Pictures for Blogs – How to Select Them Safely

July 8, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                  return to JayVee Media Link LLC

camera side viewHubspot’s Pamela Vaughan recently posted some information that addressed a fear every blog writer carries: being accused of using pictures without the permission of their owners.  The consequences of doing that, even innocently, can be severe enough to heavily strain our businesses…and our reputations.  Let’s get it right from the start:

**Finding pictures on Google Images does NOT mean we are free to use them.  Most of them belong to their posters, and using them without express permission will run us afoul of their ownership rights.

**Merely giving attribution to pictures we find on the internet is not enough to keep us out of trouble if we get caught.

**Remember trust but verify?  Trusting that pictures have Creative Commons licenses just because they say they do can also land us in hot water.  Take a look at what HubSpot experienced when the company used pictures clearly but incorrectly labeled under Creative Commons licenses.

camera self portraitThe safest way to post a photo is to create or take one ourselves.  Of course, that is much easier said than done.  We can also sign up for stock photo services. But buying the rights to use such pictures can cost a small fortune.  If budgets are tight and original work is out of the question, then due diligence must dictate our choices.  We need to research good sources for quality images that are free to use.  Most fall under the category of Creative Commons licenses, an easy way for their creators to allow sharing of their work.  Often the only requirement for using such licensed photos is giving proper attribution. Sometimes there is a request to include a designated link as well.  There may be additional requirements, so attention must be paid to the details.

Lilach Bullock recently posted a wonderfully informative article listing multiple sources of free-to-use and inexpensive photos.  Her post is a great resource and well worth reading:  “How to Find Free and Cheap Images for Your Blog.”

Harking back to Pamela Vaughan’s HubSpot horror story, we need to remember to use due diligence even when pics we wish to use are labeled with Creative Commons licenses.  We need to be sure the labeling is accurate.

Above all, we must remember that merely giving attribution may NOT be enough – especially if we can’t locate the licensing of the photos we wish to use.  We need to try locating the owners of the pictures so we may obtain express permission first.

How do you find safe images for your blog posts?  Which sites do you use?  Please share your experiences in the camera piccomments section below!

Advertisements

Your Content is Top Flight; How to Get it Seen

June 17, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                    return to JayVee Media Link LLC

first prize winning blogAs we know, content is the primary driver of activity and engagement in the social media realm.  We are aware that in order to inform, entertain and excite our target audiences, our original content must be

–created and shared consistently;
–well researched;
–high value in its ability to solve a problem or address a need;
–delivered in a personable, entertaining manner.

We even comprehend the importance of spelling, grammar, sentence structure and thought flow.  With all these bases covered, why are we STILL not seeing the traffic and response our posts should be receiving?

While what’s inside is what counts, without attractive “packaging” and unique presentation there is a good chance our content may be swallowed up in the sea of millions of other blog posts released every minute of every day, by every writer on the internet.  It is critical that we think outside the box in all possible ways to draw attention to OUR content.  Here are two strategies to help achieve that goal:

Looking Good!

font styles in book

I have a confession to make: I am a recovering Comic Sans junkie.  I wanted a different look when I started JayVee Media Link’s blog site.  The most common font I saw on others’ sites was Times New Roman; the second was Arial.  Both are attractive; but I didn’t want my site to look like all the rest.  Comic Sans appealed to me, and I didn’t see it anywhere else (my daughter told me there was a good reason no one used it, but hey, why listen to reason?).  I decided to go with Comic Sans, laughing off my daughter’s humiliation.  Just over a year later I came across a terrific post: Best Fonts for the Web, by Kathy Marks. Nowhere on that list was Comic Sans!  That, coupled with other scathing comments I saw convinced me to FINALLY ditch that font in favor of Verdana (to the thrill and delight of my daughter!).  But seriously, it is a great idea to research a different look for our blog pages.  Pick a font that works well, and that preferably isn’t too widely used.  It’s a great way to stand out while nicely complementing the eye catching optimized pictures we add to our posts.

The WOW Factor

With outstanding blog posts ready to be shared, how do we convince our target audiences to click our links?

1. We can use the power of our pictures.  Rather than uploading our blog posts’ links directly to our social media sites, upload their best pictures. When we do, they open in an eye catchingly big way.  Before posting add short teasers and the links to their corresponding blog posts in the accompanying text.  We can also pin those attention-grabbing pictures on our Pinterest boards or share them via Instagram, again with links back to their corresponding blog posts.

2. Google “social media sites.” Entry after entry comes up, offering information about countless platforms that exist.  Some may cater to specific interests or fields; others may be broad like the big guys, but more modest in membership numbers.  Chances are BECAUSE they are smaller platforms there may be less competition among blog posts.  That means ours have a better chance of being seen and shared.  It is worth doing some research into whether any of these social media platforms that are considered “second string” to the most popular sites might return better results than those biggest ones, and hence should be included in our sharing activities.

