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Looking Good: Simple Ways to Create Sensational Blog Images

This guest post is by Jo Gifford of Cherry Sorbet Creative.

Blogs that look great attract the attention of the reader, it’s as easy as that. Your content might be amazing but if your blog has a terrible aesthetic you are missing out on a slice of magic to make people enjoy their stay.

In 2011 visual social media platforms like Pinterest and insta.gram exploded in use, signalling a trend towards lifecasting in a more visual way, which applies to the blogosphere too; readers want your pages to look interesting. The more they stay on your site and engage, the prettier those stats look too.

This post gives some simple and easy ways to create and generate original and eyecatching imagery for blogs, without needing to be a designer. So, let’s get looking good:

1. instagr.am

Love it or hate it, instagr.am is a fantastic way to create eyecatching imagery for use on a blog, all from your mobile. I use inkstagram, which uses my instagram sign in to produce an easily scrollable stream (instagram itself is a little limited in image access). From there, I click on an image and copy the URL to add into the blog post. At this stage, the SEO savvy among you will want to make sure your image title and alternative text is changed to something relevant.

2. Screen grabs

Screen grabs of images or text can make an easy collage tool. If your screen is full of images, text, maybe a mindmap of work in progress, consider capturing the screen and taking it into an image editor for a vibrant and personal illustration for your blog.

3. Picnik

I love to use Picnik, an online image editor which is currently free in premium form until April when it is fully taken over by Google Creative kit. Both Picnik and the new Creative Kit in Google + allow images to be re-sized, effects added (including saturated and lomo effects), the inclusion of frames such as polaroids, and the addition of text too. This makes them great alternatives to Photoshop and are free resources online, so are easily accessible.

By editing and creating your own images you can have a fabulous looking blog post without worrying about Creative Commons licences or the dreaded copyright, and you needn’t be a designer!

4. Polyvore

Polyvore is a website used mainly by the fashion blogging world, but has useful features for all bloggers. Simply create an account, and go to “create a set”. You can then literally drag and drop a multitude of images including useful things like notebooks, post it notes, coffee stain and paint splash effects, alongside all sorts of images. Add text in some great fonts too by dragging and dropping text.

Once the set is finished you can click the “publish to WordPress” section; before you go ahead with it, simply copy and paste the code and add to your html section in your post.  Polyvore automatically includes links to the products in the set, but you can deselect the check boxes to have code without the links. Voilà, original, fabulous imagery with a footprint on another site to boot!

5. Collages

There are some great apps available to help you make collages for post inclusion. I currently use Picframe for iPhone and iPad which allows photos from your library to be added into collages. You can drag and drop, re-size and alter frame edges and effects, and also export to instagr.am to add a filter and share in your stream or on Flikr.

I also use a desktop application collage maker for larger and more complex collages—there are myriad options available and a quick google search will provide some free collage resources for you. I happen to use an Apple App store called Collage Maker, and I find it to be really handy and effective.

6. Camera

It’s great to take a camera put and about with you if you have one. I use a Nikon D40 to snap away at places, signs, buildings and all sorts of interest. You never know what might appear that has relevance to a blog post you are writing, and you can always crop in, edit the images and form as part of a collage. Using a digital SLR allows a igher resolution to zoom in and crops parts of images not so easily done with iPhonography.

7. Creative Commons search

Creative commons images are images licensed by the creators to be used with a attribution link. You can search for images using the Creative Commons search tool, which may produce some exciting work you have permission to include on your site. Remember to attribute where necessary though.

8. iStock

iStock is a fantastic and inexpensive library of images that are perfect for bloggers. Images and illustrations are purchased in block of credits, and web friendly images can be very cost effective indeed for the odd post here and there.

So, go forth and get creative! Your readers will love you, I promise.

Jo Gifford is a designer, writer, blogger and founder of Cherry Sorbet Creative. Working primarily in the beauty, fashion and lifestyle industries her work spans graphic design for print and web, social media management and training, copywriting and editorial for on and offline publications. You will find her blogging as Dexterous Diva, on Twitter both as Dexterous Diva and Cherry Sorbet, and on Linked In.

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Comments

  1. Mark says:

    Take a look at http://www.morguefile.com too, a great source for FREE images without a lot of copyright restrictions. Most images can be used & modified without restriction.

  2. Charlotte says:

    Thanks for the ideas, Jo. The Creative Commons section on Flickr is a very useful source of great imagery. I’ve found some stunning photographs on there that I actually prefer to the ones on iStock – they’re often more artistic and aren’t posed like a lot of the ones on more commercial sites.
    I’ve heard of Polyvore but never considered it for my blog. The functionality seems perfect though and will definitely give it a try! Now all I need is an iPhone so I can start using instagr.am!
    Thanks again for sharing!

