Armchair BEA: 10 resources for creating blog posts

book heart armchairbeaToday’s Armchair BEA topic is a free choice selection. Since I’ve spent so much of my time this week writing posts for BEA, I thought I’d pass on some resources that I’ve found a great help when creating blog content.

First of all, finding the right word

Obviously you need a good dictionary like the Collins English Thesaurus so you can check you are using the correct spelling in your post. Although most word processing software programs these days come with automatic spellcheck you can’t always rely on them for accuracy. I do like to look up words myself.  But there are many other  tools. Here are 5 recommendations:
1. Plain English Campaign Guides

The Plain English Campaign is an organisation I admire enormously for their work in getting government departments, insurance companies and travel firms to simplify their official documents.  The site gives you the basics on how to write plain English. The tool I find particularly helpful is the A-Z of Alternative Words – this will help you avoid writing that can be complex.  Look up ‘acquire’ and it tells you the better word is ‘get’ or ‘buy’ as an example.

2. The Visual Thesaurus 
This is a good resource for people who like to think in visual terms. It’s both a dictionary and a thesaurus. You type in a word and the tool creates word maps based on that entry. The maps branch out to related words. Although use of Visual Thesaurus requires you to take out a subscription, there is a free trial version.

3WordHippo

This is more of an unusual tool. It’s really useful when you are struggling to find the right tense or when you are trying to avoid repeating the same word too much in a sentence. It enables you to search for words under different categories; for example you can search by “singular for “adverb for,” “past tense of” and you can also get help on how to pronounce your chosen word.

4. Idioms at The Free Dictionary

This one is good if you want to use headlines that involve a play on words. You put in a word and the tool gives you a list of common phrases in which the word appears.

5. Thsrs (The Shorter Thesaurus)

If you are making a conscious effort to shorten the way you write (Plain English Campaign guideline is to aim for sentences of around 20 words), this is the tool for you. In The Shorter Thesaurus you enter a long word and get a list of shorter synonyms. Would be useful for Twitter users also.

Finding the right image

We all know what a difference a good image can make to a blog post. It’s not always easy to find the right one and stay legal at the same time. Here are some resources that can help you say within the law.

But first let’s touch on the thorny question of when it is ok to use an image you find on the web.

Often when you go to a site it will tell you that an image is free to use. That doesn’t give you carte blanche to use the image however – you need to make sure you understand the terms and conditions. For example, some images will be labelled in Google as Labeled for reuse which means the license allows you to copy and/or modify the image in specific ways. If you’re blog is not generating income, then that will generally be sufficient for your needs but if you are getting an income stream from your blog you need to look for Labeled for commercial reuse images instead and follow those terms and conditions.

1. Google Images

This is where most of us start off when we are looking for an image.  Not all the images you see here are ones that you can use without breaking copyright law. You need to refine your search so that you only look for ” free images”  using the small gear icon on the right side of the screen. Then select “Advanced Search.” and the correct image use type from the blue sign that says “Usage Rights.” You do need to know what image use types exist.

2. Flickr Creative Commons

There are thousands of images on this site. Again you need to make sure you are using only those which are designated as ‘creative commons’ usage. Make sure you select the “Creative Commons” box in the Advanced Search page.

3. PhotoPin

This could be a quicker way to find Creative Commons images since it finds images with all the attribution details and license info.

4. FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A rich source of good images. Those which are free tend to be smaller in size but that should be ok for a blog. If you need anything bigger, you pay for them.

 5. You

Yes, believe it or not, you are a source for images. All you need is a digital camera and a tiny bit of technical know how to upload the image onto your computer.  Instead of grabbing an image of a jacket cover from Google (which could get you into trouble) why not take your own photo of the book – maybe put it in the place where you do your reading to make it more distinctive than everyone else’s photo of that book cover. This is something I’m going to be trying out myself starting this weekend.  I’m also going to be looking for a low cost graphic design package so I can create my own images. The last thing I want is a solicitor’s letter dropping through my letter box alleging I have stolen someone else’s intellectual property.

About BookerTalk

After a day at the coal face of corporate communications, what better way to wind down than by sticking my nose into a good book. My tastes are eclectic. I find it easier to say what kind of books I don't especially like - gothic, science fiction and science fantasy do absolutely nothing for me. It doesn't mean I will never read them, because I am trying to broaden my reading horizons - that's the idea behind my challenge to read books from each country touched by the Equator or the Prime Meridian. Regardless of the author or country, the acid test of a good book for me is whether the characters are engaging, the plot realistic and the setting evocative. If I make it to 100 pages then I know I'll finish it.

Posted on May 30, 2014, in Armchair BEA, Blogging and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 30 Comments.

  1. Some great sites thanks for sharing

  2. This is such a great post, and I’m especially grateful for the free image sources. I tend to lose those when I make note of them, so I’m going to pin this post right now!

    • I keep losing things that I’ve come across on the web also. I keep having those moments where I know I found something useful but where that was is another matter

  3. Great info and resource links! Thanks for sharing!

    Holly @ Words Fueled by Love

  4. word hippo sounds super useful!

  5. Great point that we can take our own pictures!!!

  6. I love posts that share resources like this, thank you! Taking my own pictures is something I’d like to do more of…especially with fun toys like PhotoGrid.

  7. I think I’ve just fallen in love with Word Hippo. Thanks.

  8. There are a few resources on your list that I’ve never heard of. Thanks so much for sharing them! :D

  9. Great information and resource links. I especially need the image sources.

    I just read a book that could use a brush of the WordHippo. LOL.

    Thanks for sharing!

  10. I am definitely interested in discussing The Canterbury Tales with you. I will be starting it tomorrow. Maybe we could write reflections for each section of the book on our respective blogs. Have you started yet?

    • Not started it yet but would love to do the Readalong with you.

      • Hello Karen, I am great at procrastination (actually I”ve been reading way too many books at the same time). Anyway, I am only starting The Canterbury Tales today (6/10). I have created a posting schedule that may or may not interest you. There are 9 Groups in the edition that I have (Penguin Classics). In each Group, there are multiple stories. Here is the break down in case you are using a different edition. In my version, Group A ends with the Cook’s Tale. Group B ends with Words of the Host to the Nun’s Priest. Group C – The Pardoner’s Tale. Group D – The Summoner’s Tale. Group E – Epilogue to the Merchant’s Tale. Group F – The Franklin’s Tale. Group G – The Canon’s Yeoman Tale. Group H – The Manciple’s Tale. Group I – The Parson’s Tale. I will post on each Group every three days. So my post on Group A will be 6/13 and my post on Group I will be 7/06. I will make one final post over the whole book on 7/07, the last day for the Classics Spin challenge. This is the schedule that I have thought up. It is just a suggestion. Feel free to blog about the book the way you want. :) I look forward to reading your reflections.

      • On second thought, I don’t think I will be able to keep my own schedule. I agreed to do too many read-alongs this month. I will post about The Canterbury Tales when I get the chance, but it really is impossible for me to read 120 pages of poetry for Thursday while reading everything else. Sorry about that.

      • Dot worry about it, my own plans have gone out of the window too.

  11. Thank you! There is so much great information in this post. I knew about a few of these sites, but you’ve introduced several new to me that look very useful.

  1. Pingback: Sunday Salon: Phew what a week | BookerTalk

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