May 10th, 2017

How To Find Free Images To Use On Your Website

Quality images are important to the success of your website. While they don’t replace high quality content, they help keep people interested in your content. The challenge is in finding free images to use.

Safest, of course, is to use images you have created yourself. Photographs you’ve taken and graphics you’ve created completely on your own free you from worries about copyright issues on the images. You may still need to consider how you’re portraying products visible in your images.

It’s not always practical to create your own images, however. It’s extra work, and you won’t always have time to create the image you want. It is often easier to seek out images online. That makes it important to consider copyright.

What Should You Look For?

Knowing the copyright status of any image you use is vital. If you can’t figure out the copyright status of an image, assume it exists and that you cannot use the image. That’s safest.

Creative Commons

A very helpful form of copyright is called Creative Commons. This allows owners to declare what level of protection they want on their images. If you want to use an image on a website that you earn money from, you want images that allow commercial use. But there’s more to it than that.

You will also need to pay attention to whether or not use of the image requires attribution. You must give credit to the creator of the image if they require it.

You must also note whether you are allowed to change the image at all. Some want no changes at all to their images if you use them.

There’s also a Share Alike possibility, which means that anything you create from their image must have the same license.

Creative Commons 0 (CC0) may be the easiest license to deal with. That places the image effectively in the public domain. You can use it, change it, and you don’t have to give attribution.

Make sure you understand which Creative Commons license applies to any images you use that show it. If someone goes through the effort to put a Creative Commons license on something, it makes sense to follow those rules.

Public Domain

Images go into the public domain when they’re old enough. When that is can be complicated. You can read up on it here.

Once you’ve done that, I hope you’ll see why there isn’t any one answer I can give there. Many things published before 1923 are in the public domain, but that’s not a guarantee. Some older items will still not be public domain because they were never published, and so remain under copyright longer.

Where To Find Images

You can search sites such as Flickr for images with no known copyright restrictions. It’s one of the options you find when you do a search. If you don’t see it right away, do a search, and the results page should have the option to narrow it down by copyright.

flickr screenshot cats

Google Images allows you to search by usage. Do your search, then click on Tools. Click on Usage Rights, then select the appropriate level. It only goes to “Labeled for reuse with modification,” which will usually be enough. Google search can be easier than searching some of these sites, plus it’s searching all over the internet, rather than a site at a time.

Click on any image you’re considering, and go to the site it is on. Don’t download it straight from Google. Check the license as listed on that site so you know what you’re getting.

Google Images screenshot cats

No matter what site you find an image on, even if I’ve listed the site here as a safe one, check the terms of use on the image itself. Do not take my word for it on the safety of any images on these sites. I don’t control them, terms can change, and if someone uploads something copyrighted and claims there’s none, that has nothing to do with my advice. Some sites allow contributors to declare a particular license rather than default to CC0 or similar, and so may have a mix of licenses on the site.

Most image sites also have ads on them, and it may be difficult to tell whether an image is going to lead you to a paid site instead. Watch your sources!

Barn Images
BossFight
Fancy Crave
Foodies Feed
Gratisography
LibreShot
Life Of Pix
Negative Space
New Old Stock
Open ClipArt
Pexels
PicJumbo
Picography
Pixabay
Public Domain Archive
Public Domain Pictures
Skitterphoto
SplitShire
StockSnap.io
Stockvault
Unsplash

How to Research Images

If you want to know more about where an image comes from, you can do a reverse image search. TinEye is a good resource for this. You can also use Google Images to do a reverse image search. It’s not a bad idea to check on images you’ve downloaded, for your own safety. I can’t promise that you’ll always spot the copyright if there is one, but it may help.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

April 20th, 2015

How Well Does Your Website Cope With Mobile Devices?

How Well Does Your Website Cope With Mobile Devices?

If you pay much attention to your website stats at all these days, you know that mobile is huge. For this website, just under half my traffic comes from desktop computers – the rest is all tablets and cell phones. It’s not something you should ignore, especially with Google now penalizing websites on mobile search if they aren’t mobile friendly.

