Not all bloggers use images with their blog posts, or even in their website! So, it might be possible to build a huge readership without a single photo on your site.
But, there are several reasons why right kinds of images make the reader experience a lot better compared to a blog that consists only of plain text.
Beautiful images not only make your blog look more intriguing but also:
1. Grab the attention. Whenever someone visits your site, the first things he or she will look at are the images. If your images are stunning, the first impression will be very good.
2. Make reading easier. When you use images in right places, you give the reader an opportunity to have a little rest between large chunks of text.
3. Share a meaning. A picture is worth a thousand words, so never underestimate how well you can communicate with your readers through images.
4. Promote SEO. Google and other search engines look at the file names as well as the alt and description attributes, so using them correctly will help you to get more traffic.
How to choose images for your posts
Sometimes it is quite difficult to know how to choose the right images of millions of photos available online.
I always try to find visually beautiful photos that still are somehow connected to the topic of the blog post, but sometimes it is useful to use a photo that has nothing to do with the topic but is still intriguing and makes the visitor want to read the whole post.
One thing I think everyone should avoid is to pick photos that look amateurish or ugly. They are part of your site, so if the visitor sees low-quality, amateurish photos all over your blog, that’s the impression of your whole website, so try to pick only images that enhance the user experience – not images that make your blog look worse.
Often a visually intriguing image has nice colors, good contrast, or great composition to make it appealing for the human eye. One good way of finding the kind of image that will make your readers happy is to go through a lot of images and when a certain image grabs your attention completely, you have probably found a potential image for your blog post.
Where to find free images
Google image search is probably something that comes to mind first, when you think about finding images for your blog, but because of the possible copyright issues, it is better to use images that you know are free for everyone to use.
My favorite way of finding images is to use Flickr with the Creative Commons advanced search feature. Creative Commons images can be used royalty free just by attributing them to the author, and you can do that easily by putting a photo credit –link to the end of your post or under the image.
Here is a list of sites for finding free images:
Like I said, this is my favorite way of finding stunning free images. Try it if you haven’t already. Usually clicking “most interesting” –link in the search results gives you the best looking photos.
Sxc.hu is another really good site for finding free images, but the problem with it is that there is only quite a limited amount of really good looking photos. But it’s still a very good site that you should check out. If I wouldn’t be able to use Flickr, stock.xchange would be my choice.
This is a site I just stumbled onto. It’s a search engine for free photos that come from different sources. It seems to be quite good, even though I haven’t tested it thoroughly yet.
This site has mostly images of celebrities, sports, and travel. I must say that I am not a big fan of this site, because the image quality on average is not very high.
FreeFoto is even a little bit worse than PicApp – not that many images and the quality is a letdown. I would use this only if there were no alternatives, but maybe you can find a good image from this site as well if you are lucky.
Information about different Creative Commons -licenses
When you first start to look for images, different licenses can quite easily overwhelm you. At least for me the whole Creative Commons –system was unclear.
Here’s basic information about different types of CC –licenses:
- Attribution License
Attribution license means that you can use the image as you wish, both commercially and non-commercially, and also modify the image, as long as you credit the author by linking back to their profile.
- Attribution-NoDerivs License
Attribution-NoDerivs license is basically the same than Attribution license, but you are not allowed to modify the image in any way.
- Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License
This license is the same as Attribution-NoDerivs license, but you cannot use images with this license commercially.
The line between commercial and non-commercial is not always clear, but usually it can be argued that your blog is commercial if you have ads, products or online store there, so if you want to be on the safe side, it is probably better to use images with more flexible licenses, such as the two above.
- Attribution-NonCommercial License
You can display and modify images with this license in a non-commercial space with a link to the author’s profile.
- Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License
You can use photos with this license in non-commercial spaces with credit, but there is one extra requirement: You must link to the license page (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en) alongside a link to the author’s profile.
- Attribution-ShareAlike License
Photos with this license you can modify and use in any context as long as you link to the author’s profile and the distribution license for the photo (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en).
Spending too much time thinking about different licenses is not wise, so I suggest you only use the search for images with Attribution license. There are at the moment over 20.3 million photos in Flickr with that license that allows you to use the photo quite freely, so there’s no reason to make your life any harder.
Pick only the best photos that make your blog look intriguing and professional, and it will be a lot easier for you to find satisfied long-term readers.
PS. The photo of Angkor Wat temples in Cambodia is taken by me, so no attribution needed here.