Writing a text means you have to find the perfect picture to accompany your text. Identifying suitable pictures is in particular important for online media. Sometimes this can be a real pain. But there is no way to avoid it. Because you need images. This post is not just about why you need images for your articles. At the same time it is a guide for how to find the ones that attract your audience.

Being fully aware of the five reasons will help you to find the perfect picture while writing. Let it become a part of your process of creativity instead of searching for hours afterwards. Most importantly, it your audience will grow.

I’m going to introduce the five reasons why you need images to you and how to use them. Actually, I will you show how I made use of it for this blog post.

The text carries the value. But the reader needs a door to enter it.

As a writer, your focus is on text. No matter if you are an author of articles or a copywriter.

The text is where the content is.
The text is where the meaning is.
The text defines the impact on your audience.

The text is handcrafted by you. It is of highest value to you and your customer or employer. But… you also would like your audience not just to read but to appreciate your work, right?

However, we have to remind ourselves that this is our point of view. This is what we, the authors, are aiming at.

Show your reader the door to your text.

It is that Golden Rule that any writer should remind himself of again and again.

We are writing for the audience – not for ourselves.

At the bottom of the line, it is the reader’s text. If he doesn’t read it, or he can’t understand it… it’s worthless. If he doesn’t read it he can’t appreciate it. Therefore he must see the door first.

Make your door the most irresistible trap: Find the perfect picture.

It is necessary that first the reader’s attention has to be drawn towards the text. As soon as the text gets the audience hooked you might have succeeded.

Unfortunately though, in times like ours the span of attention has shrunk to a minimum and beyond. Once, we started flipping channels on TV. Before that we skipped through paper magazines. Nowadays, millennials are sharing every bit of attention between screens. Even then they keep skipping and swiping on both screens. Meanwhile it is a habit shared by other generations. The function of „swiping“ has become a necessity.

You have two opportunities to catch the reader’s eye:

  • Find a headline that nails it.
  • Get a killer picture or other visual element.

5 reasons to use pictures with your text.

In online media, no headline can compete with an image that captures it all. Sure, the reader might stop at certain words. Nevertheless, there are five reasons why images win over text:

  1. Recognition is eye centric.
  2. The reader’s eye can escape text but not images or sounds.
  3. It’s the first impact that counts.
  4. Visuals guide the reader’s mindset.
  5. A perfect picture tells the quintessence of a story.

Don’t forget: Long before we can speak, we can see.

Find the perfect picture and the audience will follow.

Therefore, when drafting an article or writing a text you should answer 5 questions based on the reasons above. The answers lead the way straight to the right images. To show you how it works I’ve described the process exactly as I went through it for the text you are reading right now.

  1. Topic related terms: If you think of your topic what imagery is it that comes to your mind first? Make a list of the images or imaginative terms you thought of.

    For this text, I came up with the words „easel“, „frames“, „tools“, „mosaic“, „arrows“ and „guidepost“.

  2. Filter for pictures that stick with you: Run a search on Flickr or Google for pictures matching your list of words. Instagram hashtags are great as well! Which pictures that you quickly (!) browse make you stop? Save them – but do not use them for your post! Keep in mind that there may be legal issues. I’m discussing this topic in an upcoming post.

    As a result of searching Google, four images stuck with me. First, a baroque frame for a drawing. Next was a guide post showing a black on yellow arrow, backed with a stunning blue sky. The search for mosaics hinted at no special mosaics. But amongst them I found two new motifs, a human eye and a cat’s face.

  3. Curiosity: This is the point when the reader asks himself: „Should I read this – or skip this?“ Which of the motifs you came across will cause curiosity?

    For all pictures I found I would have been able to quite easily find similar ones on Flickr. Though, each of the motifs on their own wouldn’t peak curiosity that much – with the exception of an empty frame maybe.

  4. Actively guide the reader: The header picture will undoubtedly define the mindset of the reader. Take the opportunity. Which feelings and thoughts do you aim to rouse? Colours, scenes and objects lead to associations and connotations. Just think of metaphors.

    I must admit, my aim was to make you feel like you missed something. Or, at least, to wake a bit of uncertainty…: “Am I doing it right? Am I choosing the right pictures?” The colours were supposed to make you feel uncomfortable. Whatever I would choose as an image, the processing of the image should result in a less saturated, more green-ish and blue-ish touch.

  5. Get as close as you can: As you can see, the idea for the right picture can develop with your text. It’s a bit like letting you being guided. Your ideas evolve and you can work with associations and intersections of your search results. Also, keep attention to what you are able to realise and what not! This way, you can find the perfect picture.

    One might think the core idea of the article you reading here is difficult to condense in a picture. After all, it turns out to be a recursive theme: Find an image for a text about the purpose of images to attract people by finding an image for… well, you get the picture (no pun intended). Yet, it worked.

    I had some ideas for the human eye and the cat’s face. In the case of the eye I imagined the scene from Buñuel’s film „Un chien andalou“ from 1929 where an eye was sliced. Now, THIS would have caught your attention and curiosity. However, due to copyright issues this isn’t possible – and I didn’t want to provide similar pictures shot by myself for understandable reasons.

    So the next best option was cat content. Cat content is infamous for drawing almost everybody’s interest. With a few additions it should be possible to give an image the right touch that includes humour as well as an uncomfortable colour.

    Attentiveness by images is what the article is about. Honestly, what is the perfect personalisation of attentiveness in the web? A CAT’S IMAGE.

Images are milestones.

Apart from providing the hook, images make an excellent guide for readers through longer texts as well. The reasons are quite the same as above. But there is one more. Images literally are the reader’s milestones. Images are milestones that carry the reader through a text. Milestones work in the same way as subheadings or quotes.

Here’s what to take away from this post:

  • Increase the impact of your text: Find the perfect picture to introduce your text.
  • Try a new, targeted way of identifying images that work out efficiently to draw a reader’s interest.
  • Guide the reader, his emotions and his mindset by images.

It’s creative. It’s comfortable. It’s efficient.
* Oh yes: No animals were harmed in the writing of this post. Miss K is still very happy to regularly scratch her feeding personnel. The image shows her “doing the bunny” – which she loves to do to attract our attention.

(c) All rights reserved by Wolfgang Senges. If you would like to make use of the text or parts of it please get in touch with me.