This is the seventh in a series of posts about the elements of a successful newsletter.
While a picture may say a thousand words, the pictures you see in some newsletters -- unfortunately -- say a thousand words of gibberish.
Why are so many pictures not up to scratch? First, it's difficult to get high-quality photography -- unless you've got a big budget or you know where to go.
Second, it's hard to get pictures to look right in print if you're not an expert with image manipulation software such as Photoshop. You've probably seen printed images that are blurred or 'blocky' -- that's often because they are not created at a high enough resolution (300dpi) or they've been enlarged more than the image quality can bear.
While you can get away with writing the words yourself, a sub-standard picture will shout out 'amateur'. (Of course, if you are going for a kitchen table design, then you can get away with home-made pictures to some extent!)
So I say this: unless you can use quality pictures (and be sure they'll print well), it's better not to use pictures at all. After all, there's nothing wrong with a text-only newsletter. In most cases it's words that do the selling for you, not pictures.
But if you can use high-quality images, here's some ideas:
- If you have a product or service that lends itself well to pictures, use them.
- Print before-and-after pictures that illustrate the work you have done for a client.
- Use a picture of yourself alongside your personal column.
- Use pictures of satisfied clients next to their case studies or testimonials.
- Use a picture that will attract attention -- only if it's relevant to what you do or the content of your newsletter.
- Use pictures and illustrations to break up text so that your newsletter doesn't look too 'gray'.
How can you get quality pictures? Either learn how to take and manipulate them yourself, hire a professional photographer or, if suitable, use stock photography. There are lots of good sources online for pictures, but check for any copyright restrictions on their use. You can't just take a picture off the web -- not only will the quality probably be not up to scratch, but you could also be violating someone's copyright. My favorite website for stock photos at the moment is http://www.istockphoto.com. But there are plenty others.
(One thing to watch for with stock photography -- if you use too much of it, you start to get a very bland, corporate look with pictures that could be equally at home in any newsletter for any business. Watch out for that...unless it's the look you are going for!)
One more note about pictures: if you use a picture, give it a caption. After headlines, picture captions are one of the most-read parts of a newsletter, so make that space pay!
(Photo on this post by asifthebes)