August 26, 2021Comments are off for this post.

Finding free stock photos for your website

Updated August 2021.

Finding free creative stock photos for your blog posts usually feels tougher than writing the actual post.

What's more, you want to be sure you're not stealing images and that you are respecting the license (if not, it can get costly down the road!). So first, a guide to Creative Commons and its various licenses.

This comically bad stock photo is from a stunt to promote the movie Unfinished Business back in 2015. Photo via Adweek.
This comically bad stock photo is from a stunt to promote Vince Vaughn's movie Unfinished Business back in 2015. Photo via Adweek.

Creative Commons licenses

Creative Commons is "a nonprofit organization that helps overcome legal obstacles to the sharing of knowledge and creativity to address the world’s pressing challenges."

Essentially, it's a tool for creators to provide access to creative works without having to waive their rights, and limit liability. There are a variety of licenses they can choose from, and I've highlighted those used by the services below.

CC0 - The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication

According to Creative Commons: "CC0 (aka CC Zero) is a public dedication tool, which allows creators to give up their copyright and put their works into the worldwide public domain. CC0 allows reusers to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format, with no conditions."

Attribution 3.0 United States

According to CC, "You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use."

Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

From CC: "You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.

You may not use the material for commercial purposes.

If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you may not distribute the modified material."

Free stock image resources

Here's my ever-growing list of stock photos that you can use for free:

Burst: Provided by Shopify, these feel a bit more staid. There is some diversity, though, that's being added. Available under CC0 license.

CC Search: This image search engine is perfect for finding what you need, all CC0 images. And, they are working with WordPress to combine this into the WordPress ecosystem. I can't wait for this! 

Cupcake: All images are by Jonas Wimmerström and focus on nature. All under a CC0 license.

Foodies Feed: Just what it sounds like! These also have a CC0 license.

Foca Stock: This site includes photos, videos and even social templates! Also under a CC0 license. There's a wide variety here, less focused on having people in the frame.

Getty Images: Yes, it's true, there are free options here! The catch is, you have to embed the image on your blog and the imagery cannot be used commercially.

ISO Republic: These are licensed under CC0 license, which means they've donated the work to the public domain.

Negative Space: Interesting range of imagery. CC0 licensing.

New York Public Library Public Domain: It's a treasure trove of images of photos, illustrations, architectural drawings, menus, stereoscopic views, pamphlets and more from the 11th century to present day.  

Pexels: Free for commercial and personal use. There's also a WordPress plugin to simplify adding images.

Pic Jumbo: I do love the genesis of this site: The creator, Viktor Hanacek, started it when he was rejected from big stock photo sites because of "lack of quality" but today, there are 2.5 million downloads of images on the site! These are free to use commercially, but they all do not have model or property releases, and some photos may also contain copyrighted brands, logos, objects or personal properties. So 'buyer' beware, I guess!

Public Domain Archive: New images added weekly, and you can use them as you wish; the creators of these images have donated their rights to CC0. 

Stock Snap: A nice variety of images, both nature and office. CC0 license.

Startup Stock Photos: Not a huge collection or overly diverse, but they may fulfill your startup photo needs. These appear to be able to be used commercially, though attribution is appreciated.

Styled Stock: More "feminine" images—meaning lots of white backgrounds, flatlay images, and bright colors. Licenses give you a lot of room for usage.

Unsplash: You can use these commercially. It even has a plugin to make it easier, Instant Images. There's a wide variety here but it can stray into boring stock.

Find free diverse stock photos

Almost every client asks for diverse photos, whether it's in ethnicity, gender, body positivity... you name it! Here are some free diverse stock photo resources:

Body Liberation Guide: If you're often looking for body-positive, fat-accepting imagery, these illustrations and photos can be a great resource. Licences vary, but you can check out the overall terms.

CreateHER Stock: A great, more lifestyle-focused set of images of black women. These are not licensed for commercial use, only personal. Check out their full license.

Gender Spectrum Collection: From Vice of all places, this huge set of photos features trans and non-binary models in a variety of settings. Really inspiring and hopefully where stock is going! They use the Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license.

Nappy: What a great name! Billing itself as "Beautiful photos of Black and Brown people, for free," you really can't go wrong. There's a real variety of work, from office to just life. These are CC0.

WOCinTech: Diversity! Women of color in technology. A really nice set of images under the Attribution 3.0 license.

Got one you love? Share it! 

July 29, 2021Comments are off for this post.

BuddyPress for building your social network

Updated July 2021.

Back in 2013 I talked about a client's success in moving a Ning community to WordPress and, inevitably, BuddyPress. It seems like BuddyPress never had its moment of glory with all social media platforms sprouting up left and right, but then again, it's still relevant for WordPress-powered websites.

