Two New Free Cartoons Added

December 16th, 2007 carlajc Posted in Cartoons, Clip Art, Free Clip Art, Free Graphics, Free Images, Just For Fun, Tips and Tools Comments Off on Two New Free Cartoons Added

I’ve found two more cartoonists (actually, one found me) who offer free cartoons for your blog. So, welcome Dan Gibson and Johnny Ancich, whose work is shown below. These free cartoons have also been added to the collection on the WordPlay free cartoons page.

N E W C A R T O O N S

Past Expiry free cartoon

Past Expiry Cartoons
by Johnny Ancich
Johnny posts at least two new cartoons each week. You can download individual cartoons from his site by clicking the link above, or you can get them in a widget by clicking here.

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Gibbleguts cartoon

Gibbleguts
by Dan Gibson

Dan Gibson creates a new cartoon every weekday. Click the link above to get a widget that will display the cartoons on your blog.


Icon Hall of Fame: Use Your Blog’s Avatar to Grab New Readers

December 14th, 2007 carlajc Posted in Avatars, Cartoons, Clip Art, Free Clip Art, Free Graphics, Free Images, Free Online Tools, Free Photos, Make Your Own Clip Art, Photography, Tips and Tools 12 Comments »

Icon Hall of FameHere we go again with the “a picture’s worth a thousand words” cliché. This time it’s in reference to your blog’s avatar, or as I prefer to call it, your icon. And once again, the cliché is true.

But before I wow you with my opinions about the anatomy of a good icon, I have several questions for you:

If you visit social media sites, have you thought about how your icon stacks up against the icons of other blogs? Also, did you put any thought into your icon or did you just grab whatever image you had handy and use that?

If you didn’t think about your icon’s design, you’re probably in the majority. With so many other things to think about — producing valuable content, marketing, monetizing, networking and who-knows-what-else — your icon was probably way down on the list of concerns, if it was on the list at all.

Since I was a graphic artist long before I was a blogger, I couldn’t help but notice that some icons stood out. As a newbie blogger, I didn’t know anyone, so all I had to go on at first were looks when I was stumbling around in MyBlogLog, BlogCatalog, etc., trying to find my way around. In many cases, the only reason I clicked on some of the blogs were the icons. And if a compelling icon image was combined with a username that made it clear what a blog was about, I was even more likely to click on it. I might be wrong, but I don’t think this just applies to newbies. Whether we know it or not, images affect us all.

Unfortunately there’s no formula for the perfect icon, except maybe that it should come as close as possible to expressing both your personality and your blog’s content. The best way I can explain what a good icon looks like is to show you some that did an admirable job of drawing me in. Below are some of those. (My apologies to anyone not featured below. There are a lot of great icons out there, but I had to cut the list off somewhere.)

Here’s my Icon Hall of Fame:

Blogstruk avatarBlogstruk
I love this icon because I have no idea what it means, yet it makes me want to know. Did this disembodied eye come from Shrek or just a regular human with an unfortunate complexion? I still don’t know, but when I clicked on it, I found its owner dispenses quality advice for newbie bloggers.

VicVic from BloggingZoom and BloggerUnleashed
If it’s possible to project the image of a bad boy and a nice guy at the same time, this icon does it. Not only that, ladies, wouldn’t you agree he looks awfully cute? But this icon appeals to more than just hormones. It’s well-drawn, unique and the combo of the white background and color makes it almost pop off the screen.

Court TuttleCourt Tuttle and BloggingZoom
This is straight-up branding. Not only is Court’s name the focus, but the background is white, which stands out among the many icons that use photos. Using a name is a bold move and one that works because of the authority Court projects in the blogging community.

GrizzlyHow to Make Money Online for Beginners (Grizzly)
If you know Grizzly, you’ll know his icon depicts him perfectly. Notice that the bear has a curious but friendly look. This fits Grizzly because he’s always questioning the status quo, and he’s ever-willing to teach newbies about making money online. This icon is so effective that if I ever met Grizzly in person, I’d be shocked if he wasn’t a big hairy — but kind — bear.

MarkkMarkkWrites
Anybody unsure about what Markk does? I like this one because it’s clear, while also having a welcoming feeling. It makes me want to sit down and have a cup of Joe with him.

LordLikelyLordLikely
I never would have become aware of the LordLikely blog had I not seen this icon on BloggingZoom. For some reason, the juxtaposition of a Victorian man in a top-hat in the high-tech world of blogs struck me funny, so I just had to see what that image represented. When I went to the blog, I wasn’t disappointed; it’s as funny and ironic as its icon.

BlogIssuesBlogIssues.com
This is another one that made me want to click on it when I saw it on BloggingZoom. Anyone with the guts to brand herself as a big-mouth deserves a click.

