The Complete Guide on Finding and Using Images on Your Blog

find free imagesImages have always been an important element of our blogs. Other than the fact that they can drive traffic from Pinterest or Google image search, images make a blog post unique, memorable and are also a great emotional trigger for your readers.

There are basically 2 kinds of images you can and should use on your blog:

1. Your own images

  • Screenshots
  • Infographics – charts, diagrams
  • Personal photos

2. Other people’s images

  • Free stock photos
  • Paid images

In this post I’m going to share with you a couple of tips on how you can use images in your blog posts and a couple of places where you can find free images.

Why you should use images in your posts?

If haven’t given too much thought on using images in your blog posts, or pages here are a couple of reasons why images are important and why you must use them on your blog.

Images drive traffic to your blog

People coming to your blog can pin your images on Pinterest which in turn can drive a lot of referral traffic back to your blog post. Niches like cooking, fashion, real-estate get most of their referral traffic from the images their readers pin on their Pinterest boards.

Another way images can drive traffic is through Google image search. Just like normal search only on image search all the search results are images. You can easily optimize your images for image search by putting your keyword as the filename and including it in the alt tag.

Social media sites like Facebook or Google+ generate snippets for the links you share on them, which include an image from your post along with an excerpt of the post. A lot of times that image is what determines people to click on your link and visit your post.

Images are visual anchors

Let me ask you this: What’s easier for you to remember, a certain image you’ve seen or a block of text you’ve read? There is nothing that appeals more to our visual memory then an interesting image.

Other than the fact that images have to power to make your post distinguishable among the thousands of blog posts out there, they also make them more memorable.

Best part is that images act like an anchor in your readers mind.

Images enhance the message you want to deliver to your readers

If you want to emphasize a paragraph in your blog post, a great way to do this, is by putting a relevant image next to it. This works great if you want to deliver your intended message with a bigger, more emotional impact.

How to add images to your blog posts?

Adding images to blog posts or pages in WordPress is very easy, even if you’re a beginner.

The first thing you need to do, is to upload the image you want to embed. In your WordPress editor page simply click on the Add Media tab right above the text formatting tools.

add images in WordPress

 

After that select upload files, here you have the option to drag the image from your computer into your browser window or you can browse your computer and select which image you want to upload.

customizing images in WordPress

For SEO purposes, before you upload your image make sure it has a descriptive filename, such as a keyword that’s relevant to your blog post.

After uploading the image you can add a title, caption, alt tag which should never be left blank, always insert your keyword here. You can also choose the alignment of the image and the URL it points to if people click on it.

I choose to leave the URL field to none or if I want to link to something most of the times I’ll place an affiliate link there.

And that’s all there is to it.

Easy, right?

Now, if you’re using your own images or photos, all you have to do is upload them and you’re done. But if you want to use other people’s images and photos there are some things you should know before hand.

First off, Google image search should only be used as an inspiration source for creating your own images. What you need to know, is that everything online has usage rights and this includes images too.

You can either purchase images or you can use them for free under certain terms and conditions.

Image usage rights explained

The most important thing is to always link to the image source whenever you’re using other peoples images.

You can add this link right under the image, in the caption box or at the end of your post. A text link with the anchor text “Image Credit” or “Image” will do just fine. You will notice a link “image” right at the end of the posts in which I’ve used images that were not my own.

One other thing is how and where you use these images. For example, some images you are allowed to modify, or use in a product you’re creating, like an ebook.

Here is a simple explanation of image usage rights according to the Creative Commons licenses.

creative commons rights

Attribution Only

attribution onlyThe Attribution-Only license allows you to copy, distribute, tweak, build upon it, use it even commercially as long as you give credit for the image.

As I mentioned earlier in the post you can give credit to an image you use by providing a link to the original image either below the image in the caption box or at the end of your post.

Attribution-NoDerivs

attribution noderivs

With this type of license you are free to copy and distribute the image even commercially as long as you do not alter the image in any way and of course provide a link to the image source.

By altering, I mean you can’t add any text, crop the image, add any effects, but you can still resize the image according to your needs.

Attribution-ShareAlike

attribution-sharealikeThe Attribution-ShareAlike license allows you to freely alter the image, crop it, add text, Photoshop-it in any way you want. But what you must know is that after you’ve created  your new image based on the original one, anyone can use your image under the same license, only they will be giving credit to you.

This type of license is also used by Wikipedia, which means you can grab any piece of content and use it freely as long as you give credit and license it under the same terms.

NonCommercial Licenses

NonCommercial means you are not allowed to use a piece of work for commercial purposes. To give you a better idea of what Commercial and NonCommercial use means, here are a couple of examples for both.

Attribution-NonCommercial

attribution noncommercial

This license has the same terms as the Attribution-Only license, except you are not allowed to use the image for commercial purposes.

