May 20, 2014

Blogging Tip: Increase Shares with Images that Pop

Balloons against blue sky with text: Let's Pop! Our Blog Images

Today, I’m hanging out at Writers Helping Writers (WHW) (home of Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, the geniuses behind The Emotion Thesaurus and the former The Bookshelf Muse).

A couple of weeks ago, WHW hosted Doug Langille for a guest post about fair image usage on our blogs. Becca asked me to stop by and share a follow-up post on how to make the blah pictures we might take on our camera phone stand out and capture attention for our blog post.

But first let’s cover why images are important for our blog posts. And then let’s talk about where we can legally find images without getting into copyright trouble.

Why Are Images Important on Blog Posts?

Images help our blog post be noticed, and many social media sites (where our post might be shared) focus on images as well. Posts on Google+ and Facebook stand out more if they have images attached. And the whole point of Pinterest is to share images.

So including an image with our post means that we’re not only capturing readers’ attention, but we’re also increasing the odds that our post will be shared. Great! But not all images are appropriate for our blog.

We Must Find Legal Images for Our Blog

All images on the internet are covered by copyright. Yes, many people have pictures in their blog posts, but if they don’t choose images they have permission to use (either directly from the photographer or via a Creative Commons license, etc.), they’re leaving themselves open to lawsuit.

Think I’m exaggerating? It’s happened to someone I know well.

Fellow author Roni Loren had to pay a photographer in a lawsuit even though she responded to a DMCA takedown copyright notice immediately. Read her post to learn why it’s not enough to credit and link back to the source, and how it doesn’t matter if our website or blog isn’t commercial.

So, does that mean we shouldn’t use images at all? No. But we do have to be careful about where we find them.

Where Can We Find Legal Images?

First rule of thumb, don’t use Google Images to search for pictures. It’s impossible to tell with most of those search results who owns the copyright.

Instead, search for images where we have a better idea of the photographer’s polices:

Depending on how paranoid we are, we might not want to use photo-sharing sites and instead just stick with our own pictures. I’ve seen claims that people have copied protected images and posted them to photo-sharing or Creative Commons sites claiming to be the photographer (the photography equivalent of plagiarism).

Personally, I’ve used photo-sharing sites the most, and I’m careful to use sites that I trust would pull down illegally posted pictures. (Photographers can do a Google Image Search and find where their images are posted.) I always follow the attribution and/or notification rules specific to the picture.

By the way, “royalty-free” is not the same as “free to use.” If you’re not sure what the rules are for a photo sharing site, check the “Terms and Conditions,” “Licensing,” or “Legal” section of the website for the default. And note that some pictures may have additional conditions listed.

How to Make Our Images Pop

Whether we’ve found a legal image or we’re using a picture we’ve taken, the image won’t help our post if it’s “blah.” Head over to my guest post at Writers Helping Writers, where I’m sharing a tutorial on how to use the PicMonkey website to tweak our images.

PicMonkey allows us to crop, add Instagram-style filters, borders, thought balloons, text, etc. to any image. In my guest post, I walk through how to go from a plain image to one that I use on my blog. If you’ve ever wondered how I create the pictures at the top of my blog, now you can learn all my “secrets.” *smile*

Before and after blog image

Bonus Image Tips!

  • PicMonkey allows us to create collages, like the dual-image above, using the “collage” menu on their home page.
  • PicMonkey provides a blank canvas under their “design” menu on the home page to start from scratch with graphics or using images as overlays.
  • For best practices, fill in the “Alt Text” field—a description of the image for readers who are visually impaired—when inserting images on our blog.
  • With PicMonkey, we can also design images for our header on Facebook, Twitter, or blog.
  • Website designer Laird Sapir has a great post about how to add images to a sidebar.

With the right sources and tools, we can create images for our blog posts. Images naturally draw our eye more than text, and every little bit of attention helps us spread the word about us and our work. *smile*

Don’t forget to check out my PicMonkey tutorial at WHW!

Do you use images on your blog posts? If not, why not? Does this information help you know how to start adding images? Do you notice the images people use on blogs? What about on Facebook? Do you share posts on Pinterest if they have a good image?

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[…] do you think will get more attention and encourage people to share our post? Come by my blog today for more image tips, including a list of sites where we can find legal images to use on our […]

Devika Fernando

Great tips and resources, Jami!
I recently discovered PicMonkey and really love it. For making my own covers, there are quite some useful options. I’m also really happy with which is similar but has some additional features.


I generally avoid posting images on my site other than, say, book covers. It’s something I’m considering changing when I start my blog back up again, but I do that out of consideration for mobile devices and dial-up modems. (Mostly the dial-up modems, because I could adjust the site skin to hide images on mobile devices, if I wanted.)

Tamara LeBlanc
Tamara LeBlanc

THIS IS FANTASTIC!!!! What great resources and suggestions.
I can’t wait to try out Picmonkey. I love seeing gorgeous images on blogs and on Facebook and especially Pinterest. I think it makes a huge difference in how often I come back and visit.
Fabulous post, Jami!
Will share 🙂

Have a great day!

Rhenna Morgan

Nice compilation list for photos, Jami! Thanks for putting the info together. 🙂

Sonia G Medeiros

Excellent suggestions and resources! I’ve used Flickr a lot but I’m much more careful now (after hearing about some conflicts with photographers and misunderstandings on how to use CC images or some photographers deliberately changing their CC license to trap the unwary). I also like to use my images whenever possible. I’ve used iStockphoto for some web design projects as they have a great policy for protecting end users but I haven’t used any of theirs for blogs yet.

Matt Wolfe

Great tip! I’ve never heard of PicMonkey. Another tool to do something very similar is called Canva. It’s pretty new but it really makes images “pop” as well.


[…] haven’t used Gimp or Canva, so I’m not sure what they’re capable of. Here’s my post with my experience with PicMonkey, as well as the guest blog post I did for Writers Helping Writers about […]


[…] Social media—from Facebook and Pinterest to Instagram and Twitter—often focus on images. Tweets with images attached grab more attention than those without. Same with Facebook posts. So our blogs will not only look better with at least one image, but we’ll also likely increase readers and shares if we include images. […]

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