Category Archives: Hobbies and Interests

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How to Use Flickr Photos in Your Blog

As the adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, holds true when blogging. Including photos in your blog posts will enhance your content by making it more appealing. This usually results in a lower bounce rate, as well as a stronger level of visitor engagement. But there are a few things you should know about using Flickr photos in your blog.

Flickr is one of the world’s largest depositories of images. Regardless of your post’s content, chances are you can find a relevant image for it here. While many Flickr images are copyright-protected — meaning the author holds ALL rights — others have limited protection. Flickr’s Creative Commons has tens of millions of images that bloggers can use for free. However, there are subtle nuances between the different categories that shouldn’t be ignored.

Flickr Creative Commons Categories:

  • Attribution — bloggers can use the image for personal or commercial purposes, and make derivatives of it, but only if they credit the author.
  • Noncommercial — bloggers can use the image for personal, but not commercial, purposes as long as they credit the author.
  • No Derivative — bloggers can copy and use the image for all purposes, but the image must be preserved in its original format.
  • Share Alike — bloggers can use the image under the same exact license that governs its work
  • Public domain — there are no copyright restrictions attached to public domain images.

Ideally, the best category from which to acquire images is public domain. Any Flickr images marked as public domain do not require attribution, and they can be used for both personal and commercial purposes. If you are unable to find a particular image under public domain, the next best category is arguably attribution. You can still use the image on your blog, even if it’s a revenue-generating blog, but you must credit the author.

How To Credit Flickr Author

Unless you are using a public domain image, you’ll need to credit the original photographer/author. Flickr doesn’t provide specific instructions on how to this, instead saying it’s up to the photographer.

This is up to the rightful owner of the images to decide, which on Flickr means the photographer. While we cannot represent the photographers’ preference for how to attribute their photos, we do recommend checking the copyright law for how to attribute properly, which generally could includes displaying the photographer’s name and link to the photo’s page on Flickr,” wrote Flickr.

So, how should you credit the author? Look at the image’s description to see if the author has included attribution instructions. Some authors may ask you to link back to their homepage when using their photos. Others may request that you simply link to their Flickr account. If there are no instructions here, though, something along the lines of “Creative Commons 10th Birthday Celebration San Francisco” by tvol is licensed under CC BY 2.0″ should work.

What’s your preferred method for crediting the author of a Flickr photo? Let us know in the comments section below!

How To Craft a Blog Post From Start To Finish

guest-posting-01Still struggling to gain any traction with your blog? There are tens of millions of blogs currently online, but unfortunately only a fraction of them ever receive any noticeable amount of traffic. Unless you want your blog to fall into the abyss where countless others remain, you should take a methodical approach to crafting relevant, meaningful posts.

Step #1) Choose a Topic

The first step in crafting a blog post is to choose a topic. This is arguably one of the most difficult steps in the process, as many bloggers experience writer’s block. They may initially have several ideas, but once those are gone they struggle to come up with new post topics. If this sounds like a familiar scenario, try using Topsy, Google Trends, or Google News to find topic ideas that are related to your blog’s niche.

Step #2) Write

The second step in crafting a blog post is to write it. After choosing a topic, pull up your preferred document editing program (e.g., Microsoft Word, Open Office, etc.) and write your post. Some bloggers write directly in their blog’s content management system (CMS), but I recommend writing in a Word document first. Doing so will reduce the risk of your work being accidentally lost, and Word’s grammar and spell check will catch things you might  miss.

When creating a new blog post, write with the end user in mind and snot the search engines. Far too many bloggers focus on things like keyword density, word count and other metrics, assuming it will improve their search rankings. But in reality, this only hurts their efforts by taking away from the reader’s experience. After creating your blog post in a Word document, copy and paste it into your blog’s CMS (note: use the Word paste function to prevent formatting from being carried over). If you want to retain the formatting, (e.g., headings, bolt, italics, bulleted lists, etc.), you can save your Word document as an HTML file, and then copy / paste it into your CMS.

