and cropping. If the image is important enough, it is worth your time. Take a Lynda.com image manipulation class if you need to. It can really help.
DON’T DO THIS:
- Don’t Go Overboard With Images – Use only the best images. Two great images are better than five mediocre images.
- Avoid Poor Images Like the Plague – Only use a poor image if it is utterly essential, reflects a major, major client, or accomplishes a stunningly important business goal.
Formatting Images for the Blog
Here are some guidelines for creating and saving images:
- Use the Width of the Column – Keep all images a standard width, precisely the width of the content column. Images might vary in height, but always should have this pixel width.
- Use a PSD Template for Images – Create a PSD template that is XXX pixels wide. Use this to format all images for the blog. You’ll never go wrong with width this way.
- Don’t Use a Border – In the rare event that you do need a border, a light gray, one pixel border will suffice.
- Some Images Won’t Be Defined Rectangles -Logos or simple object shots (presented on a white Background) do not need borders. Occasionally, these can be less than 460 pixels wide. The January 10th News item (Ted Moore) uses a logo that does not use the full width of the screen. This is the exception that proves the width rule.
- Save for Web – From Photoshop always save images using the “Save for Web” command.
- Saving as JPG – Most images can be saved in JPEG format. Try to stay at about 60% quality. Only go higher if your image looks ragged at that percentage. You want a percentage high enough for solid quality, and no higher.
- Saving as GIF -Some files (like logos) are best saved as a GIF. You’ll have to play this by ear and experiment with file size and format implications in the “Save for Web” dialog box in Photoshop.
- Saving as PNG -A PNG gives high quality, but results in, by far, the largest files size. Avoid this format and choose JPG.
Captions modify photos. They tell us what we are looking at. In this sense, they don’t need to be links (though they can offer links to further info).
- Keep the Captions Very Close to the Image -Captions should be under an image and very close to it. They should not directly abut the image.
- Don’t Center Captions – Left-align captions. Centering is not necessary.
- Use Smaller Copy – Captions should use small text size.
- Watch Spacing – Make sure there is adequate (and regular) space between the caption and the resumption of the post’s body copy.
- Position Links at the End of Captions – At the end of a brief caption, offer a highly descriptive link (if one is needed). E.g., “This [wonderful project] is as large as three football fields. View [Wonderful Project] Details >
Overall, this is what makes for a good post:
- It Looks Professional – Images are strong and the overall look is solid.
- It is Standardized – All photos are formatted the same way.
- The Content and Writing Are Very Good – People can enjoy the posts. They are written competently.
- It is Varied – There are many types of posts by many authors. Blog post length varies.
- It is Approachable – It looks easy to read. Not all posts are long, and post copy is generally broken up excellently with titles, bullets, images, etc.
- It is “On Brand” -This blog knows its purpose. It sticks to it religiously.
- It is Promotional Without Appearing So -They do a lot of promotion here, but it feels helpful.
- It Takes a Leadership Stance -The blog offers advice and commentary that matter to its readers.