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:
- Use Creative Commons licensed pictures (Creative Commons pictures are free to use with some restrictions. You usually have to credit the owner and link back to their site. Check out Doug’s post on WHW for all the CC details.):
- CreativeCommons.org’s list of Creative Commons sources
- Flickr is a popular source and has a nice search function
- The W.A.N.A. (We Are Not Alone) tribe of authors shares Creative Commons pictures in a special Flickr group called WANA Commons.
- Use photo sharing sites where the photographers grant members the ability to use photos under certain conditions (similar to Creative Commons, but not an official Creative Commons license, and note that sometimes small resolution photos will be free, while larger resolution photos will cost money):
- Use photos that are in the public domain:
- Use your own photos—you know those are safe. *smile* (Usually.)
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*
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?Pin It