Friday, January 22, 2010
Learning How to Choose Images for Articles
While I'm not an expert, I have learned a couple of things here and there about choosing and placing images with Associated Content articles. And certainly, if anyone would like to share something they've learned about posting images with AC articles, then please leave a comment below so others can benefit from your experience. That's what this blog is here for.
Statistically, articles with pics average a little better page view wise then one without. This is because people are visually inclined. If you see a nice picture, you're more likely to take notice of the headline and then click to read the article.
First thing you need to do is read the Image Submission Guidelines. Yes, they can be a little confusing to use and understand at first but as you go along, you learn what works and what doesn't. Listen, I occasionally still have problems getting images up the way AC wants them. I've had perfectly good images removed from my articles with no straight forward explanation of why. So, having said that, this post isn't about how to post the right images that AC won't take down but instead of finding images for tougher subject matters; thinking outside the box in terms of what images to place.
Last week, I had a contributor ask me for help concerning an image. She was writing on the subject of teen pregnancy. She had it in her head that she had to find a picture of a pregnant teenager. Her search was coming up empty. "Then look for something else to put with the article," I told her. What else screams that this is an article about pregnancy? Let the headline say that it is an article on teen pregnancy. Let the picture say that it is an article on pregnancy. So what images would work with that? A close up of a pregnant belly for one. Maybe an ultrasound picture. Ultimately, I found a picture on Wikimedia Commons of a positive pregnancy test that she did end up using on her article. I remembered having used that same picture on a previous article of mine.
Finding images that work with the topic you are writing is difficult when it's something that doesn't necessarily have a concrete object that can serve as a picture. In those cases, you should take a step back from your topic and look at your article from a different angel. For example, when I'm writing a television review, there's little chance that I'm gonna find an approved image of the show's cast, which is an obvious first choice as an image. And using the image of a remote control (to indicate the article is television related) is a good choice but since I crank out the articles three or more times a week, if I didn't change up the image, my contributor page would be blah with nothing but remote images down the article catalog. If you'll look at my catalog here, you'll see that I have a variety of images, yet all the articles are related to television in one way or another. Some of them are no nonsense, like the picture of George Clooney with my Haiti article, or the picture of Ellen with my American Idol article. (If you search on Wikimedia Commons and sxc.hu, you can sometimes find usable pics of celebrities.) Then there are those which require a little more creativity. For my Survivor preview, I found a picture of a totem (because, well, you know Survivor) and for my Kate Gosselin article, I found a picture of a briefcase as the show she was about to star in involved her learning her way around the work force.
The point is that you don't always have to have a picture that screams the exact measurements of your article. If you can extract one element of your article and find a picture that represents that, you can use that, too. It does take a bit of creative thinking to do this so flex those creative muscles!
It also bears saying, even though these points are on the guidelines, that blurry images ARE NOT OKAY. I've seen a lot of blurry photos, usually it is a photo the author has taken him/herself. Even if it is a little bit blurry, don't think that people won't notice. We do. Not only does it make your work look amateur-ish, it will affect your page views. It is completely okay to use your own photos, but make sure they are not blurry and are relevant to your article.
Which brings me to my next point. There are very few instances where your own portrait is relevant to put on an article (notice I said very few, not necessarily all instances). You already have a place on your profile where you can post your own smiling mug and it will show up at the end of your article. You can upload it from your "Edit Your Profile" page. I typically see self portraits on poetry more then anything else (not sure why) and it is not okay. Please don't do it.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more on my AC page view experiment as well as a post about social networking promotion. Have a great week!