In this article I share with you the benefits of using Flickr, an on-line photo hosting site that I have been using for some time as a way to enhance and support my blog. The article was originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com.
You can use Flickr on it’s own, of course, and this is how I started using it when I went to Ecuador for three weeks in October 2007. I didn’t have a blog at that time, and so I used Flickr as an online photo diary of the trip. Although I spent longer than I’d like uploading the photos from Internet cafes, it was a way for family and friends to follow my journey. Now I keep two Flickr accounts, one for my public, blog-related photos and a second private account for family pictures.
For me photographs are an essential part of a travel blog. You only have to open any travel or lifestyle magazine to realise how an article is brought to life by a few great shots which illustrate the story. Would you even open a magazine or newspaper that had no pictures? No, me neither. So why would you want to read a blog, especially a travel blog without them? Here are some ways you can use the Flickr photographic site to enhance your blog.
1. Build a relationship with your readers
By having an on-line photo album on Flickr, you can get readers more involved in your blog, building a relationship with them which will benefit you long term. At the bottom of most posts, I put a link which says, see all my photos of X destination on my Flickr site. So anyone who is interested can browse the whole album, rather than just the photos on my blog, which will help them remember and return to Heather on her travels
2. Flickr can bring traffic to your blog
Every time I write a blog post on a destination, I link back to it from all the relevant photos about that destination. People find my photos through searching Flickr on a particular topic, and then they can easily click through to my blog. Visitors also search on Google for images and find my Flickr photos, which can also lead them to the relevant blog post. So when you upload photos to Flickr, use this traffic building strategy and take some time to tag your photos and add a link back to your blog post or to your blog home page.
3. Flickr can provide extra security when travelling.
Every photographer’s nightmare is to capture their photographic memories, only to have them stolen or damaged before they can store them. If you have time when you’re travelling, it’s a good precaution to spend some time in an internet cafe uploading the best ones to Flickr, in addition any other back-ups you may take.
4. Flickr has an in-built editing tool
As I don’t have any other photo-editing software, I often use the Picnik editing tool in Flickr to crop or re-size photos, before I add them to my blog. This is especially useful when I’ve asked some random passer by to take a picture of me or my family, and they’ve taken a very wide group shot which I then need to crop to make it useable. I can also re-size to get the exact size I need to fit my blog, rather than relying on the WordPress Small, Medium and Large sizes.
5. Flickr is available from any computer or internet cafe.
This is a benefit if you want to post on your blog when you’re travelling and don’t have a laptop with you. You can find past photos that you’ve uploaded and edit or resize them for your blog, without needing to access your own computer.
6. Flickr supports you as a free-lance writer
If you are writing for other blogs or publications, having an on-line photo album like Flickr makes it very easy for you to send links to editors, showing the photos that can be used to illustrate your articles. It means you don’t have to block up people’s in-boxes by sending high resolution photos by e-mail. However, I notice that professional photographers, who are concerned about copyright tend to use different software to create a photo gallery, which won’t allow photos to be downloaded.
7. Insert images into your post directly from Flickr
Generally, I prefer to upload my photos to the WordPress gallery and insert them in the post from there, in order to make the blog post self-contained. But inserting the link from Flickr is a good alternative, if you’re in a hurry, or are having problems with gallery function. This is how you do it;
– If you want the photo to be a certain size, use the Picnik edit function to resize the photo.
– Alternatively click on the all sizes button immediately above the photo to use one of the pre-set sizes – I normally use the medium size which is 500 x 375 pixels.
– Click on the size you want, scroll down and find the HTML code to copy in to your post.
Google images often picks up the Flickr images in a post better than ones loaded through wordpress, because of the photo title.
8. Flickr helps your blog load more quickly
I always set my camera to take high resolution photos as they give a better image quality when cropped or enlarged, for instance for use in a publication. But If I load the high resolution images directly from my hard drive to the WordPress gallery, they are still quite large and it takes a long time for the blog page to load. This is particularly important to get right if you use a lot of photos on the blog as I do. I know that there are editing tools you can use to reduce the size of photos, but I use Flickr to do this. I upload a photo to Flickr, then I choose the size of photo closest to the size required on the blog (usually Medium) and download it back to my computer (rightclick on the correct size photo/save picture as). Then I upload it from my computer into the WordPress gallery and insert it as normal to the blog post, clicking the full-size option. Then you can adjust the size by going into the HTML for the photo and adjusting the width and height if required. The photo will still look good, but it will load a lot quicker. To give you an example of this, the left hand photo below is a larger size loaded directly from my hard-drive (3,240,437 bytes) and the right hand photo is downloaded from Flickr as described (192,939 bytes). Hopefully you’ll see a difference in loading speed.
9. Find photos on Flickr to illustrate your blog
Even if you don’t have your own photo suitable to illutrate your blog, there’s no excuse for not using photos and images. You can easily search Flickr for photos with a Creative Commons Licence which will give you permissionyour to use other photos as long as it’s for non-commercial purposes. First search on Flickr and then go into advanced search and check the box to only search for Creative Commons photos. You’re bound to find some excellent photos you can download and use. If the photo you want is marked all rights reserved, you can easily e-mail the photographer to ask permission to use it – I’ve never been turned down yet. Remember to credit any photos you use and I generally leave a comment on the photo to thank the photographer. I also make sure my photos are given a Creative Commons licence, which means that people searching are more likely to find and use my photos and credit me.
10. Add a Flickr badge to blog
If you have some good photos on Flickr, you’ll want to add a Flickr badge to your sidebar. You can also add one at the bottom of each post based on the relevant set of photographs. This will point readers to your photos and help to build a community and recognition around your blog. Treat Flickr as another social networking medium to promote your blog.
11. Do more with your Flickr photos
Once you have your photos on Flickr, there are loads of other services you can tap in to. You could make photo books, business cards or postcards, all of which can add fun to your life and help to promote your blog. For instance I use the Moo Mini cards as my business card or if you sell a product through your blog, you could create a promotional postcard to send out with it.
12. Flickr is free (up to a point)
A normal Flickr account is free and gives you a chance to start using Flickr. However, if you start to use it a lot, and fill more sets than the few you get as standard, you’ll need the Pro account costs $24.95 per year, which I think is money well spent.
So dear readers, if you’re not yet using Flickr fully to promote and enhance your blog, I hope that I’ve given you some useful tips to make your blog even better in 2009.
Other articles in the Image series
This article is published at My Blogging Journey, but originally appeared on my Travel Blog at Heather on her travels where you can find travel tales, videos and podcasts from Europe and around the World.
You’ll also find lots of great travel stories, videos and podcasts at our travel blog at Heather on her travels .