Wordsmiths may find it hard to believe, but research shows that people spend more time reading blog posts that have a good graphic element to catch the eye. So what makes a “good” graphic?
First off, the resolution for a web image doesn’t need to be as high as for a print image. In fact, having too high a resolution can slow down the time it takes to load your web page. Your blog software might make your image fit on the page so it displays small, but it’s really still the original size and the page will still load at that speed.
Check how many pixels wide your blog content area is so you can gauge the right graphic size. If your blog is 600 pixels wide and you want your picture to fill about a third of the page, your image should be about 200-300 pixels wide. If your image’s original size is 3320 x 2250, that’s way too big.
Conversely, if the photo you want to use is 40 x40, it’s possible to stretch it out to fill a 200 x 200 space, but it will look awful.
An easy and free way to resize images you have stored on your computer, without having to use special software, is to go to a website called www.picmonkey.com. Click on the “Edit” button and when the drop down menu appears, click on “Computer.” Your computer file system will appear in a pop-up box for you to choose the image you want to resize. You can also crop, mess with the colors and other fun things, but the important part is that you can then save the modified image in your computer for later use on your blog.
Harder than resizing is finding an appropriate image in the first place. There are zillions of photos and graphics online. Some are “royalty-free” and only charge a one-time fee. Others may come in packages for which you pay a monthly fee and are allowed to download a set number every month.
Authors, more than average Joes, know about copyright laws. There’s nothing more aggravating than finding out some stranger is profiting from your efforts, and photographers and graphic artists feel the same way. If you’re Googling for images to cut and paste, you’re probably infringing on someone’s copyright.
Getty Images, whose photos have been widely pirated, recently announced that they will allow “free embedding” of certain images for “non-commercial purposes.” Among other issues, the loosey-goosey definition of “non-commercial” has many bloggers concerned, so consider this option carefully before choosing it.
Another option is www.morguefile.com. Not all the images on this website are free, royalty-free or credit-free, so read the notes carefully. If a photo says “You are allowed to copy, distribute, transmit the work and to adapt the work. Attribution is not required,” you are probably cleared to use it on your blog.
The safest images to use are those you create yourself with your camera, pencil or other medium, so you might want to start an archive of your own photos. Get creative with your photos on picmonkey and make your blog posts especially unique!