I'm shameless. I used this photo of a cute puppy and baby snoozing next to each other to get you to open my story. It worked. I mean, look at these cuties.
My husband -- a fellow journalist turned communications professional -- told me I am "preaching deception." Whatever. My point: If you want people to read your story, your blog post, your LinkedIn article, add a photo.
Lately I've come across several articles on LinkedIn by subject-matter experts who I know are super smart in their fields, but they didn't include a photo with their stories. Or, they didn't include the right photo or a photo that fits properly. Here's a how to use photos to make your articles pop.
1. Know where to look for photos.
Hopefully you know that you can't use just any photo. It has to be free of copyrights. That means you either took the photo yourself or you found an image on a royalty-free photo site like Pexels.com, Pixabay.com or Unsplash.com, which offer thousands of free (of copyright and charge, too) photos. I regularly use all three of these sites to find images for clients.
2. You don't have to think literally.
If you're writing about hot air balloons, kittens or ice cream, you will have no trouble finding art to literally match those topics. But if you're writing about less visual concepts like leadership, motivation, or product differentiation, you'll have to think more creatively and search more conceptually. Your photos might be a close-up of a hand holding a briefcase or straightening a tie, a beautiful sunrise, and a row of lightbulbs in which only one lightbulb is illuminated.
3. Make sure your photo is the right size and shape.
Make sure the photo you choose fits the space. You might have to download a smaller or larger file size, or you might need a horizontal photo over a vertical image, or vice versa. If you write articles for LinkedIn, you will need a horizontal photo for the feature or lead art space. You can use vertical photos for secondary images, embedded within your text.
If only some of the photo is displayed--if you can see only sky and not any of the buildings in the skyline below--you'll need to crop your photo accordingly. Don't know how to crop or have cropping tools? Here's a trick: Take a screenshot of the portion of the photo you would like to use, and upload that.
4. Use more than one photo.
That lead photo might pull readers in, but secondary photos can keep readers reading your entire article. Adding images throughout your article is a great way to break up the text into digestible chunks and dress up your entire article or blog post.
Another tip: If you plan to be a prolific writer or blogger on behalf of your business, keep a collection of images in a folder. Every time you find a photo that would be perfect for a future post, add it. Another tactic I plan to implement: Task my children (a seventh-grader and a fifth-grader) with finding photos for my photo file.