Every blogger knows the value of using photos and other imagery to accompany blog posts. In fact, you’ll be hard-pressed nowadays to find a blog that doesn’t make use of photos.
People love images. And they’re far more likely to read a blog post when it’s supported by a great photo or graphic… no matter how amazing your content is on its own. For the vast majority of bloggers, including images in their posts is a given. But just because everyone’s using images, doesn’t make sourcing good ones any easier. Especially if you’re on a limited budget.
So, how do you add great-looking photos, images and graphics to your blog posts, without spending a pretty penny or two?
Free stock photos
This should go without saying, but DO NOT be tempted to pilfer other people’s photos from the web. The internet may seem a vast space with millions upon millions of images seemingly up for grabs, but don’t be fooled. With the advancement of image detecting tools and technology, your chances of being found out, called out, and even worse – sued – are higher than you might think.
If decent stock photos are what you’re after, and you’re after them for free, use one of the many free stock imagery libraries available online – and always be sure to check the site’s licensing and attribution rules. Stick with Creative Commons licensing, and always attribute images to their original source.
Flickr is the most commonly used free image library with Creative Commons licensing used by bloggers, but there are a ton of other options as well, offering varying degrees of quality and range. We won’t go into huge detail on them all here, because you’re likely to find the same five repeated in any web search: Stock.XCHNG, everystockphoto, openphoto, Morgue File, Unprofound.
Take your own photos
Chances are, you already have a camera on you almost 24 hours a day – just scroll through the tools and apps on your cell phone. And mobile phone cameras nowadays take pretty decent images – definitely high resolution enough to be suitable for web use.
You don’t have to be a professional photographer to take great images for your blog. All you need is your phone camera or handheld point-and-shoot, and if you’re not confident with your current skillset, there’s no greater way to learn than by playing around with your camera, photographing everything, and often, and reading a few handy hints online.
Create your own art
Crack out some coloured pencils or your kid’s paint set if you’re really feeling inspired, but creating your own art for your blog can be as easy as opening up one of the pre-loaded software programs on your computer, or downloading a free version. Scoff all you like, but some truly successful bloggers have created amazing art using the most rudimentary programs like Paint – and earned themselves a monumental fan following for their efforts (some of us are still praying to the blog-Gods for Hyperbole and a Half to make a comeback).
Start to scribble and see what you come up with. An increasing number of bloggers are opting for this option to align their imagery with their content – and personal connection to their own blogs – as closely as possible. Canva.com is a cool new tool that loads of bloggers are using to create some pretty impressive art.
Whip up an infographic
Infographics are hugely popular at the moment. Not just because they convey a message and data clearly and cleverly in an instant, but because they’re ‘pin-able’ and sharable. If you’re talking trends or statistics in your blog posts, why not use one of the free infographic creation tools online?
From easel.ly and infogr.am to picktochart.com and visual.ly, there are a growing number of these tools available – just have your stats at the ready, pick a template, play around with customisation, and away you go!
Illustrate a quotable quote
If you’re familiar with Pinterest, you’ll know that picture quotes have also become extremely popular and sharable visuals. The great thing about these images is that they’re also easy to create. Do-it-yourself with a photo you’ve taken, or one you’ve downloaded from a free image library, and place your chosen text over the top with a simple editor like SketchBook Express for Mac.
Let’s not forget the basic graphics you can create in programs like Excel and Word, or screenshots like the one pictured above – particularly for how-to blogs, where you have the chance to walk readers through an online process with step-by-step instructions.