Step #3) Proofread and Edit

Next, go through and proofread your blog post to check for spelling and grammar errors. Even the most experienced blogger will have a slip up from time to time. Proofreading, will allow you to catch these mishaps before your visitors see them. You can also use this time to polish your blog post, making it sound more natural and appealing. When you are finished, go ahead and publish your new post.

Step #4) Spread The Word

Last but not least, let the world know that your blog post exists by creating links on your social media accounts. At the bare minimum, you should have an account on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter, all of which can be used to promote your new blog posts.

What’s your preferred method for crafting new blog posts? Let us know in the comments section below!

Can Duplicate Content Hurt Your Blog’s Rankings?

Photoxpress_10205037This is a question many bloggers ask. Search engines typically reward websites that publish unique, fresh content with higher rankings, so conventional wisdom should lead you to believe that duplicate content will have the opposite effect. If you rely on organic search engine traffic, you should read the following post about duplicate content.

How Duplicate Content Occurs on Blogs

Even if you don’t manually create two or more pages with the same content, it may still show up in several locations. WordPress, for instance, is the world’s leading content management system (CMS), powering millions of blogs and websites. While its arguably the best all-around blogging CMS, it comes with a dark side: the potential for duplicate content. By default, WordPress publishes content to the actual page or post URL, archives page, author page and tag page. So while you may assume your content is being published in a single location, it’s actually showing up in four locations.

Of course, there’s an easy solution to dealing with duplicate content on WordPress blogs: use an SEO plugin. Yoast SEO plugin allows WordPress users to specify which locations (e.g. archives, tag, author, etc.) they want to noindex. The content will still be published to these locations, but neither Google nor any other search engine will be able to index it.

Video: Matt Cutts Takes on Duplicate Content

Watch the video above for a closer look at duplicate content. Matt Cutts, head of Google’s anti-spam team, published this Q&A video back in December 2013. While it’s over a year old now, it offers some invaluable insight into duplicate content.

As Cutts points out in the video, nearly a third (25-30%) of the Internet is comprised of duplicate content. With such a massive chunk of the WWW featuring the same content, it’s virtually impossible for Google to penalize each and every site on which it is published. But there’s a fine line you must not cross when publishing duplicate content. According to Cutts, things like excerpts, terms and conditions, privacy policies, and other boilerplate content shouldn’t trigger any filters within Google’s ranking algorithm — meaning it won’t bring down your website’s search ranking. However, building the bulk of your blog’s content around content that’s published elsewhere may result in lower search rankings, or in severe cases, your blog being deindexed.

How To Manage Duplicate Content on Your Blog:

  • If your blog runs WordPress, download and install an SEO plugin such as Yoast’s SEO plugin.
  • Consolidate posts and pages with similar content together.
  • Adding the rel=canonical tag will guide search engines to the original source of duplicate content.
  • Create backlinks to your blog using a single domain format (e.g yoursite.com or www.yoursite.com).

How do you manage duplicate content on your blog? Let us know in the comments section below!

How To Find Photos For Your Blog

photos1As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, holds true in the realm of blogging. You can spend countless hours crafting the perfect blog post, but without images it won’t have any lasting impact on readers. In fact, a recent study found that 93% of the most engaging posts published on Facebook were images. Whether you use Facebook or not, this study attests to the power of web images.

But you can’t simply copy an image from another website and upload it to your blog (usually), due to copyright rights. This is both unethical and illegal, as the owner must give his or her permission for you to use it. So, how are you supposed to find photos to use on your blog?

One excellent source of photos is Flickr’s Creative Commons, which contains well over 300 million photos licensed under Creative Commons. Basically, you are allowed to use the photos if you follow the respective category’s requirements. For instance, the Attribution category states: “You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your copyrighted work – and derivative works based upon it – but only if they give you credit,” whereas the Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs category states: “You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your work – and derivative works based upon it – but for noncommercial purposes only.” Crediting is typically done by placing a link to the owner’s Flickr account. Note: the second category of images can only be used on personal blogs and websites, not commercial ones.

