A picture is worth a thousand words. While most of us are familiar with this old adage, bloggers know all too well the importance and value of visual content.
- It breaks down those huge chunks of text into more scannable and digestible blocks.
- It provides a better experience for the reader.
- It can draw attention to or reinforce a point.
- It can make your content more memorable and shareable.
While it’s easy to search for images with Google, this doesn’t mean that you have permission to use whatever you like. You could run into legal issues and intellectual property infringement, so it’s best to find images that you can use without these risks.
If you’re a blogger with little or no budget, here are some great sources for free images you can use in your posts.
Free stock images
There are a number of sites that offer decent images for free. My favourite is Pixabay, which has over one million pictures (and counting) to choose from. Pixabay has a powerful search engine behind it, making it easy to find what you’re looking for.
Most images are available in multiple sizes.
All images on Pixabay are released under what is known as Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. They may be used freely for almost any purpose – even commercially and in printed format.
Similar to Pixabay, Pexels provides high quality and completely free stock photos licensed under CC0. All photos are tagged and searchable.
Currently the site has over 40,000 free stock photos and around 3,000 new high resolution photos are added each month. All photos are hand-picked from photos uploaded by users or sourced from free image websites.
A project of Wikimedia Foundation, WikiMedia Commons is a large library of images, audio, and video files that can be freely used. Library can be browsed by media type such as images, photographs, drawings, illustrations or by file type like audio, video, image, etc. Images can also be browsed based on license. A large number of images on Wikimedia Commons are in public domain which means you are free to use them without any attribution. Some images may have a creative commons license requiring attribution. Make sure you check the license information below each image.
A guide to copyright licensing
Understanding the different types of copyright licences is always worthwhile. Here’s a breakdown:
Images in the public domain are works whose copyrights have expired or whose creators have relinquished all rights to the works. These are free for personal or commercial use. There is only one exception to the “free for all use” policy for public domain photos: If you’re using an image of a recognisable person, you may need to get his or her permission to use the photo. Some sites offering such photos will already have obtained a model release, so if in doubt, consult the license agreement that comes with the image.
When images are offered royalty-free, this simply means that the purchaser pays a fee and can then use the image without paying additional royalties or licensing fees. This also means the purchaser doesn’t have to give attribution. This is the model used by paid stock photo sites.
Photographers who license their images under Creative Commons (CC) can choose how their images will be used by specifying a particular CC license.
CC0 is the most flexible license by far: “CC0 enables scientists, educators, artists and other creators and owners of copyright or database-protected content to waive those interests in their works and thereby place them as completely as possible in the public domain, so that others may freely build upon, enhance and reuse the works for any purposes without restriction under copyright or database law.”
Design your own
Canva is a great tool with an intuitive interface that makes it easy for anyone to use.
Millions of images
Design with millions of stock photographs, vectors and illustrations. You can even upload your own.
Edit your photos using preset filters or get advanced with photo editing tools, you’ll never be stuck for choice.
Free icons & shapes
Use icons, shapes and elements with ease. Choose from thousands of elements for your designs, or upload your own.
Hundreds of fonts
Access a great selection of fonts perfect for every design. All ready to go and accessible within Canva.
There are plenty of other great sources for finding images for your blog posts, but the above are my favourites.
Of course, you’re not restricted to just using static images either. You can embed other media, such as videos, GIFs, and infographics. Regardless of the type of visual content, you want to ensure that you have permission to use it.