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026 The Best Articles Always Have This (and a Great Headline)
23rd April 2015 • Rough Draft • Rainmaker.FM
00:00:00 00:08:50

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Everything up to now — all these markers that flag a reader to come in for a landing — traded in words. But not the next element. And curiously enough, it s probably as important and powerful as the headline.

Remember the episode about the headline experiment involving Google Reader?

Remember how I said I learned that trick from Robert Scoble, who claimed to be able to read — air quotes around read — 1,000 blog posts in a very short period of time.

Well, it was the headline and the image that got him to stop and pay attention to what blog posts he was actually going to read.

But not just any image.

In this roughly ten minute episode you’ll discover:

  • My favorite places to grab beautiful images (free of restrictions)
  • Some of the best publications using images
  • The one reason why you would be silly not to use beautiful images on your articles
  • The neat trick you can use to get more attention when you embed images in your article
  • How one SEO consultant ups the ante with his images

Listen to Rough Draft below ...

The Show Notes

The Transcript

The Best Articles Always Have This (and a Great Headline)

Voiceover: This is Rainmaker.FM, a digital marketing podcast network. It’s built on the Rainmaker Platform, which empowers you to build your own digital marketing and sales platform. Start your free 14-day trial at RainmakerPlatform.com.

Demian Farnworth: Howdy dear podcast listener, this is Demian Farnworth, Chief Content Writer for Copyblogger Media. And you are listening to Rough Draft, your daily dose of essential web writing advice.

And thank you for sharing the next few minutes of your life with me.

Last episode, which was yesterday, I ended the show with a cliffhanger. I said “a major way in which you can capture the attention of a potential reader. But it doesn t have anything to do with words. Everything up to now — all these markers that flag a reader to come in for a landing — traded in words. But not the next element.

And curiously enough, it s probably as important and powerful as the headline.”

Let s pause for a moment, and let me ask you: Got any clues what I m talking about? What did you think it was?

If you re still stuck, the answer is images. As in pictures. And to be honest. I have no clue why bloggers generally insist on tiny, bland photos on their articles.

Or no image at all.

My Favorite Places to Grab Beautiful Images (Free of Restrictions)

With what you can pull off today and with all the endless beauties waiting on the high-end stock photo sites there s really no reason to skimp on visual imagery.

And to boot, sites that offer gorgeous images — free of restrictions — are cropping up everywhere.

A few of my favorite are Unsplash, Gratisography, and Death to the Stock Photo.

And when I say free of restrictions, I mean you can use them anyway you want. You don t have to link back to them. You don t have to give credit. You can use them for commercial or personal purposes.

Then there are so many great photographers who are allowing their photographs to be used under Creative Commons licenses. Photographers like Thomas Hawke and Alexander Rentsch.

Great images by photographers who want nothing more than attribution. It s a win win for all of us.

And think about what you can pull off on the web these days. With our high resolution, wide screens, you can offer beautiful images.

Images that stop people dead in their tracks.

Remember the episode about the headline experiment involving Google Reader? Remember how I said I learned that trick from Robert Scoble, who claimed to be able to read — air quotes around read — 1,000 blog posts in a very short period of time.

Well, it was the headline and the image that got him to stop and pay attention to what blog posts he was actually going to read.

The headline and the image.

Some of the Best Publications Using Images

And look at what publications like Fast Company and The Verge or Boston Globe s Big Picture are doing. Venues that adopted the advantages of the web and screen technology to great effect.

Look what we are doing on Copyblogger, too, with the help of our wonderful director of educational content and designer, Pamela Wilson.

The One Reason Why You Would Be Silly Not to Use Beautiful Images on Your Articles

See, your visitor wants to see awesome, relevant, cool, sexy pictures popping out when she glances at blog posts. Something that screams, “LOOK AT ME!”

So arouse her. Delight her. But please, don t bore her.

And yes, like I said in my interview on Pamela Wilson s show “Hit Publish,” it takes time finding the right image.

Don t settle for the stock. Settle for something that fits your personality. That is an extension of you.

I know we are in the business world. But consider it art.

I don t want to be stock. It s not my personality. I want to be an iconoclast. So I avoid the stock art, and look for something that extends an emotion I want to suggest. That projects an element of who I am.

The Neat Trick You Can Use to Get More Attention When You Embed Images In Your Article

An image at the top of the article is a must. Images throughout the article are important, too, but voluntary. Putting captions in those images are trick to grab attention, too.

The writer and SEO consultant AJ Kohn does a wonderful job sprinkling his posts not just with images — but with memes. Memes that expand or punctuate an argument he is trying to make.

Listen.

We live in an image based culture. We have since the late 18th century with the invention of the daguerreotype (early camera), which loosened the grip the printed world had held on us since the invention of the press (early 1600s).

You can see this history played out on a small scale with the invention of the web. Words were the dominate form of communication in the early days. But over time technology improved so images and video became the main vehicles of information.

Yet, let s not forget, the web is still for words, as 37 Signals pointed out with their adorable “Hug Your Copywriter” post. A must read. I will link to it in the show notes.

So, even though its obvious we want to hear stories, want to learn things, why waste the high resolution, large screens, and pixels on just black lines on white space?

Give your reader something to look at. Which, I have to confess, is going to sound like dubious advice after the next episode of Rough Draft.

An episode where we ll explore the concept of white space. And why that s a concept that you, dear writer, even though you are not a designer, need to understand.

Even master.

So, until next time, take care. And oh yeah, do me a favor. Give a listen to a few other shows in the Rainmaker.FM podcast network, like Jon Nastor s “Hack the Entrepreneur.” He s got some great interviews with entrepreneurs like Pat Flynn, Jay Baer, and Oli Gardner.

And Jon is a great host, too.

I asked Jon how he got to be such a great host. This is what he said, “You know Demian, I was just born with the a microphone in my hand and questions brimming in my brain. I just had to find the right people.”

Oh. Okay, Jon. I see.

Is it just me, or does that voice sound familiar? No. Couldn t be. Anyway, until next time, take care.

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