Wikimedia Commons is another valuable tool for locating free-to-use images. Much like Flickr Creative Commons, however, you must adhere to the license attached to the image.

Of course, you can always purchase rights to use a photo from various stock photo websites like iStockPhoto.com. Depending on the size and type of photo, prices can range anywhere from $1 to $50 per photo. On the plus side, stock photos are often higher quality than photos found on Creative Commons sources, making them an attractive option for serious bloggers.

If you have a camera on your smartphone, you can always take the photos yourself. Most smartphones today pack some pretty decent cameras, such as the Galaxy S5’s 16-megapixel camera. And with a little touch-up work in Photoshop, you can make them look just as good as stock photos.

Where do you obtain photos for your blog? Let us know in the comments section below!

Creating a Connection With Your Readers

Having been a blog writer for several years, I have come to understand a thing or two about blogs, writers and his or her readers.  While a background and understanding of proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation create an atmosphere that draws readers in, writing a blog is more than just a splash of words on a page in order to drive traffic to your site. Rather, I’ve learned that a blog can become a connection. It can be a hub that brings thousands of people together to discuss something that is ultimately emotional and meaningful to each and every reader present. If your readers can relate to a post on an emotional level, you can bet your bottom dollar that they’ll be more than willing to bookmark your page and come back another day, thus increasing your traffic and boosting your SEO.

How can you make this connection with your readers? It’s not simple, and countless blogs throughout the Internet can attest to that. However, I have thought of several tips and pointers that have helped me connect with my readers. Check these tips out below and figure out which ones can best be implemented on your site!

1 – Keep Things Relevant

First and foremost, make sure that you’re writing about something relevant. Too many times have I been surfing a site and stumbled across something that felt out of place and forced in. While it’s necessary for a company looking to expand to push the limits on topics and content, it can certainly be tamed. For example, if a reader hops on to a video game website, he or she likely wants to read about video games, not wildlife. While this is a far-fetched situation, it does happen, and it turns people off.

2 – Provide Examples

A good way to keep readers entertained and engaged is by providing examples. Short stories (notice I say short – too long of stories will bore) help your reader understand what they’re learning and help them feel involved.  With that being said, make sure that each story you share is relatable. People read because they want to learn, and hearing stories of others success, fame and fortune is hardly the motivation they’re looking for.

3 – Ask a Question 

Whether it’s at the beginning of your post or at the very end, just ask a simple question for your readers to ponder as you pour out your thoughts. As readers browse your blog, they’ll keep this question at the back of their minds, allowing you entry to their train of thought and promote your business, website, or anything in-between. If your topic could be argued, invite your readers to share their thoughts or answers in the comments section, providing a reason for them to engage with you. Others will see this and follow along.

4 – Find Your Mood

Each blog, each article, and each post is tailored to a certain audience. Find that audience, and adjust your writing in order to best serve them. Keep your writing consistent, as well. There’s nothing more uncomfortable than finding a failed attempt at a joke within a serious article detailing the seriousness of breast cancer, for example. It just doesn’t fit, and it can quickly turn your readers off. Finding the right mood, however, and adjusting according to your audience and topic will provide a following that will last for years to come.

5 – Offer Something No One Else Can

Anyone can create a blog about cats. In fact, almost everyone has, and that’s why it’s simply not popular! You need to write about something that makes readers say, “I need to come to this site to get this type of information.” With that, they’ll keep coming back for more! You don’t necessarily need to be writing about something no one else has thought of, but you need to make it feel like you are the one and only expert on the subject.

With these tips, you can easily engage your readers and provide an experience that will keep them coming back for more. Re-read them all and pick out the ones you’ve done well, along with those you could improve on. Can you think of some other pointers that you’ve found to be useful? Let me know in the comments section (refer to tip #3)!