Better Images for Social Media Sharing

Boat on lake at sunrise demonstrates the importance of good images.

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

For a long time I was oddly resistant to rethinking the way I approached images on my blog.

I knew there was a better way than the method I was using, but I didn’t want to find the time to figure it all out. I also am terrible at design.  Additionally, I didn’t really see what the big deal was, although I kept reading that better use of images can help us in terms of sharing. Images can give a post more views, especially on platforms like Facebook.

I finally got the memo when Twitter suddenly got more visual.  I also noticed that when I’d share links on Twitter, if the image on the writer’s post was optimized, it would automatically share the image with the text of the tweet.

I have a feeling that my process here is slightly convoluted, but I’ll share it anyway, along with resources that I know of to make better blog (and other platform) images.

Finding an image:

There have been plenty of cases where bloggers have been the subjects of lawsuits for using images on their blogs. Using Creative Commons photos or images that you’ve purchased is vital.

Right now, I’m  hooked on Visual Hunt.  I can search a wide variety of permission-free images there and can copy-paste the attribution for the image easily.  I download the image to my computer.

Other places I’ve used in the past for permission-free images are MorgueFile and Death to the Stock Photo (which sends you ‘photo packs’ every month to download).  Frances Caballo shares other good ideas  in her post “Blogging Got You Down? Follow These 6 Steps.

Designing the image (putting text on the image, etc.) 

Once I have my image, I open up Designfeed, the free design program I’m using now.  I also like Canva for creating images, but the thing I prefer about Designfeed is the fact that I can choose the size I’d like to download–and the app lists the sizes to make it easy: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.

Designfeed also has a free image search. The only thing I had reservations about was the fact that I had no idea who to attribute the images to or whether the images were genuinely copyright-free.  That’s why I take the extra step of using Visual Hunt. I upload the image to Designfeed, add my text, and download the resulting image in the size that’s best for the platform (I think the Facebook size works best for WordPress, fyi).

Compressing the finished product

Since the end product is a pretty large image, I compress it using the free tool compressor.io .  It doesn’t result in a lower-quality image or a smaller image,  but a much smaller file size in terms of kilobytes used. This helps keep my blog’s load time shorter.

Uploading to the blog/platform

Finally, I upload the image to WordPress, using the large size.  I make sure to give photo attribution at the bottom of the post.  When I load the image, I’m sure to include alt text to help visually impaired readers as well as for SEO purposes (more on alt text from Yoast and Google guru Matt Cutts).

That’s how I do it.  How about you? What tools do you use to include images on your blog posts or social media? What’s your favorite place to find images?

How to Create Better Images for Social Media Sharing: Click To Tweet

Photo via Visualhunt.com

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21 thoughts on “Better Images for Social Media Sharing

  1. I use my own or I’m sharing a book cover or movie poster and then those people want me to spread the word. I don’t do anything special for images in blog posts, but I do now create special images for Twitter and pin them.

  2. Images do matter, Elizabeth. Research has shown for years that we think and know in different ways. So it stands to reason that including and using the right image makes a big difference. Thanks for sharing your process.

  3. This is some good information, and I hope to take advantage of it in the future. Unfortunately, right now, I’m pretty bad about even adding images in the first place, and I often do it only as an afterthought. I should have made it a New Years resolution or something. Thanks, Elizabeth.

  4. I’m married to a photographer, and often draw inspiration from his images before I even begin to write, especially for my personal blog. Now that I have to have a more professional presence on the FB author page, Instagram, etc., it really comes in handy to be able to say, “Steve, I need a pic of a mysterious, foggy morning in a small town.” He’s glad to have an excuse to get out of the office with his camera. Within a short time I’ll hear him come back, go to his office, and within minutes the notice pops up on my computer that he’s shared some images with me on Google Photo. I used to take my own pics for FB and my author blog, but they were never ready for Prime Time, so to speak, and weren’t doing me any favors, even though I enjoyed taking them. That was a self-indulgent “darling” I had to kill, and I’m thankful my real-life darling was able to step to the rescue ;)

      1. Thanks, Elizabeth. Yes, he took my new author photo. He took the previous one, as well, and the one before that. But this time we got lucky. I was in the right mood, in the right light, wearing the right top. Gave him something to work with instead of against!

  5. Great tips, Elizabeth. I hadn’t heard about Designfeed. Will definitely have to check that out. I’ve been trying to create some quote images to go with the book tours I’m working with. I think images to help get posts noticed.

    1. Mason–For quote images, I’d probably stick with Canva.com. The only thing I’m not crazy about with Designfeed is that the title field isn’t optional (and may not give you the look you want with a quote image).

  6. Love it! I have the CC Search page on my bookmarks.

    I watched a great video from Charisma on Command (YouTube) that described how thumbnails (and we can assume header images) with faces+emotion tend to get more clicks/views. We want to connect with characters who are experiencing things. Perhaps this is a great way for us to grow reader engagement?

    1. David–That’s an excellent point about the desire to connect..especially as so many of us are on our phones and computers more and are ‘experiencing’ things through social media, ha! Could be a good area to invest some time and thought into. Thanks for coming by!

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