Bloggers use images to capture the attention of readers, especially on blogs related to food, beauty and fashion. The time and consideration it takes to manage photos surprises and frustrates many beginning bloggers. We make things easier with friendly martian’s four tips for visual elements on your blog.
Image size isn’t everything, but it’s important
As your blog grows, you will have thousands of images on your site. These take up most of the space on your server, so you need to use appropriately sized images. Oversized images take longer to load, which slows your website’s performance and can affect your search rankings.
There are two basic concepts to keep in mind with images: dimension and size.
Dimension refers to an image’s length and width. Most blogs are about 1080 pixels wide, which is the widest image you will probably ever need. If your blog has a sidebar, your images will be even smaller, maybe 600 pixels or 800 pixels wide. Every blog is different, though, so ask your website designer to give you a list of image dimensions that are appropriate for your site.
Size refers to file size, which is how much room a photo occupies on your hard drive or server. Mobile phones and cameras produce photos at large sizes that are too big for a blog. These images need to be reduced in size or they will slow your site to a crawl.
This brings us to two terms that often confuse people: high resolution (or hi-res) images and low resolution (lo-res) images. These terms are often mistaken to mean high quality or low quality images, but that is not the case.
Hi-res images have large file sizes and are appropriate for printed materials, such as magazines, newspapers or other publications. They will have file sizes that are described in megabytes. For example: 45MB. You never want to use images that are measured in megabytes on a blog.
Lo-res images have small file sizes and are suited to presentation on a computer screen, mobile phone or tablet. These images have file sizes in kilobytes. For example: 34Kb. These images quickly load on your site and keep your visitors and search engines happy.
Use an image editor to size your images
You’ll use a photo editor to properly size your images. These range from complex pieces of software to basic online image editors.
- The big boys: These image editing programs are overkill for most bloggers, but if you are interested in sophisticated image manipulation, these are what you will use.
- Photoshop: The most recognized and used image editing program. Used by professional photographers, marketers and even videographers around the world.
- Luminar: Many pro photographers love this software’s ability to easily and dramatically enhance photos.
- Gimp: A longtime free, open-source alternative to Photoshop.
- Adobe Lightroom: A photo optimization and organization platform, in addition to editing capabilities.
- Multifaceted online editors: These sites not only allow you to resize your photos, they also help you create social and branding campaigns with imagery.
- Canva: This site gives you basic photo editing options and allows you to create a range of marketing and branding products, such as posters, business cards and T-shirts.
- Spark: Another Adobe product, Spark allows you to edit your blog photos and provides templates for social media elements, such as Twitter profile photos, Facebook cover photos, and YouTube thumbnails.
- Basic photo editors: These editors quickly and simply get the job done.
- Pixlr: This editor allows you to resize, crop and make a few basic adjustments to an uploaded photo or a photo from a URL.
- Fotor: In addition to photo editing capabilities, beauty and fashion bloggers will like this site’s enhancement controls that allow adjustment of eye shadow, lip color, mascara and more.
- BeFunky: Easy to use interface for basic photo editing. Paid account gives you access to several advanced features.
Bonus tip: To further reduce your image’s file size after editing, run it through the optimizer at tinypng.com, which will compress the image without losing quality. You can also use plugins on your blog to do this, such as Smush or ShortPixel.
How to manage images on your blog
After editing, it’s time to upload. Remember that search engines can’t see images. They rely on the blogger to give them a good description of what the photos are about. Here are three things you can do to help your SEO.
- Give a meaningful file name to your images. Don’t upload images that are named IMG_0002335.jpg, for instance. The filename is an opportunity to provide search engines with image data, so use terms that describe the image. Accurate file names also makes images easy to search for on your blog or on your computer.
- Use the alt attributes field to accurately and succinctly describe your images. This allows search engines like Google, and screen readers for the visually impaired to get a sense of what the image shows. The description will also be displayed in instances where the image isn’t downloaded to a user’s computer.
- Only upload images you will use. Having unused images on your blog takes up valuable server space and, in some cases, search engines might index images that you don’t want anybody to see.
Help yourself: Organize your images
Bloggers and influencers have lots and lots of photos, and quickly finding the photos they need is important. Take the time to set up an organized file system, so you can manage all the images you accumulate. Your system will be different than anybody else’s, but here are some tips that have helped us over the years.
Put all of your images on an external hard drive. The advantage is that the images will be concentrated in one place and the drive can easily be plugged into another computer if you need to. The images also won’t take up precious space on your computer’s main drive—external drives are often much bigger than your computer’s drive and can hold more photos.
Add descriptions and dates to your image file names. This will help you search for images in two ways. If you can’t remember the name, you might remember the approximate date; and if you can’t remember the date, you might remember the image subject. We usually do something like this: fm-vacation-venus-021620.jpg. So now we can search for vacation photos, or photos of Venus, or photos taken on February 16 2020, and the image will display in the results. The important thing is to come up with a system that means something to you.
Use cataloging software. Programs like Adobe Lightroom, Apple’s Photos or Google Photos give you a step up in organizing capability. With these catalogs you can tag people, places, locations and all sorts of things that will help you find your photos in a flash. You’ll can also search for and track photos by size, resolution and other attributes.
If you have any other tips for managing images, we’d love to hear them. Add them in the comments below. Visual assets are one of the trickiest things for beginning bloggers to master, so every tip helps. Once you get a system down for dealing with images, this daunting process becomes manageable and can sometimes even feel creative.