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Free Stunning Images

Why Stunning Images are Important for Your Blog and How to Find them for Free

Not all bloggers use images with their blog posts, or even in their website! So, it might be possible to build a huge readership without a single photo on your site.

But, there are several reasons why right kinds of images make the reader experience a lot better compared to a blog that consists only of plain text.

Beautiful images not only make your blog look more intriguing but also:

1. Grab the attention. Whenever someone visits your site, the first things he or she will look at are the images. If your images are stunning, the first impression will be very good.
2. Make reading easier. When you use images in right places, you give the reader an opportunity to have a little rest between large chunks of text.
3. Share a meaning. A picture is worth a thousand words, so never underestimate how well you can communicate with your readers through images.
4. Promote SEO. Google and other search engines look at the file names as well as the alt and description attributes, so using them correctly will help you to get more traffic.

How to choose images for your posts

Sometimes it is quite difficult to know how to choose the right images of millions of photos available online.

I always try to find visually beautiful photos that still are somehow connected to the topic of the blog post, but sometimes it is useful to use a photo that has nothing to do with the topic but is still intriguing and makes the visitor want to read the whole post.

One thing I think everyone should avoid is to pick photos that look amateurish or ugly. They are part of your site, so if the visitor sees low-quality, amateurish photos all over your blog, that’s the impression of your whole website, so try to pick only images that enhance the user experience – not images that make your blog look worse.

Often a visually intriguing image has nice colors, good contrast, or great composition to make it appealing for the human eye. One good way of finding the kind of image that will make your readers happy is to go through a lot of images and when a certain image grabs your attention completely, you have probably found a potential image for your blog post.

Where to find free images

free stunning images

Google image search is probably something that comes to mind first, when you think about finding images for your blog, but because of the possible copyright issues, it is better to use images that you know are free for everyone to use.

My favorite way of finding images is to use Flickr with the Creative Commons advanced search feature. Creative Commons images can be used royalty free just by attributing them to the author, and you can do that easily by putting a photo credit –link to the end of your post or under the image.

Here is a list of sites for finding free images:

1. Creative Commons search in Flickr

Like I said, this is my favorite way of finding stunning free images. Try it if you haven’t already. Usually clicking “most interesting” –link in the search results gives you the best looking photos.

2. Stock.xchange

Sxc.hu is another really good site for finding free images, but the problem with it is that there is only quite a limited amount of really good looking photos. But it’s still a very good site that you should check out. If I wouldn’t be able to use Flickr, stock.xchange would be my choice.

3. EveryStockPhoto

This is a site I just stumbled onto. It’s a search engine for free photos that come from different sources. It seems to be quite good, even though I haven’t tested it thoroughly yet.

4. PicApp

This site has mostly images of celebrities, sports, and travel. I must say that I am not a big fan of this site, because the image quality on average is not very high.

5. FreeFoto

FreeFoto is even a little bit worse than PicApp – not that many images and the quality is a letdown. I would use this only if there were no alternatives, but maybe you can find a good image from this site as well if you are lucky.

Information about different Creative Commons -licenses

When you first start to look for images, different licenses can quite easily overwhelm you. At least for me the whole Creative Commons –system was unclear.

Here’s basic information about different types of CC –licenses:

  • Attribution License

Attribution license means that you can use the image as you wish, both commercially and non-commercially, and also modify the image, as long as you credit the author by linking back to their profile.

  • Attribution-NoDerivs License

Attribution-NoDerivs license is basically the same than Attribution license, but you are not allowed to modify the image in any way.

  • Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License

This license is the same as Attribution-NoDerivs license, but you cannot use images with this license commercially.

The line between commercial and non-commercial is not always clear, but usually it can be argued that your blog is commercial if you have ads, products or online store there, so if you want to be on the safe side, it is probably better to use images with more flexible licenses, such as the two above.

  • Attribution-NonCommercial License

You can display and modify images with this license in a non-commercial space with a link to the author’s profile.

  • Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

You can use photos with this license in non-commercial spaces with credit, but there is one extra requirement: You must link to the license page (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en) alongside a link to the author’s profile.

  • Attribution-ShareAlike License

Photos with this license you can modify and use in any context as long as you link to the author’s profile and the distribution license for the photo (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en).

Conclusion

Spending too much time thinking about different licenses is not wise, so I suggest you only use the search for images with Attribution license. There are at the moment over 20.3 million photos in Flickr with that license that allows you to use the photo quite freely, so there’s no reason to make your life any harder.

Pick only the best photos that make your blog look intriguing and professional, and it will be a lot easier for you to find satisfied long-term readers.

