In 2009, the World Wide Web turned 20 years old, and the Internet itself turned 40. From the beginning of the Web and the first websites, it was more than just text. Images and sounds played a huge role in bringing it to life. These days, seeing a site barren of pictures seems like an error, and often it is. Although you might not think your personal blog will contain “multimedia,” you’d be wrong. Pictures, videos, music, and podcasts are all forms of multimedia that are getting richer and richer by the day—you’re likely to find a use for at least some of them on your blog.
This section explores using pictures, video, and audio (podcasts) in your personal blog. In this chapter, I’m not going to delve into the how-to aspects of videos or podcasting—that’s saved for Chapter 10, “Creating a Multimedia Blog.” This chapter talks about what most people want to do—share things they find online (like YouTube videos) in their posts.
Putting pictures, whether yours or ones you like by others, on your blog is one of the easiest ways to punch up your blog and add some color and spice. WordPress keeps making it easier and easier to add pictures into your posts, so the hardest thing might be taking the picture in the first place! Before discussing how you get a picture into your post, let’s talk about copyright.
Make Sure You Have the Right to Post It
I know this seems like a really strange thing to say, but one of the biggest problems online is people posting and republishing images without the permission of the artist or even giving the artist attribution for the work. Clearly, this doesn’t apply to photos you’ve taken or other works you create yourself, but it applies to pictures other people take and other art online. Often the easiest way to find out whether you can use the image is to look at the information around it. For example, I put this as part of the description of pictures I post online: ©Tris Hussey, 2009.
When you see “Non-commercial use permitted with attribution,” it means that if you aren’t a company who makes money through your website, you are free to re-post/use my picture as long as you give me credit. If you’re a company, you’re not allowed to use the image without my permission. Sometimes that permission comes with a price tag; sometimes not. I love to see my works used on my friends’ websites. If someone really likes a picture I took of him or her, I can’t think of a higher compliment than for that person to want to use it to represent himself or herself online. To do this, my friends ask me before posting the picture, and you should do the same for other artists.
Always remember that just because you found the picture online or in a Google Image search, it doesn’t mean that you have the right to use the work of art. It doesn’t even matter if your intentions are good (for example, promoting the artist), because in most cases it’s illegal. So, look at the picture and determine what the “rights” are. See whether you can use it free and clear (public domain) or have limited rights (noncommercial use only) or all rights reserved (hands off, buddy). If you’re not sure, you need to ask.
Posting and Sharing Pictures Online
Putting your pictures into your blog posts is only half the battle. Since the advent of the digital camera, the number of pictures people can take and save has become tremendous. Because the pictures are already digital, moving them from your computer to blog is a pretty straightforward process. What if you want to have whole albums online, or even just a whole bunch of pictures? The answer is right there on your computer.
First, start with iPhoto (Mac), Windows Live Photo Gallery (Windows), or Picasa (Mac and Windows), which are all great solutions for managing your pictures on your machine. iPhoto is pictured in Figure 5.22.
Figure 5.22 A look at iPhoto and my collection of pictures.
After you start organizing your pictures on your computer, you can then start posting them online as well. Lots of photo-sharing services exist out there, ranging from Picasa and Flickr to SmugMug and SnapFish. Each of them offers its own additional services, but in the end its core service is uploading your pictures to the Internet and sharing them. Most services enable you to mark the pictures public or private, title them, and share them with family and friends through email. Some additional services include grouping pictures into sets, tagging, editing, and requesting physical prints (and other items) of the pictures. When you view a photo-sharing site, look at what you get free versus what you have to pay for. Look at how long the company has been around and how many users it has. For example, Picasa is owned by Google, and Flickr is owned by Yahoo!. Both of these Internet giants aren’t going anywhere anytime soon and have tens of thousands of users each. In my opinion, either of them is a safe bet. Personally, I use Flickr and have tens of thousands of pictures stored there.
Having your pictures online at one of these services does two things for you. The first is obvious—you can point readers easily to your set of pictures about your new project. The second is actually much cooler. You can often post pictures to your blog right from the online photo service. Flickr does a good job of enabling you to post all pictures as you upload them, or posting ad hoc as you need them. You can also get easy to copy and paste code for a given picture that you can use in a blog post (I usually do the latter).
As a personal blogger, this saves you both time in uploading and server space because Flickr or Picasa are storing the actual file, not your server or host (this is very important for WordPress.com users). How do you get a picture into a post? That’s what I’m going to show you next!
Getting a Picture into Your Post
The good part is how to get those pictures into your post. Assume for this example that your picture is on your local drive. You’ve exported it from iPhoto or Live Photo Gallery (optional), and you’ve already resized it to fit your blog (optional). From there, use the following steps.
- Click the Add Media button in the post editor (see Figure 5.23).
Figure 5.23. The Add Media button in the WordPress post editor.
- Find the image on your hard drive. You should already know where the picture is, but if you’re unsure, start your search in the My Pictures (PC) or Pictures (Mac) folders.
- Drag the image file onto the window, and the image will be uploaded automatically (see Figure 5.24).
Figure 5.24. Choosing a picture from your hard drive to upload to WordPress.
- Adjust how it will appear (size, how the text wraps around it, and so on). This is where wrapping text around the image or having it stand alone comes in. What you’re looking for are buttons or option buttons that say, for example, Align Left, Align Right, or No Alignment. Align Left puts the text on the right, and Align Right places text on the left (see Figure 5.25). When you’re ready, click Insert into Post.
Figure 5.25. Adjusting image settings in WordPress.
The result should look something like Figure 5.26.
Figure 5.26. Image in place in a draft post.
That’s pretty much it. It’s not exactly rocket science, is it? People often feel that placing images in a post is difficult, but like most things, after you get the hang of it, it really isn’t. If you’d like to make it harder on yourself, be my guest (maybe try doing it blindfolded), but I don’t think you really need to do that.
As you get more comfortable with putting images in, you’ll understand how and where to place images to give you the kind of look you’re after in your post. It just takes practice.
Adding Videos to Your Posts
As I said earlier, we’ll get into how you create video blogs and podcasts in Chapter 10. In this section we’re going to talk about how to add videos to your posts.
Even if you do wind up creating your own videos, you’ll still need to know how to put them into posts. And let’s face it, sometimes we want to embed a great video into our posts that isn’t ours, but is just awesome.
Because putting video clips into posts has become so popular, the folks at WordPress have made it drop-dead simple. Let’s go through it step by step:
- Go to the video on YouTube and copy the URL of the video from the address bar (see Figure 5.27).
Figure 5.27. Video on YouTube to put into a post. We’ll copy the URL from the address bar at the top.
- Start a new post and click in the post where you’d like to put the video. Paste the URL you copied in step one into the post area. You’ll need a blank line above and below the URL you’ve pasted for this to work (see Figure 5.28).
Figure 5.28. Pasting a YouTube video URL into a post.
- When you’re done, click Publish—and you’re done! It’s really that simple. You can see the result in Figure 5.29.
Figure 5.29. The result. An amazing YouTube video in a clever and witty blog post!
That’s it. Really. I know lots of steps for basically copying and pasting a link. Regardless, I know lots of people who like to post short videos, just to mix things up a tad. Why not? It’s pretty easy. So fire up that web cam and start recording. Movie Maker and iMovie have all the tools you need to get started.