Free Image Resources for Bloggers
Tactful image use can improve readers' experiences, keep them with you for longer, inspire them to share your content via social media, and entice their followers to click through to the links they share. Thankfully, you do not have to buy stock photos to make your content visually stunning- there are a litany of generously-licensed photos you may use in your content without paying a dime. Our favorite resources for Creative Commons and Public Domain images include:
- Flickr's Creative Commons: Though finding the right image sometimes requires a bit of digging, Flickr's Creative Commons offers access to thousands and thousands of high-quality, unique, well-composed photos
- Wikimedia Commons: Wikimedia Commons offers an extensive database of Public Domain and Creative Commons images that really comes in handy when you need images of famous people, places, or historical figures
- Pixabay: Though also populated by cheesy, low-quality images, Pixabay holds some real treasures (just don't succumb to the temptation of cheesy icons)
- .Gov Watch’s collection of the best copyright-free photo libraries: A site offering a curated collection of high-quality public domain images created for and by the United States government
For more tips, stop by our guide to finding and attributing free photos for commercial use. To make sure you present Creative Commons images properly, visit our guide to properly using and attributing Creative Commons photos.
Professional Development Resources for Bloggers
Though a good mentor can change pretty much any professional's career, mentors are particularly important for bloggers, vloggers, and podcasters as only a handful of people fully understand the trends and best practices within specific niches that can make or break your career.
When looking for a mentor, find someone who is successful within the niche you wish to enter. Send him or her a straightforward email explaining:
- Why you are reaching out to this individual in particular (supposedly because you follow and admire this person's work)
- What you plan to do (the premise of your blog, vlog, or podcast, your desired target audience, and your release and promotional strategy)
- What you want (mentorship)
Also ask what this individual's mentorship services might cost. Most prestigious bloggers have very little time. More still already provide coaching and mentoring services for a fee. It would be impractical for you to expect pro bono assistance (though you may be lucky and come across a successful blogger who would be willing to help you free of charge).
Don't be surprised when a potential mentor replies that his or her fees are upwards of $1,000 a month- this is not uncommon amongst serious players. Whether this fee is worth it depends on your intentions as a blogger. If you plan on treating your blog, vlog, or podcast as a full-time business, it may be worth the investment. If, instead, your blog is a purely-recreational venture, it may be best to reach out lesser-known bloggers who would be willing to advise you for free.
Unlike many internet-based communities, today's blogging, vlogging, and podcasting communities are incredibly open and supportive.
Major platforms boasting active communities include Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Because the quality of different communities constantly shifts, we will refrain from recommending specific groups and instead offer some pointers for finding communities that will suit your needs:
- Listen to the blogosphere: By following major blogs on blogging, video creation, and podcast development, you will be introduced to relevant and worthwhile groups and communities
- Ask your mentor and favorite bloggers: Ask those you admire what communities they rely on for support
- Run searches on individual platforms: Run searches on your favorite social media platforms for groups, communities, or chats related to your area of expertise, preferred publishing platform, or default editing tools
- Run general Google Searches: A quick search for blogging, vlogging, and podcasting communities yields many results related to a wide variety of platforms and niches
Conferences and Local Groups
Though there is plenty of online support to be utilized, you should also look into local, in-person groups and conferences intended for bloggers, video editors, and podcast creators. Use Meetup.com as a starting point to search for local writing, blogging, video editing, podcasting, new media, and tech-related groups. Keep up with blogging-centric digital publications and chatter amongst fellow online community members to get an idea of the conferences most worth attending.
If you ultimately decide to shell out cash to attend a conference, meeting, or trade show, milk it for all it is worth. Bring plenty of business cards, attend every after-hours event and exclusive party to which you can gain access, and network to like a pro (even if you are, by nature, reclusive). Establish genuine friendships. Schedule follow up meetings during lulls and down time. Actively collect contact information as you go along. After the meeting ends, set up calls, interviews, guest posts, collaborative ventures, and in-person meetings with the most interesting people you've met.
Informational Resources for Bloggers
In addition to getting insider tips from mentors and fellow content creators, you can stay abreast of the latest best practices, opportunities and resources relevant to your work by making use of the internet's many digital publications targeted at bloggers. While one could fill an entire book with introductions to blogs for bloggers, we will stick to only our favorite resources below:
- Free online writing courses: A compilation of links to free online writing courses that can help you craft better prose as a blogger
- The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Legal Guide for Bloggers: A very helpful crash course on legal issues of which you should be aware as an online content creator
- The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Bloggers' Rights Blog: A good source of information regarding laws, cases, and causes effecting your rights
- For Bloggers By Bloggers: A blog in which fellow bloggers share the lessons they've learned
- Problogger: A well-known digital publication offering extensive resources on blogging in the form of free posts addressing everything from helpful blogging tools to advertising, podcasting, video production, promotion, and design
- WPBeginner: An excellent starting point for new WordPress users
- Successful Blogging: A resource featuring blogging tips targeted at consultants, freelance writers, and business owners (start off by visiting their most popular posts)
- Weblogbetter: A digital publication focused around improving your blog and online content creation skills
- Basic Blog Tips: A straightforward blog about blogging
- Think Traffic: A website oriented around building up traffic and earnings
- Copyblogger: A nicely-organized arsenal of helpful advice on on blogging, social media, content marketing, SEO, and email marketing in the form of ebooks, articles, and a free course
Do not feel obligated to spend money on additional memberships, trainings, and resources offered by some of the sites above. If you are willing to piece together your own education, you will do just fine. No ebook, webinar, training program, bootcamp, or consulting session, regardless of how magical it may seem, is going to make your blog successful. You have to build your own success using common sense, logic, time, and effort.
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