PS. The photo of Angkor Wat temples in Cambodia is taken by me, so no attribution needed here. :)

Petteri Ollila is a happiness hunter who gives happiness and self-improvement tips at his blog Happiness Hunters. If you want to learn how to feel good, you will love his new free e-book “The Guide to Happiness: 9 Effective Steps to Improve Your Mood Permanently”.

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{ 59 comments… add one }

  • Dipra Sen March 16, 2013, 2:23 am

    Hi Petteri,
    You have listed some good free stock photo sites but searching photos through these sites are very time consuming. I’ve created a “Free Image Finder” tool which finds free stock photos from some of the best free stock photo sites.

  • Andreas Pazer February 11, 2012, 11:33 am

    Most bloggers want to find free pictures for their blogs. If you’re making money from your blog, you may have a budget to spend on images to add to your posts, but even then – there’s no need.

  • Rae March 29, 2011, 5:04 am

    Great post. thanks for listing the sites for stunning free images. It’s really helpful.

  • Anuj October 17, 2010, 6:58 am

    great information there.. thanks a lot.
    Images play a major role in keeping visitors to one’s site… one should also make sure that he/she uses a relevant picture in the article and has all the license to use the image

  • samuel September 21, 2010, 7:49 am

    What about a post about paid photos? Cheap, best deal, membership, etc. Sometimes we need high quality pohtos for web design.
    Maybe think about a photographer too.
    samuel recently posted..Como reconquistar a un hombreMy Profile

  • Paul Sylvester September 15, 2010, 2:39 pm

    Sometimes it can be hard to find the right images for your blog. I have found that out the hard way! Great blog post though, will utilize this post to make my posts even better!!
    Paul Sylvester recently posted..Know which System is Good for you and Why Part 2My Profile

  • Luqman August 16, 2010, 12:12 pm

    Thanks for the sharing the free image link, I like to add image to all my post and I use to get them from google image and flickr

  • Jon August 6, 2010, 10:16 am

    I generally use Flickr or see what is on Wikipedia then add a “Photo by ….” at the end of the article. Flickr really is a great way to find good photos, there are so many people out there photographing evens with good quality cameras now and then sharing their pics online that you can usually find something suitable for a blog. Plus attributing the photos give the photographer some credit which helps them out too.
    Jon recently posted..The New Rules on Losing Belly FatMy Profile

  • Dr. Skigh July 29, 2010, 10:10 pm

    This is a tremendous resource. For those of us who are creating websites, good images can be scarce. When you want to customize your Wordpress blog, you need a few good images to liven things up. Thank you for the tips.
    Dr. Skigh recently posted..WP Design- Before and After ScreenshotsMy Profile

  • Dennis July 21, 2010, 2:31 pm

    Photos definitely attract attention, but finding a photo with a clear message relevant to the content of your blog entry may be quite difficult. Using nice clipart may be a solution, though. Being a designer, I usually just draw the images to illustrate my blog posts, but sometimes also use free graphics – there’s plenty of them on the Web and artists in many cases clearly indicate under which license they publish their works.
    Dennis recently posted..3 Tips On How To Use Large IconsMy Profile

  • Tom Dewell July 21, 2010, 2:19 pm

    I have recently begun to add at least one image to all my posts, initially for SEO purposes, but also to add to the reader experience. I know that I personally like a blog post or article more when it has images in them.
    I have often struggled to find royalty free or totally free images that are quality and your list is a welcome find. Thanks!
    Tom Dewell recently posted..Small Businesses Using Credit Cards to HireMy Profile

  • Brian July 20, 2010, 1:42 pm

    Great post. Thanks for the information about the photo websites. At least now i would not focus on flickr alone. Thanks for the list. We really need this. Really a great to know information. You have a good one

  • Beth July 19, 2010, 4:38 pm

    Thank you for including such a great list of attainable free pictures. I have come across this quite often and am always afraid of the copyright laws so I never really put pictures in my blog. I rely on my own “bad” picture taking.

  • Julius Kuhn-Regnier July 18, 2010, 3:44 am

    Nice list. I just wanted to add to the number of sites where you can find pictures. You can also add Wikimedia commons to it. I think you can use all their pictures under the attribution license.

  • Gina July 17, 2010, 12:07 am

    Thanks for putting that list out. I could never tell which ones were truly free for images and which ones weren’t. I didn’t want to get in trouble for copyright infringement.
    Gina recently posted..Simple Blogging Tip: Target NewMy Profile

  • Harsh Agrawal July 16, 2010, 7:06 pm

    I have been using Flickr to find best images and till now I never looked into any other services..
    More over I use my DSLR camera to click few images which I technically use on my blog and somehow I find it better..as because of this I get lots of backlinks :)
    Harsh Agrawal recently posted..Retweet and Comment to Win Complete ThemeJunkie Wordpress Premium Theme PackageMy Profile

    • Hesham July 18, 2010, 1:02 am

      It would be a nice idea, especially if there is a rich areas near to where you live or a good environment for taking photos! I think there is no better way than publishing your own photos if you can!

