Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

Keeping you in the picture

Regular readers of this blog may have noticed a slight change in the format of last weeks posts. They didn’t contain any images.

For years, I have invested a great deal of time trying to find interesting images for blog posts. I was of the opinion that posts needed images, yet as I discovered last week, that’s not always the case.

Images suck up lots of my blogging time

In recent months I have become increasingly aware of how long it takes me to find the right image, edit it so that it’s the correct size, then compress the image so it loads quickly, then position it so that it’s in the ideal spot within the post and then get the correct attribution, so you know who actually owns the image.

I found that I’ve been spending hours of my time on images every week, when I could be using that time to share useful ideas with you.

So, I decided to see what would happen if I posted for a week, image free.

Here’s what I learned:

  • Either no one noticed or no one was bothered, as not a single person mentioned the lack of images.
  • I have been able to add a new dynamic to the blog, by getting ideas to you a lot faster than before. Last weeks posts were all written on the day they were published. Previously, posts were written well in advance, then edited (including image work) the day before they were published. It feels a lot more natural to share ideas with you, whilst they are still fresh in my mind.
  • I’ve had more time available for blogging, allowing me to share more ideas with you than I would have been able to.
  • Posts load faster now because they use a fraction of the data they did before. This is especially useful for those of you with slow, mobile connections.

Social shares

I was expecting to see far fewer people share my posts on social networks. This didn’t happen.

It’s a fact: The image pulled from blog posts into services like Facebook or Google+, is a big factor in people seeing and resharing them. Previously, I tested this and saw a direct drop in shares when posts were on Facebook with no image associated to them. People are visual, after all.

I was able to overcome that problem by using a great little WordPress plugin, which grabs my avatar image and inserts it into my posts, when you share them on social networks. This approach has worked fine for me so far. It’s also used by brands like The Wall Street Journal and by some fellow bloggers, including Seth Godin.

The idea of going a whole week image free was to measure the impact over a full, working week. I am still going to use images in posts, but not in every post – just when one is needed.

Don’t try this at home

[quote]Blogging without images isn’t a good idea for most people reading this and I am not suggesting you try it.[/quote] I believe that a great image does add something to a blog post. This is especially the case if you need to show products regularly in your posts or if you need to show images that are linked to the visual nature of your services. Also, if you only blog once or twice a week the time saved will be minimal – across my 4 sites I sometimes publish as many as 40 posts in a month.

Images are also useful if you are big on SEO and want to optimise all your posts using image alt tags.

As I never optimise images for SEO and I don’t offer a particularly visual service, these reasons are less compelling for me. They could be a lot more relevant to you and your blog though, so please don’t copy this approach unless it’s in line with what you want to achieve.

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  1. I think you have good points about the images, Jim. I think it is an equally important point that this will not work for everyone.

    I believe that it depends on some degree what you are trying to communicate and to whom. As in your case, its always business focused to a busy professional. They don’t need images, they just need to see what you are saying. That’s why WSJ doesn’t need to have big, flashy color photos on their pages.

    The self-help, empowerment type of blog, I think, needs more of a touchy-feely kind of draw in, and that usually requires an image.

    But ceratinly worth pondering. Something to consider for those who write both types.

    BTW_ what is the name of the plug-in that you use?

  2. In my country we have slow internet.

    This helps me.

    Thanks to you Mr. Jim.

  3. Good afternoon, Mr Connolly.

    I’m afraid this is a Doh! comment. I thought I was looking at a totally different blog – another of Mr Connolly’s creations!

    I appreciate what you’re saying about the time costs involved in sourcing and what have you with images, but I’m going to continue to hold the banner for those of who like to see images. For me it’s the aesthetics and the continuity issue. It’s what attracted me to your posts in the first place, before I ever read what you had to say. I liked the look and it held my attention (which is never very good at the best of times!) better than many other sites I visited. Shallow, I know, but I doubt I’m alone in that respect.

    As to the thoughts shared being fresher because they’re written the day before – I’m not sure I totally buy into that. The pre-written posts were fresh when they were drafted, I assume. Just because they weren’t published the same day doesn’t depreciate the content as far as I can see. And apart from you, who else knows when they were drafted?

    I’ve got a very slow broadband connection, let alone slow mobile connection. Got to be honest here – I’ve seen no difference in loading time (or maybe that’s because I’ve been concentrating on trying to work out what was different about the look of your site- new header?). Seriously – I’ve not noted a difference.