You can start checking this out with a simple tool from Google to see whether or not they consider your website mobile friendly.  This won’t show you how your website looks to visitors, but knowing whether or not Google considers your website to be mobile friendly is a good place to start.

But Don’t Most Smartphones Display Websites Just Fine Anyhow?

It’s true that most smartphones do a pretty good job of displaying websites. Screen sizes have increased through the years, and quality in general has gone up. But not everything works right on every mobile device if you haven’t planned for it.

Your font sizes may be too small, for example, for a smaller screen. You might have links set too close together to be easily used on a smaller screen. Your layout may come out really weird or just be too wide for the phone’s screen. When in doubt, it’s best to check things out so you know how your website works on different screens.

There are tools, such as Browserstack, Sauce Labs, and ScreenFly.  Some are free and others require you to pay. It’s absolutely worth it to know what your website looks like, and even how it works on a wide variety of browsers, devices and screen sizes, even beyond the simple question of “is my website mobile friendly?”

It may sound like a lot of work to get your website ready. Messing around with the way your website works can be time consuming or expensive, depending on whether you do it yourself or hire somebody. Fortunately, there are a variety of options.

WordPress Plugins

If you run your website using WordPress, getting mobile ready may be as simple as using a plugin. The plugin detects whether a visitor is on a mobile device or a computer, and shows the correct version of the site. Here are a few options:

WPtouch

This is what I used first when going for a more mobile friendly website. It’s very easy to use. The options are pretty basic – you can customize colors and other aspects of your website’s mobile appearance. There’s also an option for visitors to switch over to the regular version of your website, which can be useful. You can get more features if you buy the pro version.

WordPress Jetpack

Jetpack is a plugin that comes from the developers of WordPress, and it does a lot more than offer a mobile theme. It also gives you access on your self hosted WordPress blog to features offered on WordPress.com, such as stats, site management, subscriptions, comment forms, image carousels and more.

WordPress Mobile App

WordPress Mobile App makes your website look and feel more like an app when someone views it on a mobile device. You can customize the appearance, and all content is synced to your blog. There is also a premium version with more features.

WP Mobile Edition

Yet another plugin to quickly make your WordPress site mobile. Visitors can choose the mobile or regular version of your site and the theme is designed to be lightweight and fast.

Go Responsive

A plugin isn’t your only option for managing your content for mobile users. You can make your website responsive; that is, it can change based on the size of the screen it is being viewed on. This is the solution I chose, as not all of this website is based on WordPress, and I wanted a consistent look and feel across the entire site, no matter the device.

Some people really don’t like responsive websites. I like them, especially for a site like this one, where the focus is on information rather than interactivity. If you need more interactivity on your website, it’s entirely possible that a specialized mobile version of your site, beyond what even the above mentioned WordPress plugins can do, would be a good idea. If you’re more about information, perhaps not so much.

What I’ve done on this site isn’t as complex as some responsive sites have, and I’m not 100% satisfied with some of my results. I’m mostly pleased with it, however. I did a lot of research on how to make a responsive website, and how to manage all the likely screen resolutions. It’s the navigation menus that mostly give me fits – it’s really difficult to make that display nicely across screen sizes.

But I learned how to tell my pages what content to display and what to hide on different screen sizes, how to change the layout based on screen size, and so forth. It took a lot of time, but I enjoyed figuring it out for myself. If you aren’t inclined toward doing your own HTML and CSS, don’t try this on your own – have a professional help. If you’re already managing your own designs, you can probably do this.

If you use WordPress, there are also quite a few themes out there that are responsive right out of the box. I like this idea better than the plugins I mentioned at the start because, once again, I like having more consistency across devices.

There are a ton of free responsive WordPress themes out there. Check out the sites linked or just do a search for them – they’re out there. WordPress even comes with Twenty Fourteen and Twenty Fifteen, both responsive layouts for your blog.

