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.

BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

30 thoughts on “Armchair BEA: 10 resources for creating blog posts

  • June 2, 2014 at 11:31 pm
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    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.

    Reply
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  • June 1, 2014 at 8:44 pm
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    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?

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    • June 1, 2014 at 11:10 pm
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      Not started it yet but would love to do the Readalong with you.

      Reply
      • June 10, 2014 at 11:46 pm
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        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.

        Reply
      • June 11, 2014 at 12:42 am
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        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.

        Reply
        • June 11, 2014 at 12:58 am
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          Dot worry about it, my own plans have gone out of the window too.

  • May 31, 2014 at 12:55 pm
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    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!

    Reply
    • May 31, 2014 at 3:42 pm
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      Glad you found something useful. It find it difficult to get good images which is why I started looking around for options

      Reply
    • May 31, 2014 at 3:45 pm
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      My pleasure Jennifer – I’ve gained so much from other bloggers in terms of help and ideas that i’m more than happy when I can reciprocate

      Reply
    • May 31, 2014 at 3:46 pm
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      Do you think you should let your significant other know that there is a rival in your affections ???

      Reply
  • May 30, 2014 at 4:55 pm
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    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.

    Reply
    • May 31, 2014 at 3:47 pm
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      Photogrid isn’t something I’ve come across until now but you have me sufficiently interested to go and search it out. Thanks!

      Reply
  • May 30, 2014 at 3:16 pm
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    Great point that we can take our own pictures!!!

    Reply
    • May 31, 2014 at 3:48 pm
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      It took me a while to realise that I could do this….I’m not saying my attempts will be any good but at least I will be legal

      Reply
  • May 30, 2014 at 1:14 pm
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    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!

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    • May 31, 2014 at 3:50 pm
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      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

      Reply
    • May 31, 2014 at 3:51 pm
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      Will look forward to seeing the results of your photography efforts Stu

      Reply

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