BuddyPress is a great option for those who want to build a social network themselves. It's powerful, flexible and free software that makes creating a private social network easy.

It is just a plugin, but BuddyPress creates so many new features for your website, it's actually quite a bit more. I like to think of BuddyPress almost as a social networking application, in a plugin. Its features almost make it a Facebook clone. But it's not Facebook.

Buddypress features

A quick rundown of its features:

  • User groups
  • Friending, profiles
  • Discussion profiles
  • Private messaging
  • Blog tracking [for multisite networks]
  • Status updates
  • Activity streams [which are an aggregate of the above]
  • The wire [feedback wall, separate from the activity streams]

Keep in mind, BuddyPress is not the same thing as multisite. Multisite WP is for multiple blog sites in a single WordPress installation, and BuddyPress can be multisite or just one blog.

Forums v. groups

The confusion I found when starting a BP site is the difference between forums and groups. Groups can have forums and blogs, but forums can stand alone. And, groups can be made private — i.e, for membership or board members who need a private area.

Customizing BuddyPress also poses some new issues:

  • You can use any WP theme out of the box. But it's worth customizing member, login and registration pages so that they fit your design.
  • Most regular WP plugins work with BP, but as always, you need to check for compatibility.

Extending functionality with BuddyPress-specific plugins

There are specific BuddyPress plugins, adding functionality for users and admins alike. Here are some favorites:

BuddyPress spam beware

BP is a huge target for spammers, but there are some ways to combat, or at least cut it down:

  • It's almost required to use Bad Behavior and/or WPMU's Anti-Splog (quite effective but pricey) to shut down spammers
  • Remove the Buddypress & WP credit lines
  • Rename your registration slug to block “insite:register” searches

What's next for BuddyPress?

BuddyPress 9.0 was just released, with widget blocks!

BuddyPress resources

Some of my go-to resources on BP:

June 13, 2021Comments are off for this post.

Protect your content copyright with WordPress

Updated June 2021.

Protecting one's images and text online is an important topic, and one I tackled at my Chicago Creative Expo WordPress talk.

Read more

April 26, 2017Comments are off for this post.

ChicagoWebSupport.com launches with levels of WordPress support and maintenance

WordPress support and maintenance is quite a bit of my ongoing business, whether it's "de-hacking" a compromised site or simply optimizing and protecting it. To be honest, WordPress maintenance is not the highest priority on some organizations' long list of to dos, and yet it's a popular target for hackers. So what's a website owner to do? Read more

September 26, 2014Comments are off for this post.

Combatting the WordPress spam monster

WordPress spam has been worsening lately for everyone: It's an easy in for hackers, especially on dormant sites or unmonitored sites. I've cleaned tens of thousands of spam comments out of clients' sites before, and those comments not only show an a doorway for more spammers, but also bloat your site's database and ultimately slow you down. Which Google doesn't like. It's a chain reaction. Read more

June 11, 2012Comments are off for this post.

My favorite WordPress blogging plugins

WordPress has a lot of really cool plugins—but that wasn’t always the case. These days I can add in event tickets, membership systems, even community builders that mimic Facebook, all for free or a nominal cost.

But blogging still claims a god amount of WordPress sites, so the average user can improve their site fairly easily.

Here are a few WordPress blogging plugins I’ve found incredibly useful not only for myself but clients too:

Tweet old post: This one actually has tripled traffic to Thriftista at times, revitalizing old posts that might have languished in the archives. The newest version also has the ability to omit posts, which comes in handy when you want to leave out outdated ones.

Instant Images: Finding decent, relevant photography can be a pain for the average blog—this plugin takes care of that, and the copyright. Search Unsplash images directly within your posts, and add them directly. Timesaver!

Rank Math: I usually install Yoast on client sites, but I've been finding I really like the flexibility and I’ve tried a number of SEO plugins and this one is simple, yet offers more tools for the advanced.

Akismet: This is a WordPress standard, and so many folks just don’t enable it. If you want to avoid the majority of spam comments, it’s an easy way to clear it out. It’s also free, though you need to go to the Akismet site to get an API key.

WordPress Editorial Calendar: We all say we’re gonna get out a post a week. Or two. And then six months go by, work gets crazy, you name it. This has an easy drag-and-drop interface to move schedule dates and set up reminders for future posts.

Anthologize: Is your blog ebook-worthy? Even if it’s not *grin*, you can easily export your posts to a readable format.

What are your favorites?

June 28, 2005Comments are off for this post.

Blogs, Wikis, Podcasting and more…

There are many technologies out there today that have been getting a lot of play in the media lately. Amongst the blogs, RSS, wikis and podcasting: What are they? How they affect your search engine rankings? And what can they do for you? Let's find out.

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