Free may not be your best choice, however. Many free themes are very limited in how you can customize them and in their support. Companies such as Themeisle offer a range of very impressive responsive themes for reasonable prices.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

October 22nd, 2013

What Makes You a Professional Blogger?

“Who are these bloggers? They’re not trained editors at Vogue magazine. There are bloggers writing recipes that aren’t tested that aren’t necessarily very good, or are copies of what really good editors have created and done. Bloggers create a kind of a popularity but they are not the experts. We have to understand that.” ~ Martha Stewart

The above quote by Martha Stewart stirred up a lot of comment from bloggers this past week. Unsurprisingly, she deeply offended a lot of wonderful bloggers. While I have to admit that not all bloggers are all that professional, others do fantastic jobs, and specialized education or training aren’t necessary for all blogs. There are, however, some things you can do to be more professional as a blogger.

Now, I know not all blogging is about being a professional. It’s about sharing what you love, especially if you blog in the lifestyle categories. Still, there are some things you should consider, even if your blog is a labor of love.

Disclosure

Appropriate disclosure is an important part of blogging these days, to keep in line with FTC rules. It doesn’t have to be fancy; just a clear notation when you’ve been compensated for a post, given an item for review, get paid affiliate commissions, and so forth. Top of the post is better than bottom, but inside the post works as well. I have a basic statement on all pages, and get into more detail on certain posts.

An Appropriate Persona

You can absolutely be yourself online when you blog – for many blogs that’s one of their greatest strengths. I don’t tend to get very personal myself – I’m a private person in real life for the most part, so chattering online about myself or my family doesn’t often come naturally. It does for others, and they make it work.

Still, as you blog your readers will come to expect certain things from you, and won’t be happy if you change things up too suddenly. Occasional surprises can be a good thing, but a complete change of style can chase away readers. Including an excessive number of sponsored posts or product reviews can be a problem, especially if they’re done with little regard for what your readers expect on your site.

You don’t have to be what many people would consider to be professional in other fields, if that’s not the persona you want to show. Some bloggers do quite well with behavior that others would consider outrageous. Let your personality show and have fun with your blogging.

Knowledge About Your Subject

Having a lot of knowledge about what you’re blogging about is a huge help in looking professional. This doesn’t have to include professional training, no matter how some people want it to. For most personal blogs, personal experience is plenty.

Sharing recipes, for example, is best done if you’ve actually made and eaten the recipe. Similarly, experience in any subject you’re blogging about is better than posting your best guess, even if you’ve read up on the subject.

Appropriate Visual Components

Many blogs are much improved with pictures. They should be related to the post and attractive. You don’t need to hire a professional photographer for most things, although there are times when that may be appropriate. You will want to pay attention to lighting and how the picture looks overall when you use photos in your posts.

Photos aren’t the only way to make your blog posts visually appealing, however. You can create images on your computer, make charts or graphs when appropriate, use pull quotes in larger text to reemphasize appropriate parts of your posts and so forth.

Perhaps the most important visual component is to simply pay attention to readability. You don’t want to present readers with a huge wall of text. Break it up into appropriate paragraphs, bullet points and with visual aids.

Respect For Copyright

Even professional publications get this one wrong sometimes, but it’s a major problem with anyone who doesn’t understand that things published on the internet are not necessarily free for anyone’s use. If you don’t know if something is copyrighted, assume it is, and don’t use it without written permission. You’ll be better off.

Link To Relevant Resources

When you refer to things others have said, link to it in your post. When there’s a resource that gives more information to interested readers, link to it. Not only are you giving your readers access to more information on the subject, you look better for it and it may help you build a relationship with those resources. So long as you provide good resources, it’s good for your reputation to link out.

This is a big part of why paid links are discouraged. Too often they’re irrelevant and low quality. If you’re careful about how you link out, they’ll be good for your site.

