You might think that it’s only your actual blog content that is going to get people to stop by and read, but images play a big role, too. They can help make your blog posts appear more professional and attractive, but that’s really only a small portion of their benefits.
Photo from fOTOGLIF
For one thing, the images can drive traffic to your blog. People search for usable photos just about as often as they search for information online. When you post a photo and use your blogging tool to upload it with a title, relevant keywords and a caption, you’re creating another way for people to find you on search engines. This can encourage them to either read your blog content while they’re already found themselves on your site, or give you a link back if they decide to use your image on their own blog or site.
(Quick note – I thought this was a great time to try out the WordPress free photo plugin from Crestock. Works GREAT just search “free photo” in your directory or download it here.
Of course, photo usage needs to be done carefully, or you might find yourself at the losing end of a lawsuit. Not all of the pictures you upload on your blog need to be yours, but these are the guidelines to follow before you put a picture on your post:
Check for copyright – you might find the copyright listed below the image as a caption, or sometimes on another page of the website. It may say that all images on the webpage are protected by copyright and that you need to contact a specific person, business, or website developer in order to get permission to use a picture
Make sure images used come from a press release – if you are writing about a business or service, you are typically safe to use their brand images, particularly a logo, especially if it has made an appearance in a press release
Make use of images that are free to use – sites like Flickr allow people to classify their images as free for use. For these images on Flickr, simply search for those pictures that fall under a Creative Commons license. You still need to link to your image source, but don’t need to worry about copyright violations. A list of other free sources for images is available at Blogsessive
Use stock sites – this isn’t the most desirable option, it costs money and the same images will appear over and over again online. But, if you purchase an individual image or have a subscription to a stock site, you earn the right to use the photo
If you’re not sure, ask! – if you’re not sure if you’re able to use an image or not, it’s always better to be safe. Send off a quick email to a contact listed on the site where you found the photo and ask! Tell them what you’re planning to use the image for, and 99% of the time, they’ll agree.
Of course, issues are not always preventable no matter how careful you are with your image use. I ran into a unique situation for the first time in my career. While profiling a business, I used their logo; only to be contacted later because an image that appeared on the logo didn’t belong to them. In a circumstance like this, the best bet is to apologize and pull the image from the blog.
Finding images just isn’t that hard, and it’s beneficial to your traffic if you do it right. So there’s no excuse not to have photos in most (if not all) of your blogs!
Beth Graddon-Hodgson is a professional writer/blogger and the founder of WriteSourcing a professional blogging, writing and editing service. You can read her posts on blogging for business here at the Wax blog every Tuesday.