Marketing Bootcamp

Where to Find Free Photos and Never Again Pay for a Website Image

A good blog post is made up of text, links and images. Every part of a post fits under one of those three categories. Your headline, your SEO, are all about optimizing your text but images are very important. The eye is drawn to graphics. If you’re just using stock clip-art, you’re wasting an opportunity to tell a story within a story.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Just like text, those thousand words can be fluff or they can be valuable. How can you go about picking useful or compelling images, without breaking the bank? Because the fees associated with many images online is a roadblock for many bloggers.

Related: The Cost of a Quality Website

Ways to find images. You have three options when searching for a picture to use with your post -- create an image of your own, purchase a stock image or find a free image.  

Stock images can be relatively cheap, and some image services are perfectly viable, but even a $1 fee for each image, with three images per post, one post per day, is more than $1,000 per year on images alone. Cutting out such an expense can be the difference between making a profit or not.

Creating images yourself requires tools and skills you may not have. You’ll probably want to create some images, particularly when you’re dealing with statistics. An infographic branded for your blog can be a great source of traffic, after all. Then again, investing in the skills, equipment, software or graphic designer fees needed to regularly create your own images is likewise a heavy expense annually.  

The third option is to find free images you’re able to use legally. Legally is the key here. You can pull any image you find in a Google Image Search, but if the person who owns the rights to it complains, you can find your blog at the center of a legal battle you certainly can’t afford.  

Method 1: Free image websites. There are dozens of stock photo websites around. They all work on the same principle. You create an account and gain access to a database of images you can freely use. Some of them place restrictions on how you can use the image, or alter it. Others require attribution, either to the site or to the creator of the image. Still others are completely free in every sense of the word.  

The key to using these sites is finding one that hosts the sort of images you want to use. Some stock services are filled with only certain types of images – landscape scenes, photos of people, pictures of animals – and their theme might not suit your needs. Poke around and find a few good resources. It costs you nothing but your time.

Related: The Basic Building Blocks of a Website, and Their Costs

Method 2: Photographer permission. Sometimes, you may come across the perfect image to illustrate your post, only to find no details about its availability. In these cases, track down the photographer to ask  if you can use the image with attribution.

Some photographers will shoot back with a price quote, which puts the image outside of your price range. That’s fine, walk away and find a different image. Just don’t try to argue that your blog’s exposure is valuable to them, or that their price is too high. It makes you look unprofessional and insulting.  

Method 3: Creative Commons searches. "Creative Commons'' is a phrase thrown around fairly often in image articles, but it can be surprisingly confusing. The general Creative Commons license is essentially free public domain; take the image and use it in any way you please. However, there are actually six levels of creative commons licenses, each with different attribution requirements. Make sure you aren’t using an image inappropriately.  

You can easily find Creative Commons images through Flickr or Google’s image search. On Google, simply check the “usage rights” drop-down from the search tools menu.

With these methods, you should be able to find free-to-use images for every blog post, saving you time and money.

Related: Four Low-Cost Ways to Turbo-Charge Your Website