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You’ve heard the phrase: “cash is king.” Well, now content is king. The internet is a visual world, and if you’re not making the most out of your blog images, you could be missing out on readers and endless opportunity.

Even if you have spent hours writing the perfect article with well-researched information and more, if there are no photos or worse—photos that only distract from your blog content, it could be pointless.

Now, the good thing is adding photos is a fun way to show your personality through your post and cement your branding. And it’s easier than ever to find high-quality free photos in literally every category!

Finding the Images

For my blog, I try to make sure I take my own photos of my dogs, so all my content is unique and personable. But, I get it—we all get busy and it can take hours managing photoshoots with the dog.

There are a few sites you can utilize for beautiful images that are free, like Comfight, Uplash, Pixabay and Flickr. Make sure to credit if necessary.

For one of my posts, I found a travel-themed photo on one of the aforementioned sites but when I uploaded it, it didn’t look right on my blog, and it really bothered me. I immediately took out my camera, set up a table with my laptop, papers and a passport. With my Frenchie Weston added into it, it finally looked perfect! With just a little extra effort, my blog post went from okay to great.

How to Choose

You want images that portray the story you are telling but also think of the bigger picture—choose images that fit your “look” and branding the best. This will help create a cohesive flow on your website when a visitor scrolls through. I usually add around three to eight images per post.

Where to Position?

Placing an image at the top of your post without having to scroll captures your readers’ attention and sets them up for absorbing your blog content.

Align images center or to the right of your post.

Resize your photos. Although your photos will usually fit into the screen width, if your photo is 2000x2000px, it will slow down your website’s loading times, which can lead to viewers leaving your blog.

You also don’t want your reader having to scroll down large photos. It’s a good idea to start your post with a larger hero photo to grab their attention, but any photos that are filling in your blog content can be smaller (ie: 600x600px). I like my images in the middle of my blog post to be smaller or even two squares side-by-side.

If you’re on WordPress, there’s an amazing plugin called Smush It which compresses and optimizes all your uploaded images automatically. Your photos and blog will load faster which is a win-win for everybody!

Screenshots

Sometimes screenshots will be necessary when you’re trying to show your reader something specific. Google Chrome has an app Awesome Screenshots where you can add annotations and more.

Or go old-school and use the trusty Paintbrush application (I will always have a soft spot for Paintbrush!) and draw on arrows, text or circles.

Alt Text + File Names

If your image name is something like “img_3810”, please update it! This is a great place to take advantage of SEO as Google also searches through image file names. I like to do a mix of describing the image (french-bulldog-in-bath) or adding my name + blog name in there too (wheres-the-frenchie-nikki-star-best-dog-grooming-shampoos). That way if someone saves your photo, your name will already be in it and searchable for credit.

All and all, always make sure every image has a purpose in your blog content and adds, rather than distracts. With these tips, your photos will work seamlessly throughout your post, keep your readers on your blog longer and craft content that is visually engaging and fun to read.

The post How-To Tips for Using Images on Your Blog appeared first on BlogPaws.

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How Photographing Pets Is Like Photographing Rock Stars… and How It Isn’t

By Summer and Janiss

Many of you know that my human started off as a rock journalist in the 1980s and 1990s. Most of you don’t know she began as a rock photographer, even before she was a writer. She had photos published in national magazines and local weeklies alike, and most of the pictures were from live shows. Little did she know that many years later, that experience would help her photograph cats! And I’m sharing some tips that can help you photograph your own cats (or dogs… or rock stars, for that matter).

Here is one of the many tips Summer shares about photographing your own pets (and how it’s similar to photographing rock stars!).

Ambient light is way better than using flash. Usually.

Back when my human was photographing rock bands, there were two schools of photography. One used flash; the photos did get published by one rock magazine in particular, but they were not very attractive and did nothing to evoke a mood. The other school, which my human belonged to, exposed for the stage lighting only, and the resulting photos were exciting, and the mood of the show really came across.

It’s the same for your pets: ambient light is the most flattering. Try to catch your four-legged family member near a window with filtered light coming in, and expose so that you get details in the face. Or out of doors, out of direct sunlight. Always make sure the part of the subject you’re focusing on has the best light. Avoid flash whenever possible.

What’s the exception for the no-flash rule? My human used it in rock photography sometimes, and she also sometimes uses it with us: use the flash to fill in shadows when the contrast is too strong. In that case, you use both the ambient light and the flash. Take the flash off auto and just turn it on so it always goes off. Play around with it for a few photos when you have bright, contrasty light. Sometimes when the light is low, and your cat or dog is too busy, you’ll also have to use flash. Experiment—unlike the old days of the 1980s, you don’t have to buy film in rolls and risk wasting your money!

So, when isn’t photographing pets like photographing rock stars?

Here is one of reasons why photographing pets is different than taking pictures of rock stars.

You can use the outtakes!

If a professional photographer takes a bad photo of a rock star, you can bet the rock star doesn’t want it published! In fact, they may even ban you from shooting them again if they are really upset. But with your pets, sometimes the photos that are the most fun are the mistakes, the outtakes of your pet making a silly face, or when something goes wrong. And best of all, your pet doesn’t care and won’t ban you from shooting them again. I regularly have outtake posts on my blog, and they are some of my most popular posts.

Head over to Sparkle Cat to read Summer’s full article, “How Photographing Pets Is Like Photographing Rock Stars… and How It Isn’t.”

