If you’ve been blogging for awhile you’ve probably heard a good amount of discussion surrounding images. Still, I think it’s worth it to make sure the basics of images are reviewed. Using the wrong image could result in receiving a lawsuit costing thousands of dollars in lawyer and licensing fees.
That may sound dramatic, but just last week a long-time blogger acquaintance of mine was sent a large bill with a cease and desist for using an image on her blog that another blogger had given her. To make a long story short she posted the image as part of a requirement for a link-up she participated in and several months later she found herself facing thousands of dollars in fees because she didn’t take the time to track down the origin of an image.
Do I Really Need an Image?
Considering the hassle, you might feel that an image is a waste of time, but the answer is yes you really need an image. Consider the blog posts that catch your attention on social media. Our eye is drawn to images in the middle of rows and rows words. Pictures can give your reader an idea of what the blog post is about as well as help it to stand out in a crowd. A quote that is pulled out and placed on a colorful background does the same.
An image highlighting the blog title or subject should be thought of as a necessary step when posting on a blog on a website as well as social media. Adding pictures or images throughout the blog post will also add interest.
Besides drawing attention to a blog or making it more eye appealing, adding an image is a key step in the process of optimizing your blog content. Setting an image in a post and taking steps to optimize it for web crawlers will help search engines like Google decide if your content will answer the query a searcher entered.
Many people take their own photos to use on their blogs. Although this is perfectly acceptable, it can be a hindrance to those of us without high-quality cameras. Thankfully, several websites offer amazing images for free. When seeking out a free photo you will need to confirm that it is either a Public Domain classified photo, or part of the Creative Commons.
Pexels, Pixabay and Canva are my favorite sites for finding free pictures. The great thing is that these images able to be used at any time. I love this explanation from Pexels:
It's hard to understand complex licenses that is why all photos on Pexels are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. This means the pictures are completely free to be used for any legal purpose.
- The pictures are free for personal and even for commercial use.
- You can modify, copy and distribute the photos.
- All without asking for permission or setting a link to the source. So, attribution is not required.
Essentially, using an image from a site that is part of the Creative Commons or Public Domain protects you from the risk of being sued for copyright infringement.
Sometimes you just can’t find the photo you are looking for on the free sites. This can happen if you are writing on a specific subject. There are several websites that offer an expanded catalogue of images. Some are sold individually, some sites you need to pay a membership fee to use. These websites will also highlight how they expect their images to be cited.
Taking the time to properly cite your image is a key aspect of ethical blogging. If you are using an image that is copyrighted you will need written permission from the owner of the image. You will also need to keep that permission on file for the extent of time that you are choosing to host the image on your website. A copyrighted image will need a proper citation on your blog as well. This doesn’t have to be done in a way that takes away from your content, but it is necessary.
For more information on when and how to cite an image in a blog post, as well as other resources read this post from the Chicago Manual of Style.
Tools to Create Images
As you are aware, there is more to using an image than simply downloading it and posting it to your blog. Creating an image for social media or your blog may require specific dimensions. Using a tool like Canva will make your job a thousand times easier. Pre-sized templates as well as dozens of shapes, colors, and pictures can all be utilized in Canva for free. This will allow you to not only resize an image, but to layer words or other features on the picture. If you can’t find something you like within Canva there is no need to panic, you also have the ability to upload any jpg file you desire as well as create a template with the specific dimensions you desire.
PicMonkey and Pablo are two additional options to consider for image creation. Many programs are available for purchase that will also allow you to create images of different sizes and dimensions.
One thing to remember when creating any image, whether with a picture or words, you don’t want your file size to be too large. Having a large file will result in slower website downloading for the viewer.
As you continue to grow your blog following you will find that your readers will want to promote the content they resonate with. Taking steps to create an image that will help identify your content more quickly on social as well as draw readers' eyes to your words will help your audience growth while telling website crawlers how to read your content more easily. It may take some time to create a great, properly cited image, but it’s worth it in the long run as you strive to develop excellent blog content.
Do you have a favorite image site that wasn’t mentioned? Let us know, we are always looking for the best tools to use!