This blog post looks at why images are always recommended for blogs and why, as an historian, it still remains useful to include them even if they don’t seem relevant at first.
Uploading images to blog posts is easy. Visit enough of them and you will see everyone does it. Seek out advice about blogs and you will almost always be told to include an image. But why? Most advice suggests that it’s there to brighten up the page and make it all look nicer. But that’s not the entire story.
It’s true that often historians will write a blog post with only the text in mind. There isn’t always an obvious image to go along with it, and generally the text stands alone. The image is redundant. I’ve found this many times with my own research. I write down the text and it’s essentially complete as it is. To understand what I am saying you don’t need an illustration.
That might be true for the historian writing his or her piece, but not necessarily for the reader. It’s not always essential, that’s true, but an image does brighten things up and makes the post look more appealing.
This might not matter for the author, but it’s important to remember that reading online isn’t the same as reading a book. It’s not even the same as reading an article online or an e-book. That might seem obvious but take a moment to think about it.
Look at almost any website and you will find that there are images everywhere. They are there often as decoration, but they are also there to help readers to work out what it is they are reading, and – hopefully – suggesting to them that they might want to take the time to read what you have written.
If you visit any news website (go to the one of your choice now if you like) you will find that they always include an image. It’s not there just for decoration – it’s there to guide readers to the news items that interest them. Try it now, and you’ll find that you will probably do the same. I guess it’s instinctual.
Think of images in blog posts as a form of identification or a method of indexing. Images are maps to your blog. A book will give something away in its cover, but it also requires a contents page to explain in bullet points (chapter headings) what the book covers. In a way the image does a similar job for a blog. A successful and lively blog will contain more than one post. It will generally cover more than one subject as well, or at least a diversity of discussion
points within one subject area. It’s true that you will have provided titles, but when coming across a blog online that’s not exactly the easiest way to navigate, at least not without some kind of visual aid.
In essence, images help potential readers to identify what a blog post is about quickly and efficiently. You need the image there, just as you would need a contents page for a book. That image doesn’t even necessarily need to be explicit in doing that job. As long as you have chosen something relevant then the person viewing the blog should be able to identify what looks useful and interesting to them, whilst ignoring what looks of less interest. Images really do help in this.