Don’t worry if you aren’t sure that you’re good enough to be a professional blogger. Give yourself time. Keep working at it, keep trying to do better, and believe that you can be a professional. Not every blogger is going to make a fantastic living off their blog, or even an adequate one, but if you give up too easily, you’ll never know what’s possible for you. Learning what works for you and gaining popularity take time.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

December 31st, 2012

Top 10 Posts for 2012, Plus a Couple Favorites

hwtk top posts 2012

I’m looking through my statistics for the year to see what my top posts this year were, in terms of traffic. It’s always interesting to see what really did well. I’m not counting posts from previous years that are still generating traffic in this roundup, although perhaps I should. I’ll also add on a couple personal favorites at the end that for whatever reason didn’t take off very well, whether due to time or some other factor. After all, newer posts are at a big disadvantage.

This also has to do only with the blog, not other pages on this site. It is perhaps not surprising that my work at home jobs page has the most visitors on this site.

Top 10 Posts

1. So You Can’t Work From Home Stuffing Envelopes. What Can You Do?
I’m not at all surprised that this one did well. There are plenty of people who still think envelope stuffing is a possible option. Fortunately, there are many other options out there.

2. 30+ Ideas For Working at Home
I just said there were more options, didn’t I? Here some are! Funny how these things work out.

3. Work at Home Jobs for Military Spouses
Working at home is a wonderful option for many military wives and husbands. The flexibility of work that can be done almost no matter where you live is a huge deal when you might have to move frequently.

4. 11 Ways to Prepare to Work at Home Over the Summer
Working at home while the kids are out of school isn’t necessarily the easiest thing to do. Kids need you more in summer, and that can make it really hard to be productive.

5. What Kind of Work From Home Training Do You Need?
In so many ways, work at home jobs are like any other. Often enough you need some amount of training to so much as qualify for them. Just make sure you don’t fall for scams when you’re looking for job training.

6. Where Do You Get Work From Home Business Ideas?
Aw heck. Not everyone wants an employer. Some want to own their own business. Now all you need is an idea. Got tips for you right here.

7. 6 Ways to Speed Up Your Work at Home Job Hunt
Ugh! Looking for work anywhere is usually a slow process, but it can be even worse when you want something home based. Using online resources correctly really speeds things up.

8. Making Time For Fitness While Working at Home
One of the risks with being home all the time is that it’s way too easy to sit all day. Here’s some encouragement to get up and get moving.

9. 10 Open Source Tools to Help You Work at Home
Open source tools can really help you save money on software. They aren’t appropriate for all uses, especially if a job requires a particular software be used, but the rest of the time, they’re great.

10. Choosing Apps for Your Home Business
Apps. Of course we all love apps these days. They can do so much for us when we’re on the go.

And now a few personal favorites….

Silent Kids
Just my own little version of Silent Night, but for moms with children who are just being a little too quiet for her peace of mind. As we all know, there’s usually a good reason for that.

Does Work From Home Really Have Flexible Hours?
People usually assume working at home means you can work really flexible hours. That’s just not always true.

Caine’s Arcade, or Why You Shouldn’t Give Up When Business Is Slow
This kid was just so cute and determined.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

December 3rd, 2012

20 Ways to Get Ideas For a Blog Post

Writing content for your website is difficult at times. Sure, there are days where the ideas just flow, but other times you can sit and stare at your monitor trying to come up with something to say. That’s just the life of a writer. Here are some ways to get ideas for a blog post that you may not have considered lately.

1. Comments From Your Social Media Pages

Did a recent post generate discussion on your social media pages? Take off from that and cover whatever new angles the comments brought up.

2. Respond to Someone Else’s Articles

Sometimes the stuff you read elsewhere can inspire you. Don’t limit yourself to commenting on their websites, consider whether or not an article on your own site makes for a better response. Make sure you link back to the article that inspired you. They get a link, you get inspiration for more content on your site. Do it right and there’s some serious mutual benefit.

