This is the latest installment of Dear WordCount, an advice column that answers your questions about writing, blogging and running a freelance business.
Where do most writers get photos to accompany their posts? Do most buy a subscription at a stock photo service, and are there any do’s and don’ts to know about those services? Do writers spend a lot of time looking for and choosing the right photo? Some of the sites I’ve found offer so many photos, I can see this potentially becoming a time consuming step.
Adding photos to blog posts is smart, because they make your posts look more professional, because readers like them, and because Google notices them, which helps your posts appear higher in search engine results.
My standard fall-back source for photos is Creative Commons. It’s a clearinghouse of content, including images, that the license holders make available for other people to use online with limited or no restrictions. On the Creative Commons site, use a search window to type in keywords that describe the image you’re looking for. The site’s internal search engine will look through images from Google and Flickr and videos on blip.tv. If you see something in the search results that you’d like to use, click through to read what licensing rights the copyright holder is making available. Sometimes all they ask is that you identify them as the photographer when you run the photo.
Creative Commons is a helpful resource but doesn’t always have the images I’m looking for, so I’m constantly on the hunt for images elsewhere.
As a member of the BlogHer ad network, I used to have access to free photos and other images from a service called PicApps that had a deal worked out with BlogHer. However, PicApps ended its stock photo service in March, so I’m back on the hunt.
Other bloggers have good things to say about istockphoto.com, an online stock photo company that sells images for as little as 95 cents (based on buying mulitple “credits” toward photo images).
Some established bloggers argue that if you’re serious about blogging, you need to start paying for professional looking photos. One of them is Linda Formicelli, a freelance writer who blogs at The Renegade Writer, and discussed photos in a recent post debunking common blogging advice. “If you’re one of the sixty bazillion bloggers looking to monetize your blog, would it hurt to drop a few dollars to make your posts look attractive and professional?” she asks.
There’s another option: taking your own photos. You don’t need a fancy digital camera to take pictures. If you’ve got a smartphone, just point and shoot. You can post the photo to Flickr, Facebook or Twitpic, then copy and paste it into a blog post, or use WordPress’ QuickPress feature to put it directly into your blog.
What do you use for photos for blog posts?