Alex FrisonAlex Frison
Now that’s just silly, and I mean that as a compliment. Alex obviously doesn’t take himself too seriously. In addition to the icon being cute and funny, we again see another good use of a white background.

FlickListsFlicksLists
This one comes under the obvious category, and that’s a good thing. Since I’m interested in movies, I had to click on this. Not only does the image convey the blog’s content, but so does the username.

Mommy CrackedMommy Cracked
This one is funny and gets the message across. Although I found out she’s a freelance writer and former teacher only after visiting her blog, all I had to do was look at her icon to know she has a humorous take on motherhood.

CardioGirlCardioGirl
I clicked on this because it looked like someone (maybe CardioGirl herself?) painted this just for the blog. It made this list because it conveys her theme nicely, plus the colors are easy on the eyes.

So, there you have it, my Icon Hall of Fame. As I said before, it’s nowhere near all-inclusive. It’s just meant to show you some examples of what I think works. But your icon doesn’t have to be like any of these. If you’re satisfied that yours gives a good impression of who you are and what your blog is about, then you’re more than halfway home. If you ask others and they feel the same, then you probably already have an icon that’s drawing readers to you.

If you ask around and find that your icon does need some work, however, WordPlay has plenty of free resources to find just the right image:

You might also be interested in Avatar Central, WordPlay’s home for free online image software and information about avatars.Copyright 2007 WordPlayBlog.com


Free Cartoons for Your Blog

November 26th, 2007 carlajc Posted in Cartoons, Clip Art, Entertainment, Free Clip Art, Free Graphics, Free Images, Free Online Tools, Just For Fun, Tips and Tools 1 Comment »

Sometimes you have to forget all about vocabulary words, grammar and the like, and just laugh. The following cartoonists want to help you do just that. These artists have generously offered these free cartoons for your blog or Web site:

I N D I V I D U A L   C A R T O O N S

BZ Toons cartoon sample

BZ Toons
by Brian Zaikowski
Brian Zaikowski makes his colorful free cartoons available for use in blogs, Web sites and newsletters. You’ll find a link at the Web site that will allow you to download all the cartoons in one 8 MB file.

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We Blog cartoon sample

We Blog Cartoons
by Dave Walker
Dave Walker offers these cartoons free for any blog, including those that make money. If you want to use his cartoons for a company Web site, however, you must contact him through his blog for a quote. Click here for the exact conditions of use.

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D A I L Y C A R T O O N S
(requires code)

Andertoons cartoon sample

Andertoons
by Mark Anderson
Mark Anderson offers his free daily cartoons for use on any blog, as long as it doesn’t have adult content. You may change the font colors to match your blog, but he asks that you don’t make any other alterations to the code.

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Looking for other free content? You might also be interested in these other resources on WordPlay:

Copyright 2007 WordPlayBlog.com


Stock.Xchng Free Photography

November 4th, 2007 carlajc Posted in Free Graphics, Free Images, Free Online Tools, Free Photos, Photography, Reviews, Tips and Tools Comments Off on Stock.Xchng Free Photography

Stock.Xchng makes it easy to add free images to your blog or Web site

Stock.Xchng sampleIf you want to improve your blog or Web site by adding photos and don’t want to spend a dime to do it, Stock.Xchng, located at www.sxc.hu, is a great resource. I’ve found many quality free photos there over the years, including the cut newspaper letters you see incorporated into the header of this blog, and most of the photos on the pages.

Free images from the Stock.Xchng site may be used in any of the following ways:

  • In digital format on Web sites, multimedia presentations, broadcast film and video, and cell phones
  • In printed promotional materials, magazines, newspapers, books, brochures, fliers and CD/DVD covers
  • Along with your corporate identity (but not as your company logo) on business cards, letterhead, etc.
  • To decorate your home or office

If you’re going to use a free photo from the site, all Stock.Xchng asks is that you leave a comment for the photographer, telling him how you plan to use the image. (You might also want to write a compliment to encourage him to post more photos in the future.) There are a few additional conditions if you want to use images for purposes other than in the above list, but those are clearly spelled out on the standard restrictions page. Also, be aware that a few photographers have their own sets of restrictions. But these are posted under the preview images of their photos, so you’ll know about the requirements before you download.

The Stock.Xchng site also offers an extensive collection of member-written tutorials and blogs on photography and graphic manipulation. They cover topics such as using a scanner to generate photographic images, “drawing” with light, repairing images made from torn printed photos, and many others. If you’re interested in photography or graphics, their large collection of user-generated information alone is worth a trip to their Web site.

Sample Stock.Xchng free image by John Nyberg

You might also be interested in these other resources on WordPlay:

Copyright 2007 WordPlayBlog.com


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