Taking stock: Beautifying your blog on a budget

Let images do some writing for you. The photo below sets the tone for this post and hopefully sparks some interest.


I grabbed this image from iStockphoto.

I could have chosen any image to use as an example, but this one fit my mood this rainy Saturday morning.

Over on the awesome copyblogger site, Sonia Simone talks about using images to get the biggest bang out of a blog post (while putting in the least amount of work). Wouldn’t we all love to get on with more important stuff–for me that’s writing fiction–not to mention spending time with my husband and my dog.

Sonia says, and I agree, writing a great blog post is a lot of work. There’s the planning, the headline, the writing, the rewriting, the rewriting, the rewriting.

Images are steroids for your headline, you can set an emotional tone and arouse curiosity through pictures. What fun.

Sonia suggests two sources to grab images. The first is iStockphoto, which is my favorite. It has a wide selection of stock photography at very good prices. For a blog post, you can use their smallest size image, which will run you a little over $1 depending on how many credits you buy at a time. I downloaded the picture above from the dollar bin of iStockphoto. I also did a search on “Halloween” and found 15,256 photos to choose from.

Photo by freeparking

The second source Sonya suggests is the Flickr Creative Commons, which is where the non-copyright images on Flickr are found. Each image is available under one of six customized licenses built to influence where and how each image can be used. From the Flickr Creative Commons page, you can enter search portals for each of the six licenses.

I didn’t like Flickr as well as iStockphoto because I found the different licenses confusing. Still, the photos on Creative Commons are free, as long as you credit the photographer. And I found Skellie’s article A Complete Guide to Finding and Using Incredible Flickr Images helpful in explaining the six licenses.

I did the same search for “Halloween” under the Attribution Licensed photos and got 25,550 matches. This license allows you to modify the images (by cropping them, or writing on them, for example) and to use them in both commercial and non-commercial spaces. The only requirement is that you credit the author with a link back to their profile. Other licenses restrict users, for example you can download the images, but not modify them.

You’re forbidden to use Flickr images marked as copyrighted (or “All rights reserved”) for your own purposes unless you get explicit permission from the author. Who has time for that?

Time for me to quit procrastinating querying agents, submitting my short stories and writing new work. Although playing with images was certainly much more fun. I don’t think I’ll get much more writing done today. Harry and I plan on watching some scary movies this afternoon–the rain suggests cuddling indoors.

Thanks to my marketing writer husband for the post title.

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One Response to “Taking stock: Beautifying your blog on a budget”

  1. Good suggestion on iStockPhoto — I used it to get the cover art for Dragon Stones and it came out looking much more interesting than your standard issue dragon picture.

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