Summer is regional award-winning Somali cat. Now retired from show competition, she works as a therapy cat, model, and social media influencer. She travels frequently to make public appearances at Cat Shows as a Pet Me Cat. Her blog, sparklecat.com was founded by her predecessor, Sparkle the Designer Cat (2002-2014), in January 2003, making it one of the internet’s oldest cat blogs.

The post Blog Hop: Taking Photos of Pets Is Like Photographing Rock Stars appeared first on BlogPaws.

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After months and months, and possibly years of hard work, the countless bag of treats to bribe your furkids with and many late nights of creative writing, you’ve finally created a blog and social media platform that reaches thousands of readers and viewers in the pet community.

You’d love to take your brand to the next level as you know that your current set up—camera phone pictures and free stock photos—can only take you so far, but where to start? You’ve been looking to upgrade your camera equipment, but you’ve been putting it off for quite some time because it seems so complicated! Nikon, Canon, Fuji, Sony; cropped sensor, full-frame, sensorless; and fisheye, wide-angle, zoom, prime—what do these even all mean?!

Well, if you’re reading this right now, you’ve come to the right place.

5 Reasons to Upgrade Your Camera to Enhance Your Blog Images
  1. Higher Quality Images. This is probably the most obvious reason. You’ll create higher quality images than what you may normally capture with your phone camera (although I will admit some of the recent camera phone technology is getting pretty ridiculous—in a good way!). This also leads to my next point…
  2. Adds Authority and Professionalism to Your Brand. Humans are visual by nature. When we’re Googling a topic, and we stumble across two websites with similar content but different aesthetics, which website is going to attract our attention more—the website with the professional looking photos, or the website with photos that are underexposed, blurry, and just plain bad?

    Okay, the latter may attract our attention more, but it will definitely be for the wrong reasons! With that said, professional looking images translates into professional looking site increased perception of authority of whatever your brand is about.

  3. Save Time. Coming up with creative image ideas and setting up “the shot” is already crazy time consuming as is, so why waste even more time trying to get the shot using a camera that shoots at whatever setting it feels like? Rather than leaving it to guesswork setting by your phone, by learning and using a camera with manual settings, you’ll know how to create the shot that you’ve envisioned exactly in minutes. This also leads me to my next point.
  4. New Possibilities for Creativity and Creative Control: Capture Images in Conditions that Would Otherwise Be Impossible with a Phone Camera
    Every try to capture a photo of your pet while they’re moving? Or try to take a photo of them when there’s not a whole light left in the day? Yeah? What do you get? If I had to guess, it’d probably consist of a bunch of blurry shots, grainy shots, and glowing-eyed pets.

    By understanding the different settings on your camera, you will be able to capture images in all the above type of conditions.

  5. Branding Consistency. Once you develop your style, your images will have a high-quality, consistent feel to it, which will make your brand instantly recognizable to others!
Buying Your Camera Gear

This is another article in itself on what kind of camera to get (sensorless vs sensor), camera brand (Nikon vs. Canon), and what type of lenses (prime, zoom, etc.), so I’ll just leave you with a couple of questions and points to think about when you’re researching what to guy.

  1. What is your budget?
  2. Are you looking for a camera to grow into? Or simply a camera that will take higher quality images than what you’re producing now?
  3. Invest in the glass! Aka lenses. If you’re planning on purchasing a camera with interchangeable lenses, invest the money in the lens. Camera body technology is constantly evolving every year, so what may be the latest cutting technology that year will soon become outdated the following year.
    With lenses, you can always use them on subsequent models of cameras, and not to mention they also affect the quality of images you can take, too!
Editing Your Photos

Your images are amazing! People will tell me. And like them, I used to think the images that professional photographers took, looked like that straight out of camera. That is until one of my friends burst my bubble and told me, “Nope, Kat. These images are post-processed.” Cue record stop. I know, right?

So here, we’re going to go over some commonly used software for photo editing, as well as a few different variables that you can adjust using said software, which will affect the overall look of an image. When you’re editing your images, a lot of these adjustments will come down to personal preference, and there’s no right or wrong way. It’s whatever your “style” is– which will contribute to your brand!

There is both paid and free software that you can use for photo editing. For this article, I will only be going over the paid software, aka Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop, because that’s what I know and use. If you’re looking for free software, because yes, the software can be expensive, a simple Google search will turn up different options.

Adobe Lightroom is a program that was designed specifically for photographers in mind. The workflow is easily set up so you can tweak the characteristics of an image in a matter of seconds (more on this below). For some people, Lightroom will be the only program you need.

Adobe Photoshop has more tools and capabilities than Lightroom, most which you will rarely use. While you can use this program to make the same edits as in Lightroom, it can be trickier since the layout of the tools isn’t set up in the most intuitive way.

For my workflow, I actually use Photoshop after I finish all of my basic edits in Lightroom. I will use the healing/clone tools for cleaning up the images of dander, loose fur, leash, etc. Lightroom also has a spot removal tool, but I find Photoshop to be much much easier to use for this type of editing.

Hey there, my name is Kat. I’m an on-location, all natural light pet photographer based out of the Detroit, Michigan area. I specialize in capturing the personality of pets and documenting the bond that they have with their hoo-mans across the country, including NYC, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. 

