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Blog Dos #3: Add photos to your blog posts

by Brian Brown (follow me on Twitter): August 23, 2006

Brian and ArgineThe most common suggestion I've made about the blogs I review is "add more photos." Why? It has been my experience that the two things that make me read a post while skimming a blog are the headlines and photos. If the headline is specific, descriptive, and interesting to me, I will read a post. In addition, if there is a photo that I find interesting, I will at least skim the first paragraph to see what the post is about.

Here's what to remember when adding a photo to your blog:

  • Quality isn't important. No one cares if you are a professional photographer, just like no one cares if you are a professional writer when they read your posts.
  • The file size of the photo is important. Use photo programs to make your photos between 5k-10k in size. Keeping the width of photos below 300 pixels is a great help to keeping the file size down.
  • Beware of copyright. Adding photos from other websites without permission is technically a violation of copyright law. Use your own photos whenever possible.*
  • One or two photos is enough. On most posts, this is the perfect number of photos and/or graphics.
  • Or, create a photoblog. Another great way to use photos is by creating a post that consists only of photos...like 4-10 of them. These can be great posts. Just let the pictures do the talking. For example, if you're an artist, just upload four photos of a painting at different stages in the process. No text needed.
  • The relevancy of the photo to the post is of minor importance. Ideally, the photo will show something that is referred to in your post, but even if the reference is a stretch, barely having anything to do with the post, the photo will still serve to attract curious eyes into what the post is about. For example, see how I worked a photo of me climbing a tree when I was a kid into a post. Didn't really add anything to the story, but it's visually interesting if not a fashion train wreck.
  • Finally, don't go overboard with pictures of yourself. It just looks self-serving. Check out Sweet Riot to see what I mean (I challenge you to find two posts with photos in a row where Sarah is not in one of the photos).

*Despite copyright violation, Pajama Market uses photos and logos from other websites every day. How can we get away with this? My policy is that I display photos and logos until asked to take them down. So far, no one has asked. There have been two cases where the blogger I reviewed had a very strict set of guidelines on their site regarding their photos. I still used the photos I wanted, but I took extra caution by sending an email to them and letting them know I was using a photo, asking them to let me know if it wasn't ok. Again, so far, no problems and I don't anticipate any in the future.

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Comments

Another way to get great photos is to search for photos at flickr that are licensed with a "Creative Commons" license which allows for copying. They have millions of them. I get almost all my photos that way and make a reference to the author of the picture.

Sweet idea. Thanks for the tip. Flickr rocks.

I run a blog about current events and post a pic with every entry. I use alot of photos from network news station sites so I always add a small credit underneath the pic.

Just to cover myself, I've emailed each of the main news sites I source pics from asking for permission. None of them have ever replied but I kept copies of the emails I sent as insurance.

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