Nobody likes to go through a giant block of text. It’s overwhelming for almost every one. In spite of this absolutely basic fact, I’ve quite often noticed that many new bloggers refrain from integrating their blog posts with images. Common reason being – they’re unsure of where to find good images, and also the misconception that good quality and high resolution graphics require a big budget, which they’re not prepared for in the early stages of their journey.
As a self-made digital marketer, I have believed in the fact that you don’t always need money to get results. You need intention. And clearly, you have that since you’ve landed on this article that teaches you to do more with less – to find free images for your blog and make an impact, even on a budget!
In this article, I am going to talk about why images are an important element of a blog post, how to use them and where to get free images for your blog. Once you have found free pictures, I’ll also share some tips on how to select good ones along with some very simple DIY techniques to make them stand out on your site. Without further ado, let’s begin –
- Importance of Using Images In Blog
Images as an element of a blog post are very important and help to enhance its value. Top 3 reasons include –
- They make the content look more appealing – The use of imagery does light up any piece of content. It helps to convey the message better while also making the page appear more interesting.
- They enhance the search engine traffic – If your content is well written and integrated with relevant and good pictures that comply with SEO best practices, it is bound to increase your SEO rankings.
- Invite greater number of social shares – Statistically speaking, content integrated with images is 94 percent more likely to be shared than only textual content.
2. Different Ways To Use Images In A Blog
Before we get into discussing the ways to use images in a blog, let us first quickly understand the types of graphics you can expect to find in your search.
Mainly, there are 3 broad categories – photos, vectors and illustrations.
Photos are simple – the ones that are clicked by photographers. Vectors are graphics that can be easily cut out, zoomed in, zoomed out or edited in part. Illustrations on the other hand are graphics that are drawn (pretty much true to their name!) As a blogger, you can leverage all these three types of graphics in your content depending on your purpose.
For a blog post, images can typically be used for –
- Uploading as a featured image
- Supporting the body of the content
- Creating an attractive call to action
Photos and illustrations are congenial to use in both feature images and in supporting the body of the content. They can be directly used without any knowledge of design. Vectors on the other hand may be used as it is, or be repurposed to make great small sized call to actions, and even feature images that look very unique and original. This however needs some basic editing and formatting skills.
3. Top 10 Sites To Find Free Images For Your Blog
Let us quickly go over the list of best sites you can hop on to in order to find free, high resolution images for your blog.
Without any second thought, Flickr is the largest platform for free images for blogs and includes over five billion images (yes, you read that right!)
In essence, it is a photo sharing social network that brings together photographers from all around the world with varying degree of skills.
As a photo platform, it is really rich in metadata. This basically means that there is extremely detailed information about the graphics available such as the geo location, EXIF data, tags, etc that can be used to filter out images of interest.
So, when you are browsing for pictures, in addition to basic keyword based search, you can also explore the image options based on several useful criteria. For instance, suppose you need to find images that have been taken in Turkey. In order to view only those images exclusively, you can go to the ‘Explore’ drop down option, click on the ‘World Map’ and choose the pink dot on top of that country. This will filter out the results from Turkey for you.
Besides this, there are also great collections of trending photos, recently added photos and also galleries where photos from specific contributors can be accessed by clicking on their user name.
Useful fact – It is important to note that every photo on Flickr cannot be used free of cost for commercial usage. Before adding any image to your blog, you must ensure that the ones you like don’t infringe upon its legal usage options. You can do this very simply by clicking on the ‘Any license’ dropdown option, and selecting the ‘Commercial Use Allowed’ choice.
3. 2. Unsplash
Unsplash hosts one of the largest libraries of freely downloadable blogging images that are available online.
On their website, you can expect to find over one million curated free stock photos contributed by a growing community of over 1,50,000 enthusiastic and talented photographers.
Intuitive to use, you can easily find relevant photos by entering in keywords, and picking from the search results. Whether you wish to sign up on the platform or not is totally your call. Either way, you can download and use their free pictures for blogs.
Useful fact – The ‘Collections’ section of Unsplash is quite helpful and unique. Users are allowed to curate photos they come across into collections. This offers a ready repository of similar photos in a specific theme to pick from!
