How to Make Your Blog Posts Visually Appealing (Part 1 Photos)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Looking to improve your bounce rate, and increase the amount of time people spend reading your blog? If you've ever checked out Google Analytics these might be the sort of things you're looking to improve- I know after taking a peek at mine I wanted to know what I could do to encourage readers to engage more with my blog. Of course you should blog for yourself, and if you're not particularly interested in writing for an audience then this wont be the post for you- however if you're looking for a couple of tips on how to give your analytics a boost then hopefully you find this helpful! This is the first of two posts focused on how to make each of your blog posts look their best. Unfortunately a general visitor won't care if a blog has the most thrilling and engaging content ever written, if it's not easy to take in then they're not going to bother. We're all guilty of it, how many times have you clicked out of a blog or website because the font gives you a headache, or the pictures and text aren't presented well on the screen?

When you spend so much time and effort thinking up ideas, writing up blog posts and taking photos the last thing you want is to be turning people off with silly things that make your posts look unappealing. As a small fish in a big bloggy pond, the best way to encourage people to read your content (rather than hop on over to someone else's blog) is to present it in a way that's nice and easy to read. My previous blogging posts have focused on layout and design as a way to improve your blog- this post will cover how I think is the best way to display your actual content. I've written this with newer bloggers in mind, if you've been blogging for a while then no doubt you'll be well aware of these things. In this post I'll be sharing some of the things that will improve the way your photos look on the page; some of these points are things I used to do myself, so hopefully you can avoid some of the mistakes I've made along the way!


Solution 1. Always Use the 'XL' Photo Setting 
If for example you're the type of blogger who writes about products, there's a good chance that most of your traffic will come from people Googling reviews. So when readers land on your page, what they're looking for are large, clear photos of the product in question. I highly recommend the 'xl' photo setting on Blogger for pictures to look their very best. It's true you can click on pictures to make them bigger, but as readers we're all about convenience. Having to click on that picture to enlarge it is making people take another unnecessary step, and possibly exit out of your blog.

Solution 2. Take Photos One Way or Use a Cropping Tool
Even when you set all of your photos to the same size in your blog post, if some have been taken portrait and others landscape you'll end up with photos that look messy and jumbled. You can get around this by keeping your camera in the landscape position when you're taking blog photos, or you can sometimes crop down taller photos which will make them them wider. Don't get too heavy handed with the cropping tool though, which leads on to my next point.

Solution 3. Find a Setting/ Photo Background You Like
This is something I was definitely guilty of when I first started out. I'd take a picture of a product and then completely crop out the background because I didn't like how it looked. Again this is something that doesn't look appealing, you're much better off finding a background you're happy with and leaving it in- some cropping might be necessary especially if you were zoomed too far out, just don't go crazy with it. It will probably take a while to find a photo setting you're happy with, definitely experiment with different places. With a DSLR camera you can use settings to soften the background when you focus in on an object. You wont achieve this effect with a regular digital camera or phone camera, and so to stop your pictures looking cluttered, photographing them against plain or patterned paper or fabric works well. Before I bought my DSLR I used to take my pictures against a piece of paper curved against a wall to give a plain white backdrop.

Solution 4. Annotate Your Photos
Annotating your photos makes it easy to see exactly what's going on at a glance, this is especially handy when you're showing multiple products or swatches in one picture Working out exactly which part of a caption corresponds with each part of a picture is just plain annoying, and when there are multiple products/ swatches being shown it can be confusing as well. Annotating your pictures makes it easier for people searching content on Google images too to see exactly what product is being shown.  I use Picmonkey.com to add text to pictures which is free to use, but any basic 'MS Paint' style program will have the option to add text.














Solution 5: Always Take Your Own Blog Photos
I think this is possibly the most important one, using stock photos makes your reviews seem extremely unreliable. We all want to read genuine, honest reviews and without a photo of what you've supposedly tested how are people to know you've even used the product? Even if you don't have the world's best camera just do your best, even pictures on camera phones can be clear if you're in a well lit place and you can adjust the brightness and contrast on sites like Picmonkey. Never ever use other bloggers photos as your own, you wouldn't copy and paste content from other peoples blog posts (I hope not anyway!) and so using their pictures as your own is just the same.

















Solution 6: Use a Photo Editor to Brighten Photos
Taking perfectly bright photos is difficult. Even on a sunny day with a DSLR my photos will often come out looking dark and dingy, but you can easily fix them up. Online editors like Picmonkey are free to use with nothing to install, you simply upload your picture straight to the site and edit from there, I highly recommend using the 'brightness' and 'highlights' sliders in the exposure setting. You should always aim to take pictures with as much natural light as possible because there's only so much editing can do, but it's well worth taking the extra few minutes to make your pictures look as good as they possibly can. Be careful not to overdo it though or your pictures will look washed out or over exposed.

Other Tips
Another tip for if you're writing a post about multiple products, group the items in your pictures. For example if you're writing about your top five nail polishes, rather than take a separate photo of each one, group them together and take pictures from different angles (example here). Something I'd often do when I first started writing blog posts was take a couple of pictures thinking everything was fine and dandy, tidy everything away just to see them on the computer and realise they were blurry or no good. One of the best things you can do to save yourself a lot of hassle is to take a LOT of pictures, way more than you think you'll possibly need. Zoom in on different areas of the products, tilt your camera to snap some artistic looking angles. From doing this you'll work out what makes your pictures look best, and it saves you having to go back and re-stage them all again which is quite possibly the most annoying thing ever (been there, done that, got the t-shirt multiple times).

