How to Find and Use Free Online Photos in Your Blog

Most top bloggers rely on high-value content as well as striking images to ensure the success of their blog. Using eye-catching images is a great way to engage your readers and induce them to read your content. Images also improve your chances of ranking high in search engine result pages. Therefore, add at least one image to every blog post, preferably at the top of your blog post.

Fortunately, you don’t have to pay for using images in your blog. There are many sites that provide free online images. These free image sites include the copyright information for each image and help you to avoid inadvertent copyright infringement.

You can find high-quality and relevant images for your blog or website at these three sites:

1. Flickr
Flickr (http://www.flickr.com) with over five billion images is the most popular online image management website. Most of these images are uploaded by amateur and professional photographers and have either traditional copyright or Creative Commons license. You cannot use Flickr images with a traditional copyright unless you get written permission from the author. This can be a time-consuming process so you may prefer to use images having Creative Commons licenses.

Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that develops and supports digital creativity and sharing. Creative Commons licenses provide simple alternatives to the “all rights reserved” model of traditional copyright. You can use Creative Commons licensed photos on your blog without having to pay any royalty. However, you have to give credit to the original license-holder of the photo.

For more details about the six types of licenses, visit the Creative Commons website (http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/).

How to find images with Creative Commons licenses
To ensure that Flickr restricts your search results to images that can be used in your blog:

  • Go to the Flickr “Advanced Search” page (http://www.flickr.com/search/advanced/)
  • Enter the appropriate keywords at the top of the page]
  • Click on the “Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content” and the “Find content to use commercially” check boxes near the bottom of the page
  • Click on the blue “Search” button

For example, if you search for the keyword “real estate,” Flickr will search the title and tags of all images that match your keyword and display the thumbnails of the most relevant images.

To improve the search results, click on the “Interesting” link above the search results. The new search page displays images that are likely to be much more attractive and appealing.

  • How to select and download images for your blog
    After you select the most appropriate image for your blog post, follow these steps to download and save it:
  • In the Flickr search page, click on the thumbnail image that you want to download
  • When you click on the image, a bigger version of the image is displayed
  • Open the “Actions” menu above the image and click on the ‘“View all Sizes” option
  • Choose the size you want to download
  • To download the image, click the link in the “Download” section, rename the image file and save it in a folder in your computer

Finally, don’t forget to note the URL of the original photo page (for example, http://www.flickr.com/photos/xxxxxxxxx) and the name or username of the photographer so that you can credit the image in your blog post.

2. Google Images
Google Images (http://www.images.google.com) allows you to restrict your search results to photos that you can share or use in your blog or website. To use this feature:

  • Go to the Google Images “Advanced Image Search” page (http://www.google.com/advanced_image_search?hl=en)
  • Enter the relevant keywords for the image you want to use
  • In the “Usage Rights” section, select either “Labeled for commercial reuse” or “Labeled for commercial reuse with modification”
  • Click on the “Google Search” button
  • In the search results page, click on the image you want to use and confirm the terms of its license before downloading it.

3. Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons (http://www.commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page) contains many free images, all of which are available for commercial use. However, confirm the license details of any photo that you want to use.

How to credit images in your blog posts
When you add an image from a free image site to your blog post, you have to give credit to the photographer. If the photographer’s name is not listed in the site, you can credit the photo to the user name of the photographer. Crediting images protects you from potential copyright infringement.

The simplest way to credit your images is to give the name of the photographer at the bottom of the post with a link to the original photo page. For example, write “Photo by FatPassport” and hyperlink “FatPassport” with “http://www.flickr.com/photos/36790698@N08/3446847618/.”

Another method suggested by Skelliewag(http://www.skelliewag.org/the-flickr-guide-part-2-how-to-caption-or-credit-photos-in-posts-163.htm) is to paste the following code immediately after the image code:

Photo by Name

Finally, leave a comment on the original photo page to thank the photographer and mention the title and URL of your blog post or article in which you used the photo.

14 December 2011


Rohi Shetty is a medical doctor, Vipassana meditator, writer, editor, translator and blogger. His short stories and articles have been published online and in print.

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