Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Photo Hosting Websites For Crafters - There's So Much To Offer Nowadays!


If you're a reader of my Linda's Blog  then you know I love to experiment and try something new.  So, back in 2006 I thought I'd try out some of the features of a few of the photo hosting websites that were out there then.  There weren't a lot back then and there weren't a lot of features to choose from. 

Well, a LOT has changed since then as far as photo hosting websites and help with digital images is concerned.  So much so that the possibilities are almost endless as to what you can do with your pictures.  There's just so much to offer nowadays!

There's all sorts of software programs to help you with enhancing and manipulating your images.  Personally, I use Microsoft Picture It and Adobe PhotoShopDeluxe for my pictures.  I've been using them for close to ten years now and I'm very happy with them.  But, there's a LOT of exciting software out there and websites to help with enhancing your pictures.  However, photo enhancing software and websites is for another post.

Nowadays if you want to share your pictures with your family and friends, or the rest of the world, there are loads of photo hosting websites to help you do that.  Some are free and some charge if you need a larger account with more storage space.

One of the most widely known and utilized photo sharing websites is Flickr.com.  It's a part of the Yahoo.com network, has been around for a long time and has a huge body of members and groups you can join.  I've had a LindaWalshOriginals photostream at Flickr.com for quite some time and still find it to be the best personal online photo management and sharing application website.

However, Flickr is for personal use only and not to be used for commercial purposes.   So, if you're a small business artist or crafter and want to use it for selling your products or linking to your products you're out of luck.  If they find you selling products, services, or yourself through your photostream, they will terminate your account.

I've used it to set-up photo albums for all my doll creations, create slideshows, and share my photo's with the Flickr community.  There is a HUGE community on Flickr of individuals who love to share their pictures, groups to join for whatever interests you, and so much more.   Other members can become your contacts and be notified when you add new pictures and you can tag another member who is shown in one of your pictures.

You can create galleries and favorites of your pictures and other members pictures that they've made public.  You can create a profile for yourself and organize your pictures into sets, collections, and albums.   Plus, you can create calendars, posters, canvas products, books, cards, and collage products from your pictures.  There's a LOT you can do on Flickr.com which is why it is so popular and widely used.


If you're a small business owner with a website some of the photo hosting websites allow you to not only store your photos, but provide a separate and unique URL for your picture location so that you can utilize this for your websites and/or blogs.

The BEST as far as I'm concerned for these purposes is Photobucket.  I've been using them for linking some of the pictures on my websites and blogs for years now.  I have a pro account and keep my albums there private and strictly for separate URL, website and blog purposes. They have been extremely reliable and I've never had an issue with any of my pictures or albums.

According to Photobucket:  Photobucket is the premier site on the Internet for uploading, sharing, linking and finding photos, videos and graphics. Your free Photobucket account can store thousands of photos and hours of video.

They provide the HTML code for you to copy/paste in a variety of ways: for email and instant messaging purposes, direct links, websites and blog purposes, bulletin boards and forums, and flash coding for blogs.   You can use the URL in many different ways including a newsletter, email, link from your website, link from your blog, etc.

However, they aren't just a photo sharing website.  They offer a full feature photo editor so you can fix the red eye, auto fix your pictures, re-size them, crop them, rotate and flip them, adjust the brightness and contrast.

You can create a collage of your pictures, add special effects, decorations, animation, beauty, distortion, and layers.  Or, you can design a scrapbook to share online or print in a book.

You can organize your pictures and videos into groups or albums that you can design and personalize.  Share you pictures and videos via email, instant messaging, or mobile phone.  Friends and family members don;t have to have a photobucket membership in order to see your pictures and video's.  All they need is the unique URL location. 

Plus, you can create slideshows, and create photo gifts like greeting cards, shirts, mugs, calendars, stickers, posters, jigsaw puzzles, luggage tags, hoodies, and more. 

Between the unique URL's, HTML coding, photo sharing, and photo editing capabilities Photobucket has a LOT to offer.  If you were looking for one stop shopping to satisfy all your picture needs Photobucket would be the place to go.


Picasa Web Albums not only provides photo hosting, but also provides the means to enhance and correct your photo's as well.  I have been using Picasa for many years now as all of my Blogger.com blogs utilize Picasa web albums.  My blog accounts are private, but my LWO album isn't so if you'd like to view it please CLICK HERE.

