When I started blogging I had no idea at all. I thought it would be as easy as everyone said it would be, and the world would just fall at my feet, begging me for more and adorning my posts with hundreds of deep and meaningful comments. There are bound to be people who still believe this, and those who honestly believe that they can give up their day job and, right from the first entry on their new Internet presence, make a living as a blogger.
It doesn’t take long for reality to hit, and that’s where most people give up and go home, or try to get their old job back. The new blogger is hit not just with reality when it comes to people visiting their creation, but also the reality of having to write regularly, appealingly, illustrative and, above all, gain a good and steadfast audience. Fortunately there are thousands of websites filled with practical tips and tricks and, especially if you happen to be using WordPress, thousands of apps and add-ons, extensions, plug-ins and whatever to make the task so much easier. Which, naturally, makes everything harder. The potential Internet millionaire has to do some work, and that is off-putting!
I began with a whole plethora of plug-ins and apps to enhance my Internet presence. Most of them have gone now, either because they weren’t maintained, became out-dated, or were simply a waste of time and space. A thesaurus, for example, is a wonderful thing, but doesn’t replace thinking and taking care about what you write. Most of my essential plug-ins are now related to security and cleaning up the mess other people insist on leaving here.
Photo Source: Jonas Tana – Creative Commons
One of the wonderful extensions I used was a plug-in designed to find me appropriate photographs to illustrate my posts. An entry which is just words, as anyone can tell you, puts people off. Most of us are not writing a book here, when it comes to individual entries, although there are plenty who write so-called Longreads and achieve success. Put an image into your post to break up the paragraphs, and you’ll attract more attention or, better, hold the attention of those who have come to visit. Nothing but masses of words, in our attention-deficient Internet world, has people jerking towards the mouse button and the next website.
Why did I use a plug-in to find photographs? There are thousands upon thousands on the Internet to choose from. Well, not quite. There are plenty there, but most of them fall under the strict terms of copyright law; someone else’s work which you can only use with permission and, often, the payment of a good sum of money. I thought that I needed this special search function to find me photographs and images available for open use, illustrations for my daily spouting. I was wrong, and the plug-in that I used – highly recommended on one of those tips-and-tricks websites – was a waste of time. It searched only one website for images, and then didn’t manage to find them all anyway.
So, I dumped it. Why use an aid when there is a better method? And that method was to go straight to the source this plug-in claimed to use, and search direct. I signed up for Flickr and kept an eye on Wikipedia too, both of which are excellent sources for images covering anything you can think of.
Wikipedia is easy: simply click on the links for Creative Commons or copyright free photographs and take your pick. It is, however, limited and, sadly, you cannot be sure that all the photographs uploaded are really copyright free. If someone has uploaded an image and marked it as such, you have to take their word for it, even when the image is not their own.
The answer is Flickr. Thousands of images uploaded to Flickr are marked as being Creative Commons and they come direct from the photographer. All you need is to download the size that fits in with your work and add the appropriate links back by way of thanks. Not at all difficult, a little time-consuming perhaps, but better than anything else that I have found so far.
There isn’t an app for doing the work yourself, yet, and that’s a good thing.
- Viktoria Michaelis.