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

attribution noncommercial sharealike

Same as Attribution-ShareAlike, but you can only use images under this license non-commercially.

Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs

attribution noncommercial noderivs

This is the most restrictive type of license. Images licensed under these terms cannot be altered(you can resize them) and cannot be used for commercial purposes.

Where to find free images you can use in your blog posts?

1. Flickr Creative Commons

Flickr is probably the most popular source for free images you can use in your posts. However you need to be aware of the fact that not all images can be used freely. If you want to find images you can use on your blog all you have to do is go to the advanced search page on Flickr and make sure you tick the “

flickr creative commons

After downloading an image make sure you rename it so that it includes a keyword your targeting in your blog post.

2. The Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons is the media repository of Wikipedia.org. The best part about Wikimedia is the fact that almost all the images are licensed under the Attribution-ShareAlike license.

This means you can edit the images in anyway you want and even use them commercially as long as you give credit to the original image.

3. Royalty free stock photos

Free stock photos are licensed under terms similar to the Creative Commons, although you are not necessarily required to link to the image source there are exceptions where a photographer requires people who download his images to notify and credit him for the downloaded images.

Just to be safe I recommend you always link back to the image source.

There are a lot of free stock photo websites you can choose from. The ones I’ve used the most are stock.xchng, stockvault and Freerange. If you want more free stock photo websites here is a list of 25 sites for downloading stock images.

Over to You

Well, my fingers are starting to hurt a bit so I’m going to wrap it up. Feel free to share any strategies on how you’re using images on your own blogs.

If you have any advice on using images in blog posts I’d love to hear it. Also if you found this post useful please do me a  favor and share it on your social networks, it won’t take you more then a couple of seconds. Thanks.

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Comments

  1. says

    Thanks for this, Philip – another really helpful article – the best and clearest explanation of creative commons licenses I’ve ever come across.

    One tip I’d add is that it’s better to resize images before uploading them to WP – I understand that using the resizing option in the image editing dialogue box in the WP dashboard can slow things down on your blog.

    Great share – thank you!

    Sue

    • says

      Hi Sue, I’m glad you found my explanation of the creative commons licenses helpful.
      Yeah I totally forgot about resizing your images after downloading them. Although on Flickr and a lot of other sites where you can download free images there are always multiple image dimensions available.

      Thanks for your comment Sue, have a wonderful weekend.

  2. says

    Hi Philip,

    Great post and tips. I have never really bothered including the description of the photo nor do I add the alt tag. Now I believe I must.

    I always use images and photos on my blog and thank you for sharing these many helpful links. I reshared this on G+ and tweeted it on Twitter.

    I just joined Flickr and recently I added my photography there. I didn’t know what “cc” means til you explained it. Do I have to pay extra for this if I change my (c) status to (cc)? I’m pretty new about this.

    Also I used free copyright photos from stock and sometimes this can be very expensive for me. Places like Flickr is good to have. Also another’s place I used for FREE pics is freepik.com but your links are more sophisticated I will check them all.

    Anyway, my friend, hope you have a great weekend.

    ~Angela

    • says

      Hi Angela, thank you so much for sharing my post, really appreciate it.

      Regarding the (c) status to (cc) I’m not sure what you mean. I know (cc) stands for creative commons which means your images are free to use by other people as long as they give you credit for them. (c) must mean copyrighted, which means people will have to contact you directly if they want to use your images. I don’t think there are any charges for changing the rights to your images on Flickr, but changing the rights to creative commons would get more exposure to your photography since people who use your photos will link back to theirURL on Flickr.

      Thanks for mentioning freepik, I’ve just went there and there are a lot of great resources especially if you’re into Photoshop.

      Have a wonderful weekend Angella, and thank you for your comment.

  3. says

    Hi Philip,

    Useful post – I use openclipart.org for all my clipart stuff and sxc.hu for images….

    Both very valuable sites for me.
    Regards,
    John

    • says

      Hi John, thanks for mentioning openclipart.org, I actually didn’t know about that resource. I will definitely have to check it out. Thanks for your comment, have a wonderful week.

  4. says

    Hi Philip,

    This is my first time visiting your blog and I’d just like to say i think it’s great.

    As for finding images for your blog…Sometimes I find that searching for the right free image is way to time consuming, and quite often the quality of the image is poor in comparison to paid for images.
    I’ve recently stopped using istock since their prices are getting ridiculously high. A friend recommended photodune.net who charge a reasonable price for good quality images.

    Mel

    • says

      To be honest Mel I haven’t yet paid for any images I’ve used online. I totally agree with you that finding the right images for a blog post or whatever you want to use them for does take some time to do.
      Thank you for your comment Mel, hope to see more of you here on the GPI blog.Cheers.

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