At some point on your blog, you’re going to want to include images. Unless you only ever use screenshots, you’ll need to either create these images yourself and or you’ll need to find ones that you can legally use.
If you only take one thing away from this post, make it this: never search on Google for an image and use what you find without checking whether it’s OK to. Many images are copyrighted to their creator, and you can’t (legally) republish them on your blog.
A Quick Introduction to Copyright and Creative Commons
Under most countries’ laws, content that you create (e.g. text, audio, images, or video) is automatically “copyright” to you.
This means no-one can republish it on their own website with your permission.
Some content creators choose to license their work under “Creative Commons”. This means you’re allowed to republish their image (or blog post, video, etc) and but there will sometimes be certain restrictions.
If you make money from your blog (or hope to do so in future) then you should look for images licensed under “Creative Commons for Commercial Use”.
You can find out more about different Creative Commons licenses here.
Where to Get Free Images
Image from Flickr by AGoK.
My favourite source of free images is Flickr. Use the Advanced Search and check the boxes:
- Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content
- Find content to use commercially
When you use an image from Flickr, you should always acknowledge the author with a line like this:
Image by AUTHOR NAME
It’s nice to link their name either to the image itself or to their main page on Flickr, as in the example above.
(This isn’t the only format you can use for your attributions, and you’ll see different bloggers doing different things. What’s important is that you always acknowledge the image’s creator by name.)
Another good source of photos is stock.xchng. This site has a lot of royalty free images that you can use, normally without attribution. (Some bloggers prefer to attribute all images as a courtesy to the creators.)
The images on stock.xchng tend to have a more “stock” feel than those on Flickr, which may or may not be an advantage, depending on what sorts of images you want to use.
Choosing a Great Image
Different bloggers will have different opinions on what makes for a great image. If your blog is for a quite traditional, formal business, then standard stock photos might work well. If you’re writing a more creative blog, you may want brightly coloured images … and so on.
Here are some general tips, though:
- Allow enough time to find an image. It can take a bit of searching to find something that suits your post.
- Often, you’ll want an image that illustrates a concept (e.g. “motivation” or “focus”). Brainstorm some ideas for images that might work well and it’s easier to search for something concrete (perhaps a magnifying glass for “focus”) than for an abstract idea.
- Think about colour. You may want to use very bright, colourful images, or you may choose ones that match with your blog’s colour scheme. Alternatively, perhaps black and white images will work well for you.
- Consider picking a consistent theme. Maybe you’ll always use photos of cats, or children. Perhaps you’ll go for illustrations rather than photos.
What About Logos, Product Images, etc?
Most bloggers will agree it’s OK to republish a company or blog’s logo without asking them for express permission. The same goes for book and ebook covers. If you’re uncertain or unsure, it’s worth asking.
If you’re an affiliate for a product, you may well have access to advertising banners and product images that you can use and it’s fine to use these in your posts.
Do you use images on your blog? What’s your favourite source and and what tips do you have for picking great images? Let us know in the comments.