How to Find Free Images for Your Blog (the right way)

By Donna Arriaga | June 17, 2014

By now, you probably already know that using images in your blog posts is the rule, rather than the exception. Not only will images boost engagement, but including an image in your blog posts will also assist with SEO, and it can give your blog content more prominence when it’s shared on social media.

But the real issue is... Where can I find images for my blog?! Right?

Two of the most economical ways to get images for your blog include taking photos with your phone and searching for images online – the right way. Yes, there are a ton of great images online. But just because you find an image on Google, doesn’t mean it’s okay to use it.

So here's how you can find free images online, the right way...

Step #1: Understand Copyright and Creative Commons

Before using images that you find online, it’s a good idea to become familiar (or refamiliarize yourself) with copyright laws and Creative Commons licenses. And remember, obeying copyright isn’t just about being respectful – it’s also about avoiding being sued.

When searching for images to use on your business blog, the photos should have usage rights that allow you to:

  • Use or share, even commercially
  • Use, share or modify, even commercially

When it comes to understanding which Creative Commons licenses grant these usage rights, you’ll want to focus your attention on these three licenses:

Creative_Commons_-_Attribution__CC_BY The CC Attribution (CC BY) license. This allows you to use the image for commercial purposes, and you can edit or remix the work – as long as you credit the original creator of the work.

Creative_Commons_-_Attribution-ShareAlike__CC_BY-SA The CC Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA) license. This allows you to use the image for commercial purposes, and edit or remix the work – as long as you credit the original creator of the work and if you remix the work, it must be shared under the same BY-SA license.

Creative_Commons_-_Attribution-NoDerivs__CC_BY-ND The CC Attribution-NoDerivs (CC BY-ND) license. This allows you to use the images for commercial purposes – as long as you credit the original creator of the work and do change the original work.

Now that you know which images are safe to use for your business blog, the next step is to actually find those images.

Step #2: Two Search Tools You Can Use to Find Images Online

Google Advanced Image Search

Google’s Advanced Image Search is easy to use, and it allows you to filter photos by their license type. Just select either of these two options from the drop-down menu near the bottom of the advanced search page: 

Google_image_search_-_filter_by_license 

Free to use or share, even commercially is safe to use for commercial/business purposes. This filter will include content that is either labeled as public domain or that carries a licence that allows you to copy or redistribute content, as long as the original content remains unchanged.

Free to use, share or modify is safe to use for commercial/business purposes. This filter will include content that is labeled with a license that allows you to copy, modify, or redistribute in ways specified in the license.

Flickr Advanced Search

Flickr Advanced Search is a fantastic resource for finding high-quality photos – including images that are free for commercial use. Just enter keywords into your search criteria and then scroll down to the bottom of the advanced search page.

Next to the Creative Commons logo, you’ll find two critical check boxes that should be selected: only search within Creative Commons-licensed content, and find content to use commercially. 

Flickr_advanced_search_-_Creative_Commons

Of course, if you plan on altering or editing the image, be sure to check the box that indicates you can modify or adapt the content.

Step #3: Proper Credit & Attribution

Before reusing content that you’ve found online, always verify the license and terms of use. Most licenses require you to give credit to the image creator. In general, this attribution formula is a good fit for CC images:

Photo by [Photographer + Img Src Link] on [Source], licensed under [License + Link]

To help you remember how to properly attribute the photos you find, add the attribution formula to your blogging template. If your business doesn’t have a template yet, you can download our free blog post template here.

Conclusion

With just a few key tools, you’ll be set to consistently find free images for your blog! Do you have a few favorite photo resources? Tell us what works for you.

blogging for business toolkit

 

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