Photo Essentials in 10: Pinnable Text

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Every Monday I share photo tips here on the blog, and today’s Photography Essentials in 10 minutes are all about getting the perfect, pin-worthy text for your pictures.

First, let’s talk about why text is important in pictures in today’s blog world.

When I first started blogging, I never added text to pictures. Then I started to add text, but it was in a pretty awful way.

I didn’t get pinned.

I wondered why.

Then I started to look closely- very closely- at pictures that were getting pinned.

They all had something I didn’t. They looked professional, sleek, polished. They had great text (and some had no text, which is fine if that’s how you like it, but you really can have text work for you and keep a pretty picture).

With the right text, the pictures on your blog can substitute for a pin description.

Have you ever seen a pin that has a completely inaccurate pin description, or even worse- doesn’t link to the original blog? It happens all the time. And because of Pinterest’s viral nature, it lives on in perpetuity.

I’ve had it happen to my blog pictures, and felt a huge sinking feeling when I realize I missed out on tons of traffic because someone mis-tagged a project of mine. Here’s the thing though- it isn’t up to a pinner to get it right. It is up to ME to make sure people know what to take away from my photos, and my blog. 

And it is up to me to find a pretty way to convey the right information so it can be spread across the web, and clearly communicate with potential readers to draw them in.

Before I get into everything- please always keep an UNEDITED, unwatermarked original version of your project pictures. If your picture is ever syndicated, magazines and newspapers need unedited versions so they can be sure it fits their format. Please save an original copy! 

So where do people go wrong? (myself included, I have been guilty of all of these)

First, there are the simple watermarkers. I am totally cool with the people who add just one simple watermark on their photos. I get you don’t wan’t to distract from your lovely photo. I do feel you are missing out on some potential readers and risk mis-communications, but you gotta do you and style your shots in a way you like.

I am NOT, however, OK with the people who do so over their project.

Seriously, is this in the way, or what? You can’t see the full beauty of this dish because the text is in the way. I realize someone could crop out your watermark when it isn’t right over the thing- but frankly, if people are going to steal your stuff, they are going to do all sorts of crazy things to get it, and you shouldn’t compromise your pictures to fight against them.

People suck, it’s a thing we all have to deal with as bloggers, sadly. Don’t limit yourself because there are jerks in the world. Accept it, move on.

Next, there is the manic texter. Bright colors, crazy fonts (for subdued subjects), random text, covering the project… you’ve seen these people around. A lot of them even add graphics or emoticons to their post pictures, and offer horribly non-descript text.


Seriously, I am not even going to get into the hot messes you can do when watermarking. It’s not pretty. Think magazine, not comic book. Read more about this on the Crafterminds blog… Amy from Mod Podge Rocks! has a great article devoted just to this.

Next, you have my usual problem.

I usually spend a lot of time finding the perfect spot for my blog address- in this case at the bottom (I like to put my URL in whitespace in pics. It draws the reader’s attention there, and does not distract from the subject at all.) ALWAYS put your URL in your shots.

If your photo is pinned and the link dies, viewers can find you! If you are featured in a roundup and people pin that post instead of yours, people can still find you! If your picture is tagged with something completely different…. people can find you! See a pattern?

Next, I take time to find a neutral color to make a large rectangle which I place my text over. I like to do this so I can use a thin, non-obnoxious text (I shudder to think of some of the horrible fonts I have used in the past…).

I’ll either use a light grey or match the box to a color already in the photo. In this photo, I took a sample of part of the beet root rib to get a maroon-ish hue. I then reduced it’s opacity to make it pretty transparent.

Here’s where I went wrong in the photo below: I NEVER know what to say. I wrote a flipping novel here. It needs serious editing. Text should usually be descriptive of what you will find in the post, but not longer than 5 words, unless it is diagram-style. Think: “Chalk Paint Dresser” or “Make your own detergent”, something that works as a default pin text.

People don’t always pin well- they might add confusing text or reference something else entirely, and you’ll lose out on any amplification they could have brought you if you had a clear short description fixed on your image. Since adding these, I have noticed the self life of pins is CONSIDERABLY longer.

It is the only way to control the uncontrollable world of Pinterest.

Here’s what I settled on- a short description of the subject (be on the lookout for this soon, this meal was AH-MAZ-ING) that not only told you what I served, but that it is a Paleo diet meal.

So say someone pins this, and writes “looks yummy, want to try” and I don’t mention Paleo.

Say they have a follower who is looking for paleo recipes, who would have been interested, but passed it over because it didn’t catch their eye as they were looking for paleo recipes.

And maybe THEY had a friend who was interested in it, and so on, and so on.

All these people would never know this recipe is paleo because I just wrote “roasted chicken” or didn’t put up any descriptive text.

I would miss out on tons of potential traffic all because I didn’t add any good text.

So that’s my essential for this week- one I am admittedly a work in progress at.

What is YOUR best photo tip for the week?

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