Pictures add a visual element to your blog that really helps grab the readers’ attention. And that’s important considering most visitors have such a short attention span. Unless you’re a photographer or a graphic designer, though, you have to use pictures that someone else created, and many times there’s money involved. Here are some suggestions for finding free pictures for your blog.
Creative Commons: Visit Search.CreativeCommons.org and type in a keyword for your image search. Then you can choose from 10 different sites to search, including Google Images, Flickr, Fotopedia, and Pixabay.
Caution: Images with a Creative Commons license are not always free for use. Before copying any image do a thorough search to see what your requirements are.
There are also different levels of the Creative Commons license. Some levels allow you to edit or alter the image, some allow you to use it for non-commercial use only, and so on. Be sure to read the licensing and attribution requirements to protect yourself from copyright violations.
Wikimedia: Most of the images at Wikimedia.org are also free for use. However, each has a different license and there may be specific attribution requirements in place. Be sure to read the whole page before you copy and paste the image.
Public Domain Pictures: Publicdomainpictures.net has a huge selection of images under the Public Domain license. Be careful, though. This is a promotional site for photographers. You’ll find plenty of free images but you’ll also find images that you need to pay for before you can use them. Also, some attribution may be required. You’ll find details on each page.
Free Digital Photos: This site is similar to Public Domain Pictures. Just type in your search term and you’ll find some really beautiful pictures. Be aware, though, that not all images on this site are free and most require some type of attribution.
What Is Attribution?
Attribution means giving credit to the creator or artist. Typically, when you find an image you like, the artist or photographer will have provided a link and all you’ll need to do is copy and paste it right under the image when you display it on your blog. If the creator requires attribution then you need to include it and it must be visible to your readers. Otherwise, you’re guilty of plagiarism and you could be hit with copyright violations.
Why You Shouldn’t Use Just Any Old Picture
Contrary to popular belief, everything on the Internet is not “free for use.” It’s public information, but that doesn’t mean you can copy it and paste it onto your own blog. This is true for textual content as well as images.
Many article directories will allow you to copy an article and paste it onto your blog – but you must provide the proper attribution, which is that link that leads back to the original article on the directory. If you don’t provide that link then you are guilty of plagiarism, even if you only copied one paragraph from that article.
Similarly, many image directories, like those listed above, will allow you to copy images and use them on your blog – as long as you meet their licensing and attribution requirements.
Many people make their living writing textual content, taking photographs, and creating digital images for webmasters to use on their sites, just like authors and artists have been creating unique works offline since the dawn of time. You wouldn’t dream of copying a book by Stephen King and publishing it on your website, would you? Yet many bloggers don’t make that connection. They think everything they find on the Web is up for grabs.
Eventually you’re going to find a few other sites where you can download free images, but remember: Free just means you don’t have to pay money. You may still be required to provide a link back to the creator and you may also have other licensing limitations you’ll need to be aware of.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!