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You’ve just written the perfect blog post. The grammar and spelling are polished, the writing is impeccable, the topi is on point. You’re ready to share it with the world! But how do you get their attention? Because we live in a highly visual world, in order for your post to literally catch your reader’s eye, you need the perfect hero image.
Whether you just started blogging or have been doing it a while, sometimes it feels the “just right” hero image can be elusive. You might put something together and feel like it’s just not quite right, missing the “wow factor” that grabs your audience by the shirt collar and demands they take heed and click through to your post.
Hero Image Basics
Creating the perfect hero image is easier than you might think. The key is to keep it simple. You don’t have to go crazy with frames and flourishes. In fact, a nice, clean image with easily readable text is the ideal hero image. The more extras you try to jam in there, the more hazy your message will be.
You want to have a clear, bright photo with good lighting to start with. This can be accomplished through your own photography, or by purchasing rights to stock images (there are many options, but you can check out AdobeStock or Stocksy to get started). Your hero image is going to “tease” your reader into clicking without giving away your whole story. Hero images do well on Pinterest, and therefore should be vertically oriented. Try to leave extra space when you’re photographing to ensure that you have room for text, or be prepared to use an overlay.
Your hero image should have the following things:
- Good lighting
- Clear subject
- Enticing photography
- Simple fonts
- Overlays behind text if necessary
Choose your fonts carefully — it’s important they are easily readable, so take care when choosing font size, type, and color. Overly swirly and ornate script fonts can be difficult to read. Pair 1-3 fonts at most, using a simple font for the majority and “accessorizing” with one or two “fun” fonts if desired. Make sure the words are visible on your background and add dropshadows or glow as needed to help your text stand out.
If the subject of your photo is very detailed, dark, or busy you can place overlays behind the text to help it stand out more. Stick with high quality images. Dark, blurry or poorly cropped images are not “hero” material. You don’t have to be an expert photographer or even use a fancy camera, but take the time to seek good lighting, and use proper focus.
Creating the Perfect Hero Image
Taking the basics above, there are many options for creating beautiful hero images. Apps like PicMonkey and Canva are great for beginners all the way to advanced bloggers. Photoshop is not necessary unless you already own it (remember when I said simple is better?).
Resize your image and crop if necessary. If you’re photographing food, make sure the plate is neat and appealing. Something with bites already taken out or smears and splatters isn’t going to look appealing. Stage your photos with props and select only your best photo for your hero image. I like to take several versions, changing positions of objects, swapping out props, or using different backgrounds. Your hero image is your first impression, and you only get one chance to make a good first impression.
Collages are also an option if you have images that are too small on their own, are horizontal or you need more than one image to explain your story (see the pumpkin spice example below). Collages are also a great way to take two horizontal images and meld them into one vertical image with a text block in between as well.
Here’s some examples of hero images I’ve created for my own blog:
I chose three fonts and those are part of my branding. I use those 3 fonts on all my images now, and the hope is that one day when I’m rich and famous (ha!) my images will be easily identifiable by my unique style. Find fonts and styles that fit your personality and play around with them. In the above examples, the text is the feature and the background is there for emphasis.
In these examples, the text is downplayed and the focus is more on the images. Depending on your subject matter, and whether it’s sponsored content or not, you’ll want to play around with these styles to see what works best for your needs. Don’t be afraid to experiment and find what works best for you.
Alternatively, you can skip the text altogether and just do a beautiful image or collage, but I have found that the combination of words and text draw the reader in more than either by themselves.
Now you’re ready to create some awesome images! I recommend going back to older posts that don’t have a hero image, or have a less than stellar one, and giving them a facelift! With the right hero image, you might just resurrect an evergreen post that was gathering dust in your archives and turn it into a Pinterest sensation!