There's no doubt about it, we are a visually demanding generation. With the rise of image-based platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr, it's become increasingly common to tell stories and convey complex emotions in an entirely visual way. As writers whose content is shared with a huge online audience, this is a skill you simply cannot overlook. Readers are fickle creatures; they no longer want to read a wall of text without beautifully structured images, GIFs and/or video clips guiding them on a seamless, thoughtful journey through your content. So let's talk about why learning to craft a visual narrative in your articles is paramount to your journey as a successful writer in the digital age. Thankfully, learning how to be a visual storyteller is actually also super fun!
Image Size and Quality
That's right - size does matter... when it comes to images, anyway. No one likes to see a blurry, tiny or unattractive image when they're scrolling through an article, amiright? If the image looks odd to you when you're in preview or edit mode, it will look odd in the finished product as well. Nothing detracts more from an otherwise flawless article than unflattering image choice. So, here are the dimensions you should always keep in mind when choosing your images.
- Ideal cover image dimensions: 960 x 550px (pixels)
- Ideal in-article image dimensions: 700px width* (no less than 600px)
*If your image (or GIF) is smaller than 700px wide then it will be displayed in its original size. We don't scale images and GIFs as we don't want to decrease the quality of your carefully selected images.
Fun fact: because most of our traffic comes from mobile, it's best to use square and portrait images as opposed to the rectangular images that are ideal on desktop. Although you compose your articles on desktop - as much as 85% of readers come to your article on a mobile device or tablet.
How To Source Images
It's important to have a few 'go-to' spots on the interwebs to find cool, unique images that will draw the eyes of Gollum to your articles. You're free to use any images you find via Google search, as long as you give the distributor for the film or TV series in question credit. To properly source a photo, just write the name of the film/show in the space for the image caption along with '[Credit: (insert name of distributor)]' in brackets next to it. See the image above as an example.
If you don't want to use Google (or just can't find what you're looking for), here are some other online resources where you can find original, high-quality images from your favorite films and shows.
- For posters: try impawards.com
- For TV Series: try farfarawaysite.com
- For movies: check out pyxurz.blogspot.de
- For our own selection: there's images.moviepilot.com
- For GIF's: giphy.com is your ultimate companion
Official movie websites are also full of high-quality stills and images for your every need. Another great tip is to follow celebrities and movies on Instagram and Twitter, as they often post their own personal array of selfies that readers can't get enough of. If you use social media images, try your best to embed the post rather than screenshot it. Pinterest is another endless source of amazing material, from fan art to cosplay, and everything weird and wonderful in between.
Most importantly, make sure to credit and give attribution to your images in your article!
Which Images To Avoid
There are certain images that should never be used within your articles, as they could lead to legal ramifications. Firstly - never share leaked images or footage that you've found on the internet. The studios take this breach very seriously (considering how much money goes into marketing their films) and they are more than happy to hand out huge fines.
Secondly, don't use paparazzi shots and red carpet material, as these are usually commissioned work by photographers that have been replicated without their permission. Also, images used in magazines should not be utilized even if they're credited.
Getty images should also be avoided, as these generally require a license to 'rent out' the images for your own personal use. If you want to use Google Images to find unlicensed images, simply click on 'search tools' and then 'usage rights'. In the dropdown menu, filter by 'labeled for reuse'. Give it a try and you will notice how many images actually require a license to use!
In general, if you are not able to verify the ownership of the image itself, do not use it. If you have absolutely any questions if an image can be used or not, feel free to contact us here.
One common thing we see in Creator articles is the tendency to add an image that does not add to the value or relevancy of the piece. Whilst it's usually a great idea to break up your text with images - in the order of headline/ image/ text - it's also vital to ensure it is appropriate and/or reflects the ideas presented in the paragraph it's attached to. This is where the idea of 'visual storytelling' is the most useful - you should always use images to enhance the flow and direction of your piece, and they should allow the audience an insight into the section of content they will be reading.
Chapter 8 Assignment
Your assignment for this chapter is to create an article that tells a visual story.
- Have you thought about each individual image, GIF and video? Do they each add value to the article? Remember that adding an irrelevant or pixelated image just to break up the text is more detrimental than adding nothing at all.
- Are your chosen images high quality, and at least 700px wide?
- Have you made sure to avoid using licensed images like those from Getty?
- Have you looked for unique images from sources other than Google (with label for use filter checked), such as Instagram, Twitter and the selection we supplied you with in this article?
Try to make use of the tools, websites and tricks we've mentioned in this chapter to guide you through. If you have any questions or would like to brainstorm topic ideas with the team, feel free to reach out to us in the Facebook Support Group or the Creators Academy Slack channel. We're always here to help!