Using Images in Blogs

Thinking Boy One thing I don’t do enough of, is make a practice of using images in my blog. I admit, I’m lazy and don’t want to do the extra work, and there is all that confusing copyright stuff, and where do you find them?

Up to this point the images I had included were screenshots that I had taken to help illustrate a how to post. Since I created the image, I didn’t have to think about finding it or the attribution. But today that is changing, it’s the new year after all and I want to improve my blog.

What you need to know – Copyright issues
Yes, you can find images on the web to use in your blog. You don’t have to source them all yourself. But before you run off to Google Image search and grab the first cool image you come across, educate yourself about the copyright issues.

Public Domain and Creative Commons
For most of you, who just need an image to make your blog post more visually interesting and to get the topic across more quickly, public domain and images published under the creative commons license are the two sources of images you will be dealing with. However keep in mind that there are different licensing rules if you modify the image or use it for commercial reasons. I’m not covering those topics in detail here but read the rules and you should be fine.

Images from the Public Domain are free to use, with no strings attached. They have been contributed to the public for its use. The “thinking boy” image above, is an example of such an image. He is from The Open Clip Art Library and was contributed by Ryan Lerch. This is a great resource for illustrations.

If you use an image published under the Creative Commons License, in most cases you are expected to include an attribution to the creator as well as state that the image is licensed under Creative Commons. Creative Commons licenses give artists control on how others may use their work, for example they may or may not grant permission for image modification. A really popular source of images licensed under Creative Commons is Flickr. Flickr Creative Commons Search is a great place to look at photographs to use in your blog.

Free versus Paid Images
For Free images there are a number of resources. Generally you will need to create an account to download them and the images are free to use but often you will need to create an attribution/link back to their site. Sometimes you have to pay for the higher resolution versions. Here are a few sites to check out:

For images that you pay for, you have more freedom to “use them as your own”. While it can get expensive for the higher resolution images, low res images are fine for your blog and are cheap. For example $1-$2 is common at iStockPhoto. These royalty free images are a great solution for websites where an attribution would look out of place.

Want more? This post by PresentationZen has a more extensive list..

Useful Searches Here are a few ways to search for photos other than going to the sites above.

With all these great resources, it opens a new world of possibilities to make my blog posts more visually appealing. Although I’m still working on the “lazy” excuse.

Other fellow bloggers to check out:

  • For some “nuts and bolts” info on working with images in your blog check out this problogger introduction post .
  • Protecting copyrighted images from illegal use is a huge issue on web, especially for artists. A topic for a future post.

About the Author Kathy Alice

Kathy Alice Brown is a SEO expert specializing in Technical SEO and Content. In her spare time she loves to get outside.

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Judy Stone-Goldman says January 17, 2011

I always appreciate clarity about this issue! My issue right now is protecting my own work, but it really helps to know what’s safe to use and what’s not. Very important! Thanks.

Judy Stone-Goldman
The Reflective Writer

Kathy Alice says January 17, 2011

Fione: Thanks! BTW: I added a link to more technical how to from problogger.

Fiona Stolze says January 17, 2011

This is really useful post Kathy. I have linked to it from my blog post from an artist’s perspective and am glad that you have covered the legal side of things which I chose not to go into. There are so many fabulous resources out there and it’s definitely worthwhile getting this straight to avoid issues further down the line. Thanks.

Fiona Stolze

Irene Turner says January 17, 2011

Since I don’t use my blog for commercial gain, I usually use google images and pull images from there or from my own file. It’s what most of the design world does for their blog posts. Since we are a visual industry images will always be necessary!

Laurie Hurley says January 17, 2011

I have been using istock for years for my websites – $1.00 pics, but I have found that recently their prices have gone way up. Then I discovered 123RFstock and I like them better. I put a picture in every blog I do – I like having visuals. Sometimes I take pictures of my kids to use in my educational blogs. My advice on using others pics, read the fine print on copyright laws. Nice post and thanks for the additional resources!

Elaine Spitz says January 17, 2011

This is a great resource (I like the thoughtful guy cartoon) thanks for sharing it.

I’ve used my own photos for blog posts, but have more recently taken to using Veer – you pay as little as $2 for photos there, and all of the copyright concerns are taken care of. Similar to iStock – and no attribution required.

Kathy Alice says January 17, 2011

Judy: protecting images is a whole topic on itself, great suggestion for another post.

Irene: Even if you don’t use the image for “commercial use” you may still need to credit the source.

Laurie: Thanks for the heads up on istockphoto and suggesting alternatives, I’m still using the credit I have on the site so I haven’t experienced the price rise, I’ll watch out for that!

