Eight Ways to Get LEGAL Images for Your Blog Posts

4 years ago
This article was written by a member of the SheKnows Community. It has not been edited, vetted or reviewed by our editorial staff, and any opinions expressed herein are the writer’s own.

Blog posts without images? It's very rare to see that in this day and age.  Of course, you also know that it's illegal to grab any old image off the Web and use it on your blog...

I used to be guilty of not using photos in my blog posts. I would also have no problem writing 1,000 - 2,000 (or more) word posts without a single infographic or photograph to break up the paragraphs! At the very least, I did use paragraph breaks, however there were no images to tie my thoughts and stories together. These days, I'm actually my own resource, nearly all of the time. As a professional photographer, I don't generally put other people's photos on the walls of my home (unless I'm in them), so I don't generally put other people's photos on the posts of my blog (again, unless I'm in them).

However, I realize it can be challenging to find appropriate, and very importantly, LEGAL images for your posts.

Why do you need images on your blog?

  • Not only do they help tie your thoughts together, they also evoke emotional responses. 
  • In the blog world, looks matter, and blog posts with images get 94% more page views. 
  • Not only that, they get more comments. I know that when reading posts with images, I like to start my comment on how a photo or graphic makes me feel, and then build from there. 
  • Not only do images do a better job at conveying instant feelings and messages than words alone, they also help with Facebook and Google+ clicks and likes! I often take great care to choose which thumbnail I will display on both sites with my blog post links. 
  • Using photos and graphics also help with SEO keywords, and they add color and vibrancy to your blog.

Here are eight unique ways to get high quality images for your blog posts:

1. Free Photo Sites: Wylio and Dreamstime have large collections of free photos. Fotolia is a popular site, as well. Then there is Flickr, a Yahoo site that offers free images that are uploaded by professional photographers and other users. You can look under "Creative Commons" to find photos to use legally. You can also use free Google images to yield a large number of results, however, just because you can download an image does not mean you can use it legally. If you click on the "advanced search" option and change the usage rights to read "free to use or share, even commercially," you will find properly attributed and legal photos. Every Stock Photo is a search engine website for free photos, and it will tell you the source that each photo originates from. Many are from Flickr and StockxChng.

2. Paid Photo Sites: Another option many bloggers use is to skip the free stock photo sites, and use paid sites for professional quality photos. Using paid sites will save you a lot of time as there are more choices. A main reason to go this route is that there is a clear licensing agreement by paying for these high quality images.  Many bloggers use stock photography that is either free, or available for a small fee. iStockphoto is a popular resource in which images cost between one and 150 credits, based on size and collection.

3. Friends: You can also ask a friend or family member who is good with a camera, or who has images you like, to take photos for you or give you photos to use. This is a great option for your headshot.

4. Professional Photographers: Speaking of headshots, a professional and flattering looking one is vital on websites. People want to see what you look like, and not just what you post. You can hire a professional photographer to take your headshot and also to take photos of your work/craft/DIY, etc. You can also search websites of photographers you like to ask to use an image they have already taken. I have been approached a few times for my work to be featured in articles. There is often some sort of exchange mentioned, if not money. Do you have ad space you can give? A guest post? Exposure for their photography business/website/Facebook page? Try it. You will never know until you ask.

5. Old Photos: I cannot tell you how many times I have gone through my own archives, or had my parents scan old photos for me to use on my blog. They are often conversation pieces and can add a fun and warm view into your past. It's also fun to add a vintage look to your story-telling. Sometimes I use old Polaroids or photos I took with disposable cameras because after the scan, you can doctor up these photos with a basic and free photo editing program such as PicMonkey, Paint.NET, or GIMP.

6. Craigslist or other Local Classifieds: Once I needed a photo of a non-local storefront, and I could not find one on Google images that I could legally use. I contacted a photographer under the creative services section of Craigslist for that city's page and was able to arrange to pay for photos. I was very detailed in what I was looking for, and in this case, it worked out very well.

7. Art Museums: In recent years, many art museums have been able to provide high resolution, free and copyright-safe images from their collections for anyone asking:

8. Your Own Photography: Both PicMonkey and Canva are easy-to-use resources for those looking to spruce up photos and graphics for their blogs. Read tips, tutorials and forums for how to best use your camera, or even your smartphone for better photography.

What are your favorite sources for free or small fee photos or graphics?

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