What if I told you there’s a passageway directly into the brains of your readers — and it doesn’t involve copywriting voodoo, ninja video moves, or podcasting magic?
It doesn’t involve words at all.
It’s all about visuals.
Hold on. Don’t run off just yet!
I know that using visuals can feel intimidating if you’ve never worked with them before.
But just like you don’t have to be born with a pen in your hand to become a decent writer (I’m proof of this), you don’t have to be born with a special “designer gene” to master using visuals.
Design is about learning a few guidelines and then practicing what you’ve learned.
Design is learnable and if you’re willing to practice what you learn, you can start using visuals to give everything you publish more impact and meaning.
What’s “visual content marketing?”
The broad definition of visual content marketing is simple:
Visual content marketing leverages the power of images to communicate your messages.
Rather than communicating meaning with words, we use pictures.
Why bother with visuals?
Words — whether they’re spoken or written — are given meaning inside the language-processing part of our brains.
That part is busy — and slow.
Images are given meaning inside the visual-processing part of our brains.
That part works much faster.
We can understand image meaning in just 13 milliseconds, according to MIT.
When you combine visuals with words, you get your readers’ brains firing on all cylinders.
Let’s talk about how to start using all that brain firepower, even if you’re not a designer and have never worked with visuals before.
If you’re just dipping your toes into the visual content marketing waters, there’s an easy way to start.
Commit to getting really good at finding the perfect image for every piece of content you publish.
To help you find that perfect image, start with these three tips.
Tip #1: Search only where you have permission
Keep yourself out of legal hot water by only searching for images where you have clearance to use them.
Try paid stock photo sites, like my favorite, Bigstock.
Avoid Google Image Search!
Most images in search results are owned by someone — and swiping them to use in your content could be an expensive mistake.
Google even gives us a reminder:
“Images may be subject to copyright” appears under every image we click on in Google Image Search. Don’t say they didn’t warn you.
Tip #2: Avoid images that look fake
Stock photo websites get a bad rap because of photos like these:
So creepy. On so many levels!
Avoid stock photos that are contrived, overly retouched, or too “perfect” with their lighting, models, or poses.
Your readers will find it easier to engage with people who look like them: real.
Choose images with people who look like they’re taken off the street, with lighting that’s natural, and situations you’ve actually seen in real life.
Tip #3: Don’t chop off heads
There’s a trend happening lately — I call it the “headless craze.”
Using a “headless” photo represents a lost opportunity.
You see, as humans, we’re hard-wired to respond to faces. From the time we’re babies, we learn to “read” and respond to the expressions made by our caregivers.
We learn early on to accurately interpret what faces communicate at a granular level.
Even at a young age, we can tell the difference between:
And much more.
When you use an image that doesn’t show a face, like this:
… you’re missing out on a ton of context. We can’t read this person’s face — it’s not there!
Instead, look for people photos that give us more information by including the expression on the model’s face.
I’m going to stop here because I don’t want to overwhelm you with too many tips.
I promise I’ll be back to share more visual content marketing information in future posts on Copyblogger.
In the meantime, are you ready to level up your visual content?
Beyond the minimum: How to put images to work promoting your content
If you’re ready to get visual content marketing working for your business, here’s the logical next step.
Go way beyond just adding images to your content when you learn to “brand” your images with your fonts, colors, and logo — just like what Copyblogger does at the top of every piece of content published here.
The advantage of creating a branded image is that it becomes your website’s visual ambassador.
It reinforces your brand wherever it appears, which could be:
- At the top of your blog post, your podcast episode, or on the splash screen of your next video
- On social media platforms, so your content stands out from the crowd
- In your email marketing, to reinforce your visual brand
I call these “signature branded images,” and they’re within the reach of anyone to create.
I know because since 2017, I have taught people just like you to create them.
These students — who thought they “weren’t artistic” enough — have mastered the method I developed and become confident visual content marketers.
Register for my free, on-demand workshop
To learn more, I’d love to invite you to my on-demand workshop, Brand Your Business with Stunning Visuals in 30 Minutes or Less!
It’s free, and you can start watching (and learning) in just a few minutes.
The workshop is chock-full of dozens of examples of these “signature branded images,” including images I developed for the Copyblogger blog.
When you’re ready to go beyond the minimalist approach and learn a step-by-step method to master visual content marketing, register for the free visual marketing workshop.
Editor’s note: Copyblogger is an affiliate for Pamela’s workshop.