It seems like it can take forever to find an appropriate royalty-free photo that is interesting, not the same generic business stock or ones that aren’t too amateurish.
Just the right image can prevent the ‘yawn effect’ and hook your visitor to read your piece with avid interest.
It may seem impossible to come across an image that makes you say,”That’s it!‘ – something so perfectly representing not only your message for this particular article, but indirectly reinforces your brand, personality and values as well. (Isn’t that a big part of why your readers eagerly seek out your writing, week after week?)
There are some ways you can get an arsenal of images that are just right for you and your work without costing an arm and a leg, or sapping hours of your time and energy scouring through thousands of photos online.
Here are some creative tips to help you find the perfect photograph for your purposes:
1. Be proactive and creative in your online search
Invest an hour per week browsing a few websites that offer royalty-free images proactively, not reactively (as in ‘Yikes I’m in a panic, need to publish in an hour and have no picture to go with my blog post!’).
Schedule a regular slot in your week for when you can peruse sites like Morguefile or Flickr Creative Commons . Save images that appeal to you/your work generally. Make sure to give proper credit to the photographer/source if you use their work found on Flickr.
As well, you can type in the tag or keywords you commonly use in the search engines on your blog/in your writing and see what serendipity searching can do for you.
Another effective filtering technique is to type an emotion, mood, exciting noun or adjective in the search engine and see what images come up.
Being more creative in your hunt for the perfect photo will yield better results, faster than typical subject searches!
2. Take pictures randomly wherever you go
These days most of us have a point-and-shoot camera that is compact enough to carry in our purse or pocket. We also have camera function and apps in our Smartphones or tablets, so we can thank technological advancements for making it pretty convenient now to be creative.
Everyday when you’re out and about, make an effort to be more aware of your surroundings.
Snap pictures often and on impulse.
You never know, one of those photos might be the exact image you’re looking for to accompany one of your future blog posts.
Don’t overthink the process and dismiss a good photo opp. You can always delete a dud but you’ll probably regret the photo not taken for a good long while (apologies to Robert Frost fans for using the obvious pun there).
Your camera and your open mind – don’t leave home without them!
Still think you don’t have the time or the inclination to take your own photos?
3. Recruit your kids!
If they are old enough, give them a sense of the kind of writing you do on your blog, and what your reading audience is interested in, and give them a camera and their ‘assignment’.
You can promise them credit for their photo, giving them publishing experience (ooh, fame!) for their portfolio should they be interested in pursuing a creative career. Writer Patrick Ross used a beautiful photograph to accompany one of his recent blog posts taken by his talented daughter so she’d have publishing credits for her college application.
4. Set the scene – compose/create a picture yourself
If all else fails and you really can’t seem to find the perfect royalty-free photo, take half an hour and set up and compose a picture yourself.
I didn’t have an appropriate shot to go with a recent post, so I pulled out one of my favorite writing books and borrowed a toy from Cinnamon and came up with the perfect photo for that particular piece of writing.
All in all, it took me about half an hour in total and it was fun to put together. I still smile when I look at the results.
What other ideas can you think of to find the perfect free photo and/or image that you need to complement your online writing? Please share in the comments below.