In Part 1, How To Use ImageShack Photo Hosting for Craigslist Ads, I described what photo hosting was all about and why you want to avoid use of Craigslist's own tools for adding photos to your product listings. I introduced you to ImageShack and their free online photo editor service. I discussed the virtues of ImageShack's free hosting service and its other uses, and explained that the procedures are easy to follow. Now it's time to get your photos ready for the show by enhancing and resizing them. I'll show you how to enhance and resize photos for Craigslist.
Anyway, let's say you've decided to sell an assortment of obsolete wired networking hardware (you recently switched to wireless, right?). You've got a LinkSys router and two Netgear hubs of different sizes. With your new 8 megapixel Canon camera, you'll shoot pictures of each. You already know how to download these photos from camera to computer. You've placed the photos in a folder named C:\craigslist\NetworkHardware4Sale.
- Using a photo editor, crop the photos and enhance them for best contrast and brightness. If they look good in the photo editor, they'll appear great in your listing. Select one image that looks best for each item, and save each with a sensible name, such as:
In some cases you may want to shoot front and rear photos. For example, customers may want to see the connectors on the Netgear hubs. Just add the word "front" and "rear" to the photo file names. If you do it for all three products, now you've got six photos to upload:
- Make sure you are familiar with your camera. Since your camera takes photos up to 8 megapixels, each photo can be quite large -- much more than 1 megapixel each. You have a choice to make at this point. You can resize the photos with your photo editor, or you can let ImageShack do the work for you. Virtually all digital cameras let you select image size before you shoot, so there's a third choice; you make it before taking the photos. Read the next four paragraphs, then consult your camera manual.
As a general rule of thumb, a 3 megapixel camera is more than sufficient for Craigslist photos. Even an old, cheap 2 megapixel camera (buy one on Craigslist) will produce excellent images for the web. In fact, the images you are going to display in your Craigslist ads should never be larger than 500K (about half a megapixel) and usually won't exceed 250K. So, if you've mastered your camera, you can set it to take smaller pictures. Downloads to your computer will be faster, and subsequent uploads to ImageShack will also be quicker.
- Choose the right size for Craigslist photos. Your six images are ready to go through image editing and you've decided to let ImageShack resize them on the fly as they are being uploaded. How big do you want them to appear in your listing?
The answer to photo resizing is based on screen size. Most desktop and notebook computer users (>75%) have displays measuring 15" to 17" with resolutions of 1024 pixels wide (15") to 1280 pixels wide (17"). Size your photos to 1024 pixels and they will display full screen on a 15" monitor. In fact, it's good to leave some "white space" around a photo (that's what ad experts say) so I routinely size my Craigslist photos to 800 pixels wide. This is still much larger than the meager 300 pixel width of a standard Craigslist photo, but it's ample for products like the surplus network hardware in this how-to.
Of course, if you are attempting to show fine detail in a product, then by all means go big, up to 1024 pixels when you resize an image. If you go beyond this size, your photos will overflow the visible 15" screen. Viewers won't see the whole photo unless they scroll to the right. A good example of "going big" is an ad for a valuable coin or stamp where you want to be certain that buyers can see flaws or no flaws. Of course, you must master the macro mode of digital photography to shoot such photos in the first place. I digress...so let's get back to the photos.
OK, you've cropped and enhanced your photos and decided to display them in your ad at 800 pixels wide. The photos are stored on your hard drive in the folder named C:\craigslist\NetworkHardware4Sale\. Remember this.
- Open an on-screen scratch pad. You'll need an on-screen scratch pad to capture the code that's going to be generated in the next steps. Our Windows-based computers come with a couple of good ones -- Notepad and WordPad. You'll find both by clicking Start - Program - Accessories. Select Notepad and it will open a text processing window into which you'll paste the code you copy in the next series of steps. You can reduce the size of the on-screen Notepad window to temporarily get it out of the way, or minimize it to the bottom of the screen.
- Upload and resize images on ImageShack. Now, using your browser, go to ImageShack. If you go to imageshack.com, you're in the wrong place. Follow these steps to automatically upload your six photos.
Let's assume you have not registered with the site. The first task is to enter your email address in the window to register upon upload. Then...
- Click the round radio button "image".
- Click the Browse button.
- Using the navigation tools in the window, find and open the folder C:\craigslist\NetworkHardware4Sale\. Your six photos will be listed.
- Select the first photo and click "open".
- Select "Resize Image?" and use the drop-down window to pick 800 x 600.
- Click "host it". The photo begins to upload. When complete (this can take a minute or more if the photo is big and you're on dial-up), you'll see a long list of code choices and some advertising (ImageShack needs to pay bills like the rest of us).
- Of these many choices, the one you want is found on the lower half of the screen (you may need to scroll down) and begins <a href=...>. It's named "Hotlink for Websites" on the right hand side. The photo to the right shows how it appears.
- Place your mouse in this window and click once, highlighting the selection. Then, press CTRL-C to copy. Minimize the ImageShack window and bring up Notepad.
- Click anywhere in the scratchpad's white space, then press CTRL-V to paste the entry, which will look something like this:
<a href="http://imageshack.us"><img src="http://img161.imageshack.us/img161/1161/
border="0" alt="Image Hosted by ImageShack.us"/></a><br/
- Put a carriage return (Enter key) at the end of the code segment if you like.
You'll repeat the process for each photo, building up your scratchpad with subsequent entries. It's a good idea to save the scratchpad in the same folder where you placed the photos. You can name it NetworkHardware4sale.txt and save it as a txt file. Then, shrink or minimize the window.
Now that you know how to resize and enhance your images for Craigslist, let's continue to the next topic: putting big images into the Craigslist ad.