Featured images can make your blog post stand out and attract your audience. Check out these practical tips to make featured images with ease.
Featured images are a significant but underestimated part of most blog posts. It’s a prominent picture that tells readers your post's theme and sets the tone for what they can expect.
If you use a CMS platform like WordPress, you've probably seen the option to add featured images to your posts. When you contribute a guest post, you’ll also get a request to add a suitable featured image.
Featured images make your website look attractive and easy to read. They break up text and provide much-needed gaps between posts.
When readers are browsing your website, featured images are among the first things to capture their eyes. They are also what people see when they scroll through social media posts. Did you know that posts with images get 94% more views than ones without?
However, If the image is unappealing, people are less likely to continue reading your article. However, if the image is intriguing or catches their attention, they are more likely to click and read the article.
This is why it is important to choose an image that supports your content.
But picking the right one can be difficult. You want an attention-grabbing image relevant to the theme of your content.
In this post, we'll do a deep dive into the different types of featured images you can create for your blog posts. This will assist you in understanding how to select a featured image for your blog content.
What makes a compelling featured image?
Now that you know some of the different types of featured images you can use, let's look at what makes featured images effective.
As you can see, it isn't as simple as selecting the first image that appears appropriate. Instead, you need to consider these factors to ensure that your featured image is compelling.
Five types of featured images to use in your blog content
There's virtually no end to how creative you can be with your featured images. However, here's a compilation of five types of featured images you can use for your blog content.
What you choose will be determined by your brand's tone, target audience, and objectives. But when you pick a specific type of featured image, make sure that you stick to it throughout your blog content.
1. Stock photography
Stock photos are professional, high-quality images that you can buy for a fee. They are a great option if you want to get specific photos that match the theme of your articles exactly.
While you can get good-quality images for free from different sources, there's always a chance you won't find something that matches your message.
This is especially true if you write about uncommon topics or abstract concepts. For example, do a search for terms like 'Customer Relationship Management', ‘mind map, 'SaaS' or 'Goal Setting'.
There's a remarkable difference in the relevance and quality of the results you'll get from a stock photo compared to free images.
Free image platforms often don’t have relevant or good-quality photos to represent uncommon themes. But you’ll be more likely to get exact matches in photo content from premium sites like Shutterstock, Envato Elements, and others.
Sometimes, it's appropriate to use screenshot images taken directly from your website. Or you can feature screenshots of a product or service in action.
For example, if you're writing a tutorial-style article, it might make sense to include screenshots to show readers that your post is about achieving a particular outcome.
If you're reviewing a product, service, or piece of software, screenshots can also help give your readers an idea of what they can expect from your post.
I recommend using screenshots and overlaying them with text to draw attention to your content. Audience members who know exactly what they want from a post will appreciate the visual guide.
3. Custom images
Creating a custom image is another option for featured shots. This can be done by taking your photos, using free online tools like Canva, or hiring a professional designer.
Custom images are great because they can be specifically tailored to match the theme of your article.
They can also convey a certain emotion or message that may be difficult to communicate with words or normal pictures.
If you decide to create a custom image, make sure it's high-quality and relevant to the topic of your article. I recommend creating customer images for your featured images because it's a great way to distinguish your content from others in your industry.
You can add text across an image stating your post title or some interesting detail. And these small efforts can make a huge difference in whether or not someone clicks on your article.
Many top brands have in-house designers who craft gorgeous featured images from scratch. Or they use stock imagery and add brand elements to impress users with the brand image.
4. Vector graphics
Many businesses decide to avoid real-life photographs and use vector graphics instead. A vector graphic is a digital image based on mathematical equations rather than pixels.
This means that they can be scaled to any size without losing quality. As a result, they're a good option if you want more control over your featured images' tone and aesthetics.
If you want to use an exact shade of color in all your image assets, you'll have to use vector graphic art. It's difficult and expensive to try and create photographs that are a perfect brand match.
But with vector art, you can ensure a more consistent look and feel for your blog featured images.
You can represent abstract concepts or practical details using attractive shapes and digitally-created elements.
Many businesses also create these graphics with a cartoon-like approach but without losing the image of professionalism.
Vector graphics can also be a good alternative if you're worried about potential copyright issues using real photographs.
And just as importantly, using such graphics is a powerful way to stay consistent with your branding.
I recommend using tools like Canva and Stencil to create featured images easily and for free.
5. Featured images that include a person's picture
There's no mistaking the fact that images of real people draw and engage the eye. Especially when compared to generic stock pictures or even fancy vector art.
