Top 6 sources to find royalty free images for your blog posts

What makes a website attractive? A lot of things, of course. It is very much a balancing act between content, layout, images and many others.

Having great content, while is the most important, makes up only part of what it takes to attract readers to your site. Let’s face it, no one is going to be motivated to come to your site to just read pages of text. Here’s where we need to “illustrate” blog posts with catchy and interesting images.

A common problem is that we want awesome images for our posts but at the same time, not want to pay for them! So, what do most of us do? We search for images in Google Images and lift them off the Internet, of course. However, this is sometimes not desirable and may violate the images’ copyrights.

Google Images

Just because the images are on the Internet, that doesn’t mean that we can just grab and use them as our own. Often, these images have licenses or restrictions attached. Do bear in mind that there are many cases where fines were imposed on those who were found guilty of copyright infringement. These fines can reach hundreds of thousands of dollars!

Best royalty free images

However, the Internet is an awesome source of good quality images that are also royalty free… if you know where to look for them.

Over the years, I have been bookmarking a variety of websites from which I get images for my websites and blog posts. Some images are free to use. But because they are free, they are not exclusive (everyone can purchase them including your competitors) and are lower quality compared to paid images. But if you don’t mind these little inconveniences, free images are great addition to your posts. Just remember to read the restrictions clauses, if any.

Some images are protected, meaning that I have to pay some fees for exclusive rights to that particular image(s) for a predefined period. These are usually good for companies who are running a certain program or promotion and not that appropriate for blog posts.

There are some who offer royalty free images, where you are expected to pay a small one-time license fee for the images. Once licensed, a royalty free image allows you to use the image many times over. This is the most economical way to obtain high quality images. Having said this, “royalty free” is very often used interchangeable with “free” these days. As such, sites offering royalty free images sometimes offer free use of their images but with rules of usage and restrictions e.g. registering as a user on that site, attribution to the owner or to use the image for personal use only.

Stock photos are pictures taken by professional photographers that were not being used. It could be extras from a custom shoot, and thus, becomes their stock. So, sometimes, photographers will sell them and sometimes they offer these pictures for free. The following are a list of great stock photos sites.

  1. Creative Commons Search

    Creative Commons Search

    While it is not a search engine on its own, Creative Commons search is an online search application which you can use to look for images found in other search engines, for example Google Images, Flickr and Open Clip Art Library. You can even search for other types of content like video (from YouTube) and music (from Jamendo).

    Since it does not have any control over the search results, you should not assume that the images found are under the Creative Commons (CC) license. The CC license lets the image creators get credited for their work while allowing the public to use the images for free. There are certain terms to this including using the images for non-commercial purpose only. Do check with the image creator or owner if you are unsure.

  2. stock.xchng

    Stock xchng

    This is one of my favorite image sources because of its huge collection of high quality images. All the images are neatly categorized into abstract, business, places, world and so on. Alternatively, you can use their search function.

    At the time of writing, this site has over 400,000 photos from more than 30,000 photographers all over the world. So, whether it’s wallpaper for your laptop or a specific picture for your business promotional material or in our case, an image for our blog post, you are most likely to find it in stock.xchng.

    You will need to register as a user to download the images. Remember to read the restriction under “Availability” for each image you plan to download. Different images have different sets of restrictions from free to use to crediting the owner and so on.

    They have a sister company called iStockphoto.com where you can find a wide range of high quality stock pictures for sale. Prices are relatively cheap where you can purchase royalty free images for as low as $1.

  3. Stock Photos For Free

    Stock Photos For Free

    This is a free stock photo site with hundreds of thousands of free photos. Again, you have to be a member in order to download the images but joining is free!

    They have lots of high quality images neatly categorized into various topics like nature and animals and international locations. There are even still shots taken from slow motion videos, which helps make it more real. The watermark that you see on the images will be removed once you download them.

  4. Every Stock Photo

    Every stock photo

    This search engine is specially designed to search the web for freely licensed stock photos. Hence, they have an amazing range of great photos!

    The photos come with lots of information like the image resolution, views and ratings. Most of them are free to use but with certain restrictions which are listed under the photos’ license page. Licenses include Creative Commons, GNU, public domain and custom free. Be sure to check these licenses before using them.

  5. Open Clip Art Library

    Open Clip Art

    There are times when you don’t want a photo but an icon or a clip art. Well, Open Clip Art Library is your answer. They have an amazing range of free high quality clip art that you can download in svg and png formats.

    The good news is that most of these clip arts are located in the public domain, which means that you can edit these images and upload them anywhere you like! Searching for the right lip art is a breeze as they are tagged for easy searching and browsing.

  6. Wikimedia Commons

    Wikimedia Commons

    This project is run by Wikimedia Foundation and acts as a common repository for media files. These files are freely-licensed and are available in the public domain. This means that everyone can use the images for free. You can even edit the images since it uses the same wiki-technology as Wikipedia. Because it is available in various languages, you can easily find an image in your language.

    Their library is huge and you can find tons of images as well as photographs and illustrations as well as other media files like audio and video files.

Conclusion

There are many reasons why we want to include images in our blog posts. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words. Other than making our posts more visually appealing, images can help improve our search engine traffic and emphasize a point.

Good thing the Internet provides an abundance of images that we can use for our blog posts. If you were to use images downloaded from the Internet, you should carefully read the copyright attached to them. Infringement of copyright can be quite damaging to you, not only in monetary terms but you may also be slapped with lawsuits and criminal charges.

Lastly, I do hope you find the above a great source of free (as well as almost free) images for your blog posts, legally. With so many different types of images available for your use, you can now easily create stimulating posts for your readers.

Do you have a favorite site where you go to for free images?