So you want to reach more people online, right?

There’s various forms of media you can use, such as audio, writing, visual imagery, video and various formats under and in between those.

But it’s visual media that has my attention.

Why Visual Media? Sure, I am a Graphic Designer and Web Designer with a history of art, but it goes beyond my own personal experience. I have come to conclusion that if you want to succeed online, you need to embrace visual media.

Learn the skills on how to create it, manipulate it and also how it affects the user looking at it.

So below I cover why to focus on visual media and how to start.

First of all…

Visual Media is taking over Social Media

Look at signs and you’ll see a correlation.

Social media has taken over the digital marketing world, with some of the top platforms being:

  • Instagram – which is primarily an image and video media platform (*1.08 billion users)
  • YouTube – which relies almost exclusively on video (*2 billion users)
  • Facebook – has a variety of options, yet image and video perform best (*2.6 billion users)

*User counts (as of August 2020) were sourced from this article.

You will also find on these platforms plenty of artists and photographers who have massive followings because they understand visuals and can create imagery that grabs attention.

There are some exceptions here like WhatsApp and other chat-based platforms though. But in terms of marketing content, visual seems to be the dominant medium.

Even other visual platforms like Pinterest and smaller networks make up a decent share of social media. It’s also popular on other platforms such as blogs, with images, infographics and embedded video being quite popular.

But it’s not just because of the platforms themselves, it’s also the devices we’re using.

Your Phone is heavily dependent on visuals

Smart Phones are always attached to us and the most common way people access online content, espeically social media.

The phone was originally an audio dominant device – but these days the visuals are competing with that. If you remove the conversation or voice call usage from a phone, and focus on online content you may realize that visuals are a part of just about everything.

If you use your phone in public, you are more likely to be consuming visually or reading and not playing audio out loud (unless you have headphones on). So visual communication is a big part of phone usage and the one thing you can count on 100% of the time unless you are dealing with someone who is visually impaired.

Think further, this also applies a lot to your computer, tablet and television. How often do you use those?

The reason is simple…

Most of us are visual creatures

We’ve always loved massive TV’s and going to the movies, viewing art or going to a play. So this isn’t a new thing, it’s just a direction we’ve always been heading toward. This applies to everyone unless, as mentioned earlier, someone has impaired vision.

You’ve heard the saying a picture is worth 1000 words. Well this is true but the word are also communication often at a glance and are processed by our minds far quicker than paragraphs of text or spoken audio.

Choice of color, font, lighting and even layout can invoke certain emotional responses in people in a fraction of a second.

These days visuals are how we get attention. Every link to a blog host as a great headline, but it;s the large thumbnail you see first. YouTube videos are often competing with each other for clicks with thew effectiveness of their video thumbnail.

Even if the platform you present your content on isn’t primarily visual, imagery is the medium to bridge the connection between a person and the content being offered.

How to take advantage of Visual Media

Learn what skill will be best for you and what you’re offering. In most cases this would be simple imagery.

So consider learning one, all or a combination of the following:

  • Photography
  • Graphic Design
  • Video Editing
  • Digital Art

At the very least, learn how to use Adobe Photoshop.

Imagery is powerful as it is a part of everything. So learning design and basic skills of Photoshop will help. Moving into the arena of video and photography will be the next step to improve the quality of what you produce.

Photography will help you get natural and clean images to help you better connect your message with your audience. A simple facial expression can tell a story when photographed well. Images of items can cut through a lot talking and explaining to let people know exactly what it is you’re referring to.

Basic Graphic Design such as typography, color and visual hierarchy will help you better communicate through visuals – even if it’s just a method for presenting text.

Videography will step you into the world of expanding upon visuals with motion, story telling, and being able to communicate on a whole new level.

Think about applying all of this to your logo, branding and social media in order to establish familiarity through visual media that is consistent and reflects what you do and who you are.

You can then also sell your skills as a freelancer and turn the art of visual creation into a career if you wish. That’s exactly what I have done! It could be a nice backup if your current project doesnt work out.

Too busy to learn? Hire.

If time isn’t a luxury you have then maybe you need to find professional designers, photographers and videographers to help you get the results you need.

Moving forward requires one or both of these things: time and money.

Time means you can get things done, money means you can pay someone for their time to get it done. The good news is that paying a pro will get professional results straight away whereas learning far longer – but you can take those skills with you everywhere you go.

My final Thoughts

Honestly, this is nothing new. It’s how we’re wired.

But the ever-changing technology and lifestyle we’re evolving into in the 21st century is making visual media skills more important and the need more evident.

We’re simply learning the art of communication in a busy space, therefore we’re leaning into the quick, attention-grabbing nature of visuals. If you haven’t already, it’s time to take it seriously.

If you’re not sure where to start, check out my introduction to Photoshop so you can start exploring the one tool I recommend for getting started.

I hope that has given you some insight and thought toward improving your presence online. Thank you for reading and have an excellent day!