This is the third installment in a series of posts offering helpful hints and tips for those interested in setting up a blog to promote their cake decorating business or talents. I’ve already covered getting started with free blogging platforms and how to set up a Facebook page. Even if you decide not to do either of those things, you can still share your cake photos online.
Uploading pictures to a photo sharing website is very easy, whether it’s a single pic or an entire gallery, thanks to user-friendly image uploaders, and the services that have free mobile apps allow you to share your photos on the go, directly from your smart phone or tablet.
But before you upload anything or click the “share” button, please keep in mind a few basic things.
- Image quality. Yes, I have some photos on my blog, especially in the early posts, that aren’t that great. An inexplicably blurry cupcake comes to mind. But you should try to take good pictures with decent lighting. There’s only so much any photo editor can correct.
- Setting. This applies to photos of anything, but I hate to see a gorgeously decorated cake surrounded by used piping bags and dirty spatulas. Find a nice clean surface to put your cake on, away from a messy background.
- To crop, or not to crop? Sometimes cropping is necessary if you have to work with certain dimensions or if there are elements of the photo you want to leave out (like a dirty spatula off to the side, an angry relative, or something). But keep in mind this could make your photo a non-standard size.
- Copyright. The easiest way to avoid getting into any trouble here is to only upload and post a photo if you took it. Some services allow users to share pictures other people posted, and this is allowed with credit given to the source. But don’t post anybody else’s pictures as your own.
Share, share, share!
Okay, so you have a slew of pictures you’re ready to share with the world! Assuming you’ve already posted them on your Facebook page, if you have one, let’s take a look at a few other photo sharing websites.
- Pinterest is a great place to share pictures, and the mobile app is very easy to use. You upload your images by posting them to different “pinboards” you create based on how you want them categorized. Other users can follow you and might “repin” your pictures to their own boards, which broadens your exposure.
- Tumblr, which is really more of a blogging platform, also has a great app that makes sharing pictures from your mobile device easy and quick. The only downside is there isn’t a way to edit the photos, so be sure they’re how you want them before you post. Similar to Pinterest, other Tumblr users can follow you and share (“reblog”) your posts.
- Instagram is a photo sharing service driven by a mobile app. It’s owned by Facebook now, and you can configure it so that any pictures you post will also be shared on other social media services. It has become very popular.
- Google+ is a general social networking service and media platform, but like Facebook it allows you to share pictures via your profile page.
When sharing isn’t enough: Online image hosting and editing services.
I have my cake blog pictures in the media library here on my website, but I also upload them to free online image hosting services. This way, I can share and access them no matter which device I’m using. Plus, my Chromebook has very little hard drive space, so I can’t store many image files on it. Even if I had the space, there’s no photo editor.
Storing your pictures in more than one place is a good idea whether you embrace cloud computing or not. Not only will they be recoverable if something ever happens to your hard drive, but if one service goes down, gets hacked, or whatever, you’ll still be able to access them on another.
Out of the many available free image hosting and editing services, I’ve personally only used Photobucket, Flickr, and Picasa Web Albums. Like choosing a blogging platform, you’ll probably want to spend some time trying a few to see which one(s) best meet your needs. Just keep in mind that in order to enjoy free services you’ll likely have to endure some ads, unless you upgrade to a pro account or their paid services. That’s how these websites support themselves.
This is one of the downsides to using Photobucket. I don’t mind the sidebar banners, but there are times I wish the header ads weren’t there, and I HATE that a video ad plays while pictures upload because I don’t always remember to mute the sound. Flickr also uses ads, but they’re much less obtrusive.
I’ve used Photobucket for a while, and and I’ve stuck with it since so many of my pictures are there, but they’ve recently made some changes I don’t like. As of the latest update, navigating the site and finding my pictures has become cumbersome, the site is still slow, and the photo editor has less features.
Also, the Photobucket iPhone app isn’t very good. I installed it despite the bad reviews and low rating because I would love to upload my photos directly from my phone. That would streamline everything, IF I could ever get it to work. I have yet to successfully upload a picture to my Photobucket account with it. Either there’s a network error and it can’t even connect, or it won’t call up the pictures from my iPhone, or the uploads just fail for some reason. Yet, the obnoxious bottom banner ads always seem to load with no problem. I’m fed up trying to fool with it, honestly.
Flickr is another option, and if you already use Yahoo email or other services, then you can register for a free Flickr account with your open Yahoo login. Years ago that’s where I posted my Cake Wrecks submissions, but I haven’t been very active over there in a while. I might start using it more since their iPhone app is really good–it works well and is free, which is really all it takes to make me happy. Many talented photographers are on Flickr, so it’s a great place to see some incredible pictures, and there’s also social networking/community aspect to it as a whole.
Picasa Web Albums is a service attached to Google, so if you have (or start) your blog on Blogger that’s where your uploaded pictures are hosted. If you’re on Google+, then you can access the photos from there, and if you’re using Blogger then you already have a Google account, so there’s no reason to not be on Google+. There’s also Picasa software for Windows and Mac users, but I can’t download it because I’m on a Chromebook.
As for photo editing…
Flickr and Photobucket have very similar photo editors, and they work fine for some things, but now that I’ve learned how to use Pixlr, I like it best for editing pictures and making collages. I’ve heard it’s similar to Photoshop, but since I’ve never used Photoshop I wouldn’t know.
The good news is that Pixlr works with any photo hosting service thanks to the “add image URL as layer” feature, or you can add a picture straight from your computer. You can then save the edited image back to your computer hard drive, Flickr account, Picasa album, or Facebook.
This is by no means a comprehensive list, but more of an overview of services I have personal experience using. If there’s another free image hosting/editing service you like, please leave a comment telling us about it.