As bloggers, we all need images to illustrate our posts. There are many ways to get these images. There are also a lot of pitfalls if you accidently download an image that has copyright constraints. Doing a search for free images won’t necessarily net you the results you need.
It’s our responsibility to know the Creative Commons License of any image we use. Today, I’m going to break it down for you.
The first—and safest—method of obtaining images for your posts is to take them yourselves. I never go anywhere without my smart phone and frequently have my camera in tow. I’ve learned to look for common illustrated things I need. Like a path, an obstacle, or even a gate.
If you don’t have an image of your own to use, you’ll need to look online for an image. Buying images can be expensive and, if you have a pop up Pinterest button on your blog, these images can get others into trouble. When you purchase an image, it’s only for your own use, and if someone else pins it, they are in violation of copyright.
Know Your Creative Commons Licenses
My preference is to search for sites that offer Creative Commons Zero (CCO).
This means that you can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free, including commercial products without asking permission from or providing attribution to the photographer and/or designer.
To read the definitions of all the different Creative Commons Licenses, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/.
These are the sites I use regularly that offer Creative Commons Zero (CCO)
- http://pixabay.com- This is one of my two favorite sites. It does require that you register or fill out a Captcha to download. I love the quality and the variety of images on this site.
- http://www.pexels.com – This is the second of my favorite sites. It doesn’t require registration and is equally as easy to use.
- http://owl.li/Pj1xD – I just got an email about this place and think it needs to be added to my top picks list!
- The four sites below also have CCO licensed photos but are a little clunkier to use.
There are numerous other sites with free images that vary in their Creative Common Licenses. The problem with many is that the license is different for every image you choose. For me, that’s just too confusing. I also prefer to caption my images with something from the blog post, instead of an attribution. I don’t mind attributions at the end of the blog, but on the image will interfere with search engine rankings.
Once I have an image, then what?
Once I download an image to use, I frequently like to modify it. I’ll either add text, or a filter, or even crop it to fit with what I need for that specific post. I have two sites that I like to use for that.
My favorite is www.Picmonkey.com. Another good site for manipulating images is www.Canva.com. Canva offers more options, but there’s a steeper learning curve. Canva also offers images, but you need to be careful to only create designs with the license that is applicable to your needs.
Using images for blogging and social media is a great way to increase shares, likes and overall interaction. But we must be careful to know what is legal to use online.
Now it’s your turn. What sites do you use for images and what questions do you have about finding and using images? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.