Inspiration behind the business: A lifelong love of animals and photography, plus a growing appreciation of what it really means to have beautiful and timeless images of a beloved pet, convinced owner and photographer, Kat Ku to focus solely on photographing animals and their humans.

Each client that Kat works with receives personalized one-on-one time to truly understand the personality of the pet(s) she will be photographing. This results in her creating professional and meaningful images that not only capture each individual pet’s personality but also the special, subtle dynamic relationship that they have with their human(s).

The post 5 Reasons to Upgrade Your Camera appeared first on BlogPaws.

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Infographics have been used in the corporate sector for quite some time, but they are just as useful for digital marketers.  In this step-by-step guide to making infographics, you’ll not only learn why they are so important but also how to turn this one design asset into multiple traffic generation streams.

If you heard me speak at the “Canva Made Easy” session at the 2017 BlogPaws Conference, one of the most important tips that I shared was creating templates for your design assets.

Use this guide as your mental template to making infographics over and over again. Don’t worry—there’s a free printable checklist you can download as well.

Why are Infographics So Beneficial for Bloggers?

Think about out all the social media platforms that your brand uses to generate traffic from. What is one consistent element across the board? Images!

Many if not most social media users prefer to consume content visually. Time is limited, and information that can be processed quickly is so valuable. Think about that the next time you scroll through your Facebook or Pinterest feeds. Do you read titles or is it a video or image that quickly captures your attention? Yep, that’s exactly why creating infographics is essential.

Step-By-Step Guide to Making Infographics STEP #1 The Writing Stage

Taking the time to go through these first couple of steps will save you far more time in the overall production process. In the writing stage, you will map out the content for your infographic.

Clarify your message. Before you make any design decisions, take the time to define the “takeaway” you want your reader to experience. Whether it’s an infographic about new pet parenting tips or the importance of adoption, you want to be clear about your overall message.

Research supporting facts. Now that you have your message clearly defined, it’s time to research. Notate any statistics, quotes, and any other supporting facts you’ll need to add into your infographic.

Write your infographic’s final outline. The last to do in the writing stage is to finalize your outline. When you get to the actual creation stage, inputting your supporting content will be a breeze if you already have this handy.

STEP #2 Pick Your Infographic Design Elements

Choose your color palette. If you don’t currently have a brand color palette that’s okay. When starting from scratch, I usually suggest heading to Pinterest and use search terms like, “yellow color palette” or “beach color palette.” You’ll have a number of options to choose from.

DESIGN TIP: Use no more than 2-3 colors on your infographic. It’ll be visually overwhelming if you go overboard.

Determine appropriate image size. Remember that each social media platform has different optimal post image sizes. Map out your infographic based on the appropriate size necessary for each social media post.

TIME-SAVING TIP: Save a copy of your infographic. Then, adjust the canvas size of that copy. You can rearrange your content to fit the new canvas size without having to re-create the text and graphics.

Use graphics and images that are in-line with your overall messaging. Your graphics should give the reader an instant understanding of what your infographic is all about.

NOTE: If you’re purchasing graphics from sites like Canva, The Hungry JPEG, or Envato, make sure you have the correct licensing to use them in print, website, or sharing on social media.

Use easy-to-read font. Avoid script or highly stylized fonts when making infographics. You want your overall infographic to be quick and easy to read.

STEP #3 Start Creating

Create a clear flow of information. When it comes to infographic design, this is by far the most important element. The point of data visualization is to make process, statistics, and messaging easier to understand. In order to achieve this, you’ll want to create a clear flow of content.

  1. Message
  2. Answer to “Why the message or information is true?”
  3. Supporting information
  4. Conclusion

Use bite-sized summaries. Infographics that are too wordy lose the ease of consumption element. You can expand on each point in a blog post while using the infographic to drive traffic to that post. Similar to recipe pins on Pinterest, don’t worry about listing ingredients or bullet points in this case. A great infographic will create interest and generate traffic to your blog post, where they can then learn more about your message in greater detail.

Organize your content using graphics. Segment your content and strengthen your messaging using relevant graphics.

Keep your infographic design clean and simple. Your audience should be able to process the information you’re trying to share fairly quickly.

Design Tip: Use overlays like shapes to create sections to reduce the use of too many graphics

STEP #4 Let it Sit a Bit

Don’t rush to publish it. Many times, you’ll have a different view of your design after stepping away from it. Fresh eyes always help!

Edit after 24 hours. I usually go back to the “final” design after 24 hours, make any final tweaks before I start the post-production stage.

Step #5 Expand

As I mentioned before, your infographic design can be used to generate different traffic streams. This is the stage where you’ll develop that.

Write a blog post. Expand on those bite-sized summaries in the infographic, similar to what you see here in this post. Now, you can use that infographic as a “pinnable” image to direct more traffic to your website.

Re-purpose your infographic. You spent all that time creating it, why now extend its use? Use the outline you created and turn it into a free printable you can use as an e-mail opt-in. Another option is to have it professionally printed and use them as marketing brochures for your product or services.

Save it as a template. Love your design so much that you could see it as an ongoing theme? Templates save you so much time in the production stage. You’ll be able to swap out text and graphics but keep the overall design layout. That’s not the only reason to create templates though. Think of brand recognition, your infographics will have a signature look.

Finally, the most important step in the whole process of making infographics is to have fun and be creative!