Adding a picture of a real person, like the post's author or the company's CEO, can make a big difference.
It's a way to show your audience that there's a real person behind the business. And that they're trying to make a connection with the audience.
It also helps put a face to the name and can help build trust with your target market. It also helps with brand recognition and is a potent action that individual bloggers and small businesses can take.
Remember that you don't necessarily have to use a professional headshot for this. A casual photo that's been taken with a smartphone can work just as well.
You can use a design tool like Canva to combine your standard featured images with a profile cut out of yourself.
This is a great way to get the best of both worlds. You can have an engaging and attention-grabbing image while still getting the personal touch of adding a real person to your featured image.
How to create compelling featured images
Now that we've gone over some of the different featured images you can use, let's talk about how to create them.
Creating a compelling featured image is a bit of an art form. But here are some key tips and tool recommendations to help you get started.
1. Use high-quality images
This should be a no-brainer, but it's still worth mentioning. While a phone camera is effective at capturing quality images, pictures shot with a professional camera will always look better.
Use stock images or hire a photographer if you want your blog to look polished and high-end.
2. Use free image platforms
One of the problems with using premium stock photography is that they are expensive. However, today, some platforms provide free images to download and use in any way you like.
These platforms include:
Burst by Shopify
There are no terms and conditions to using these images, meaning you can use them as featured images or within your posts. You can even edit them and add your text to these pictures.
If you're using images from other sources, ensure that you check their copyright requirements. You can also get free images from Flickr and similar platforms, but you'll have to give credit for using such content.
3. Use Canva
Canva is one of the best free tools for designing and editing pictures.
What makes it a great tool is that you don't need to be a designer to create beautiful featured images.
The platform comes with a wide range of templates for different social media platforms and blog posts. You can simply pick a readymade template, add your brand colors and text and download the image. No technical skills are necessary.
Canva offers many graphics and stock photos for free. But I recommend a premium subscription, which includes access to more fonts, photos, and design features. The platform is reasonably priced and worth investing in. In addition, you can use Canva for ready-to-edit templates for featured images.
Work with Canva to reduce your design time from hours to minutes. Alternatives for Canva include Snapp, Stencil, and other image-editing software.
4. Work with freelancers and gig workers
If you're not a fan of designing your own featured images, you can hire someone to do it for you.
There are several talented freelancers and gig workers on platforms like Fiverr and Upwork who can create featured images for your blog posts.
The best part is that you can find talent to fit any budget.
Working with such freelancers will reduce the need to hire an in-house designer. And you won't burden your writers with design work.
Some platforms you can work with include:
And other platforms where you can find creative talent.
Hiring a professional to design your featured images is a great way to ensure that your blog posts always have high-quality visuals.
5. Create templates
It's important to create templates that you'll use for all your blog posts. Making small tweaks to a template will be much easier and faster than starting from scratch each time.
Your templates should include the dimensions of your featured image, the font you'll be using, and any other elements that are part of your featured image design.
Creating templates will help you maintain branding consistency and save time in the long run.
6. Create a brand kit
If you want to take things a step further, you can create a brand kit for your blog.
A brand kit is a collection of all your brand's assets in one place. This can include your logo, fonts, colors, and templates.
Creating a brand kit is a great way to ensure that everyone working on your blog uses the same design elements.
It's essential to stay consistent with your branding, as this is what will help you build recognition and trust with your audience.
7. Use contrast
Your featured image should have a good level of contrast. This means there should be a big difference between the light and dark parts of the picture.
Contrast is crucial as it makes your featured image more eye-catching and easier to read.
By adding contrast to the text on your featured image instead of the background, you can ensure that your message is clear and easy to read.
Also, add gradients or other effects to make sure the text is visible even on smaller screens.
Featured images are an essential part of your blog content. They help you stand out on social media, attract attention to your blog posts, and improve your click-through rate.
When choosing featured images for your blog content, make sure to consider the type of image, the size, the contrast, and the overall design.
You can also use Canva to create beautiful featured images without any design experience.
Alternatively, you can hire a freelancer or gig worker to create stunning featured images for your blog posts.
Following these tips and the others shared here, you can create high-quality featured images to attract more readers. So, what are you waiting for? Get started today!
Syed Balkhi is the founder of WPBeginner, the largest free WordPress resource site. With over 10 years of experience, he’s the leading WordPress expert in the industry. You can learn more about Syed and his portfolio of companies by following him on his social media networks.