I hope there is no debate among my readers that the value of a contextually relevant and visually compelling image in your blog post is massive. I try hard to avoid publishing a story of more than a few paragraphs without including a (hopefully) impressive-looking picture towards the top of the post. A picture does speak 1,000 words, and can have the effect of powerfully reinforcing your message. It can also be the different between a blog post that someone bothers to start reading, versus one where the reader never gets past the headline. No matter how good a writer you are, a big fat block of uninterrupted text is kind of daunting to most web-oriented “skim” readers (aren’t we all?!).
But if you’re like me, you are very picky about the images you use. You want the piccy that is just right for the story. So having a wide selection to choose from is the first and perhaps most important criterion.
Secondly, unless you’re in the top 0.1 per cent of bloggers who make a living out of it, you’re not flush with cash, and you don’t want to buy the image… you want a “Creative Commons”-type licensing regime that lets you reprint the piccy for free on your blog (maybe with a credit to the photographer, say).
Well friend, you’ll be pleased to know I have stumbled upon what appears to be the answer to your needs: a meta-search engine for free high-quality images called Yotophoto.
Here’s some of Yotophoto’s pitch, from their site:
Everyone has a blog or personal website these days, but most are very text-centric. Including images with postings enriches the experience of the reader and can also help to illustrate or support the writer’s viewpoint… We index various sources of free imagery on the web including Flickr, Wikipedia, Stock.Xchng, Morguefile, Pixelperfect Digital and OpenPhoto. We treat the sites we index as partners and respect the rights of the photographers whose images we index… Our philosophy has always been to cater not just to designers looking for fresh new image stock, but also those who are looking for images of historical, geographic, cultural or scientific significance. For this reason, Yotophoto will find images of varying quality- from historic turn of the century black and whites to modern cutting edge, artistic photographs.
And I’m pretty happy with the breadth and depth of what Yotophoto will find for you. I did a test search for “keyboard” (since it’s the keyword I’d use to find an image the likes of which I use in my current header), and Yotophoto returned 648 results. Not bad at all.
I haven’t had the time to go into much depth on this site yet. For example, I am not sure how smart Yotophoto is about telling the difference between the different kinds of copyright/left licenses a Flickr user can assign to their images… if someone else has more knowledge of that, please drop a comment in below.
So there you go. You now don’t have any more excuses for failing to embellish your blog posts with lovely on-topic images that you’re not breaking copyright to use on your blog posts.
Go for it!
(By the way, when I am not sure how to properly deal with “attribution” on Flickr and elsewhere, I typically link a photo back to that image’s page on the originating site, as I have done with the picture of the cat above. Is that common practice? I dunno for sure.)