Pexels is another great repository of thousands of free images for blog owners. Stock photos and videos available on this site can be used freely for both commercial and personal uses.
As a blogger, you can browse through images relevant to your content by entering keywords in the search bar. Alternately, you can even browse through their library to discover the trending photographs on the platform.
The exciting aspect of Pexels is the fact that it hosts a lot of contests for photographers, which aspiring photographers show a keen interest in. This ensures that the photos they contribute to win are really innovative and fresh – offering you the best! The photographers that win in the contest – their work is showcased on the Leaderboard section which you can access right from the home page.
Useful fact – If you want to cut out the effort of searching every time by identifying and shortlisting a photographer or a few photographers who you can regularly rely on for blog images – Pexels is the perfect stop!
Pixabay’s growing library includes more than 1.7 million high quality royalty free images and videos that can be utilized by bloggers at zero cost.
Under images you can expect to find illustrations and vectors in addition to photographs – something quite unique to this site when compared to most others offering free pictures for blogs.
The search option on Pixabay is minimalistic and very well organized. Adjacent to the search bar is a drop down menu that you can use to refine to your choice of graphic. There is also an ‘Explore’ feature on the top right corner that lists out popular content in case you are looking to browse through the collections without any specific search intent.
Useful fact – If you’re a technically oriented individual and used to writing programs, you can use your existing knowledge to refine your search and get the most relevant results quickly by using advanced logical operators. For example, you can combine searches by inserting the ‘or’ operating by entering the symbol ‘|’. Eg: rose|tulip (A detailed list of advanced search options can be found here.)
While free stock images for blogs are available at several sites, Gratisography offers an interesting twist to what you will find anywhere on the Web.
As a fact, Gratisography doesn’t top the list in terms of the number of photos it offers. If you’re expecting a large collection, it’s not your destination. However, if creative genius and innovation is what appeals to you, you’ve found your place! Its library includes the greatest collection of what you can safely call the world’s quirkiest high-resolution images.
As a contrast to the generic images you find on other stock photo platforms, it always has something new to offer.
For instance, a few collections listed on the site are called Amusing Animals, Mischievous Men, Funky Food and so on. You can browse for photos by entering keyword, choosing category or viewing a collection.
Useful fact – If you want to entertain and be remembered for the kind of photos you use on your blog, this is a great place to source that. Provided – it complements the content you post and aligns with the voice and tone of your brand.
Freepik is a great search engine to find high quality photos, vectors, illustrations and PSD files for creative usage. Its popularity lies in the fact that it has graphics for nearly everything you’re possibly looking for. Their business model is freemium, ie. they have both free and paid resources. The convenience of filters on their site allows you to even narrow down color variants of the images so that the pictures contrast and match with your website color scheme.
One of the best parts about them is their massive collection of vector graphics spanning more than 42 categories. It is important to understand the slightly technical aspect behind this. You may find that if you stretch some photos while you use a cover image for your blog, it gets pixelated and the quality of the image suffers. If you use vector files, you can scale up and down freely without compromising on the integrity of it.
Useful fact – If you’re using the free vector graphics from Freepik, make it a point to give proper attribution as per the website’s policy to avoid unnecessary complications.
StockSnap is another great place to find free high-resolution images. On their About page, they describe themselves as a source to transcend good and become great with the power of amazing photos.
It is safe to say that this site is always buzzing with a continuous sense of newness. Other photo sites could feel stale after a while, but StockSnap doesn’t. It keeps on adding hundreds of new graphics to its library on a weekly basis.
Coming to the search experience on the platform – it is quite intuitive. The browsing options include searching by date added, most and least viewed, most and least downloaded, and most and least favorites. If you create a free account with them, you will also be able to store your favorite photos in one place
Useful fact –Their photo gallery does include a mix of free photos and sponsored photos that are differentiated with a star. It’s good to be watchful of that symbol camouflaging on the left corner to avoid wasting time and deviating from the site.
Canva is a great site for all kinds of graphic needs – be it for beginners, experts, teams or individuals. It has a very simple and intuitive interface that helps to design and publish graphics.
