If you blog, your choice of pictures can influence whether people stop to read your post or skim past to find something more interesting. Your images give time-poor web consumers clues about whether they should make time for you and what you have to say.

Even with entirely unique, well-written content, if you choose a bad image (or worse still, no pictures) then you can almost guarantee small readership.

Photographs and illustrations set your article up for success and can make people feel great about what you write. An individual shot, taken in a particular style can have the power to associate with your brand instantly.

Selecting the right style of picture to suit your posts can immediately build reader recognition for you and can dramatically separate you from your competitors.

Selecting the right style of picture to suit your posts can immediately build reader recognition for you and can dramatically separate you from your competitors.

When choosing photographs for your next post, consider the following points:

Make sure your pictures come from a reputable source. Any pictures you use should be your own – or licensed – and never stolen from Google Images.

The images you use should enhance the story you’re telling. If you find a picture distracts you from the message, then it shouldn’t be there.

Is your picture attractive? Will it generate conversation? Would someone share the post because of the picture?

Make your picture a consistent size and arrange them in an F-pattern on the page. The F-Pattern describes the most common user eye-scanning patterns when it comes to blocks of content. It makes a web page that mirrors how the eye works, helping people scan content on you page more easily. You can read more about the principle on how people scan content and you can read more about that at the next web.

Remember – you will always know when you have the perfect image when the post could exist with just the image. Ask yourself this question – “if this blog had no words, would this picture tell the story for me.” If the answer is yes, then you’ve followed the golden rule: “A picture says a thousand words.”

So where can you find great images at a reasonable price? Here are some places we recommend:

Fotolia is where we get a lot of our photos and illustrations for this site. If you blog regularly, then you can pick up 25 credits – which will give you 50 images – for just USD $35. You can use your credits over the period of one year. Regular bloggers may appreciate a monthly subscription which starts from USD $25 for then medium sized images per month. And medium sized images are perfectly sized for the web.

If you can’t afford to pay for great images on Fotolia, then Freeimages.com has over 300,000 images for you to use. Chances are they won’t be unique, but at least you will have a license to use them.

WordPress can use Photodropper – a plugin that helps you find Creative Commons Flickr photographs in your post, as long as you credit the photographer.

And if you still can’t find the right shot then consider using your smartphone. Taking pictures yourself is easier than you think, and it could save you loads of money.

If you haven't considered taking photos yourself, perhaps it's time to trust your creative instincts?

Most smartphones now have semi-professional photography features, and hundreds of apps are available to edit your photos and apply filters to make them look even better. If you haven’t considered taking photos yourself, perhaps it’s time to trust your creative instincts?

So are you a blogger? Where have you found the best images? Leave me a comment below.

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