Even though Blogger.com utilizes Picasa I still prefer Photobucket when it comes to my blogs picture reliability.  Picasa tends to be problematical at times and I have found myself with red x's throughout my blogs from time to time until Picasa resolves whatever issue it is they're having.  I've never had that problem with Photobucket.

But, Picasa has SO MUCH to offer in features as far as photo sharing and photo enhancing software are concerned that if you were looking for one stop shopping to satisfy all your picture needs Picasa would also be a good choice.

One thing that does set them apart is that they offer free photo organizing and editing software that you can download to your PC.   You can create photo albums and slideshows.  You can organize your photo's by person with tags and organize all the pictures on your PC with their software.You can use Picasa to create and print collages, video slideshows, publish your photo's online, create online photo albums, and turn your photos into movies with YouTube integration. Picasa also has photo editing capabilities so you can fix the red-eye, lighting, color, and auto tune your images.

Also, Picasa  now includes a new feature to make uploading and sharing photos faster and easier.  For small business artists and crafters you can also control how your images are used copyright wise with a Creative Commons licensing feature.

They keep adding new features and improving their software and web albums.  Now you can even integrate Google maps with your photo's so you can remember exactly where you were when you took them.  Your pictures are displayed as locations on a Google map.  Now how great is that! 


I also love Slide.com  and love my Linda Walsh Originals slideshow account because the "dollies" love to create slideshows of themselves and Slide.com provides the means to do that.  You can create slideshows with special effects, fun pictures, post video's, create guestbooks for websites and blogs that anyone can sign, or create groups.

I've created 55 different slideshows over the years and always have a lot of fun doing so. If you’d like to see some of my slideshows please CLICK HERE. As with everything I do, I have a LOT of them and have links to all of them on the sidebars of several of my blogs.

If you don't know what an e-catalog is it is basically a portfolio of your products, but in this instance is a .PDF file that can be downloaded, saved, and printed by Adode Acrobat Reader.  I utilized Microsoft Picture It, Adobe PhotoShopDeluxe, and Microsoft Publisher software to create my e-catalog. 


However, you can accomplish the same thing as an e-catalog by utilizing and creating a photo album portfolio like the Linda Walsh Originals E-Patterns photo album I created at GoDaddy.com.

What I really like about the GoDaddy.com photo album is that I can have different backgrounds for each album and create slideshows for each album. If you like to read more of the pros and cons of my GoDaddy.com photo album I posted about it on my Linda's Blog in a post entitled I've Been Playing Again! This Time With An Online Photo Album .

You can always direct your customers to your website to see your products but some customers don't want to click through lots and lots of pages. So, if you want to give your customers a quick glimpse of some of your products you can do so by joining a photo hosting website and utilizing the best features of that particular website.


There are also wonderful photo hosting type websites that allow you to not only create unique products utilizing your pictures but sell your products, too.  One of these websites is Zazzle.com , which is a world leader in producing quality custom products from individuals, professional artists, and major brands, including Disney and Hallmark.

I LOVE Zazzle.com and created my Gray Is Beautiful products gallery there several years ago and keep adding new products all the time.  It's fast and easy to upload your pictures, edit them or add enhancements, and then publish them for sale. 

I've also used Snapfish.com, Shutterfly.com, and ArtsCow.com  for printing some of my photo's and storing some of my photo's.  All three offer photo printing, photo sharing via email and social networking websites, custom picture products like invitations, magnets, prints, coffee mugs, collages, etc.

With Snapfish.com you can also create a group for a particular event and share that online with everyone.

With Shutterfly.com you can also create a personalized web site to share, connect and collaborate with your family and friends.

ArtsCow.com has a wonderful feature that allows you to create designer scrapbooks online for yourself and which you can sell from their website - providing you an opportunity to earn from your creativity.

I haven't really spend enough time exploring these websites to see all their capabilites, but would like to when I have some time.

If you want to know about some of the various picture and picture hosting websites there are my Everything E-Directory contains a separate Pictures and Picture Hosting category page with listings of some of my favorite websites for these purposes. If you'd like to see what's on my list please CLICK HERE.

We have many, many more picture and picture hosting websites listed on our Everything E-Directory Pictures and Picture Hosting page. Here's a few of the websites from our list:


There are just so many things you can do with pictures nowadays.  It's so easy and there's so much to offer on all the different websites that you really can't come up with an excuse anymore for not sharing your pictures.

Try it - you'll like it. Now I sound like a breakfast commercial.


Posted by Linda Walsh Originals- "Doll Patterns for Grown-up Girls!"