    Sorry if I sound querulous, don’t mean to be. Well, not a lot… ;)

    Kind regards,

    • Hi Linda. There’s a difference between a slow broadband connection and the kind of connection the previous commenter has. Over 50% of my readers are from overseas, many in areas with very slow connections.

      When I publish a post written 2 weeks earlier and someone comments on it, I have to re read the post – because I’ve written another dozen since then and have no idea what they are referring to. I have also been unable to write about news related events as often as I would have liked.

      I thought I made it clear in the post that I am not advocating you or anyone else follows my example – I said the exact opposite. I will also be using images in future posts, when required, as I said in the post.

      I agree with Martina’s point – that this is a site for busy businesspeople, who are more interested in the message than the images. The lack of a single mention all last week, when none of the posts had an image in them, suggests many/most others feel similarly.

      Thanks for the feedback.

  4. Hey Jim,

    So I hadn’t noticed the images missing but to be honest, they just get in the way for me.

    I like sites that focus on the message. The idea of you wasting time screwing around with photoshop instead of helping us with your ideas is insane.

    Thumbs up from me James X

    • Hi Chris. Thanks for the kind words.

      I will be using images in future posts, but I’m no longer going to waste time with them, if they’re not needed for the post.

      Thanks for the feedback, my friend.

  5. Great post.

    I love the layout of your blog and your posts and that makes this a non issue for me.

    You always break them up with headings, bulleted lists and small paragraphs etc. This makes them easy to read and more interesting even without photopragphs in them.

    Just my 2 cents.

    • Hello there, Sophie. I spend a lot of time making sure the typography is as easy to read and engaging as possible.

      It’s an important element of blogging, which most people seem almost unaware of.

      Thanks for the feedback.

  6. Thanks for this feedback on your “self user experience”, dear Jim.
    I’ve read most of the comments above with attention, and I’ve noticed that people are not focusing on the fact that you’ve removed pictures, but what you’re messages are about.
    Indeed, not everyone can permit himself to blog images free, but what is sure is that the success of a post is not only depending on images.
    An image is an essential and attractive element to make people read your posts, as the title is, as the content is as well.
    The question is what final objective do you want to reach?
    If you’re selling a product through the internet, you cannot avoid images, on the other hand, promoting services or advices or even simply blogging by passion images free, can put in lights your content.
    I definitely advice to anyone who has a blog to really think about “what is the objective I want to reach?” and what is the best strategy to promote it. Millions of tools are available for free, but nothing will replace your personal will.

    When you’re talking about the time spent on finding the right image for your post, I fully agree.
    It’s really difficult to find the right image corresponding to your text, and could definitely be painful when you’re talking about a specific subject as the marketing is.

    Finally, I have to finish my comment with a congratulation, Jim.
    Your blog is always a pleasure to read and learn and this is one of the most important thing making the internet the media we know today. Despite broadband issues, slow connections and more the content we can read here is always qualitative and evocative of great experiences.
    Thanks, again.

    • Thanks for such a detailed comment, Yael.

      You make a number of good points, especially the need for the blogger to ask; what her final objective is.

      I’d also like to thank you for your kind words regarding the blog. That means a lot to me.

  7. I agree with you Jim. If you know you can achieve more by dropping what is ultimately an unnecessary task in the grand scheme of things, then do it.

    I personally like adding images to my posts, but I find sourcing a decent image for free is a long winded task.

    • Hi Stuart. Yes, it certainly can take a lot of time to find and use an image, that actually adds to the post.

      As I said in the post, I will still be using images – just not in every post.

      Thanks for the feedback.

  8. Jim, how can I contact you visa email? Could you respond via my email addr.

    Thanks, jim

  9. Jim, I couldn’t agree with you more on every point. I got so frustrated trying to find an image yesterday, I almost gave up. In truth, a good headline will out-perform an image in my view and your site has been a case in point … I’ve actually taken more notice, without realising, since you’ve removed the image.

    They say a picture paints a thousand words, but it’s what picture it’s painting in the eyes of the reader that matters and that can sometimes be an issue.

    Nice one!

    • Indeed, Trish. The images do matter, but if it’s a case of “I can’t publish because I can’t find a worthy image”, that’s going overboard.

      People value the content. Seth Godin seems to do okay, with most of his posts image free. Yes, Seth has a huge readership, but they are not fools. They go for content because they know he offers great ideas – Even if he doesn’t waste hours every week looking for pictures. If he did, he’s publish a lot less often.

Comments are closed.