Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Snappy advice about photos for your blog

create your own images using pic monkey
Blue sky thinking

Your blog will look better - more interesting and attractive if you add some images. Not only do they illustrate the point you're trying to make, but they break up blocks of text making them more tempting to a potential reader. 

But you can't just go taking pictures from anywhere you like willy-nilly. In general they belong to the person who took the photo - not the person featured - and you can't just help yourself. 

Publishing a picture credit or link back to the source isn't going to cut it. Instead, here are my suggestions for images you can use. 

Take your own. The easiest source of images is your own camera - the one on your phone is good enough. Just remember to wipe the lens clean of finger marks and hold it still enough to focus. 

Make your own. If your photos are a bit, well, meh you can try the various fancy (and free) editing features on PicMonkey to make it more interesting. You never know, you might even look like you planned it all along. 

Enhanced photo
I took this one of Mark from Black Cab Quotes and, hopefully, rescued it
from being me with a bit of editing
Create your own. You can also use PicMonkey to add words or to create collages. Try something different and start with a screen grab if you fancy. 

Beg and borrow. Just ask. Often the owner of a striking image on a blog or other website will be delighted to share it with you - just ask first. Manners and all that. Actually it's more than good manners, taking someone's image is theft.

Use creative commons. Search for images on Flickr, the huge image hosting website, that are under a creative commons licence. That means the owner is happy for people to use them. Just check the conditions of use and comply with them.

Other freebies. Sites such as Dreamstime, Morguefile, Stockvault and DeviantArt have photos you can download for free. Just read the small print first. 

If all else fails, pay a photographer. A radical idea here - but the best person to supply excellent photos of your business to illustrate your blog might well be a professional photographer. 

Improve the photo's value. Your blog photos can also form part of the mix that lets people find your blog posts in a search engine.

  • Give the image a relevant name, don't leave it with whatever name the camera created. 
  • Add a caption, description and alt-tag. 

These things will help signpost the way to your post, your blog and your business.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

The blog posts that you don't need to write...

Blogging ideas in a nutshell 

You don't know it but you've already got dozens of post just about ready to go. They only need a minute or two's work. 

Yes, really.

For some folk the idea of a blogging seems like a massive chore - like clearing out the loft or doing the tax return. It really isn't, but sometimes it feels that way.

However you'll be delighted to know that the chances are you've got loads of posts sitting around your desk almost ready to go.

No, neither of us is losing the plot. It's just that anything you've written for your business is potentially the bones of a post needing the slightest tweak.

If you drafted a job advert, that would work. Start with the vacancy and talk about the amazing opportunity your organisation is offering. Outline the kind of team you're building and what the work is all about.

Did you send out any press releases this week? Then use the content on your own blog too. Clearly you thought you had a story to tell the world about. If that's the case tell your blog readers too. It helps to create a story of you and your brand too. 

Staff newsletter? The chances are that some of what you told your workers is of interest to your customers and potential customers too. Perhaps not the minutiae of the canteen opening hours, but that you have healthy food or how you encourage your staff to take their breaks. It all reveals a bit more about the kind of organisation you run. 

Have you written down your idea for something new. Maybe a recipe, a product or a service. Let the world know what you're thinking. The feedback might be useful. 

Something on social media. Was there a facebook update that got people talking? Or a tweet that stirred a response? These are the things you could put on your blog as you clearly pushed a few buttons. 

To-do list. Who cares what's on your to-do list? You'd be surprised. Let the public know the kind of things you do on a daily basis and you're giving them a peep inside your brand. 

Notes from a meeting. As long as you weren't sketching unflattering profiles of your colleagues, then spill the beans. What were your thoughts, what did you talk about? 

If you're stumped for ideas, take a look around inspiration might be closer than you think.