  3. All very good suggestions. I know a lot of people love to hate Instagram, but the truth is that it is a powerful tool for bloggers to add an image the writer took himself/herself (as opposed to using Creative Commons – nothing wrong with that, but I am drawn to blogs with original photos). In this era of producing content fast fast fast, being efficient with time is key.

  4. Anne-Sophie says:

    Good stuff. I try to always have my camera with me, but I am not a very skilled photographer (yet). I don’t like using generic pictures from sites like iStock. Even if my pictures still look very amateurish, I prefer using them because it adds a more personal touch to my posts.

  5. Sarah Kolb says:

    Wow — I had never really thought of instagr.am as a blog tool before (usually I just see “artsy” pictures on Facebook), but this is a great idea. I use Creative Commons material, but it would certainly be fun to come up with my own blog images — thanks for the tip!

  6. Mike says:

    I think this is a great list. I don’t use images a lot because I am not always exactly sure how to incorporate that into my site. But perhaps I might have to get used to trying to incorporating some of those photos using these different sites.

  7. Necozio says:

    Very interesting article, especially for a beginner like me.

  8. K says:

    Some great information in this post as ever. In terms of themes for blogs I think that word press offers some great templates and also try Clustr maps to see where visitors are coming from.

  9. I take lots of photos of our fitted bathrooms for our blogs during a bathroom re-fit.
    I`ve never thought of using apps to help with our blog images.
    It is something i will check out now.

  10. Okto says:

    The unique role of an images in a blog, interesting post. This absolutely add something new in my blogging experience.

    @ Mark : Thanks for share the link! I will check it out :)

    Thanks for this great post

  11. kali whipple says:

    Thanks for your great tips! I will be sure to integrate some of these into my own blog.

  12. Liz Sinclair says:

    Very helpful suggestions – thank you. You make this sound fun, like digital arts & crafts. I’ll give it a try!

  13. Thanks for a useful post with some great resources.

    Personally, I set myself a mini-challenge for 2012 to only use Instagram pics I’ve taken to illustrate my stories. I blogged about why here: http://www.thisgeeksgoals.com/exercise/three-easy-blog-improvements

    And so far, so good. I’m enjoying the challenge and think that I’m expressing my personality to a far greater degree.

    I’ll be checking out some of the other options you’ve spoken about here though : )

    Thank!
    Mark

  14. For those of us in relatively tiny niches, relying on stuff like Flickr probably isn’t going to work very well in the long run – there just isn’t enough creative commons stuff to choose from on there yet, as great as that site really is (and yes, I agree that you can get as good stuff or better from Flickr than iStockphoto at times). So I’m definitely going to check out these alternatives – I WAS going to purchase PhotoShop to create more of my own stuff, but wow, the cost of that is just way too high at this time. So thanks for the tips!

  15. Rob G says:

    Great article there has been a lot of talk about this subject. Thank you for sharing.

  16. Another great source of free images is http://www.sxc.hu. Some require attribution and others don’t but you’ll get some really sweet images from there.

    Thanks for this list, Jo

  17. David L says:

    http://sxc.hu is another good free stock site you might check out.

  18. Gary says:

    Good list, but funny that a blog post about the importance of images has no images.

  19. Bob Angus says:

    Great imagery ideas. I’m definitely going to start using Polyvore as another source.

    I recently posted 31 Royalty-Free Stock Photo and Image Sites on my blog. Could easily have been 100+ as there are so many and sites that are focused on specific niches.

    Totally agree with Mark on http://www.morguefile.com/. They have some of the most creative, fresh imagery around.

  20. Jonathan says:

    These are all great tips on providing the readership with enough visual stimulation to come back. This is something that I am still trying to learn to incorporate in my blog however, will definitely be putting into use.
    Thanks for sharing!

  21. Yeah I agree with Sarah about instagr.am I never really though about it for blogs either. Thanks for the great tips.

  22. Hi all,
    Thanks so much for your comments, I am glad you enjoyed the tips. And Gary, yes I agree this post should probably have some images!
    I am doing an e-course on Idea Generation and Creativity for Bloggers which some of you may like.
    Have a look here:
    http://dexterousdiva.co.uk/e-courses/

    Take care everyone and have a fab weekend! Jo x

  23. Thanks for sharing, I’m always looking for new ways to get great images for my blogs, I also use Wordless to create beautiful word clouds.

  24. Craig Wilson says:

    Between all the posts I see some really great image sites, glad I strolled by. I haven’t been a big image user but I will be now! I know they can help with blog seo and other factors. My biggest interest is using them for Pinterest. Every since I closely read their TOS I quickly emptied my boards to re evaluate my use. I’d feel better about using true Royalty free pics and my own…thanks for great sources! Craig Wilson