Christine Jerry is the creator of Mom2Mom Inspired, focusing on blog management and specialty design. A wife, mom of 2, and devoted pet parent to 2 canine furbabies, Christine still believes in fairy tales like work life balance.

The post Step-By-Step Guide to Making Infographics appeared first on BlogPaws.

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How to Improve Your Photography of Your Pets

By Jessica Shipman

I’ve always been passionate about photography. Growing up I attended every single event with a disposable camera in tow. I just loved being able to capture funny or special moments and enjoy them just as much later on. My friends fell victim to the candid photo far too many times. And then I got my first digital camera—the first kid in my class (thanks Dad!)—and my budding interest in technology and photography just exploded. The camera ran on 4 AA batteries. The resolution wasn’t great, and it definitely was NOT quick, but I suddenly fell into a completely new world—photo editing. Hello Paint!

You may not share my ridiculous passion and interest for photography, but I bet as a pet parent you LOVE seeing and taking pictures of your pets. So, I also bet that you wouldn’t mind being able to take slightly better photos to seal those already unforgettable moments in color.

Feed Them Well

This is Luna’s most important tip! Pets shouldn’t work for free. Sitting and waiting isn’t fun for anyone, so if your pet does a great job be sure to let them know through praise and a tasty treat. My go-to treats are small, smelly, and low calorie because Ralph & Luna get a ton during every photo shoot. Bonus if you find small treats that you can tear into even smaller pieces!

Keep it Positive

Think of a photo shoot with your pet as a subset of their regular training. Keep everything positive and work through any difficulties you face together. After numerous tries, if something still isn’t clicking then don’t push it. Maybe today just isn’t the day. No matter what end your session on a positive note even if it’s just a simple photo of them sitting.

Get Down On Their Level

Yes, get down on the ground! Pets can range drastically in their sizes and heights, but it is so important to actually get down on their level when you take photos. You’re going to be able to capture so much more emotion and details in their faces than if you were to stand overhead. You are also more immersed in what they see, so it will be easier to predict and get the better shots.

It’s Okay to Edit

Editing is a whole other ballgame, but it can drastically improve the quality of your photos. There are so many photo editing software options out there than can take years to fully master. My favorites right now are the web based options PicMonkey and Canva for creating graphics or basic edits. I also regularly use Adobe Lightroom for bulk editing and adding my watermark. Because of my budget, I also use Paint.NET in place of Adobe Photoshop.

Many experts scoff at using the “automatic” editors in these programs. While the auto adjustments are probably not as good as when an expert does the editing, it is a great starting point for beginners. Go ahead and click auto and then see how things change when you update the settings. Hands-on experience is the best!

Please head over to Beagles & Bargains to read Jen’s full article, “How to Improve Your Photography of Your Pets.”

Jessica Shipman is a bargain hunter, food lover, and software engineer figuring out how to be a pet parent for the first time. She shares her journey with her two dogs Ralph and Luna on her blog Beagles & Bargains. After getting an Ivy League degree and hands on experience on a corporate web development team, Jessica has decided to change things up. She launched jessicashipman.com to make web technology easy and more accessible to bloggers and small business owners. Stop by for free tips or to learn more about her web development consulting.

The post Blog Hop: How to Improve Your Photography of Your Pets appeared first on BlogPaws.

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Blog photos are a great tool to use when creating content for both your blog and social media. They not only provide a visual element to your blog post, but they also can provide an opportunity for more shares. But what are ways to enhance your blog photos to make them more shareable?

There are many ways you can make your blog photo shareable. There are tools that make it easy to create infographics, picture quotes, animated images such as GIFs and videos. The key here is that you will be able to create shareable content to help increase your traffic.

Infographic Tools

An infographic is a visual representation of information which aims to make the data easily understandable at a first glance. This have minimal text and can help to explain a concept, showing trends, simplifying information by using compelling images to tell the story in a compact and shareable form.  There are several types of infographics that can be made:

  • Informational using graphics and text to explain a concept or describing the steps involved in achieving a certain outcome or a tutorial to educate on a specific topic.
  • On a form of a timeline with events or actions in chronological order.
  • Used for charts to make a point on trends or growth.
  • Used for comparisons to show similarities and differences between two or more products, locations, events, actions, ideas, etc.
  • Professional resume or to show your blog’s media kit with your numbers and achievements.

Below are infographic tools that you can use:

Canva

Canva is filled with options and ready to use templates for the project you choose to work on. It includes the required dimensions so that you can start creating in seconds. You can use the site but Canva has an app for iPhone and Android too. Canva has a lot of templates for almost everything including infographics. And has a large variety of images that you can choose from. You can use the free version with limited possibilities or purchase the monthly service to have access to all the benefits.

PicMonkey

This is a design tool with customized templates for any occasion. You can edit images. Make your own ads, invitations, business cards, announcements and much more. They have a free version with limited features and a paid service that includes design templates for almost anything. PicMonkey allows you to open a new account and access to the infographic template designs based on a free trial. You can access a vast number of design templates and allows to add your own images too. It has a simple interface and it is very easy to use. Not so long ago PicMonkey released their mobile app too.

Picture Quotes

Picture quotes are essential when wanting to generate opportunities on organic search and to create shareable images for social media purposes. Inspirational quotes are a good example of this as well as adding text to your own pictures to convey a message or an emotion in a quick manner.

