If you’re not a designer, one thing that may well strike fear into your heart is the prospect of sourcing or creating graphics and images for a blog. This week, we’re looking at some fantastic free tools and resources that can help you create graphics and images like a pro.
Are graphics or images for your blog really necessary?
Although many people choose not to incorporate any images in their blog articles, there are plenty of reasons to use some visuals.
We’ve all heard the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words, and graphics or images are a simple way to show visitors to your blog what an article is about before they’ve even read a word. A recent report by Xerox shows that coloured visuals in a blog increase people’s willingness to read a piece of content by a whopping 80%!
Supporting graphics can also help people retain information for longer. Stats reported by lifelearn.com about infographics show that when people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, retention levels after three days shoot up to 65%.
Marketer, Jeff Bullas, reports that articles with images get 94% more views than articles without images, while the use of images in blogs has also been shown to significantly increase engagement on Facebook and other social media platforms. Once again, this is because an image communicates a blog topic at a glance.
Sourcing images that are free to use
One of the challenges that you may have, especially if your marketing budget is tight, is how to source images that are free to use or adapt for the purposes of your own marketing, including use on your blog. You can’t just take any image you see online and use it for your business – this is theft and a breach of copyright that could potentially be very damaging and expensive.
It is imperative to only choose images with the appropriate license attached to them – the most common is the Creative Commons license. As defined on Wikipedia:
A Creative Commons (CC) license is one of several public copyright licenses that enable the free distribution of an otherwise copyrighted work. A CC license is used when an author wants to give people the right to share, use, and build upon a work that they have created. CC provides an author flexibility (for example, they might choose to allow only non-commercial uses of their own work) and protects the people who use or redistribute an author’s work from concerns of copyright infringement as long as they abide by the conditions that are specified in the license by which the author distributes the work.
What this means is that you may find images online that have different conditions attached to their Creative Commons license. For example, someone may give you permission to use their work if you belong to a not-for-profit organisation or if you don’t adapt it in any way. Others may only let you adapt their work if you credit them and make clear how the image has been changed from the original, or you could be given free rein to make any changes you want without attributing the work to the photographer.
Where can you find free images?
If you are looking for free images for your blog, there are a number of good websites. The quality of images on these sites varies, but if you spend some time digging around and try different searches, you should hit gold.
At pixabay.com, you will find over 590,000 free photos, vectors and art illustrations that are released free of copyrights under Creative Commons CC0. This means that you are allowed to download, modify, distribute, and use the images royalty-free for anything you like, even in commercial applications, without giving attribution to the creator. There’s a nice little feature that lets you donate the price of a coffee, if you’re so moved, by PayPal but it’s not compulsory.
Morguefile is another site where images, vectors and art illustrations can be downloaded and used free of charge without attribution and for commercial purposes. It’s a good idea to check the terms of each image’s license before downloading it. Generally speaking, the only caveat is that you don’t use the images in a standalone manner and present them as your own work.
Stock Snap works in a similar vein to Pixabay and Morguefile, and features some fantastic images. You might also want to try the Snappo graphic editor, which lets you create your own memes and professional-looking graphics for your blog. You can create and download up to five custom-made graphics a month using the free package.
Unsplash releases ten new dramatic high resolution images free for use under the Creative Commons license every ten days. There are some real gems on here.
Gratisography is another great source of free images that you can use on your blog. Some of the images on this site are fun and quirky, and offer something a bit different to other stock images.
Splitshire is a collection of photographs from web designer, Daniel Nanescu. Rather than leaving his images to languish unseen on a hard drive, he releases them to be used by anyone in personal and commercial projects under the Creative Commons license.
Life of Pix features some stunning free high-resolution photos with no copyright restrictions. It’s well worth an exploration.
Picjumbo is a free stock photo site created by designer and photographer, Viktor Hanacek. Again, the images are free for commercial use, but should not be sold by you or available for free download from your website to your clients without buying the Picjumbo redistribution license.
Another option to find images for your blog is to use Flickr. However, it’s important to be aware that images are shared on Flickr under lots of different license terms. Some are only for viewing, some can only be downloaded for personal projects, some cannot be used commercially, and some can be used but not adapted. If you see an image marked ‘All rights reserved’ then you cannot use it for any reason, although some photographers do say that you can contact them to ask for permission to use an image.
Using infographics on your website
But what if you would prefer to use an infographic on your blog instead of, or as well as, an image? Or what if you want to turn an image into a meme, perhaps by adding an inspirational quote over the top of the image?
Canva is a fantastic and user-friendly tool that gives you everything you need to create graphics or memes for your website without spending a penny. To get you started, there’s even an Infographic category with a selection of templates on which to base your new infographic. While many of the elements on Canva are free of charge, some are only available for a small fee. Look in the bottom left hand corner of each element to see if it says FREE or features a dollar sign.
PicMonkey is another excellent picture editor tool with many free elements to help you transform images, and create graphics or infographics. Some elements are only available if you pay for a Royale subscription – there is currently a 30-day free trial if you want to see what is different about the Royale package.
Easel.ly is a website that features thousands of free infographic templates and design objects that you can customise to create and share your visual ideas online. Using the site is as easy as dragging and dropping design elements. You can either choose a template from the extensive library, or upload your own background image and start from scratch.
Piktochart is a popular tool for creating infographics. As well as paid-for packages offering more options, there is a free lifetime option that gives you access to templates and over 4,000 design elements.
Using a graphic designer
Another option, of course, is to enlist the services of a graphic designer to source stock images and create branded graphics and infographics for your blog. The benefit of taking this route is that your visual identity will look consistent and professional throughout your blog, as well as being completely unique to your business.
If you need help with creating images and graphics for your blog, and would like some professional input to help you achieve the right identity for your business, give us a call at Grafixbiz on 01733 308198.
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