3. Refresh Old Content

Your old posts may still be good stuff, but often enough there’s something more you can add to it or update. Little changes make a big difference. It’s also a great way to bring up a familiar to you topic to new readers who may not be aware of it.

4. Answer Frequently Asked Questions

If people email you a lot of questions or post a lot of questions in your comments, you probably have some you see over and over again. Write up a good blog post. You may be able to write an entire post on a single question or cover a bunch of them in one shot, depending on how much detail is required.

5. Read Related Forums

Posting on relevant forums with a signature line can be good marketing, but it can also help you get ideas for your blog. Look at what people need from the forum. What do they talk about? If it’s relevant there, you can probably work it into a blog post.

6. Check Your Analytics

How do people find your website? The search phrases people use can tell you a lot about what people want from your site. Write more about those subjects.

7. Check Relevant Hashtags

Twitter hashtags are great for finding out what people think is relevant to what you do. Keep an eye on what’s getting tagged as relevant and figure out how to use it.

8. Do Keyword Research

You don’t have to have a fancy tool like Market Samurai (although I love it!) to do keyword research for your blog posts. You can do quick research using the free Google Keyword Tool to discover actual phrases people search for. Find that perfect combination of relevance, low competition and adequate number of searches to find your next subject.

9. Use Google Suggest

Rather like using the Google Keyword Tool, but suggested search can come up with some really odd stuff. These searches can be pretty common, so I suggest checking them out with the keyword tool to see if there’s a better phrase out there. Uber Suggest is a website that compiles a list of suggested terms from any keyword you put in, and is another good option.

10. Compile Great Information on a Topic

Your posts, someone else’s posts, whatever makes the list useful. Linking out to other sites can be good for your site, and linking to your own information can help your readers find information they didn’t know you offered. A well compiled post can itself be a great resource for your readers.

11. Ask Your Readers What They Need

The people who know best what they’d like to hear from you are your readers. Ask them in your blog, on your Facebook page, your Twitter stream or wherever else, what they wish you’d blog about.

12. Make a How Not To Post

How to posts are common. Have a little fun and make a how not to post. I did this some time back with my how to fall for a work at home scam post some time back – most posts are about how to avoid falling for work at home scams, so I twisted that around just a little bit for the fun of it.

13. Share Your Milestones

Have you reached a great milestone in your business? It can be as simple as an anniversary or as big as reaching a certain goal.

14. Discuss a Myth

Most industries have their myths, such as the notion that running a home business is always ridiculously easy, what with the fancy house and cars. Discuss a myth relevant to your site and explain why it just isn’t true.

15. Check Pinterest

What relevant pins are trending in your industry? This works better for some subjects than others, but can have great potential, especially if your take on it is highly pinnable.

16. Share Photos and Other Images

People love to share photos. While you need to make sure that the photos you use are okay for use on your website, if you want it to spread socially you should also make sure that the photos will be okay for that.

17. Make an Infographic

A good infographic is hard to make, but can be utterly worthwhile. Share some great information in an infographic and make sure it’s easy to share. Include code for those who want to embed it on their own site.

18. Use Yahoo! Answers

Yahoo! Answers is a wonderful place to discover what people want to know. You don’t have to answer questions on the Answers site itself – if someone’s asking there, odds are people are wondering the same thing elsewhere and using a search engine to find the answer.

19. Check Current News

Is there anything happening in current news that you can relate to your subject. Be sensitive to what’s going on, but relating to news stories can bring in a lot of visitors. Consider how a particular bit of news will impact your readers or your business, for example.

20. Use Videos

Make your own video or embed a relevant one from YouTube and discuss it in your blog post. You don’t have to have a perfect setup to record something all your own to make use of video. Just find something and include it in an article. Making your own is most effective, of course, but it’s not for everyone.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Facebook Twitter Google Plus Pinterest Feedly
Home With the Kids on LinkedIn


Disclosure

Print Free Coupons

Ads

Disclosure: Home with the Kids is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. I also review or mention products for which I may receive compensation from other sources. All opinions are my own.