10 Easy Steps to Great Blog Images

January 22nd, 2010


1. Go to Flickr’s “Advanced Search” page.

2. Type in keywords relevant to your blog post, click “Photos” and “Only Photos” in the next two categories, and then click “Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content” at the bottom of the page. (If you’re writing for a commercial/professional blog, also click “Find content to use commercially.”)

3. When your results come up, click to sort them by “Interesting” rather than “Relevant” or “Recent.”

4. Add or subtract keywords in the search bar at the top of the results page to narrow or expand your search. If you get way too many results, one of the best ways to do this is with a minus sign. E.g., if you’re looking for pictures of licorice sticks and it turns out there are a zillion shots of a thoroughbred horse named “Licorice Stick,” you could add the term “-horse” to your search. (Note that the minus is jammed right up next to the word to be excluded.)

5. Using the thumbnail views that come up in the search results, right-click on any interesting photos and choose “Open Link in New Tab.” This will let you browse through the best candidates much more quickly than you could by clicking through to each picture and then clicking back to the search results.

6. When you have several candidate shots open in their own tabs, compare them in pairs using “winner stays” rules. That is, if A is better than B, keep A and compare it to C; if C is better than A, keep C and compare it to D. Repeat this process as many times as you need to come up with a winner, and remember that choosing blog images is an excellent time for “satisficing” rather than seeking perfection.

7. Right-click on the winner image, choose “Save Image As…,” and save the image to your desktop with some appropriate name.

8. Tweak the size, cropping, etc. of your image using the picture software of your choice. (My go-to choice for simplicity’s sake: Microsoft Office Picture Manager.)

9. Upload the image into your blog post . . . and enjoy the fruits of great visuals to go along with your priceless, priceless words.

10. Oh, and be sure to give credit where it’s due by linking back to the photo’s Flickr page (like I do at the bottom of this post).

By the way, you can browse through more than 150 interesting Creative Commons-licensed Flickr shots that I’ve tagged with “Blog Images” on Delicious.


(Image by filtran.)

7 Responses to “10 Easy Steps to Great Blog Images”

  1. Carol Tufts Says:

    Terrific post. I am running an upstart web company. We are doing alot on our own and we have with our web images. I take most of our pictures with a Canon SLR which is alittle too much camera for me. I also do not have the time to edit them properly in Photoshop. So I am excited to get proficient on Flickr. You also have a nice writing style.

    Hey I am on twitter as thebelist and our site is http://www.thebelist.com. Love to hear from you,


  2. Tim Walker Says:

    Glad you found this useful, Carol — thanks for your comment.

  3. Chris Huston Says:

    For those without Office at home (e.g. moi), I highly recommend *free*ware program Irfanview for a job like this. Very easy to find if you Google it. Just make sure you spell it correctly. :) It’s “better” than programs like, say, GIMP in the same way Winamp is “better” than iTunes: it’s PC-resources-lean, quicker, lighter on its feet for fast jobs that require just basic actions.

  4. Alex (@BaldMan) Says:

    Great post Tim, thanks for sharing the knowledge. I just followed these steps for a post slated to publish in a bit over an hour and I must say that the image really does add some polish to the piece.

  5. Tim Walker Says:

    Glad you found it useful, Alex!

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