Vine and Dubbler logos3. With the introduction and rapid rise of innovative social sharing sites such as Vine, which allows us to create 6 second looping videos, and Dubb, in which we can create audio recordings of up to one minute, we have an opportunity to put a truly novel twist on our blog sharing activities!  Why not create enticing audio or visual teasers, and link our resulting presentations to our blog posts when sharing?

For a more expansive look at these options plus more, Kimberly Reynolds’ post “5 Creative Ways to Drive More Traffic to Your Blog Posts” is an invaluable resource!

These days there is a tremendous amount of competition across the worldwide web.  We need to rise above it all if we are to get our content noticed, appreciated and shared.  How do YOU accomplish this daunting feat?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Instagram: An Awesome Social Media Tool

November 19, 2012

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                              return to JayVee Media Link LLC 

JayVee Media Link picture uploaded via Instagram appInstagram may have started out as a fun and easy way to share photos from our smart phones.  But it has rapidly become an indispensible tool for social media marketers.  There is no easier way to upload pictures to our companies’ social profiles or to capture imaginative photos for posting to our blogs.

Instagram’s main appeal for marketers is its ability to expedite the building and engaging of our brands’ followers via the visual medium.  Our smart phone cameras, which give all but the most professional grade photographic equipment a run for their money these days, are always available for capturing appropriate photos to suit our marketing needs.  With a click of the “share” button, the mobile app eliminates the intermediate steps of downloading our pictures from a traditional digital camera’s memory sticks to our computers, and then uploading them to our desired sites. The process is quick and easy. The app also has some neat filter options for photo enhancements. And now our pictures are viewable on a web based profile, too!

Thanks to Instagram we can seamlessly post and share pictures of:

–our products or services in action;

–satisfied clients using our products/services;

–events or objects that are associated with our businesses;

–events or subjects that humanize our brands.

Enterprising marketers can even run photo contests for their fans/followers by having them upload hashtagged pictures via the Instagram app!

Instagram Photo Grid and Textgram sample picture  collage with text**BONUS INFO**  Instagram has a couple of “cousin apps” that add versatility to its functionality.  One is called Photo Grid.  As the name suggests, it enables the creation of collages, which can then be shared via Instagram.  The other is Textgram.  This app allows text to be added to our pictures.  Working with these three apps expands the horizon of possibilities for the pictures we upload to our business sites.

We go nowhere without our mobile phones these days.  That means we have cameras with us everywhere we go.  Whether spontaneously clicking on an impromptu scene that gives our clients and followers a glimpse into the human side of our brands or staging a shot to enhance our blog posts, our Instagram enhanced smart phones are at the ready for our easy use.

How do YOU use Instagram to benefit YOUR business?  Please share your ideas in the comments section below!

In Social Media, a Picture is Worth 1,000 Words

July 16, 2012

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                                 return to JayVee Media Link LLC

Twitter blog post pictureWe love pictures!  They draw our eyes, offer a respite from line after line of written text, and make posts more interesting and attractive.  They are our favorite part of any reading material, on or offline.  There’s no getting away from the fact that we are visual animals!

Knowing this fact and capitalizing on it yield great benefits as we attempt to draw readers to our blog posts.  There are a few things we can do to maximize the good pictures do for us:

  1. Choose appropriate pictures.  Obviously, we want photos that are related to the subject we are covering.  We don’t want to post pictures just for the sake of posting them, for that would risk confusing our readers.
  2. picture in my blog post

  3. Get permission, and give proper credit!   Other people’s pictures are their property.  We wouldn’t steal someone’s personal property, right?  Anytime we use pictures that are not our own, we need to make every effort to obtain permission for their use.  And absolutely assign credit to the pictures’ owners.
  4. Don’t overdo!  Remember the old saying, “Too much of a good thing…?”  While pictures are a wonderful asset for our blogs, too many of them can be distracting.  We want to complement our written efforts, not overwhelm them!
  5. Optimize those pictures.  We may love pictures, but they are invisible to search engines, which can only scroll through text.  We need to help our posted photos get noticed by optimizing them.  When posting, we are given a chance to add alternate text.  Take advantage by adding a short, keyword rich description of the pictures we are posting in that “alt text” box.
  6. adding alternate text to blog post pictures

  7. Don’t forget to pin them!  For those of us on Pinterest, pinning pictures from our posts is a great way to drive traffic back to our blog pages/websites!  Don’t miss that opportunity!

Pictures are one of the most important ingredients we can use in our blog posts.  Let’s take advantage of all the perks they offer!

How do you maximize the benefits pictures bring to YOUR posts?  Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below!