People often skim through blog posts without stopping to read the full story. A picture is a great way to convey your message quickly to an audience without having to read through a lot of text. Creating picture quotes is simple when using the correct tools and can help with the shareability and engagement on your social media postings, such as Instagram and Facebook.

Below are picture quote tools that you can use:

Photofy

This app is not only for editing pictures it actually helps you to create powerful content and picture quotes. Photofy includes an array of stock images, artwork, frames, free-form text, stickers, shape masks and the ability to include a logo or watermark in the images created. This app is partially free. You can purchase features based on your needs allowing for service customization. I use it every day and it is my to go app for picture quotes and creative Instagram postings. I find it easy to use and helps me create fun and catchy digital content.

RhonnaDesigns

This app is wonderful for editing images, making collages with video and doing special effects on your pictures. This service is partially free and comes in three apps. Rhonna Designs, Rhonna Collage and Rhonna Designs Magic. Each has a different purpose but all communicate seamlessly with each other. The Rhonna Designs app is easy to use but many of the design packages have to be paid for, so it could be an investment in the long run. But works well and has a variety of templates and options for creating beautiful picture quotes sized to meet the requirements for high-resolution formats, Instagram square postings, vertical Instagram Stories and Facebook sizing for better image optimization.

GIFs and Animation

The Graphics Interchange Format or GIF chains together multiple bitmap files into a single animated image. Each pixel within a GIF can be one of 256 colors, which is why GIFs generally look low-res compared to other videos we see online. GIFs have lower frame rates allowing for smaller files thus easy to share. GIFs give the chance to stand out and create an impact while showcasing a product or a fun message on social media, they can also help to create a viral effect. GIFs are recommended for social media use but not for embedding into blog posts as those are low resolution.

You can create GIFS from videos and still images using the following apps:

PhotoShop

This is a fantastic design app that you can try on a free trial basis to test the capabilities. This app is capable to make GIFs and many other tasks. Professional photographers use photoshop for editing images and create impactful pictures.

Ezgif.com

This site allows for you to upload still pictures and create your own GIF. It is simple to use and free. Allows you to convert GIF files to MOV and MP4 formats too. When creating your pictures you have to make sure to shoot on a sequence so that when you create the GIF this actually has a logical animation.

Video

Short form videos on long format videos are important for both your blog posts and your social media postings. Videos, when done correctly create buzz that ultimately brings traffic to your site and help with social media influence. Because people gravitate to videos as a form of entertainment and education. Google loves videos, you are more likely to show up first on SEO if you have a YouTube video embedded on your blog post. Short form videos that are fun and entertaining encourage social shares and work well on Facebook. Nowadays video views on Facebook and much higher than on YouTube, therefore, video is a great opportunity to reach new followers.

Below find the tools you can use to create videos the easy way:

iMovie

If you have an iPhone or an Apple computer you can use this app for video editing and for adding music. The app is simple and includes few special effects like banners and premade video templates. This service is free and comes included with your equipment. I have created many videos on this app in less than 15 minutes. The downside is that is only for Apple platform and doesn’t create square videos for Instagram and Facebook. However, it is good for creating professional long format videos for YouTube.

Quik

This is a video editor created for GoPro but works on Android and iPhone devices. I personally love this app because it allows you to create squared videos and has ready-made templates with fun effects for a perfect short-form video that is eye catchy and shareable. The app allows to save to your gallery and to post to your social media channels too. This service is free. The only downside is that has very few templates and some of the music is not approved by Facebook. For music you can use the Facebook Sound Collection which is free of use and has approved music when posting on Instagram and or Facebook and even YouTube accepts this music as royalty free. To add the Facebook-approved music you need to use another app called Add Music. This app is very simple to use but it is not free and is available for Mac users only. Unfortunately, I haven’t’ found an Android or Google phone app for adding music to videos that I can recommend.

Cheat Sheet for Optimal Media Sizes on Social Media
Social Network Image Sizes File Types

Instagram

‹‹Optimal size: 1024 x 512 px

.jpg

‹‹In-stream photo: Upload a photo with a width of at least 1080 pixels with an aspect ratio between 1.91:1 and 4:5
‹‹To avoid cropping: 320 x 1080 px Aspect ratio between 1.91:1 and 4:5
‹‹Thumbnails: 161 x 161 px
Twitter ‹‹Optimal size: 1024 x 512 px .jpg .gif
‹‹Profile image: 400 x 400 px ‹‹
Header images: 1500 x 500 px
Facebook ‹‹Optimal size: 1200 x 630 px .jpg .gif
‹‹Shared link (Timeline): 1200 x 627 px ‹‹
Shared link (News Feed): 1200 x 627 px
Pinterest Minimum width of 600 pixels .jpg
Boards 222 x 150 px (large thumbnail) / 55 x 55 px (small thumbnail)
Pins 2 x 32 px (profile picture) / 236 x scaled height (pin image preview) 236 x scaled height (pin on board) / 600 x infinite (enlarged pin)
Google+ Shared image optimal size: 426 px width .jpg

Shared link (thumbnail): 150 x 150 px

Are you ready to start creating digital content that stands out? Hoping you find this guide helpful.

Adriana Martin, a pet mom to Lady Bella, Tatiana, Jasmine, Scruffy and Onyx. She is a chef, award winning food blogger, social media influencer and editor in chief of TailsDiary.pet. Learn more about.me/adriana.martin 

The post Creating Blog Photos That Are Shareable appeared first on BlogPaws.

