Thursday, May 31, 2012

Choosing the Best Photo for Your Blog Party "Thumbnail"

Hello, hello! Today brings post #9 in my How to Blog Party series, which is written for new and experienced bloggers...lots of tips and tricks for joining and hosting a blog/link party. You can click here to start at the beginning of the series and see a round-up of all the posts so far. I promise that how-tos and suggestions for hosting a link party will begin soon! Last week, we talked about why linking back the right way is important.

This week's topic is: Choosing the Best Thumbnail Photo

Blog parties are visual events...many times a good thumbnail photo and description are the difference between whether or not your blog post gets hits or not. 

As discussed in post #5, link parties are a blogger's opportunity for free advertising. Consider your thumbnail photo a commercial for your post. Choose a photo that sums up the project or post...don't leave your readers guessing.

We'll use my post about my DIY Monogrammed Garden Flag as an example. When I photographed the tutorial, I kept in mind that I'd probably link the post up to a couple of my favorite blog parties, and I "staged" the beauty shot:

I could have just placed the flag on the ground or on a table, but I thought that it would be best for an "in use" shot to show readers exactly what the craft was. I moved the flower pot on the right closer to the shot for some extra greenery. The hydrangea on the left was actually in a small plastic pot across the yard, waiting to be planted, but the pink looked so nice, I decided to stick it in too.

Much better than, say, this one of just the supplies:

The above photo doesn't really tell a story, does it? It's just some pretty fabric and ribbon...nothing to really entice potential readers to click over. It was necessary to the tutorial, but not my best choice for a blog party thumbnail.

There are all sorts of great tutorials on the web for improving your blog photography skills. I rounded up some of them in Blogging Myths post entitled "Any Old Photo Will Do". I also have links to some great ones on my Blogging Resources Page.

Good photos make good thumbnails!!

(Believe me, I struggle with this myself)

How do I make sure my thumbnail shows up at the blog party?

Here are some more tips for great thumbnails:

1. Choose a simple, concise description so that readers know what you've linked up.

Descriptions are captions under the thumbnail photo that tell the reader what exactly your project is.

Which of these descriptions would you want to click on?

A) Serenity Now
B) Amanda T.
C) This recipe will blow your mind
D) Chocolate Cake- great for potlucks
E) Chocolate Cake Recipe

Please tell me you chose D or E. Some readers will click on quirky titles, but they are the exception to the rule. Most visitors are busy. They want to know what your post is about before they take the time to click over!


This one should be common sense, but the number of "inspiration photos" used as thumbnails is quickly rising. We chatted about this in post #5-- this comes across as misleading to both readers and hostesses. We want to see your work and your photos. Using someone else's project/photo to bring traffic to yourself through a link party is wrong.

It's disappointing to see a photo of a beautifully styled bedroom and a description of "Bedroom Makeover" and click over to see that the blogger is using photos from other websites/magazines/blogs as an inspiration post. Inspiration and round-up posts are awesome, but they do not belong at blog parties meant for showing off your own work!

3. Quality photos count!
Thumbnails or not...large (!), clear photos are the ones that will be featured. I can't tell you how many posts I pass by for Features because they are too small (I can't tell what's going on!), too blurry, too busy, or too dark.

Features reflect the party hostess too...she's going to pick the posts with the best photos!

4. Choose the "crop" option when linking up, but use it wisely.

We'll go through the steps of exactly how to link up a post another time, but when you do link up, be sure to choose the "Crop" option for your photo. This gives you the power and control over how the end result looks.

But cropper beware!

If you go blindly cropping in a mad rush to add your link to the party, you'll end up with an odd thumbnail (note the dotted crop lines):

Versus this:

Careful cropping is especially important for parties that have very small thumnails:

The photo is tiny, but it still gives readers a pretty good idea as to what the project is.

I hope these tips were helpful!

Next week, we'll talk about how to add your link to a blog party (permalinks vs. homepage).

If you enjoyed this post or found it helpful, I'd love for you to click the "Pin It" button to add this post to Pinterest, or +1 me for Google+. 


  1. Great info! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Great post! This is definitely something I need to work on!

    Jessica @ Mom 4 Real

  3. A great photo IS very important. Unfortunately, we like to "judge a book by it's cover" and an unappealing photo just want get clicked as often. Often times for the description I don't use the title of my post but a few words that explain what the post is about.

  4. Nice tips. Thank you!

    I find that I like a name in a title because I start anticipating certain people and their projects. So, Serenity Now's Chocolate Cake would get me interested. Am I an exception to the norm? :)

  5. Amanda, I love this series! You have a lot of helpful info to share. And I agree, a good thumbnail is where it all starts at a linky party.

    ~ Catie

  6. Another great post, Amanda! Question: are you compiling all these blog party posts in one place? I need to look through your sidebar and see. I was just thinking--sometimes I get questions from readers wanting to know more what a blog party is, how to link up, etc. I could just refer them to you and this series!

    Your blogging series are huge gifts to the blogosphere, I think. I appreciate you!

  7. Thanks for the reminders, I am always trying to balance the blog parties, with my real life (like the everyday mommy-ing). Somehow, on the west coast, most parties either go up right at dinner time or super early in the morning, so having a good photo and description is really important, especially if I'm number 300-something:)

    Hope you and the girls enjoy your weekend!


  8. I totally remember reading about "not using an inspiration photo" as you thumbnail....and when I linked to a few parties, for some reason the Linky Tools would NOT show MY own picture, and only my inspirational picture! {I tried everything and it was on EVERY link party that used that Linky Tools instead of your link party, Inlinkz}. I felt terrible linking the other picture, but there wasn't much else I could do....but this is another fantastic post, Amanda! You rock!!

    Becky B.
    Organizing Made Fun

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