Writing is hard. Finding the right words, emotions, and pacing is hard. Writing interesting blog posts about how to be a better writer is hard. So writers stay up at night, trying to find the perfect combination of words. Then they release their work into the world, but then they perhaps don’t get as poignant a response as they’re hoping.
Books are different than the information we find on the internet. A book has a visual cover, but then the next 300+ pages are just words. A reader sits down, hopefully becomes engrossed, and creates the images in their head.
The Internet is different.
There is so much vying for attention: movies, gifs, photographs, illustrations, and ads. The online world is saturated. Sometimes lovely words on the Internet are not enough to catch attention.
What’s a writer to do?
I strongly believe that including an image in tweets and blog posts, even if the image doesn’t exactly reflect what is going on in the post, is better than just words by themselves. Many writers are intimidated by the idea of having to include images with their writing.
As fellow creative, writers want to use images in an ethical way, but paying for stock images every time they post on their blog is not generally doable.
But GOOD NEWS! There are many (legal, ethical) ways for writers to include images with their work, without using the Google image search.
Here are a few places to find free images.
- Do it yourself. Take pictures. Many smart phones have better cameras than the expensive digital cameras of ten years ago. Take pictures everywhere you go: fall colors, neat hand-painted signs, the cracks in the sidewalk. Then keep them in a catalog for when you want to use them. An example? I was out ice-skating on a frozen lake with my family and snapped a picture of the fissures through the surface three years ago. Fast forward to last week. I am promoting a hockey book for work and I created this graphic using that image from ice-skating long ago. I could have paid for a hockey stock image, but I instead used one from my catalog. Also, get familiar with Instagram. They have fabulous filters that help make any picture look professional.
- Use those pictures to create graphics with images and words. Find images online that you like, and figure out how to make your own with your camera and computer. Download a cool free font from http://www.fontsquirrel.com (Links to an external site.) and put quotes on top of your photographs (the edgy font from the above image was downloaded from font squirrel). Learn the basics of Photoshop elements or some other cheap photo-manipulating software.
- Use free sources of photography. This website lists several places to get free, beautiful images. https://bootstrapbay.com/blog/free-stock-photos/ (Links to an external site.) . Some photography sites require the users to leave an attribution for the artist that took the picture. An attribution is easy to do in a blog setting with a small caption under the photo that says, “image provided by_____.” Some sites don’t require any attribution, but you should definitely double check before using an image.
- Another great option is buying a vector pack of images. Sites like https://thehungryjpeg.com/graphics/illustrations/ (Links to an external site.) have vector packs of multiple images at a cheap price and no attribution is required. You can find a pack that is related to your book, and create promos using those images.
Covers sell books. Images and graphics help draw readers to your words. Don’t be intimidated by learning something new or a new software. Look at images around the net, and find images you can emanate in promoting your writing, but don’t steal other people’s creative work. Take the initiative, and it will help your writer’s platform in the long run.