Original Images are Sexy (and So is More Reader Engagement)

by J. Money on March 25, 2013

(Guest post by Stephanie Halligan from The Empowered Dollar)

Quick poll: If you were browsing around on Facebook, which would you rather click on:

This:

Check out today’s post on Blog Sexier and learn how to Facebook fan engagement strategies.”

Or This:

unicorn graph
Answer me honestly :)

I stumbled across the power of a hand-drawn unicorn a few months ago, and my blogging life has never been the same.

When I started adding more doodles and images with funny text written over them to my blog, my readers came alive literally overnight: comments on my blog posts started doubling just after one week and the number of likes and shares on my Facebook page were shocking.

People were actually engaging and responding to my writing, and all I had to do was attach a fancy picture.

It’s that simple.

Why do pictures work?

Simply put, we’re human. We can interpret visual information more quickly than written words. We like things like Pinterest and 160 character text. And when you’re a reader in “must-read-all-blogs” or “Facebook zombie stalking” mode, sometimes you need a startling visual image to jerk you awake.

For example, here are the top two posts that have generated the most user engagement on my Facebook Page (meaning they clicked on the post to view the picture and then went to the blog).

valentines day chart
debt pay off picture
The first image is highly visual and takes some digesting and exploring – naturally, I would want to click on it to read what it says. The second image is simple, but creates a visual contrast so the reader can immediately grasp my situation.

Both of these are very different visual strategies. But both of these are way more exciting to look at than a Facebook post that says: “Check out today’s blog post on credit card debt! www.nobodycares.com”

Okay, but I can’t draw…

You don’t have to be an artist to grab someone’s attention and you don’t need Photoshop to create an interesting picture. In fact, the more “real” your drawings are, the more attention they’ll get. All you need is the most basic computer drawing program, an imagination and a quick wit. Here are some easy options to start adding interesting images to your blog:

  1. Start with simple hand drawn cartoons (even if you’re a sucky artist): A crappy stick figure drawn in MS Paint adds infinitely more humor and character to your post than a stock image. Don’t worry if you can’t come up with the perfect drawing for your personal finance blog post about debt reduction; in fact, it may just make your image more interesting (What about a Debt-Fighting Dinosaur?)
  2. Add text for a personalized touch: Adding a quirky one-liner or a speech bubble to a photo or screenshot helps make an image more relevant and personal. The screenshot above of my savings and debt dilemma is a great example of taking an image up a notch with a little text. You can do the same with your own photographs.
  3. Know the easy tools of the trade: I use PicMonkey.com for any text that I want to quickly add to a picture. I’m a littler fancier and use a Bamboo Drawing Tablet to create more intricate charts and drawings. But I started with MS Paint and a lot of patience – so don’t feel like you have to invest a lot to create interesting images. Keep it raw :)

Simple as that! So get out there and start creating beautiful works of blog art :)

—————
Stephanie Halligan writes for The Empowered Dollar, a blog dedicated to helping twenty-somethings fix their finances and find their stride in life. In an effort to make personal finance a little less boring, Stephanie fills her blog with as much snarky writing, awkward videos and hilarious drawings as humanly possible.

EDITOR’S NOTE: All very true stuff. Pictures – especially those which are funny/creative – help out SO much! If you’ve never seen the blog CrappyPictures.com, I highly recommend it. A perfect example of it growing a site like mad. Thanks for the awesome article, Stephanie!

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Michelle March 25, 2013 at 8:58 am

I’m definitely working on only using my own pictures. I prefer it that way also!

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Nick @ ayoungpro.com March 25, 2013 at 2:11 pm

Thanks for the great advice J. I love the pictures on your blog and I had no idea that you created them yourself.

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MakinSense Babe March 25, 2013 at 9:31 pm

Love this, always looking for ways to describe stuff without using words. Pictures and telling stories with pictures is taking over the internet!

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J. Money March 27, 2013 at 8:54 am

Just like Playboy! Oh wait…. I only read the articles.

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Crystal @ Prairie Ecothrifter April 2, 2013 at 3:02 pm

I need to learn to doodle. :-) Thanks for the advice. I do notice my posts with personal pictures get more comments than my others…

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Elvin @ Journey To Millions May 5, 2013 at 11:31 pm

Great tip. Images are indeed engage readers more as compared to a simple text. I’m usually getting photos in Google Images because I don’t have talent yet in creating online artworks. I guess that’s something I should try. :)

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J. Money May 6, 2013 at 7:57 am

Be careful where you grab them, Elvin – you need permission to take photos off websites, and especially Google. I’d try Flickr Creative Commons or similar places which give you permission to use as you wish… You don’t want to get in trouble down the line :)

(Here’s a recent post I did on photos)

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Ambi May 19, 2013 at 9:21 pm

I cannot help clicking on cute or funny pictures – this post is spot on! I think political cartoons (even if more social than political in nature) are the best attention grabbers for personal blogs, but I understand the down side of taking a lot time for the blogger to create.

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Chris May 21, 2013 at 11:32 am

I would love to draw my own images- but I can’t :-(… but I definitly use picmonkey as well and also pixlr to do something special with my bought images…

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J. Money May 21, 2013 at 2:01 pm

That works! Playing around with any program is good :)

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KC @ genxfinance June 3, 2013 at 7:52 am

Nice drawings. Lol Had a lot of fun reading your post. Unicorns, you can’t go wrong with that. Everyone loves them.

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Mel @ Trailing After God September 21, 2013 at 5:03 pm

This is one of those face palm articles where I wonder why I didn’t think of this. :) Great idea. Time to start thinking of some one liners I can add a drawing to…

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