It has a well-equipped library comprising of both free and paid templates and stock photos that you can edit online with their drag and drop features.
Useful fact – You can use Canva for even editing those free pics for blogs that you have sourced from other sites. There exists an option to upload your own photo that you can use for the same.
Pixistock is a great stock photo destination, especially for bloggers and women entrepreneurs. The website has been founded by an interior designer with a keen interest in ensuring beautiful aesthetics.
This pretty much reflects in their designs, and on this site you can totally expect to find some really beautiful designs with soft colors and a lot of finesse.
Along with the option of paid subscriptions, the website offers a free collection of stock photos and Canva templates on a monthly basis.
Useful fact – The free pictures from this platform can be used for both personal and commercial use. However, there is a very clearly specified list of do’s and don’ts on their website about the admissible usage. It is advisable to go through the same before using their resources.
3.10. Google Images
Finally, this list will feel incomplete if I do not include our good old source for almost everything on the web – Google!
A simple Google image search needs no introduction. However, it is important to note that every image that shows up in the search engine is not free from usage restrictions. Most of the pictures that come up aren’t allowed for free commercial use. However, some are and they can be filtered out using the advance filter options. These options are available in the Tools>Usage Rights> Labeled for Reuse/ Labeled for reuse with modification.
Moreover, you can also avoid pixelated or undersized images. Just pick the ‘Large’ option under Size from the Tools. Automatically the super intelligent search engine will display only those images that have a resolution good enough to be displayed on your blog!
Useful fact – I’ll reveal a small little hack here that you might have missed out to notice. You can also do a reverse image search on Google Images. This means that if you like an image but are unsure of its usage restriction, you can search for its original source and verify. In the search page you need to simply click on the camera button, enter the image URL or upload the image and find its source.
4. Quick Tips For Picking The Right Images For Blog
Now that you know where to find images for your blog without spending any money, here are some tips to make note of, before you start choosing and downloading for your blogs posts –
- Prefer authenticity – When you’re picking stock photos of individuals, it’s always better to look out for people that appear more relevant to your content and not look like just models. This adds authenticity, which is always desirable. Moreover, it’s also good to filter out those pictures that have natural human postures, and not something that looks out rightly fake.
- Be mindful of image size – Sometimes images are small in size originally, and if you use them to fill a larger space, they stretch out and get pixelated. So, it’s preferable to verify the dimensions before hand to avoid later disappointments.
- Be sure of the copyrights – Always better to be safe than sorry later! Many of the above websites do offer free photos, but they might come with some terms and conditions such as usage limitations, or attribution requirements. Why land up in a lawsuit for copyright infringement? Better to spare a few minutes to check in advance and follow!
A worry you might have at this point is that when you’re picking up free photos and using them as it is, you could be compromising on the originality aspect on your website and your content might end up looking similar to that of competitors.
The good news is that this can be easily avoided, even without costs or knowing how to use software such as Photoshop, Illustrator etc. You can make simple changes to the images using free online tools such as Canva and make them a little more original and consistent with your brand.
Lets take a quick look at them in the next section-
- Simple Ways To Make Blog Images Look Unique & Original
- Add some text to the image – This helps to provide context and enables the reader to connect the dots and understand why the picture is used.
- Blur out the background – Subduing the background can make the text you add stand out better, and can overall change the look of the image.
- Crop the image – If there’s a specific part of interest in the image, you may crop out the rest. This can help you change the obvious direction of the image.
- Use color overlay – You could also tint out the colors of images to one that matches with your brand and make it look uniform and consistent.
Images enhance the value of all kinds of textual content – especially blog posts that can appear overwhelming otherwise when loaded with a lot text. Little reason prevails to ignore them, in this competitive web landscape.
However, the choice to use free or paid images is your call, with the former being a real option – given that there are now so many sites you can get great free images from.
I hope that after reading this article, you will no longer have to worry about where to source images from, and how to make them look true to your platform.
I’d like to highlight my final word of caution – be sure to check that you’re not infringing on any legal usage rights before picking photos from any site.
Now, over to you- which site are you itching to try out first? Is there some other site(s) that you love and I have missed? Let me know in the comments below.