Have you ever wondered what it takes to make a successful blog post? I can probably name a few: a great title, maybe a powerful first sentence, and valuable content. But is that it? Perhaps less obvious, successful publishers and bloggers will tell you that you that it is also important to have great images, yet this is often left as an afterthought.
An eye catching image can help pimp out your post in more ways than one:
- By attracting click throughs in the first instance (especially if you’re posting your article on social media). Articles published with images receive on average 94% more clicks than those without.
- By engaging the reader once they have clicked through onto your page. Once you snag them on the hook all that’s left is to reel them in.
In this guide we aim to show you how to find quality images and create your own graphics.
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Finding stock images for your article
There are a number of places you can find stock images for your posts.
Often you’ll need to attribute the image depending on the type of licence the images are released under.
It’s important to understand what images you are allowed to use, and which ones you cannot.
Unfortunately, it’s not just a case of heading over to Google Images, running a search and using the first image that catches your eye. In many cases the images are copyrighted and unable to be used.
The licensing of images can get pretty complex, however the simplest way to think about it is like this.
Most images are either copyright (which basically means there’s no way you’re allowed to use them), published under a creative commons licence or released into the public domain.
If they’re under a creative commons licence you can probably use them however there may be additional rules as to in what manner, and what kind of attribution you will need to provide.
Images released into the public domain are able to be used however and wherever you want (sometimes you will still be required to give attribution).
Don’t forget to always check the licence before using an image.
Sites to find images from:
Some of the most popular websites to find free images include:
- PEXELS – a very easy to use site that searches different sources and clearly shows the licence requirements for each image.
- Unsplash. Amazing photography you can do anything with. The catalogue is not as wide as you might hope, but the quality is really high.
- Free Images. The name alone is reason enough to put this service at the top of the list. If free images are what you want, this is the place to be. With more than 350,000 stock photos, you are in good hands.
- Free Range Stock. There are a few things that set this service apart from the crowd, including the quality. The only downside is that you have to register (for free) to use the site.
- Morguefile. The name may not be all that exciting, but the service itself has quite a bit to offer.
- Pixabay. With thousands of free images and no registration required, you can find plenty of Creative Commons images in no time at all.
- Public Domain Pictures. Amateur photographers upload new images to this website daily. Regardless of your industry, there are sure to be plenty of images to choose from.
- Stockvault. More than 50,000 images are available for both non-commercial and personal use. Best yet, the quality is better than most sites.
- BigFoto. If you want to search for free photos by location, such as a country or city name, this is the place to start. Amateur photographers do a great job keeping the service up to date with fresh photos.
- Rgbstock. Created by enthusiastic photographers, Rgbstock knows what you are looking for. Since opening its doors in January 2010, the site has provided thousands of people with free images.
- Dreamstime. Not only does this service have a free section that is easily searchable, but it is updated on a regular basis. A definite win-win.
- Flickr – a number of different licenses depending on use, make sure you check carefully to ensure you can use the image.
- Picography – a source of images that do not need attribution.
Another useful time saving method of finding images is by searching through the creative commons website.
In this example we were looking for a picture of a person with a laptop on a beach. We typed in the search terms and then clicked on Flickr and search.
The creative commons portal then carries out that search on flickr, with the appropriate filters applied. The results were as below.
This is a really quick and easy way of searching through multiple sources of images, without having to configure the various licence filters on each and every one.
Adding an image to your site:
Once you have found an image you will want to save it, resize it and add it to your post. Here is an example using an image from flickr.
- Find an image that is able to be used. Head to flickr and search with the appropriate licence filters.
- Download to your computer (often there is a choice of sizes/resolutions so try to get something close to your requirements). If you’re not sure of the exact size you need it is best to go bigger. You can always downsize it later.
- Resize as required. Taking into account the specific mediums where you intend to promote your post will help you to determine the best size of the image. BufferApp have a great article on appropriate image sizes for different platforms.
- Add the image to the post and make sure that you include attribution if required. Some add a caption to the images within WordPress that links to the source similar to below. Others however prefer to link to it at the bottom of the post.
Taking your own photos
Do you like taking your own photos?
If you’re that way inclined here are two of the key benefits of doing so:
- Using your own photos means you’re adding even more unique content into the blogosphere
- No copyright concerns or requirements (other than the worry of others copying your work of course)
You’ll need a good camera and the ability to take quality photos that are related to your space and brand.
It’s important to protect your work so you might want to also have a think about licensing your images.
Creating and adding screenshots to your posts
When it comes to finding images for a “How To” article the easiest and most relevant method (for the reader) is by way of a simple screenshot.
Imagine if you had a blog that taught people how to edit cat videos. It is would be far more helpful to include pictures of the editing process being carried out on your screen than to simply post a generic picture of a cat.
There are several ways you can create screenshots for your articles. We are going to cover the basics.
The quick and easy way to add screenshots to your post:
- Copy a screenshot to your clipboard. Using Windows this is as simple as pressing PrntScrn for the whole screen or ALT + PrntScrn for just the active window. On a Mac you can use Command + Shift + 3 to save the screen as a .png on your desktop, or you can get more advanced about the portion of the screen you want to save if you need to – further instructions from Apple can be found here.
- Paste or open up the image into your editor of choice, i.e the Mac Preview App, Photoshop or similar. Crop and resize as required.
- Add the image to your post.
The use of screenshots in your blog posts (when used for instructional or informational purposes) is generally accepted as “fair use”. This means that you can use it without violating a copyright and there’s no attribution required. If there is however any doubt make sure you seek permission.
There are a number of applications and additional methods that can be used to create eye catching screenshot images.
Creating your own images
Historically, unless you were a graphic artist, or skilled with photoshop, creating your own images was both challenging and time consuming.
In recent times however a number of excellent tools have become available that can enable you create professional looking images, for free.
These are my favorites:
For those that struggle to create their own graphics, Canva is an application that helps an amateur photo editor create a professional looking image.
You can whip up your own graphic in a matter of minutes by selecting one of the easy to use templates.
For further instructions on exactly how to make a stunning looking blog image head to Using Canva to create high-quality images for blog posts
Pablo is a simple and free online application built by the popular social media scheduling service Buffer that will help you create and share social media images in less than a minute or two.
A couple of great things about Pablo:
- No need to register or sign in
- Very intuitive interface
- Fast and free to use
Just head along to the site, upload an image (or use one of theirs), start typing and save.
That’s it, share it and you’re done.
Share As Image
Share As Image is an application that lets you quickly convert, and share, content that is not an image – as an image.
For example if you went to a site and found a great quote that you wanted to share on Pinterest, you could quickly convert the text into an image.
Share As Image is available as a free trial version, or you can buy a subscription for a small monthly fee.
Adobe Post is a great new iOS app from Adobe that enables you to create (in their own words) “Stunning Social Graphics in Seconds”.
There are loads of templates and photos already available within the app and in it’s simplest form you can just open up an existing image template, change the text, and post.
For the more advanced user, there are dozens of options that will keep you occupied for hours.
Here’s the best thing – it’s completely free. So if you have an iPhone or iPad head on over to the app store and check it out.
For a list of other amazing tools that you can use to create engaging social media images, check out Social Media Examiner’s article on 6 simple photo tools.
Time is a finite resource, and very few of us have endless hours to spend finding the perfect images. The important thing is to do the best you can, in the time you have available.
If you want your blog post to outperform that of your competitors, you need compelling content, easy to read formatting, and an eye catching title. Finally, the icing on the cake is your carefully chosen, professional and engaging image which brings it all together.