Chapter 8: Using Visuals To Tell A Story

There’s no doubt about it, we are a visually demanding generation. With the rise of image-based platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr, it’s become increasingly common to tell stories and convey complex emotions in an entirely visual way. As writers whose content is shared with a huge online audience, this is a skill you simply cannot overlook. Readers are fickle creatures; they no longer want to read a wall of text without beautifully structured images, GIFs and/or video clips guiding them on a seamless, thoughtful journey through your content. So let’s talk about why learning to craft a visual narrative in your articles is paramount to your journey as a successful writer in the digital age. Thankfully, learning how to be a visual storyteller is actually also super fun!

Image Size and Quality

That’s right – size does matter… when it comes to images, anyway. No one likes to see a blurry, tiny or unattractive image when they’re scrolling through an article, amiright? If the image looks odd to you when you’re in preview or edit mode, it will look odd in the finished product as well. Nothing detracts more from an otherwise flawless article than unflattering image choice. So, here are the dimensions you should always keep in mind when choosing your images.

  • Ideal cover image dimensions: 960 x 550px (pixels)
  • Ideal in-article image dimensions: 700px width* (no less than 600px)

*If your image (or GIF) is smaller than 700px wide then it will be displayed in its original size. We don’t scale images and GIFs as we don’t want to decrease the quality of your carefully selected images.

Fun fact: because most of our traffic comes from mobile, it’s best to use square and portrait images as opposed to the rectangular images that are ideal on desktop. Although you compose your articles on desktop – as much as 85% of readers come to your article on a mobile device or tablet.

Where To Source Images

It’s important to have a few ‘go-to’ spots on the interwebs to find super cool, unique images that will draw the eyes of Gollum to your articles. As readers ourselves, we know that we’re prone to skim over images we’ve seen time and time again. To impress your audience, check out some of these image based websites that will surely help you escape the old ‘Google Images’ trick.

  • For posters: try
  • For TV Series: try
  • For movies: check out
  • For our own selection: there’s
  • For GIF’s: is your ultimate companion

Official movie websites are also full of high quality stills and images for your every need. Another great tip is to follow celebrities and movies on Instagram and Twitter, as they often post their own personal array of selfies that readers can’t get enough of. Pinterest is another endless source of amazing material, from fan art to cosplay, and everything weird and wonderful in between.

Which Images To Avoid

Say 'no' to Getty images!

Say ‘no’ to Getty images!

There are certain images that should never be used within your articles, as they could lead to legal ramifications. Firstly – never share leaked images or footage that you’ve found on the internet. The studios take this breach very seriously (considering how much money goes into marketing their films) and they are more than happy to hand out huge fines.

Google images: Search tools/ Labeled for reuse

Google images: Search tools/ Labeled for reuse

Secondly, try to avoid using paparazzi shots and red carpet material, as these are usually commissioned work by photographers that have been replicated without their permission. Getty images should also be avoided, as these generally require a license to ‘rent out’ the images for your own personal use. If you want to use Google Images to find unlicenced images, simply click on ‘search tools’ and then ‘usage rights’. In the dropdown menu, filter by ‘labeled for reuse’. Give it a try and you will notice how many images actually require a license to use!


Leo - he's always relevant

Leo – he’s always relevant

One common thing we see in Creator articles is the tendency to add an image that does not add to the value or relevancy of the piece. Whilst it’s always a great idea to break up your text with images – in the order of headline/ image/ text – it’s also vital to ensure it is appropriate and/or reflects the ideas presented in the paragraph it’s attached to. This is where the idea of ‘visual storytelling’ is the most useful – you should always use images to enhance the flow and direction of your piece, and they should allow the audience an insight into the section of content they will be reading.

Chapter 8 Assignment