Darcie Newton says January 17, 2011

Perfectly timed post…we were just talking about this in SNCC (Ann’s coaching club). Thanks for the resources. I will check them out.

Darcie Newton
Wine, not whine. Nature not Nurture. Disciplined for profit, none for cheese.

Louise Edington says January 18, 2011

Ditto what Darcie said. Very timely and great tips. Thanks!
Louise Edington
Facing Fears For Freedom

Rachel Blaufeld says January 18, 2011

thank you for sharing those resources…I am also trying to make my blog more creative and colorful….and have been sticking to my own photos.
Now – I know where to search and look!

Debbie Goldberg says January 18, 2011

Very valuable information. Thank you!

Tracey Fisher says January 18, 2011

Since my blog is called Let’s Talk Avon, I try to use Avon images wherever and whenever I can. If I can illustrate a point and showcase a product at the same time, I try to do so. If not, I try to use public images. so thanks so much for sharing your information.


Brandy Mychals says January 19, 2011

Awesome post! Thank you for the info, exactly what I needed. I’ll be checking out the links for new photos 🙂
Brandy Mychals
Communications Coach
Creator of Split Second Perceptions

Julie Labes says January 19, 2011

We just talked about this last week on Anns call. i too have just been getting pics from the web..Thanks for the great ideas and tips. i certainly don’t want to end up getting sued for using a copyrighted photo

Julie Labes the…Fierce over 50 feels much younger, point and click junkie, loves to travel, does not use a jogging stroller, and before you ask, this is NOT my granddaughter..Woman

Rob Wallis says January 19, 2011

Thanks for the resources! Yes, I too don’t use images enough on my blog, mostly because I think I want to knock off a post quick and get back to work. I have to remember: this IS my work. 🙂

Tweets that mention Using Images in Blogs, Free Images for Blog | Making Sense of the Web -- says January 19, 2011

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Fiona Stolze, WebEnso. WebEnso said: Using images in your blog, where to find them […]

Jennifer Duchene says January 19, 2011

Great post. Always useful to know the right way to use the tools on the web. Since my business is about how a space looks, I always need images, although I typically use my own, I am happy to use others images when I can.

Jennifer Duchene
Home Makeover Mixtress blending lifestyle and laughter

Robbie Schlosser says January 19, 2011

Hi Kathy Alice,

Thanks for this informative post. Important topic, copyright law. I ought to understand it better, so I’ll re-read it frequently.

Believing a picture is worth 1000 words, I always include a photo in my posts, and it’s always been one taken by me or by a friend.

However, one of these days I expect I’ll need to search the internet for the perfect photo for a future blog, and your advice will come in very handy.

Thanks in advance.

Bill Browning says January 20, 2011

Excellent resource article. I use and Getty though Getty can be expensive.

Getty has the best images I’ve found. What i do is get my themes for the month and then get a 1 month subscription allowing me to download many photos. This makes it cost-effective.

I’ll share your blog. Thanks.

Kathy Alice says January 20, 2011

Thanks for reminding me about Getty! We used some wonderful knight & armor pictures from Getty for a website I built on recordkeeping.

Merlyn Sanchez says January 20, 2011

Thank you for clarifying all these issues. I love to include images in my posts and knowing where and how to use them is very useful!

Help! How Can I Stop People Breaching my Artist Copyright (Part two) « Inspired Art and Living with Fiona Stolze says February 6, 2011

[…] For those of you who would like to know more about using images on the internet, have a look at this great post put together by Kathy Alice Brown about public domain photographs. […]

Kathy Alice says June 3, 2012

Here’s another royalty free resource:

Cameron Conner says August 13, 2012

I am an active online writer and I use a ton of images. I rarely use them on my personal blog though. Not really sure why. I have found that when I do use images and especially videos I tend to get a lot better responses.

    Kathy Alice says August 13, 2012

    It took me a while, but I now use an image on the majority of my posts on this blog.

toper @ My Public Domain Pictures says November 26, 2012

there are thousands or even millions of photo blogs that that allow unlimited use of their images. google “public domain pictures” and you fill find 37 million results with links to these blogs. you will also notice that most public domain photo blogs that allow 100% free use are amateur so don’t expect professional images but atleast they are 100% free. those that offer a small fee have professional photos. its just a matter of preference.

Kathy Alice says June 30, 2014

Here’s a more recent list of places to find free images:

Bob says January 27, 2015

Please also check out for thousands of unique public domain photos, especially travel photos. I’d appreciate it if you would add it to your list.

    Kathy Alice says January 30, 2015

    Thanks Bob for sharing your collection with us!

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