Images provide a good benefit for your blog posts; they introduce an attention grabbing element alongside your post title and entice people to click through to your site or post. Sometimes the image is all it takes initially to influence someone to visit a page as people are very visually driven and a good image is all it might take considering the number of websites, posts and articles a typical person will see when browsing the net each day.
Images are also useful to use within the Blog posts to break up the text content into manageable chunks and to provide the readers with image content relevant to the text. For example, illustrations and screenshots, etc.
Choosing The Right Image
This is not an easy task, especially if you are not a technical whizz with Photoshop or even have the time to craft the perfect image for each Blog post that goes live. You probably still want an image that relates to the post and is relatively unique. For some time there has been a trend for using images largely unrelated to the Blog post. These images have usually been selected for the humour element, to capture attention (if the image is a bit strange) or to draw on some sort of metaphorical relationship between the image and the post. There is no issue with doing this but like most things, they are likely to prove ineffective when people start to see similar images all over the web.
So what are the options if you are running low on ideas, inspiration or even time? I have put together this post to give you some ideas and help you find a resource that might suit, for when you next need an image for your Blog post.
Resources For Finding Images:
Stock image websites
These exist to help you find the perfect image for your project; these websites usually contain hundreds and thousands of images from which to choose. More often than not they contain a number of royalty free images and a number of images that require you to pay a small amount for. Subscription packages may be available on a paid monthly basis that allows you to download a certain number of images each month; this might be perfect for your needs.
Here is a list of popular royalty free and stock image websites:
Fotolia is a stock image site that contains millions of images to search through. They operate on a credit or one off purchase system and you pay an amount related to the size of image you need or the licence type you require.
iStockPhoto operates in exactly the same way as Fotolia and offers a credit based system from which to purchase images.
Shutterstock is another site similar to the sites listed above. They offer various subscription packages that enable you to have the ability to download a certain number of images in a month; alternatively you can buy images in bulk for a set price.
Big Stock again is a site similar to the others. They offer a simple pricing system where you can pay as you go for images. Subscriptions are available if you wish.
Find images for free
There are sites which allow you to search through and download free images. The choice tends to be limited compared to the paid options, however if you continue to edit the image using some software of choice, you can create something unique and perfectly suited for your Blog.
Here is a list of options available to you:
Flickr has the option to browse Creative Commons images. You can select an option to display images that allow you to use the image for commercial purposes or ones you can adapt. The filtering options enable you to find an image suitable for your needs.
Every Stock Photo is a database of freely licensed images for anyone to download. This site is useful as it removes the need to search lots of different sources for the right image, if you find it here first.
Creative Commons Search is a site that enables you to search various sites across the web for images licensed under Creative Commons. The main image related searches take you to Google Image Search, Flickr or the Open Clip Art Library.
Tools for improving the images
Once you have found an image perfect for your post, you may choose to use a variety of tools to make the image unique. Here is a list of tools and resources that can help you do this:
Photoshop is a well known image editing software, useful for creating and editing your own photos and pictures. The downside is that it requires a basic knowledge of the software and is quite expensive. A useful tool if you already have access to the software where you are.
Free alternatives to Photoshop
There are a number of available online applications that have similar functions as offered from Photoshop. They are generally more appropriate for basic editing, however this is usually all that is required for finding a tool suitable for what you need.
Here is a list of alternatives to Photoshop:
Paint.net is a free image and photo editing software for Windows computers. It offers a variety of features that allows you to work with layers and effects to create the perfect image.
Gimp is another downloadable image editing software that works on many operating systems. Users can enhance images and add effects with ease.
Piknik is an online application that lets you edit, crop and apply effects to your images. The benefit of using Piknik is that it is completely based online and does not require the download and installation of any software.
If you don’t feel like using a image provided by a stock photo site or you are not keen on spending lots of time creating something for yourself using an image application, there are some alternative options.
I have listed a few options here, but if anyone knows of any other good resources, please tell us in the comments section.
Using Word Clouds – Sites such as Wordle allow you to enter a selection of words or a URL. Once a collection of words have been added, it creates a visually pleasing cloud of words and usually this can be edited to display how you would like it to. This is a good way of creating an image relevant to your post, if your post contains a lot of closely related keywords.
Stylise the images for your Blog – There are a number of Blogs that use a similarly styled image for all of their Blog posts. You can create a template once and use this template for each post, each time changing a couple of elements to make the image unique. This also helps maintain a consistent brand image across the site as well as any external websites. A good example of this is the Line25 site that utilises the same template for each image.
Instagram is the popular mobile application where you can take pictures with your iPhone and apply various filters to make the image visually appealing. This could be a good way to create images for your Blog posts which also helps you maintain a consistency across them all.
Fiverr is a site that allows you to pay someone $5 for various different services ranging from videos to business tips. Someone may offer to design an image from your specification. If you don’t mind spending the money then this could be a good resource.
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