Using Photos to Build Content

BlogHer Original Post

One of the essential tenets of blogging is bringing value to your readers. Sure, you're witty and intelligent--it shows in your writing--but sometimes you want (and need) to take it up a notch. How can you add value and interest to your posts? Use podcasts, photos, and videos to enhance what you already have. In this three-part series, I'll cover how each of these can help you build the content of your blog and offer even more value to your readers. Last week I tackled podcasting, this week I'm discussing how pictures can add something special to your content. Next week we'll finish up by discussing how to create and use video on your blog.

Why use pictures in your blog posts? Using a picture will help draw your reader's eye to a specific place on the page (especially if you have an uncluttered design). Along those same lines, pictures help break up text into readable chunks. Pictures also help reinforce an idea or easily explain what you mean (e.g., screenshots in a tutorial).

Finding pictures or photos to use your posts isn't terribly difficult. You can find many images at Flickr. Before you use them, though, make sure you check the Creative Commons licensing of the photo. Many (but not all!) of the photos on Flickr are licensed such that it's OK to copy or display the work so long as you provide attribution. It's always a really good idea, though, to e-mail the owner and let them know you're using their photo, have provided attribution, and where they can see the post where you used their work.

Lise explains How to use Flickr to find pictures for your ads. Yes, she's discussing ads, but her article easily translates to finding pictures for your blog as well. She explains what Flickr is, what Flickr tags are, and why you may want to use Flickr instead of Google to find an image. "When you search Flickr, however, you’re searching images that have been tagged by a human being. There’s no commercial content, or irrelevant text to throw you off course."

Other places you can find free or inexpensive royalty-free photos:

Most photo files, when you just download them from your camera (especially if you're using RAW mode), are huge. If you try to insert them into your post (even if you auto-resize them in your editor) will load slowly. If you find a photo online to use in your post, chances are it's already in a usable, compressed format. If you want to use one of your own photos, you'll need to tweak it a bit to optimize it for the web.

David Leggett of Tutorial9 reminds bloggers that "When saving for the web, it’s always important to consider the quality of the image, and the size of the image in order to provide visual clarity without slowing performance." He has a tutorial called Saving Images for the Web that will help you do just that.

In her article Learn How To Crop, Tone, and Optimize Photos, Mindy McAdams offers explanations and links to tutorials to help you make the most of your personal photos before you include them in your blog post. This post is number eight in a series Ms. McAdams wrote entitled Reporter’s Guide to Multimedia Proficiency and is definitely worth studying.

Adding photos to your blog will help build your blog content, enhance its look and feel, and reinforce the point your trying to make. Let me know how using photos has helped you in your blogging. Did you see a rise in visitors or comments? Do you prefer blog posts with or without photos?

Tutorials:

Melanie Nelson writes tips and instructions for beginning and intermediate bloggers at Blogging Basics 101. She is fully aware that this blog post has no photos.

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