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How does one take photos for sponsored posts brands will love? It comes down to what brands are looking for—promotion!

What promotes better than photos or video? Nothing. Even if no one reads your sponsored posts, you want them to skim through the post to see the photographs. Your photos are the heart of a sponsored post, and will hopefully drive people to read your post. With all the digital options available online, there is no reason why your images can’t be amazing and stand out above the crowd!

Insert box on the head

Do you know the brand you are writing for? What type of company are they? How does the brand image fit with your blog image? You need to combine your image with the brand image to make a perfect match.

I start almost all my sponsored posts out with a photo that has nothing to do with the brand but relates to the subject I was hired to post about. No one wants to be “sold” right off the bat. Rope in your readers, so they voluntarily read your entire post.

I create a real-life story about a situation where I would be in need of whatever it is the brand hired me to post about. Readers should see the photo, then read the text and find the story relatable enough to continue reading. For example, if I am reviewing dog waste bags, I may have a photo of me walking my dogs. I will then write a paragraph about the problems of finding a good poop bag to take along on walks.

Insert paw on box

Photos are important for introducing the brand to your audience. Make sure you have a nice clear photo of the logo. Brands don’t want their logo to appear as a blurry image.

I include the logo in a small paragraph with the disclosure. If your sponsored post is about an item that came in a box with the company logo, get a photo of the box, perhaps with your pet doing something fun or funny with the box, or simply sitting next to it. Take care to have a warm uncluttered background for the photos so the brand image will stand out.

Insert brand and product

Try to have at least one photo with both the brand and product. It works great to have the product front and center, and the brand slightly blurred out in the background too.

Include your pet if that is something you normally do. It’s important to show the brand and packaging, so people will know what to look for if they are going to purchase the product online or in the store.

Insert Emma w bag

Once you have the packaging photos completed, take some great photos of the product in use. If it is a toy, snap action shots of your pet playing with the toy.

Be sure to use the correct camera settings for motion. No one likes blurry photos. Show your pets eating food or treats. Get a shot of the product alongside of something like the pets paw for a size comparison. Your photos need to tell as much as possible about the product without using words.

A sponsored post should be a story about the subject you are being paid to promote. The photos should be warm and friendly, and flow into the text of your post. Brands love original photos, so think outside of the box.

What photos will stick in the minds of your readers and impress the brand with originality? Try different locations for your photo shoot, or have your pet doing something impressive with or for the product.

When planning for your photo shoot, remember to take shots that you can use for the different social media venues. Brands expect you to promote sponsored posts on your social media, and they expect quality images. There are so many great photo editing programs available, for people of all editing levels these days, there is no excuse to not edit and create perfect images for social media. Many of the editing programs are even free.

Creating sponsored posts brands will love is truly a simple and fun process!

The post Brand Sponsored Content: Take Photos That Brands and Readers Will Love appeared first on BlogPaws.

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How to Take Great Pictures of Your Dog for Instagram

Before Instagram came along, I’d lug my heavy camera around on hikes and trips and take some photos, but my camera would rarely make an appearance. I wanted desperately to improve my photography skills, but I worried I’d come across as annoying asking my group to stop while I took a photo (or several).

Instagram, however, inspired me to get over that fear and, with Sora, and now Laila, as my subjects, I have finally become the photographer I always dreamed I’d be.

Lighting is Everything Outdoor Photography

Morning and evening light is best, ideally at sunrise and sunset. Cloudy days are also great for photo shoots because the clouds hide unwanted shadows and harsh light. If you find yourself outside midday and see a photo op, try to shoot in the shade if you can.

Indoor Photography

Find the spot in your house with the most natural light and use that as your studio. Open all of the blinds and get a sense for when the lighting comes in just right. If your pup is a sun seeker, then place a bed in the sunny spot and he’ll start to go there naturally. If I’m shooting indoors, I almost always shoot by a window or with a significant amount of white in the scene, like bed sheets, for example. Without natural lighting, your indoor photos will come out with a drab yellow hue.

How to Get Your Dog to Pay Attention to the Camera

My advice is to never head out for a photo shoot without valuable treats in hand! I recognize that when Sora and Laila pose for me, they are performing a task, and they must be rewarded for their efforts if I want to continue to ask them to pose for the camera.

Get on Your Dog’s Level

I also almost always squat when I take photos of the dog, in order to get on their level. If I stand, then the photograph comes from my perspective and loses intimacy. When I squat to their level, I can show the viewer what my dogs are experiencing from their point of view rather than how I see them.

Tell a Story

In order to have a successful Instagram account, focus on the story you want to tell. Our photographs tell the story of our travels and outdoor adventures together. Pick a theme that suits your dog’s personality and stick with that. Play around with different ideas and settings, but once you find something that works, tell that story.

Please head over to Long Haul Trekkers to read Jen’s full article, “How to Take Great Pictures of Your Dog for Instagram.”

Jen finds her energy playing outdoors. From 2015-2017, she traveled across Europe and South America by bicycle along with her partner, Dave and their dog, Sora, their rescued Australian Shepherd. When she’s not traveling, you can find her running long distances in the woods or hiking in the mountains. She is always planning her next adventure. To read the stories and see the photos from her adventures, follow her at www.longhaultrekkers.com or @longhaultrekkers on Instagram.

