Of course you don’t need to have images to go with your posts. It’s your blog and you should do whatever you want to do with it. I like to use images with my posts to add some visual interest, so in this post I’ll go through my process for incorporating images into my blog.
I usually select an image before I even start writing the article. Typically I just have one image per post, although I don’t really have any reason for that other than it’s easy. I didn’t used to set featured images for each post, but now I use the same image both in the body of the post and as a featured image. As far as I know there’s no great overarching “right way” when it comes to this; mostly it depends on how you’ve got your blog display settings configured.
What I did discover is that if you don’t have a feature image set and your post contains multiple images, when it posts to social media it will use the last image that appears in the post, not the first. If you set a feature image that’s what will show in the social media post.
Where to find images
My go to is Pixabay, which I like because it has graphic designs as well as photos. Gerd Altmann (username geralt), who created the image above, is remarkably prolific on Pixabay. Unsplash is great for photos, and Pexels is good too. Wikimedia Commons has all the graphics used on Wikipedia pages. Graphics from all of these sites can be used freely. Attribution to the artist is the polite thing to do, but not required.
Doing an image search on Google will turn up every image Google finds anywhere on the web, but most of the images are copyrighted and you’re not supposed to reuse them. I recently learned from someone (and I’d link to them except I can’t remember who it was) that if you click on “Tools” below the image search bar, a little menu bar will pop up. Click on “usage rights” and then “labeled for reuse”. This will narrow down the image results that you see. I’m not sure if that’s 100% reliable, but at least you’re trying to do the right thing.
As an individual blogger, the chances of anyone tracking you down for copyright infringement are probably pretty slim, but it’s good practice to avoid it.
File name and alt text
When you download the image, you can save it under whatever the original file name was, or you can create your own file name. For SEO purposes, the image file name should be somewhat descriptive of what the image is. For this post, I saved the image as “options” rather than as 20190130r5u322. You’ll also want to enter an “alt text”. This is in part so search engines know what your image is about, which helps your SEO, but it also allows your visually impaired readers to “see” what the image is.
Using a descriptive file name also makes it easier to search through your WordPress media to reuse something. It was only a couple of months ago that I realized you could actually search images in your WordPress editor by filename. I had been thinking for a long time how silly it was that they didn’t have that feature, so I’m not sure why I took me so long to notice it.
If you’re copying and pasting images into your WordPress editor, they’re not treated the same way as saved images you upload into WordPress, and you’re not able to enter alt text.
If you want to get creative and make your own graphics, Canva is a great tool. I use Canva to make a graphic for each blog post to use on Pinterest.
How do you use images on your blog?