As you probably know, visuals are *huge* when it comes to building a successful and respected blog and business. Having good visuals isn’t totally required for success, but they can certainly make it a lot easier.
Photos are a great way to draw new traffic to your website. Think about the way you browse around Pinterest. I know I’m much more likely to click on a graphic that looks good than something that could use a little work.
They’re also important in building trust with your audience. If your blog photos and graphics are all free, low-quality stock photos, new audience members aren’t as likely to take you seriously.
Blog photos have always been something I’ve struggled with. I’ve never been good at taking pictures and it’s not something I want to spend a ton of time learning. I didn’t realize how many others shared in my struggle until I got an email last week from a subscriber asking what she could do about blog photos since she isn’t great with photography and doesn’t want to spend a lot of money.
So today we’re going to go over some different options for the big important photos – like your header graphic, social media cover photos, and landing pages – and how to come up with a good template for your blog post photos.
The big ones – header photos, social media cover photos, and landing pages
These types of photos are the ones that have always intimidated me the most. After all, they play a big part in shaping the first impression someone will have with your brand or product.
Just to make sure you know what I’m referring to, let’s look at a couple examples:
Header photos: This is the photo that appears at the top of your website. Here’s a gorgeous example from Fran of Freeborboleta.
Social media cover photos: Here I’m thinking specifically about Facebook and Twitter. Take a look at this example from Katie Williamsen – could that photo BE any more perfect? (Answer: no)
Landing pages: And last, with landing pages I’m talking about the big images that take up the full width of your screen, generally to promote a product or service. Here’s a beautiful example from Kory Woodard to gather VIP signups for her course.
As you can see, these photos play a big part in your business so it’s important to be picky. There are three options I’ve explored in using these types of images for my own blog and business.
Option 1. Custom brand photography
First, a fun option that I plan to explore in the near future is custom brand photography. This is where a professional learns all about your brand and photo needs and creates a photo pack specifically for you.
How fun does that sound?!
My friend Chaitra from Creative Convex offers this as a service, which I’m super excited to explore next month!
Option 2. Book a session with a local photographer
This is a fun one and may be less expensive than you’d imagine!
Scheduling a session with a local photographer and bringing props to take shots of is a great way to get some branded photography.
That’s exactly what I did with the photos you see on my blog, Twitter account, and Facebook page. I scheduled a session for headshots, but also brought a couple fun props and had her snap a few extra pictures. All of it was only $185 – not too bad for something custom!
Option 3. Stock photography
And last, you can always use stock photography. However, if you’re using it for something important like your header graphic or something to represent a product, go with a paid service.
The free options are great, but you’re going to have a much larger number of people using the same photos, making it more difficult for you to stand out.
A few of my favorite paid options include:
Hopefully these options make your big important photos a little less intimidating. Let’s move on to your blog post photos.
Blog post photos
As important as the images are that feature your products or give a first impression when someone lands on your site, your blog post photos can be just as important.
Like I said before, I know I’m more likely to click on a photo that is visually appealing when I’m scrolling through Pinterest. I’m sure I’m not alone.
First, let finding your signature style for post images be a journey. If you’d like to laugh a little, here’s a look at mine:
Now, I can’t take credit for that middle one, that was aaaaall Sarah when she designed my site. But that’s quite the improvement!
Be patient with yourself and experiment with different styles to see what you really enjoy.
As far as creating your own blog post photos go, I have two main options for those of you who don’t want to take your own pictures. Technically, you could still go with branded photography or a local photographer, but it would get pricey if you want a different image for each post. Because of that, I’m leaving those two options out.
Option 1: Free stock photos
You may have noticed that I specified “free” here, where in the previous section for the larger graphics, I recommended paid. This is simply because I don’t want you to think you have to pay for hundreds of stock photos.
Some of my favorite places to look for free stock photos include:
(And if you need some more places to look, Erika has an amazing post with more than 50 free photo sites)
Free stock photos are completely fine for your blog posts, as long as you find a way to make them stand out. Luckily, setting yourself apart from the rest doesn’t have to be difficult – you just have to create some type of overlay that matches the rest of your aesthetic. Take a look at some great examples:
Solopreneur Diaries – This graphic uses a stock photo with colors that match Tonia’s brand, but she includes a signature section at the bottom of her post that includes her post title, content upgrade, and web address. All of her post images match this format so it’s easy to recognize them as hers.
Wonderfelle – Now, Elle’s photos are her own, but the idea works the same for anyone using stock photos. Just like in Tonia’s example above, thanks to the top half of the post, it’s always easy to recognize Elle’s blog posts as her own.
Freeborboleta – And last, Fran does a great job of using stock photos while still representing her brand with her colorful overlays. Thanks to the style of the overlay and her fonts, I always know when I run across one of her posts.
Option 2: Go graphic free!
The second option is to avoid using photos in your post graphics completely! I started doing this when I grew tired of spending hours searching for photos I liked.
There are endless options for how you can create photo-less templates in a way that will make them unique to you. You can even use a free tool like Canva to create your template!
Let’s go over a few examples:
Allyssa Barnes – I love the post graphics that Allyssa uses and there’s no mistaking it when you see them – you know it’s her! While it might seem like it would be difficult to be creative and unique without photos, Allyssa is showing us that it’s completely possible.
The Haute Notes – I love the simplicity of this template that Rachel created. It matches her brand perfectly and is totally distraction-free.
Just Arpi – Here’s another example showing us that photo-free templates don’t have to be boring! Experiment with patterns and icons to make your images stand out, like Arpi does for her post graphics.
It doesn’t have to be difficult!
Finding graphics for my blog used to be a huge source of stress. I hope these options have helped you see that there’s a much easier way than having to fight through taking photos yourself!