The post Blog Hop: How Jen Takes Pictures of Her Dog for Instagram appeared first on BlogPaws.

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A picture can be priceless when it comes to storytelling.  It allows us to “show” instead of “tell” and it also allows us to express ourselves differently.

I am a sucker for compelling images, and I’m not ashamed to admit that. I will flip through a book with an interesting cover, read magazine articles because the photos caught my eye and clicked through to read a blog post because of the photo I see on a Facebook ad.

I can say, with conviction, that none of the images that compelled me to act in some way either by picking up a magazine or clicking through to an article, came straight from a camera without being edited in some way. Even with perfect lighting conditions, high-quality photography equipment, and cooperative subjects, a photo may still warrant an adjustment.

Every photo I post on social media or in a blog post has been edited prior to its publication.  Using the proper tools have helped me manipulate an image in order to achieve the full effect.  This post will introduce you to my top “go to” photography editing apps that will help you optimize an image like a rock star.

First Things First

Editing can only do so much. You should be starting with a photo that already has “good bones.” Some things to be mindful of are using lighting effectively, eliminating unnecessary clutter around the subject of your photo and making sure your image is in focus. This helps ensure that your rough draft prior to editing is already a strong start.

7 Image Editing Apps 1. Snapseed

Cost: Free
Purpose: Basic Photo Editing

I use this app for every single photo I post. It’s easy to navigate and relatively intuitive.

The most common tools I use for many photos that I’ve edited are white balance adjustment, brightness, reduction of shadows, adding a vignette, and “healing” (essentially erasing) minor blemishes.

There are other features on Snapseed that I rarely use, like making a photo look vintage through the use of filters.

2. VSCO

Cost: Free & Paid Options
Purpose: Basic Photo Editing

VSCO is another editing app that allows you to make adjustments to your images such as updating clarity, lighting, hues, and exposure.

This app also has some pre-set filters that you can apply; this filter  automatically updates the image from the click of a button. The positive for pre-sets is that it can result in image consistency. If you look at certain Instagram accounts, you might notice that all the photos look bright, or a bit muted, or the colors are super vibrant. Those images have likely been edited to achieve a consistent look. You don’t have to use this feature to get a consistent look, but it can make things easier for a person who is new to photo editing.

This app is very similar to Snapseed, so if you haven’t used either, download both and fool around to see which setup you prefer.

3. Enlight

Cost: Free
Purpose: Basic Photo Editing, Artistic Adjustments, Mixer Tool

I’m not going to lie—I have a lot of fun playing around with Enlight. Its basic photo editing tools are easy to use and intuitive. In addition to the types of basic editing that can also be found in Snapseed and VSCO, there are some other, more advanced photo editing options that are likely not going to be necessary much of the time but are fun to try.

For example, there’s a way for you to edit a photo to bring two subjects closer together or farther apart, which could add to a dramatic effect. You can also reshape items, which means you can enlarge a specific portion of the photo or change its shape.

For the photo shown, I was able to edit the image of the dog to look like a cool colored painting.  While not entirely practical for every post you create, it could be useful for more creative posts or even creating merchandise to sell, like shirts and notecards.

Lastly, there’s an option to mix two images together in such a way where they look like they belong together. Picture a mountain outline with stars inside instead of the surface of the mountain. It takes some practice, but it is a fun feature. I edited Bean to look like she’s hanging out with a whale shark that I saw at the Atlanta Aquarium, which I hope makes you chuckle.

4. PS Express

Cost: Free & Paid Options
Purpose: Basic Photo Editing

If you already have Photoshop on your computer, you might be familiar with some of the ways the PS Express app is set up.  Like other apps listed, this provides basic photo editing tools, including specific looks.

The main reason why I’ve listed this app is a single, super helpful feature, which no other app I’ve found has for photo editing. You’ve heard of Red Eye adjustment for humans, I’m sure.  Well, when a flash hits a pet’s eye, it looks different than when a flash hits a human eye. That means, if you’ve tried to use a Red Eye fixer for your pet’s photo, it probably hasn’t worked out well. This particular app has, wait for it, Pet Eye! Yep, it’s specifically created to help with editing a pet’s eyes if you’ve used a flash.  

5. Canva

Cost: Free & Paid Options
Purpose: Sizing Photos, Adding Text, Adding Graphics

I will use Canva after I’ve edited a photo on Snapseed, so it’s a next step app for me.

Depending on the purpose of the photo, I use this app to adjust it to be sized correctly for optimal use on social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Sometimes the sizing is all I use this app for, but other times, I’ll add text, especially if I would like to boost a post on social platforms.

Fair warning: Text on photos does well on certain social platforms like  Pinterest and doesn’t do well on others like Facebook. Knowing in advance which platform you plan on featuring a photo on may help you to decide how much text, if any, to include.

I have also used Canva to create products without a photo I’ve taken as the backbone. My current media kit, resume, some logos for side projects and infographics have all been created with the use of Canva.

I wound up paying for a Canva account because I use it so frequently, which has allowed me to save brand color schemes, and fonts so the items I create are still on brand, even when the image and platform for sharing them differ.