Your blog is very much your own slice of the internet, ultimately you should be happy with how it looks. As someone who reads a lot of blogs, these are just things I think make a blog easier to read. After all, if you're sharing reviews and opinions to help and inspire other people then it makes sense that everything is presented in a way that's easy to take in.

Let me know if you found this post helpful, you can find part two here.



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40 comments

  1. Great advice!

    sparkleousbeauty.blogspot.com

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  2. Really great tips! I'm guilty of not putting the labels directly on the swatches. I debated with myself over, but I guess it makes sense to have them right on the swatch. Thanks Stacey!

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    1. I never used to either, but I noticed it was quite confusing working out which label corresponded with what so started adding them in :) x

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  3. Great tips, im not a new blogger but can be guilty of these sometimes. Will have to start labelling swatches

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    1. Thanks :) I think it just makes it a lot more convenient when you're scanning for the information you need! x

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  4. I agree with your tips. I think it is SOO important to make photos larger, even if you don't do the rest. I get on so many blogs and think what is that??!! Because it's so tiny. I also crop all of my photos to be the same width.

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    1. I agree, I think big photos are the number one thing you can do to improve your posts. I think it makes the post look nicer too x

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  5. Replies
    1. Thank you :) Keep an eye out for part 2! x

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  6. You always give the best advice!! xox

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    1. Thanks Mikki! I know I'd have found advice like this helpful when I started so I hope others will too x

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  7. Thanks for posting this, it was really helpful!

    thebellebeautyblog.blogspot.com

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  8. Great tips Stacey. I definitely agree! x

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  9. Hey Lovely Stacey! Thanks for following me on Bloglovin! Mind following my Blog too? I'm following yours <3 ♥♥ Click here to follow my Blog on Bloglovin ♥♥ | http://www.theinsideoutbeauty.com

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  10. haaha the crop tip was definitely something I agree on!

    http://wishuponasmile.blogspot.co.uk/

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  11. Great tips!

    Thank you for posting this. =)

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  12. Such a great post!I wish I knew all of this when I started out last year!

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  13. Thanks for the tips and also the follow! I followed you back :)

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  14. Love this post! There are some great tips and super helpful!
    www.kiss-andmakeup.blogspot.co.uk

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  15. Stacey, this was so helpful! I've been doing my best to take higher quality photos for my blog and everything. But it is amazing how small changes can transform a blogpost! You definitely know your stuff :)

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  16. I really love this post it was so helpful! I am now following

    Coryn x

    www.corynleebeauty.blogspot.com.au

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  17. This is a great post. I wish everyone would read it and followed the instructions.,
    Adela x

    Misspinkstyle.net

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  18. Great post. I know a few blogs who could seriously use a look at this~

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  19. great and nice
    welcome to visit to my blogger http://tips-and-information4y.blogspot.com/

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  20. Great tips!! I'm guilty of a couple of these definitely, never thought of annotating my photos to make it easier to see which swatch is which, but I definitely will now!!
    xxx

    The Beauty Belle

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  22. Hi Stacey. Thanks for this very useful post. I think I have a few changes to make! I never use other people's photos or stock photos, but think I over use the cropping tool. I guess it's all a learning curve! Carly. Xxx

    www.carlysbeautyworld.blogspot.co.uk

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  23. Hi Stacey, I've read many of your posts on how to make a better blog for all, and I know now where I am going wrong which is a relief, if you ever have the time or inclination feel free to check my blog > undiscovered-beauty-queen.blogspot.com < out

    thanks again
    xxxxx

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  24. Really loved your blog! You have great tips!

    Since I only have bad quality cameras, I tend to mix my own photos with stock photos to call people's attention: I use the stock photos for the pretty appeal since they're good quality, and my own for the credibility necessary for the review.
    Because stock photos are kind of boring, I always mix them up on polyvore.
    Example: http://diasdecha.blogspot.com.br/2013/08/dia-dia-cuidados-basicos-com-pele.html (in portuguese but you get the deal!)
    I'm saving up for a better camera, so I hope this will change soon!

    Thanks again for all the awesome posts about blogging! I also love your makeup reviews.

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  25. This is really really helpful! I'm fairly new to the blogging world and I used your tips on my latest post and I can see such a huge difference :) Thank you so Much!!

    http://newgirl49.blogspot.co.uk/

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  26. I would love to learn more about how to start up with blogs, you said link ups were the best idea? How do I do a link up? Let me know, thank you!
    My blog is
    sliceofsunshineblog.blogspot.com

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  27. Your blog is lovely! Its so pretty and everything looks so neat and really nicely presented.
    Great post xx

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  28. Hi Stacy,
    I am doing some research on camera's (its all new and confusing to me) and was wondering what is the name of the camera you use for your blog photo's?
    Thanks

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    1. hey sorry for the late reply, I've just moved house and was waiting on my internet to be connected! I use the Nikon D3100, it's a great DSLR and a good price compared with similar models too I definitely recommend it. If you look in the 'about' section below my header I've linked to the exact one and where I bought it. If you'd like to know anything else about it just let me know :) x

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    2. Thank you so much for all your help I will definitely look into this camera. Such a good price too :) xx

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  30. These are some great tips. I still debate with myself over annotating polish names in my bottle pics, mostly because some nail art looks can use up to 10 different bottles, and that's just a PITA to annotate. I figured it was better to stick with one style. I'm still working on my photography, but there are photo challenges specific to nail blogs that probably don't apply to most blog photo advice articles out there. In any event, this whole series has been really great, and you've helped me with 2 major issues I'd been having with Blogger, so thanks for that!

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