Do images drive traffic to your blog?

It’s late autumn here, my favourite time of year. Blue skies, warm in the sun, cool in the shade. The last of the leaves are falling and–

Wait…

Katoomba Autumn Leaves copyright RW

Autumn leaves by Rodney Weidland (used with permission)

Is that better?

Last Saturday, I put into practice tips I’d heard at Random House Australia’s National Book Bloggers Forum. (You can read about it here.) I learned a few things from my experiment. Some titles work. Some don’t. Mine, “Jonquils, pancakes and books”, sucks. Use titles relevant to the content of your post, we were told. Why didn’t I remember that?

Another tip was to use images. But what kind of images? Commenting on my post, author Annabel Smith wrote that she find posts that use stock photos “impersonal and offputting”. I agree.

Yet photos do work. In my case, a simple photo of jonquils outperformed many of my other posts, both on my personal Facebook page and the Australian Women Writers page. Someone even shared it. Engagement was even higher when I added a question: “Name your favourite story that features flowers?”

Things were a little different on Twitter. That’s how I knew my title sucked. Not until I tweeted the link with “5 tips for book bloggers” did I get a result. That attracted far more “retweets” and clicks to the blog. (Well, some.)

The trouble is, I hate titles like that. Almost as much as I hate stock photos.

One of the things we hear lots about is the need to identify your “voice” as a writer. The same goes for bloggers. But how are we going to do that if we all start to sound like some third-rate marketing guru? The authors I admire on social media are the ones who aren’t afraid to be themselves, who reveal their creativity, originality, ingenuity and occasional vulnerability in their tweets and posts.

Yet there’s a catch.

It doesn’t matter how creative, original and ingenious authors are, somehow they have to come to people’s attention in the first place. They have to be “discoverable”. The same applies to book bloggers. Reviewing for Australian Women Writers Challenge can help – but even the challenge, in some ways, has become a victim of its own success. There are so many talented Australian authors and bloggers out there, most of whom, it seems, are women.

I’m not kidding.

Last year there were 500+ female Australian authors reviewed for the challenge and many of their books only attracted one review. Of those, I read around 50. How many authors’ names could I rattle off now without thinking? A few more than that, if I’m lucky. (That would be a good test.) But 500? No way. And these are, for the most part, traditionally published authors. Women with a team behind them who have created great stories in their chosen genres. And book bloggers? Of 274 people signed up to read and review for the challenge this year, I’d be lucky to remember… I’d hate to say.

You see the problem.

This brings me back to images, and what to do with them.

Well, here’s the thing. This week, I’m trying something different. As an experiment, I’ve adapted the autumn leaves photo above to include text. The experiment will be to post the photo to Facebook and Twitter and see how many “clicks” or “shares” it gets, compared to my non-visual posts. I’ve also added the URL of this website at the bottom.

Here it is.

 

Katoomba Autumn Leaves note and LCWill it catch on? Maybe with the Granny set. Perhaps I should have tried different wording? What do you think?

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8 Comments

  1. Jenny Schwartz

     /  May 31, 2014

    Hi Lizzy

    I’ve been hearing this advice too. It’s all image, baby – sounds Austin Powerish. I don’t think it’s made any difference on my blog, but maybe Facebook posts catch more attention with a pic? Dunno. I’ve been using canva dot com to make free graphics (I sound like a spammer! sorry) and that’s been fun.

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    • I’ve never heard of canva, Jenny. Thanks for the link (and for dropping by). I think you could be right about Facebook (and probably Pinterest and Instagram, which I haven’t explored). Not sure about Twitter (I think maybe titles of blog posts are what count there.)

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  2. Hi Lizzy

    Great post! I’ve also read about the power of using images to drive traffic to your blog…especially with “visual” social media platforms such as Pinterest. I’ve recently tried adding words to an image for my french travel blog. Too soon to say if it’s made a difference though.

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  3. I’ve always tried to use images with my blog posts Lizzy and they have always been my own photos. Perhaps I should continue on in that vein as I was considering using stock images for greater reach. Maintain my own blogging voice so to speak.

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  4. Excellent post, Lizzy, and yes, the photo caught my eye so I read on. I would love to have attended the NBBF so thanks for sharing some of the insights.

    I’ve found photos do drive more traffic to my site and blog posts that are about 350- 500 words long with a couple of photos do way better than those without photos or longer word count. I also try only to use original photos or photos from my guest bloggers.

    And photos on FB invariably produce more likes than plain text, but whether that’s true engagement? I don’t know…

    As a writer who blogs I often wonder if I’m not simply spending precious hours blogging and playing in social media when I should be writing the next book!

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    • Thanks for dropping by and commenting, Helene. It’s good to hear about your experience. It’s a real balancing act, isn’t it? I find I’m very haphazard with my reading, writing and blogging/social media and when I’m engrossed in one area, the others usually suffer. (I really wish I were a quicker reader – there are so many good books to read!)

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