Bloggers who want to include pictures in their blog posts, without breaching anyone’s copyright and without having to pay for the privilege of using them should take a look at the PicApp service I discovered today, via a Twitter post by Krishna De. They will need to feel ok about having advertisements embedded with the pictures.

PicApp is an online service which offers the opportunity to “enhance your blog with the same photos used by the pros, without paying a cent” and is claimed to have been designed with bloggers very much in mind.

I’ve always included pictures in some blog posts and I’ve known for a while that it made sense to include more. Then last November I had an extra prompt when I attended Avinash Kaushik’s workshop at BlogWorld Expo in Las Vegas. Avinash is a (or should that be “the”?) master of web analytics and applies what he knows to his own blog. So when he said in a BlogWorld Expo 07 workshop session that he spends a lot of time looking for the right photo for a blog post, I took note. In fact, my handwritten note at the time reads: Pictures – he takes hours to find the right pictures. Hours. Hmmm. This is a man who has no difficulty pumping out words, in the most engaging and informative style, and he takes hours to find the right pictures.

I learnt long ago that one of the secrets of success is to emulate success. Which is why, since that workshop, I’ve been making more of an effort to find and include pictures with blog posts. One of the challenges there is that a lot of pictures I would like to use are subject to copyright.

I know there are pictures on Flickr which are easy to use by virtue of their being published under a Creative Commons license. Finding the one I want has not been easy – in face, not to put too fine a point on it, it’s been a sheer waste of time!

iStockPhoto is a service I have found useful. It’s free to join and has a mixture of freely usable and “premium” graded pictures for which payment of a fee is required.

Back to PicApp.

The embed code you get from the PicApp site includes an advertising element, which won’t work for those of us who don’t make a practice of having ads included with pics in our blog posts. So I doubt I’ll be making use of the service.

But in the interest of research I decided to sign up and give it a test run. Signup was quick and hassle-free.

I used the search terms “home office” and “work from home”.

The display was good and quick. A lot of what came up were very posed photos such as you would find in any batch of stock photos. There were also some fine portraits, which seemed all to be from Getty Pictures.

I generally use LiveWriter to compose my posts. That was problematic with PicApp, as there were huge gaps after a picture, making it very difficult to add more text after the picture or add another picture. Editing in WordPress had its own challenge, because although the preview screen worked better than the LiveWriter preview, the editing window is so small that it proved too hard to interpose text between the pictures I had chosen.

So I’ve decided with some reluctance to include just one of the pictures I chose. This one is captioned Woman sitting on floor in lounge room with laptop, laughing. I think she is actually sitting on a lounge, not actually on the floor, and I suspect she is laughing because:

  • she knows that trying to use a laptop sitting directly on the lounge (or on the floor) will probably cause the laptop to overheat and shut down (try it)
  • she knows that working from home is actually work and is probably not done sitting on the floor, with or without laptop.

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