Use Photos to Make Your Blog Show Up On Search Engines

Photo courtesy of Stock.chng
After the discussion of blog photos and how to keep from getting sued, I thought I'd mention one additional thing that can help bloggers who use photos. This tip has nothing to do with copyright, but helps the search engines to "see" the photos you upload. 

I learned this tip from Alexa, the site where you can have your blog analyzed for optimization. Just using a photo with the typical "DSCN66007.jpg" does not allow search engines like Google to "see" them. If you want your photos to help bring readers to your site, there are three things to do.

Rename. It's easy to rename a photo. Just like a file name, click on it to highlight the file name, and give it the name you want. But don't just describe the picture, give it a name that will mean something to the search engine. Think keywords. If it's a picture of a beach ball for your post on reading on the beach, you could call it "great beach reads"

Separate. Next, you'll separate the words of your photo label. Use either a dash or an underscore. For the beach ball example, you'd use "great-beach-reads" or "great_beach_reads".

Add. Lastly, you'll add the magic ingredient. I don't know why this works so well, but Alexa said to do it, and it has magical results. Add the letters "alt" to the end of your photo tag. So our examples above would end up looking like these: "great-beach-reads-alt.jpg" or "great_beach_reads-alt.jpg".

Somehow, doing these three simple things makes the photos you use visible to the search engines. Using Sitemeter, I've noticed that a huge amount of my blog traffic comes from Google images. That was not the case before I began renaming my photos. Some photos I've used appear in the first position on Google images. That increases the likelihood of someone ending up on my blog. Give it a try--it might work well for you, too.

Has anyone else tried this technique? I'd love to hear your experiences, and if you have other tips to share.

Keep from getting sued for the photos on your blog

I read agent Kristin Nelson's post on Friday, where one of her clients shared how she was sued for posting a photo on her blog. The story is a cautionary one for all of us who use photos to make our blog posts more interesting.

Roni Loren, author of Crash Into You, became embroiled in a lawsuit after posting a photo on her blog. The photographer (within his rights) asked her to take it down, but subsequently sued Loren for damages. Read the whole story in Loren's blog post. The comments are worth reading, too.

Loren admits she was in error, though she had no idea that being ignorant of the law is not an excuse. She shares tips with bloggers to prevent them from finding themselves in the same situation she encountered. Loren gives links to sites where bloggers can find photos that are truly free to use, and also shares more information from her friend Meghan Ward.

It's important for those of us who blog to read this information carefully, and use it to help decide what we share on our blogs. But not only there, because the rules of copyright also apply to Facebook, Pinterest, and Tumblr, among many others.

As writers, we'd hate for someone to share our words without attribution, permission, or compensation. Photographers endure this all the time. For myself, I use either my own photos, or those from Stock.xchng, a free site with a huge number of images.

How do you handle images on your blog? Do you stay away from them completely? Only use your own? Or pay for the ones you use?

Write a novel with Camp Nanowrimo

Let's face it. November is not the greatest month for writing a complete novel. Gearing up for the major holidays takes some effort and attention. Throw in school, work, and sports schedules, and it's not hard to see why many "Wrimos" don't complete the 50,000 word goal.

Summer is different. It feels different. You're not tied to all the same school-year schedules, even if you don't get much time off work. 

So the folks at Nanowrimo came up with Camp Nanowrimo. During the months of June and August, participants have the opportunity to write a 50,000 word novel, with all the support and prizes the organization is known for.

Why should you give it a try? 

It's a great way to get that first draft down on paper. Pushing myself to keep writing instead of re-editing the first chapters ad nauseum is the only way the book will get finished.

You don't feel so alone when so many others are sweating over their keyboards along with you. The Nanowrimo forums are a fantastic place to find new friends in your genre, and to share resources and tips.

You can challenge your kids. A young writers edition of Camp Nanowrimo is available for kids who want to set their own writing goals. Imagine how motivating it would be to try to stay ahead of your kids' word output.

If you're considering giving it a try for the August 1st session, it's necessary to prepare as much as possible ahead of time. Here are some links to resources I've collected that are really helpful:

An introduction to the Nanowrimo forums.

A list of more free resources for Nanowrimo participants.

Do you find writing in the summer to be easier or more difficult to schedule? Would you rather try Nanowrimo in the fall? I'd love to hear what you think.

Market your novel with an audiobook

Having always been a huge reader, I gravitate towards the written word. But guess what? The majority of the world does not? How does a writer reach those who prefer not to read?

Audio books.

