A blog without any images can be likened to a blank restaurant: completely uninviting and barren. Even if though the greatest meal can bring people coming back to a boring place, many won’t even stop in if they’re unimpressed from the get-go. Atmosphere is just as important as the meat, and the same is true for websites.
There are several reasons to include images on your blog:
- It adds interesting, relevant value and breaks up walls of text
- It engages the reader and holds their attention even before reading a word
- It maintains interest as the reader continues to read through the post
- It illustrates and enhances points made within the text
- It makes the piece more memorable, and it can establish personality
These days, it’s even more important because of new RSS readers and Facebook updates that include post images in the link. Now traffic sent to your website is dependent upon the images you’ve used in a post. With that in mind, here are five essential ways to find and use images for your blog.
1. Royalty-Free Images
If there’s only one issue with royalty-free images, it’s the likelihood that someone else has used it before — possibly too much. The more affordable a photo, the more likely someone is going to use it, and your ultimate goal is to stand out.
That doesn’t mean royalty-free isn’t a good avenue to pursue, however; it just means you’ll have to be a little more savvy in your search. If you find a good picture, check its download stats or whether the same artist uses a similar picture that is less popular.
2. Public Domain Images
In the same vein, you can opt to use public domain images. If so, government agencies make a great starting point. Works that are made by a government employee cannot be protected by copyright, which is why government agencies like NASA offer many public domains but high-quality images. This doesn’t always apply in every country, but it’s still the best place to begin.
3. Your Own Images
It may take some additional setup, but the easiest way to get unique images is to just make them on your own. Whether you’re a graphic designer, a photographer or just someone with last generation’s camera phone, you’re capable of publishing your own work and introducing your own personality to the blog that isn’t found anywhere else on the Internet.
If you choose this route, realize you must perform a few extra steps if you want to publish pictures with someone else or of certain public venues. You’ll need to dig a bit deeper on photography law here.
An excellent free resource, Flickr houses billions of photos to use on your website. Not all Flickr images are created equal, however; some have their restrictions, such as prohibiting posting to another website. Images on Flickr are either listed as Copyrighted or under Creative Commons.
You can check the licensing symbol on any Flickr image. If it has the C symbol within a circle, it’s a copyrighted image that can’t be used. If you’re really interested in using a copyrighted image, you could always attempt to reach out and contact the photographer about being able to use the photo for your blog. Just remember that as the copyright owner, the photographer can always refuse.
5. Working with Images
After you’ve found the right images for your blog, you’ll need to do a little bit more preparation to make it ready for your blog. For starters, you’ll have to consider image attribution as required by the Creative Commons License for the image, if applicable, as well as search engine optimization.
Depending on the policy of the image, you may need the following:
- Link the name of the photographer to the original photo page
- Link to the name and website of the photographer as well as a link to the site where it was found
- No attribution at all
Aside from attribution, you’ll gain much more from the images if you set them up for search engines. That means considering search engine optimization practices like the following:
- Using a chosen keyword in the image name
- Including the keyword in the alt tags after uploading the image
- Setting the image name as the product name and using the product name in the alt text for an e-commerce site; this will give it a better chance of showing up in a search using Google Images.
- Adding useful and relevant descriptions of the image, keeping it limited to 150 characters for the greatest accessibility; this is especially easy on WordPress websites.
- Setting the resolution of the article as recommended by Google
At the same time, it’s best to consider the impact images have on how quickly pages load; keep the picture as big as it needs to be — consider what the best pictures on Pinterest look like. This is a simple enough task.
Editing an image can make any photo look great. If the photo you’re using allows modifications, then you’ll be able to include your own branding and similar editing to the photo. If it doesn’t allow modifications, then you won’t be able to complete this step.
Bonus: Don’t Overdo It, Either
Using images makes an excellent way to improve the appearance and usability of a website, as well as complement the content you’re already adding to it on a regular basis.
On the other hand, you also need to make sure you aren’t overloading the reader with too many images — there is such a thing. Make sure the images you use are relevant to your content and only serve to enhance information or illustrate your work rather than take away from it.