Writers write: So why use images in your content?

Words are a writer’s stock in trade, but when it comes to blogging and the social media platforms we use to help build our author brands, we are told we must use images in our content to help express what we want to say. But why? Writers write, so why use images?

A picture tells a thousand words: Is that all it can do?

Image: Show us what you’ve got. Used with permission. Leisl Leighton

Is that all it can do? In this world of ever-decreasing attention spans, a world where most users access their favourite platform/s and blogs on their smart phones (where streams of words can be a turn-off and images speak louder than words), something that can save you a bunch of words and also help to increase reader attention and retention, could be viewed as a brand-building miracle.

We want to keep people engaged long enough to read what we have to say and reach the call to action – whether that call to action is to buy our newly released book, or comment on our post, or ooh and ahh over then share the horrifying make-up we created for Halloween (and in a double call-to-action-whammy, also click on the link to buy our Halloween-centric paranormal novel which is on special right now! ?)

But what if I don’t want to use images?

The answer is simple:

Get over it.

Yep, in regards to using images as part of your content,

don’t try to swim upstream,

Image: Autumn waterfall on the river, with leaves, in Estonia.
Used with permission. Veronika Seppanen via dreamstime.com

just go with the flow,

Image: Jumping happy woman on the blue background.
Used with permission. Redbaron via dreamstime.com

jump on that bandwagon

Image: Two kittens in a wagon. Used with permission.
Tony Campbell via dreamstime.com

and be a lover not a fighter.

Image: Be a lover not a fighter. Used with permission.

If Facebook preferences photos and video then if you want its algorithm to preference your post, use photos and video. If Twitter loves a GIF, then use a GIF. The whole point of Instagram is sharing images and building a story with them, so enough said there.

Image: Balloons birthday celebrate. Used with permission.
Pineapplesupply.co through pexels.com

And your blog?  

Well, your blog is yours and you can do with it what you like. But if you’d like Google to invite you to its SEO algorithm party, then images will help to give you the fancy glasses and sparkly hat you need to gain attention.

But there are successful blogs that don’t use images.

Sure, there are. A hugely successful one that springs to mind is Chuck Wendig’s Terribleminds. He rarely uses images on his blog, and when he does, they are mostly his book covers at the end next to the buy links. The lack of images doesn’t seem to have hurt his SEO or brand. But then again, his brand is to famously rant in a stream-of-consciousness, vomiting-word-scrabble kind of way, so images aren’t what his audience is there for, so he can get away with it.   

Most other writers: not so much.

Why are images so important?

Image: Writing friends. Used with permission.
Alex Adsett on Leisl Leighton’s phone.

As mentioned, SEO loves images, as do most social media platforms and their various algorithms, so if you want people to find and share what you say, it’s important to use images.

But an equally important reason to use images is because social media is about being social, about interaction and community.

Images engage readers in a way that words don’t – primarily because our brains are wired to recognise images in as little as 100 milliseconds.

The right image can do more than simply hit the brain incredibly fast (and work SEO and platform affordances in the right way). Images can be used to make what you are writing so much more interesting by:

Creating a visual hook

Breaking up the text

Enhancing meaning

Engaging with humour

… and so much more.

Images and words: a great partnership

Image: Holding hands. Used with permission. Tiago Lino on Pexels.com

This isn’t to say we should get rid of the words. We can create emotion and place with our words, build discussion, cause laughter and tears, share interests and thoughts, create love and support. Words are powerful. But images are equally so and always have been. Cavemen painted images on their walls long before the first written words were recorded. So, we would be foolish not to take advantage of the power of images and use them to help reach our audiences, to create engagement, and build our author brand in partnership with our words.

What are your thoughts? I love to hear from my readers. And given I’ve shared my Halloween make-up with you in this article, I’d love you to share your costume pics with me on Facebook or Twitter (@LeislLeighton #Halloween2019) or even a pic of a cute kitty or puppy – I love those too. You can also leave a comment below about what kinds of pics you like to use to build your author platform.

To finish up, I leave you with my wish for all writers – may your creative well be full and may your Muse be forever with you.  

[Featured image. Balloons with pineapples. Used with permission. Pineapplesupply.co through pexels.com]