6. Adobe Spark Post

Cost: Free & Paid Options
Purpose: Sizing Photos, Adding Text, Adding Graphics, Creating Collages

Adobe Spark Post is a part of the Adobe Suite, which means if you’ve paid for other Adobe apps, this can be included too, but the free options are pretty robust.

This app was around before Canva, and I used it for many of the same purposes that Canva has allowed me to use.

It has different font and graphic options, so I will flip between the two apps to see which works best with the photo I’m looking to feature and the layout I’m trying to use.

7. eZy Watermark

Cost: Free & Paid Options
Purpose: Adding a Watermark

If you are not watermarking any of your photos before posting them on your blog or social media, I strongly recommend you do. If your post goes viral, or if the image gets shared, but not the rest of your blog’s content, having a watermark will hopefully drive traffic back to your blog.

Using a watermark can also help to reduce the likelihood of your image being taken and used by someone else without your permission. The eZy Watermark app allows you to save multiple logos to use on photos. Once you select the logo you’d like to use, you can adjust its size and location and quickly save the photo to your phone for uploading on your site or social media.

Bryn Nowell is an award winning lifestyle blogger who curates A Dog Walks into a Bar, which highlights her love for drinking and dogs.  She has been blogging for over three years and prides herself on her visual storytelling.  The focus of her posts and photos are her two Boston Terriers, Bean and Yoda.  Nowell has a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations and her Masters in Business Administration with a Marketing concentration from Quinnipiac University.  She has written educational posts regarding business, public relations, and marketing best practices for the BlogPaws network multiple times. 

The post 7 Best Image Editing Tools to Use for Your Photos appeared first on BlogPaws.

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I’ve been storytelling since I was a little girl. In elementary school, we had book contests each year, and I would submit a story along with drawings on each page to illustrate the words I had written (I won first place for a couple years!). Nowadays, it’s even easier to write on the computer, and digital photos make adding images to a story super simple!

Humans are natural born story lovers. From the time we are tiny babies, people read, and tell us stories. We follow stories on TV, in the movies, and when reading books. Sometimes our imagination comes up with images to go along with a story, but nothing beats photos which tell us what the author really has in mind.

Think about it. Would you prefer to read an interesting real-life account about a subject, with photos to support the story or a basic description of a subject without any imagery?

Even cavemen used drawings in their carved rock stories. People love stories, and pictures help bring everything to life.

Here are some things to keep in mind when you are telling a story through photos in your blog post.

Know Your Audience

Before you get started, think about what your audience wants to see. In my case, my audience wants to see my dogs, especially Emma, so stock photos are out of the picture for me. Some of you may have blogs that are not attached to a specific pet, which gives you a lot more freedom when it comes to photos for blog content.

What Inspires Your Storytelling

My blog, My GBGV Life, is loaded with stories, and fun, supporting photos. The majority of my posts have eight to ten photos.

I get my inspiration for posts while out walking and running with my dogs. As I go along, I draft an outline of what I want to write in my head and then imagine what photos I need to go along with my tale.

Thankfully, I’m a person who can see something in my mind, go out, and create it. My photos are set up as I imagined them, and I always take more than enough. Sometimes the bloopers are a pleasant surprise and add a new element to my story.

Are Your Photos an Integral Part of Your Story?

Even though I have the story outline in my head, I use my photos to edit my outline. For me, it is so difficult to put a post together without the photos.

I never actually hit the keyboard until my photos are done and edited. It’s important for the photos and story to blend together. A picture should never look out of place, or cause readers to wonder what it is doing there.

When used correctly, the photos will help your story flow, and bring your readers through the entire post. Photos also break up the look of too much text, similar to the purpose of headers.

Make sure you use a photo that fills out the width of your blog, and if you choose to use a video, select the customize option to make it as big as it can be for your specific site. Attention spans are getting shorter all the time. People don’t want to do a lot of reading which is another reason why photos are so important.

If your pictures make readers curious, they will read more. My photos are placed to carry my readers through my entire post. Even though I want my readers to read my post in its entirety, I know most do not.

Create A Photo Niche for Your Blog

My readers expect out of the ordinary dog photos. I have created a niche for my style of photos and always try to get my pups to do something most dogs are not doing in photos.

Some of my most popular posts and photos are Chef Emma in the kitchen. I have her model like a canine Julia Childs, and it works wonders with our audience. Anything can be a story, from baking to buying flea and tick medication.

One simply needs to think creatively. Humor and out of the box images are what people expect on my blog. Every blogger should know what type of photos their readers expect, then go out and shoot those photos for their posts.

Bond With Your Readers Through Storytelling With Photos

If you consistently write interesting stories with captivating photos, your readers will bond with your blog, and look forward to what you are going to write next. When Emma isn’t on the blog for a few days, people are disappointed. I’ve learned over time what my fans like and do not like, and I try to please them as much as I can.

Joy Schneider is a pet parent to GBGV’s, Emma, Bailie, Madison, and two cats, Bert and Sophie. She is passionate about health and fitness for herself and her pets. Joy’s hobbies include photography, writing, running, as well as nose work, tracking, barn hunt, and agility with her hounds. She is the human behind the humorous and informative blog, MyGBGVLife.com, which is written from the viewpoint of Emma the GBGV. To earn a living and keep herself and fur kids in the lifestyle they have come to expect, Joy runs her own Real Estate Transaction Coordinator business.

The post Storytelling in Blog Content: Tell a Story With Photos appeared first on BlogPaws.

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