Think about it. As our world becomes more technologically dependent, more visual, and more hurried, audio books can fit an important niche. Not only that, but many people are not fluent readers, or don't read at all, and they miss out on the worlds the rest of us readers get to enjoy.

I've always loved to be read to, and my children enjoyed it, as well. Whether you write fiction or non-fiction, audio books are a convenience for readers, especially those with a long commute, or boring workouts.

Besides offering your book to a whole new market, audio books can be a way to help readers take the chance on your book. Similar to free sample chapters, free audio books, or free audio chapters can be the key to garnering new fans.

Make it. You can hire a company to produce your audio book, but it's not all that hard to do it yourself. Joanna Penn posted a comprehensive article with ten tips on how to create an audio book.
{thanks for the link, C. Hope Clark!}

Distribute it. Authors today have the option to sell the  Author Jill Williamson posts free audio files of her first two novels. She puts them up one at a time, alerting her fans via Facebook that a new chapter is available.

Publishing pro Michael Hyatt lured readers to buy his marketing book, Platform, by offering a host of goodies for those who purchased the book in the first week, including an audio edition of the book (which I listened to on my Kindle).

And using a service, such as Gumroad, it's easy to sell audio files without having to tangle with a site to collect the money.

Do you listen to audio books yourself? How do you feel about offering your own to readers?

All About Book Trailers

Because a friend of mine asked a question about book trailers, I decided to resurrect this post from the past, with a few new additions. Enjoy!

We all love movie trailers. They provide a sneak peek into an upcoming movie, often giving the viewer a sense of whether the film will be a must-see, a might-see, or a no-see. Books have trailers, too. It's a growing trend, though the jury is still out as to whether they translate into more books sold.

If you'd like to see a few book trailers, you can type "book trailer" into YouTube's search box, or go to a book trailer site, like this one. Alternatively, check out the websites, blogs and Facebook pages of your favorite authors.

You do need to be careful about using your own photos, or copyright free photos. This site has information on how to find them.

There are many companies and individuals who are happy to make a book trailer for you. However, the cost will be anywhere from $3000 to $10,000. Here is a list of resources if you'd like to make one on your own. If you're not ready for a trailer yet, bookmark this page for the future.

Writer's Digest's article on how to create a book trailer.

A how-to site with 31 links to other book trailer information.

Simple instructions on eHow.

An article on Suite 101.

Making a trailer with Windows Movie Maker.

Making a trailer with iMovie.

Making a trailer with PhotoStory 3.

Forty-five links about book trailers.

A how-to on agent Nathan Bransford's blog (also using Movie Maker).

And finally, a YouTube video how-to.

Instructions from romance author Brenda Coulter.

And here's a new idea: how about a pitch trailer? That would be something to send agents or editors to explain the idea of your story. Amanda Luedecke explains the benefits of pitch trailers, book trailers and vlogs.

Do you have a favorite example of a book trailer? Maybe even your own? Post a link in the comments. Do you think you'd ever make one yourself, or hire someone else? Is there truly a direct benefit to trailers, or will you choose another avenue for your marketing dollars?

Agent Friday: Carly Watters of P.S. Literary

It's about time for another Agent Friday post. Today's agent is Carly Watters of P.S. Literary Agency. Watters began her career in London, and now joins the Ontario-based P.S. Literary. She's actively building her list, so Watters is a great agent for writers to contact. Check out the list of what she's looking for.

Here's a sampling of some of the great posts on her blog:

5 easy tips to make your query stand out

Why agents take on less than 1% of all queries

How are you going to grab the reader's attention in the first five pages?

Digital Strategy: Do you have one?

On writing: How fast is too fast?

Writing high stakes tension: are you too close to your characters?

Video blog: How to write a query letter

Video blog: Introduction to foreign rights

On Characters: from inception to conclusion

There are many more posts on Watters blog, with topics ranging from author brand to submissions to social media. Do you know of more blogging agents I need to feature? Check out the 65 highlighted so far.

Guest Post: 3 Ways to Support Your Fiction Habit While Working Towards That Big Contract

By Gina Conroy

Many of us are committed fiction writers, yet haven’t been paid for our efforts in years. Sometimes it’s hard to convince family and friends and we’re working when we don’t bring home a paycheck. Sometimes it’s even hard to convince ourselves.

So what’s a devoted novelist to do while waiting to land a big contract?

Freelance Before the fiction bug bit, I freelanced for several local magazines. But when raising kids, writing fiction, and freelancing became too much to juggle, I hug up my press hat. Unfortunately, I forfeited the little money I was making that “made” me as a real writer. Now almost ten years later and one book contract advance spent, I need to make money while I wait to land a bigger contract. Since getting a J.O.B is not an option for me at this point, I’ve decided to go back to my freelancing roots.

