Finding and using images to make your blog posts more appeaking to the eye has become something of a minefield.
There are typically three main techniques that bloggers use…
Secondly you can use image search engines like Pinterest and Google Images to find relevant images, then use them on your site hoping that you’re not partaking in copyright enfringement and that if you are, nobody notices. Clearly, this is a recipe for disaster and is strongly recommended against.
Lastly, you can make use of royalty-free stock images that are made freely available to bloggers like you and me through the Creative Commons licensing process. In this way, millions of images are available for you to use in exchange for a small link that acknowledges the original owner of the photo.
So how do we find these Creative Commons images? Fortunately there are plugins to help…
Photo Dropper is the original WordPress plugin that I have personally used for several years in order to quickly find and add Creative Commons images on Flickr and insert them straight into my blog posts.
One particular factor about the Photo Dropper plugin that I like is simply that the attribution link is automatically added to my blog posts without me needing to manually put any extra effort in.
Even better, this link is added to the *end* of your blog post rather than the beginning which helps to focus my visitors on reading my content and clicking my affiliate links than clicking over to the photographers website.
Sadly though, for me Photo Dropper has become rather buggy thanks to some recent plugin updates and the search feature is now unreliable at best. So while I still use Photo Dropper from time to time, I now also use a “backup” plugin that has far more predictable results.
Flickpress is possibly the most feature-rich of the free image plugins and requires some time to properly set up. For example you’ll need to get a Flickr API key and insert the details here.
You’ll also have to enter all sorts of additional options to control what sorts of images you’d like to search through, the design and placement of the attribution link and how you want the plugin to function.
That said, this initial work is a one-time setup and thereafter finding and adding images is just as simple as when using any of the other competing plugins here. Indeed, the fact that Flickpress offers so many options can make it the ideal solution for those using custom WordPress themes to ensure that the images inserted are perfectly formatted.
Flickr Pick A Picture
Flickr Pick A Picture is a very simple plugin indeed but with a couple of features that help it to stand out from the crowd. Firstly, the Creative Commons attribution link is automatically added as an image caption rather than a stand-alone link within your blog post. Each person will have their own opinion in which option they prefer – just be aware that if you prefer the “caption” alternative then this may well be a plugin worth you checking out.
The other feature worth noting – which I personally think is a really nice touch – is that the image you select is first placed into the standard WordPress image editing application rather than being simply pasted straight into your post.
In this way you have more control over the image – for example you can specify your preferred dimensions, you can add ALT tags and specify the alignment too so that the image is perfectly formatted for your blog design.
This is in contrast to most of the other plugins mentioned here where you really only specify the size initially. If you want to make any other modifications you’ll need to click on the image and then make changes from the popup box.
If you’re fussy about presentation this may save you considerable time.
In contrast to most of the other WordPress plugins mentioned in this article, Zemanta searches through the Wikipedia database of Creative Commons images rather than Flickr. Whilst this is still a large directory I have generally found the breadth of images here less impressive than over at Flickr.
Zemanta is an interesting plugin because it automatically does the searching for you – based on the content of the article you’re writing. As you type, it analyzes the text and then calls up images on the right-hand side of the page that may be of use to you.
The fact that the plugin is “reading” your post can make it a little slower than many other plugins mentioned here – but it can also be very good at finding relevant images and I often find that when using Zemanta I end up adding far more images to my posts than when using competing plugins.
Adding any images that you like also couldn’t be much simpler with Zemanta – if you see any images you like then you can simply click them to automatically paste them straight into your blog post. Alternatively you can use the search feature to look for other relevant Wikipedia images to add.
Compfight is an incredibly simple plugin to use. Once installed all you need to do is click the little “camera” icon when writing or editing a blog post and a search window appears. Type in a keywird phrase relevant to your blog post and you’ll find all manner of Flickr photos ready to add to your blog. All you need do then is select the size of image you’d like and click the link to add it to your blog.
In my experience of testing out Comfight, the plugin works admirably and the options page gives a good number of options that you can configure to ensure it works just as you’d like. For example you can specify the size of the images that you’d like the plugin to insert and also where you’d like the attribution link to appear.
In my opinion from testing out all the plugins here over the last few months this is probably the best “all rounder” that combines a reasonable number of options with simple, effective usability.
This is a guest post by Richard Adams who writes about ecommerce technology over at TechToucan.com.