Ever had this situation?
You’re ready to publish your latest blog post. You’ve written the content, you’ve run a spell check and have added in hyperlinks, categories and tags.
Only one task remains before you hit the “publish” button — inserting a few images to create some visual appeal.
Normally that’s an easy task. But today WordPress won’t let you upload the images to your media library. Instead you get. a message that you’re out of capacity in your media library. That storage space which came as part of your WordPress package has all been used.
This became a problem for many bloggers last year when WordPress announced significant changes to their fee structure. One major change was the storage space allocated to people on the free plan, was reduced from 3GB to 1GB. If you’ve been running your blog a few years and have used images on every post, it’s likely you’re almost at capacity.
So what can you do?
You could of course publish posts and pages without any graphics. Not ideal though because the blog won’t look appealing to visitors.
You could upgrade your plan to move to a higher level of storage. If you upgraded to the Personal plan, you’d get 6GB of space while the Premium plan would give you 13GB. But that comes at a cost ( £37 and £84 annually at 2023 rates) and maybe you don’t want to make that kind of investment in your blog.
Don’t despair. Here are some simple fixes that will free up space.
1. Clean Up Your Library
This might seem obvious but it’s an important first step. It’s like decluttering your home. Go through your library and remove any images that are duplications. If you regularly publish recap posts or list posts for example you may have uploaded an image, forgetting that you’d already used it several months or even years ago.
2. Reduce The Size of Your Images
How big are the file sizes of the images you are uploading? High resolution/ high quality images and large scale images result in big file sizes, meaning you’ll burn through your storage very quickly.
Web and blog pages don’t require high resolution/high quality images. They won’t make your blog look any more attractive and in fact will cause the page to load more slowly causing frustration for your readers. They have to wait longer for the whole image to appear. If they have slow internet connection or bandwidth issues that can be enough of a frustration to make them click off and you lose a reader.
So get into the habit now of checking your file size before you add it to the media library.
Aim to get it down to 100Kb for images you want to go across the whole page; 30kb for smaller images. I’ve seen many blogs using huge images of book covers – 400Kb each post.
Users of IPads and IPhones need to be particularly careful. Photos from their camera rolls will easily be 1MB in size.
3. Edit Before Uploading
Within WordPress there are tools that enable you to edit the dimensions of your image once you’ve added it to the page. You might think this is the right approach but it will not have any impact on the size of your file
The image will look smaller to you and to people reading that post. But all you’re doing is changing the visual dimensions — the size of the file won’t have changed. So it’s still taking up the same amount of space in your media library.
Say you added a 400Kb image file to the media library. It measured 904 x 1393 pixels (px) but it looked too big on the page so you scaled it down to say 619 x 954 px. Visually this is an improvement, but it’s done nothing for efficiently using your library storage space — that file is still 400Kb. At least four times the optimum size.
Here’s another habit I encourage you to adopt: edit your image before you upload it to the media library.
4. Compress Files To Save Even More Storage
There’s another step you can take that will squeeze even more juice from your media storage: file compression.
After you’ve done your image editing and reduced the size of your image, you can get the file size down further by using a compression tool before you add that image to your library. It’s quick, easy and usually free.
There are a number of these tools available. If you have a WordPress plan, there are special plug-ins you can use. But there are also image optimization tools widely available online. Some are paid plans, some restrict the number of images you can add but there are also a couple that are unrestricted. Some will work only with JPEG files, others with JPEG, PNG and PDF.
How Much Space Can You Save?
It will depend on the size of your original image but here’s an example of what happened when I used compression for the images on one of my posts,
This was the featured image used across the width of the screen.
The original image measured 800 x 400 pixels and used 106Kb of space. When I applied the compression tool, it went down 9% to a file size of 96Kb.
I tried the compression tool on a different image, this time one that is only part of the width of the page.
The original measured 300 by 375 pixels and took up just 35Kb of space. When I compressed it, it shrunk by 16% to 29Kb.
It took seconds to do this but saved me 18Kb in total. Not a vast saving but every little counts if you are a blogger who likes to offer content with a high visual appeal. If you went through your image library and just did the compression on the largest files, your savings could certainly mount up.
Over To You
I never paid much attention to image sizes when I first started blogging but I now make it part of my publishing process to edit the file to the required size and only then upload it to WordPress. My little experiment with compression has had interesting results so I’ll be adding that to my routine.
Is this something you have tried yourself? I’m curious to hear about your experience.
This is an updated version of a post created in 2021. I’ve simplified it and edited to reflect the latest changes in WordPress pricing plans.