Monday, May 03, 2010

The Results Of My BIG, BOLD & PROGRESSIVE STEP!

Back in November 2006 I wrote a post for my Linda's Blog and Tips For Crafters On The Web blog entitled: I've Taken A BIG, BOLD & PROGRESSIVE Step!

My post concerned my decision to eliminate my monthly newsletters in favor of my blogs. It was A BIG, BOLD & PROGRESSIVE Step at the time that I got positive and negative reactions from.

In 2006 blogs weren't anywhere near as mainstream and popular as they are now. Today many artists and crafters on the web are using blogs to sell their products. They've become "selling blogs" and are created instead of the more traditional websites - which is fine by me.

I was a big proponent of blogs back then and I'm still a big proponent of blogs - which is why I have so many!  It was also why I was dubbed "The Blogging Queen" crown and all!

In any event, back then on several of the forums I belonged to many members openly stated they would "NEVER BUY ANYTHING SOLD ON A BLOG!" My reaction was; "Why not?" I didn't see any difference between the person selling on their blog and selling the same merchandise in a traditional website. In fact, blogs can be set-up to look like the more traditional websites. So much so nowadays that you wouldn't be able to tell the difference. I wonder if those same individuals would make the same statement today?

My logic in using the blogs versus newsletters was simply based on exposure. Given all the ways that blog feeds were being generated at the time I figured I would gain so much more exposure from my blogs then I ever would from a newsletters. Since then the use of RSS feeds, feed services, feed reader websites, etc. has exploded. So much so that the exposure possibilities are truly endless.

In fact, nowadays I wouldn't be able to tell you exactly how many people are accessing my blogs RSS feeds as so many can do so without my ever knowing they are.

For example, I use Google Reader for tracking all the blogs I am interested in - which is over 500 now. Every time someone posts something new on the blogs I am subscribed to I get notified via a line item on my Google Reader widget which I keep on my desktop. I can peruse the list, read a brief summary of the blog post from the reader and then click over to read the actual blog post, if I want to. None of the blog owners have any idea that I've subscribed to their blogs this way.

Nowadays I can even link my blog RSS feeds to my Facebook profile and Facebook pages whereby my blog posts are automatically posted to my Walls and/or Notes and whereby my friends can then subscribe or read my feeds from my respective Facebook page.  And, I wouldn't have a clue that they had.

I've had a combined total of 1,028,186 visitors to my blogs since I've been tracking them. That's just visitors to my blog and doesn't count subscribers to my blogs that I'm aware of or readers using RSS feed services that I'm not aware of.  If I were to try and estimate the latter I'd have to guess that number would double if not triple the number of visitors to my blogs.

Also, when I look at the statistics for my websites as to referrals my blogs far exceed any other websites I have listed or advertised with. My blogs send more visitors to my websites than any other website.

Plus, most of my blogs enjoy a Google PageRank of 3 - which is very good. Some even have a Google PageRank of 4. Some websites never attain that.

So, in my opinion, was My BIG, BOLD & PROGRESSIVE STEP successful? Just based on numbers of visitors to my blog since my first blog was created in October 2005 I'd have to say "DEFINITELY!"

If you'd like to read my original 2006 post please CLICK HERE.



Posted by Linda Walsh Originals- "Doll Patterns for Grown-up Girls!"

Saturday, May 01, 2010

A Fresh Coat of Paint and Leveling The Playing Field!


Sometimes you just have to add a fresh coat of paint in order to reinvigorate a website and bring a breath of fresh air to it. Well, that's what I did to my Top Blogs By Crafters toplist during the last few days.

I changed the format, added some tables, and moved some things around to make it easier to access the toplist.

Most importantly, however, I leveled the playing field for all the members. For awhile now some of the members have had banners and some haven't and those with the banners, in my opinion, got noticed more often. So, I decided to change things. Since adding banners is not the easiest thing to understand and can be problematical at times I decided the easiest thing to do was add a banner for those members who didn't have one myself.

For those members who have banners and know how to add their own - great! For those members who either don't have banners or don't know how to add a banner from their blog they no longer have to worry. I'll add it for them. If you don't have a banner on your blog and just have a title and/or description then a banner will be created from a screenshot of the blogs heading.

I think the toplist is a whole lot cheerier now. The fresh coat of paint, more room to move around,  and the addition of members banners makes it much easier to scroll down the list and visit the blogs that interest you.  I hope you would agree.


Paint Graphic Courtesy of Clker.com