We are living in an age where visual impressions seem to matter more and more. Images clamour for our attention, the flashing screens that occupy so much of our time both at work and at home carry everything from business to knowledge and entertainment. Whatever grabs out attention will have a distinct advantage over less visual presentations, from the book cover to the advert… regardless of the quality behind the brightly coloured façade.
It makes perfect sense, then, when we are told that adding an image to a post is a good idea. A post, update or tweet with an image will get, depending on your source, up to twice as much attention and engagement than its equivalent without, and it takes little thought to realise that blogs requiring little or no reading, but which focus mainly on images are easy to ‘like’, follow and share.
What if your blog is mainly text based though? It is, for many bloggers, the words that matter most… the books you are trying to promote, the message, story or information you want to share. There is still room for illustration… for an image that will capture both attention and imagination.
• The safest way to avoid any issues is to use your own images… photographs, artwork, or graphics. An image does not have to be fabulous to be effective!
• You can find images anywhere… but be aware of copyright restrictions and read Creative Commons licences to make sure you can use them. Do not alter or adapt other people’s images without permission or unless the particular Creative Commons licence permits derivative works.
• Look for public domain images online… there are many available.
• Search stock photos sites for free images, most sites have them available, but read the terms and conditions of use. Government bodies, like NASA for example, may also have freely usable images.
• Many bloggers, including me, are happy to have you use their images online, providing full credit and links are used back to the original page. If in doubt, ask.
• You can add online images by copying and pasting, or by using ‘add media> insert from URL’ though this may upset your formatting. You may also end up with a very large image. I find the least problems occur by saving the image to the desktop, uploading it and then you can choose the size and position without problems. It is useful to title photos appropriately. The ‘title’ does not show on the blog, but does allow you to find the shot again in your archives and can be useful in other ways too. You can also use the ‘title’ space to add any wording included on the photo… a quote or haiku for example… so that anyone visually impaired and using text to speech can still read the picture.
• To credit and link back to any image used from another site, the simplest way is to add the source as a caption, then , once inserted, highlight the caption and create a link with the URL of the original image or page.
• Unless you are a photographer/artist offering high resolution images, resize to around 1000 pixels on the longest side to save storage space. Using a lot of images soon uses up the standard WordPress allotment.
• You can crop, resize and add text to your own images with just about any free online photo editor… and even in the humble Paint programme on your PC. For more editing options, try Canva, Pixlr Editor, Pixlr Express (my favourite for very quick fixes) or PhotoFlexr.
• Have fuzzy images… right subject, poor photo? Or just need an artistic effect? Or even a bit of artwork for a book cover…Try Fotosketcher. Tip: If you download their programme, slower computers will work much quicker if the images are resized before using this programme.
Original rose photo, resized in Paint, showing three of the effects from Fotosketcher, collage via Pixlr Express,