They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, if that is true, then some effort should be put into ensuring your blog post of 500 – 2,000 words is well represented by a featured image. I remember the days when blogs were a new concept and having your own website was a bit of an extravagance, but today, in a job market where nearly 94 million Americans are technically out of work, having a blog, or personal website, is absolutely paramount in standing out among the crowd of similar professionals.
What is the Role of a Featured Image
Featured Images catch the eye of your target audience. You want colors to set the tone, the mood of your message. Remember, 80 percent of human communication is nonverbal, so pay particular attention to the feelings you want your audience to have when they see your post. If you were to come upon your featured image, would you want to read the article or blog post?
Yes, use filters, and I am not just saying that because my last name is…well, Filter. The human eye is attracted to good looking imagery. To illustrate a point, have a man’s wife or girlfriend get doctored up before a date, then blindfold the man, and then unveil his eyes with his significant other standing a few feet in front of him; what do you get? I am sure at least one moment or two he is searching to find words past “Wow!”
Filters give you the ability to set the mood for the image, that is if you are using an image rather than a graphic.
Use Your Own Photos if Possible
The preference is, if you can use your own images, use them! You don’t have to worry about copyright, creative commons attribution, etc. when using your own images. If you do not have any images that will work for the topic at hand, consider going flat. You don’t always need an image to make good featured images. Sometimes, all that is required is PowerPoint or Keynote, a single slide with a nice background and some text that says what the topic is and viola! You have a featured image.
Use Cheap Tools
Back in the day, you needed to have Photoshop to make images look amazing. Today, that is NOT the case. There are plenty of wonderful Photoshop substitutes out there for editing and color grading photos for featured images. Some tools are free, whereas others may cost as little as $0.99 to as much as $100. Sound like a lot of money? Just take a look at the cost of Photoshop.
Here are my top picks for creating beautiful featured images
- PicLab Studio
- Sketch 3.5 by Bohemian Coding
- and Keynote
Know your Featured Image Sizes
Before you begin designing your featured images, you MUST know the size required for featured images. With WordPress Genesis, it is a SIMPLE to find out. Simply click on the Genesis tab > Theme Settings > scroll down to Featured Images and see what the set sizing is. It’s that simple.
Be sure to add your website or name to the image in one fashion or another. Sometimes you may want the branding to be well defined, while at other times, it might be more fitting to have the branding subdued by adjusting the alpha transparency of the text or image. Branding could be a simple icon, a favicon, or a full-blown URL address, such as MarkZFilter.com.
Consider Which Social Media Platform the Post Will Be Displayed
Facebook displays featured images in different sizes than Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Each social media platform has its own peculiarities, so get to know what is expected of each of the platforms and use those peculiarities to your advantage. When I create featured images, I create the featured image I know will look good on my site. When I post the blog to Instagram, I make sure the image works well with Instagram’s boxed image requirements. When I post to Facebook, I make sure that Facebook can find the image I want displayed for my post. When its video content we are talking about, I load the video directly to Facebook (yeah, Facebook plays dirty here…don’t embed YouTube videos for Facebook posts. Facebook shows preference for the content hosted on their servers…not YouTube’s.
Bad Featured Image
The problem with this as a featured image is that the text clashes with the background, the image does not conform to the established sizing for featured images specific to your site’s theme, and there is no branding on the image.
Great Featured Image
This image has text that does not clash with the background, a site branding has been placed in the top-left-hand corner, and color-grading and special filters have been added to add some visual flare beyond the simple raw photo. Could you see the image above placed on Pinterest? That is what you should strive to do in the creation of your featured images.
I hope this quick tutorial will give you some inspiration to develop awesome featured images. Be sure to share your work on Pinterest and Instagram! You might be surprised how much attention great images will bring to your blog or business website.
What tools do you use to create beautiful looking featured images? Get the conversation started by commenting below.