There is an abundance of research that shows content with images is more shareable than plain text. For many of us who think of ourselves as word people, the idea of using images can be daunting. There are three big challenges:
Where to find the right image
How to edit the image so it looks good with your content
How to avoid copyright problems
Here are some tricks to get you creating effective, engaging content in no time:
1) Create Your Own Images
There's one simple answer to all three of these stumbling blocks: Create your own images. If you do, they'll be exactly the right style, color, and size for your content, and they'll send the appropriate message to your customers. Plus, the images will be your property, avoiding any headaches involving ownership and copyright.
Here are 3 easy steps to creating your own content visuals:
Take some photographs. Yes, I know you're not a professional photographer, but you don't have to be. You have a smartphone, right? That plus a little creative thinking will get you some basic images that form the foundation for your content visuals.
Consider what kind of content you produce. If you tend to write about business strategy, that implies going in the right direction. So take some photos of street signs - Dead End, One Way, Stop. If you write about human resources, photograph some attractive doorways and pair them with a headline about "opening doors of opportunity." If you write about communication, take some shots of people on their phones, shaking hands, or using sign language.
There are also a lot of sites on the Web that offer free or very inexpensive photos and most of them are searchable. Type in the theme of your content and see what comes up. Use photos that carry a Creative Commons license or try a site like Dreamstime, where you can buy great pictures for under $10.
2) Edit your images.
There are a number of options for free online photo editing, as well as some sites that guide you through creating graphic layouts and text.
I have a few favorites, including BeFunky and PicMonkey, both of which let you crop, rotate, enhance and add special effects to your photographs. And if you make a mistake, no problem! Both have an Undo button that lets you go back a few steps or all the way to the beginning of your session and try again.
Next, try Canva, a very nice, free online graphic design app. Using Canva, you can choose a layout for one or several photographs, change colors and text, add quotes, make a collage or do a score of other nifty things, all in just minutes.
There are also easy and fast meme apps that give you basic photos and illustrations and let you add your own text. This is a good way to add a bit of humor to your content. Choose a funny photo from MemeMaker or MemeGenerator, add a joke (keep it clean, now!) and presto, you've got a graphic that will make your post more sharable.
3) License your unedited images using Creative Commons.
This may seem counterintuitive. After all, you wanted to avoid copyright hassles, so why create them for others?
With Creative Commons you actually make things easier for other people. You can choose from several different licenses, one of which is called Share and Share Alike, which stipulates that anyone can use your image as long as they also allow others to use theirs, along with any changes they make to your original picture.
Take care to make available only your raw images, though. That way, any text or edited effects you've created will be unique to your content and your brand.
That's all there is to it. Certainly, there is a huge range of more sophisticated, elaborate and expensive applications and techniques for image making. But you just want to attract eyeballs and acquire leads, so there's no reason that the simple - and let's just say it - cheap tips I've offered here won't work perfectly well for you, and for your content marketing goals.