At a recent writers conference, Chuck Sambucino offered great insight on freelancing. In class I realized I had years worth of blog content that I could repurpose for different periodicals, and was inspired to send out queries. My first query to the local paper didn’t get a response, but I got a “yes” twenty minutes after I emailed a query to a magazine I used to write for. There might even be an option for writing a column when there’s an opening. Now it’s official, I’m a working freelancer again and all because I decided to send out a query!

Teach Last summer I taught story telling/plotting to a group of preteens and had a great time teaching what I love, and I got paid for it! This year I’ve added new classes to creative writing camps and hope to hold one or two this summer. The biggest obstacle is finding students, but I’m doing everything I can to make it happen. I won’t get rich doing this, but it will help fund one writer’s conference this year. And it will add to my speaking resume!!

Ebooks This fall I’ll publish my first ebook starting with the writeing course I created for teens. I also plan on taking my blog content, organizing posts into themes, and publishing them as ebooks. With seven years of blogging, I think I can come up with a couple of ebooks that people will want to read.

What about you? What have you already written that you can turn into an ebook, freelance article, or class you can teach? You might not get rich, but you might just earn a little money while you wait for that next big fiction contract, and prove to the naysayers that you are a legitimate writer.
Unfortunately, the downside to trying to support your fiction habit is that it gives you less time to actually write. But that’s another subject for another day. Til then… keep writing, one word, one project at a time!

Gina Conroy used to think she knew where her life was headed, now she's leaning on the Lord to show her the way. She is the founder of Writer...Interrupted, and tries to keep things in perspective, knowing God's timing is perfect, even if she doesn't agree with it! ;) Her first book Cherry Blossom Capers released from Barbour Publishing in January 2012 and her first full length novel, Digging Up Death should be out by early next year. On her blog and twitter @Gina Conroy she chronicles her triumphs and trials as she pursues her dreams while taking care of family.

How do you earn money while you're working on your manuscript? I do freelance editing for Elance, which brings in in a few paychecks and hones my skills at the same time. What about you?

NextGen Writer's Conference: Free Online Conference

Are you a young writer? Do you know a young writer? We're less than a month away from the NextGen Writer's Conference, a free online conference designed for writers twenty and under. The conference runs for two days on August 2nd and 3rd, and features an impressive presentation team for a variety of workshops.

Attendees will enjoy sessions like: 

Opening the Door to Publication
Beat Resistance & Write Like Crazy 
How to Format a Novel
What Can Video Games Teach Us about Backstory? 
How to Mess up a Submission 
Being a Teen at a Traditional Writer’s Conference
Writing Something You Love, That Others Will Buy
Making Fantasy Fiction Work for Everyone

The organizers have gone to great lengths to create a safe environment that is full of current information on craft and the pursuit of publication. Even if you're not in the right age group, you probably know a teen or young adult who would gain from a conference like this. Pass it along!

Did you ever attend a conference as a teen? Would you have gone if you knew they existed?     

Happy Fourth of July!

I'm taking the day off today to enjoy friends, family, and our community's ugly dog contest (among other things). We're also celebrating that the Waldo Canyon Fire is 80% contained. I found this amazing video of the firefighters battling to save homes during the firestorm last week. It gives me new respect for these men and women.

Happy Fourth of July!

Free writer's magazine: Southern Writers Magazine

Fire update: The Waldo Canyon Fire is still burning, but firefighters are well on their way to getting on top of it. Just today, our area was released from pre-evacuation orders. Now it's time to put away all the photos and important papers, but I feel like we should keep them in one place in case of another fire. The smoke is thick today, but hopefully the wind will shift so we can open our windows.

Today's resource is a free digital magazine. Southern Writers Magazine is celebrating their anniversary by giving away the July issue. It looks like this may be available only through the end of July.

I had not heard of the magazine before, but I paged through the free issue (which only requires an email address for access), and found several articles I'm looking forward to reading. Things like:

Book Signing Success
Taking My Blog from Good to Great
Multitasking Mysteries
Word Count Sweet Spot
Where Do I Begin?
The Lasting Legacy of William Faulkner
Book Proposal Boot Camp

Those are only a few of the many articles and features. There are author interviews and columns on craft. Take a look at it while you can. Information on subscribing is posted, as well.

What are your favorite writing magazines to read? Or do you rely on online content?


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