  • Robert July 16, 2010, 4:51 pm

    Something I never did until recently was add SEO attributes to my images, it was only when i discovered I was getting traffic from people discovering my images in google images searches that I focused more on it
    Robert recently posted..Motorola ES400 EDA ReviewMy Profile

  • Hesham July 16, 2010, 2:00 pm

    Petteri, I would like to thank you so much for the awesome article, you have just solved so many problems and probably also some of the expected (future problems) for me by providing such nice finding images guide!!

    Thank you tons, this is so much appreciated work!

  • Colleen July 16, 2010, 1:47 pm

    Very nice summary Petteri. Curious, when you say, “Creative Commons images can be used royalty free just by attributing them to the author…”, but select the “Find content to modify, adapt, or build upon” box (I guess you will need to go to Flickr to see what I’m referring too), does attribution need to be made? I’ve heard not, but curious what your thoughts are. Normally, we would give attribution anyway, but sometimes the publisher has other images I do not want my visitors to see.
    Colleen recently posted..Funny Faces, Cool DadsMy Profile

  • Kimi July 16, 2010, 1:36 pm

    I used to have problems finding completely free images that i can use for my blog. But i have bookmarked this page and i will find now, where to get free images.

    Thanks for the great lists!
    Kimi recently posted..Get your blog indexed by BingMy Profile

  • Ryan Biddulph July 16, 2010, 1:03 pm

    Excellent advice Petterri. Thanks for sharing the licensing breakdown; it can be confusing to a newbie.

    My blog readership increased when I began using images from creative commons. I resisted because I felt that it was only important to provide text-based content but as you said a picture is worth a thousand words. People are emotional creatures and respond to an image like nothing else.

    Ryan Biddulph
    Ryan Biddulph recently posted..These 3 Network Marketing Tactics StinkMy Profile

    • Petteri Ollila July 16, 2010, 1:48 pm

      Yeah, the licensing was not clear to me either until recently when I wanted to find out how it works, but it’s good to choose the images so that you are in safe waters. Nice images make it much easier to read longer posts, just like good use of headings.
      Petteri Ollila recently posted..Would You Like to Have a Life without FailuresMy Profile

  • Kharim July 16, 2010, 8:55 am

    Yep… Images/ unique images are now standing out like unique contents these days. They are very important for blogs especially when they are eye catching images.

    I always love to see the images here at FamousBloggers.net, they look so cool :D
    Kharim recently posted..3 Important Meta Tags For A Successful SiteMy Profile

  • Thomas July 16, 2010, 8:52 am

    I think great high quality images add greater depth and appeal to your blog. As for people arguing against them for SEO reason you can optimize your images. Getting listed in image search engine results can drive significant traffic to your site. The explanation of the creative commons is great as well as the image gallery links….thnxs!
    Thomas recently posted..How to Write Product Descriptions in MagentoMy Profile

  • Mia July 16, 2010, 8:01 am

    I also try to find royalty-free images. This is such a site:

    http://www.sxc.hu/

  • Bogdan July 16, 2010, 4:35 am

    I always looked for images more from a SEO purpose rather than searching for “stunning images”. But worth a look on those links, thanks. :)

  • Jayce July 16, 2010, 2:28 am

    Nice images help. I prefer see photo than long texts.
    Jayce recently posted..Top 10 Sprint HTC EVO 4G Tweaks and HacksMy Profile

  • The Bad Blogger July 16, 2010, 1:41 am

    First I have to thank you for the list of website to get free stunning images, and second thanks for the list of license that you wrote. I have been finding images for my blog for quite some time and finally got it here.
    Stunning images really can trigger people to look but not to read, but agin it is still better then no image, well… I will have to go take a tour to see if any images suit my blog post.
    The Bad Blogger recently posted..The Most Difficult Decision The Bad Blogger Has To Make ! (I Need Your Advice)My Profile

  • Tek3D July 16, 2010, 12:25 am

    Thanks for this helpful post.
    I thought that images on Google image search are free and always use them without considering. That’s great if we can find out which images are free on Google.
    Tek3D recently posted..Simple Ways to Prevent WordPress Blog HackingMy Profile

  • Kevin M. July 15, 2010, 11:15 pm

    Do you know if there is any way to search google for creative commons photos?

    I need to start using flickr more. :)
    Kevin M. recently posted..Why I chose to monetize my blogMy Profile

  • Joseph July 15, 2010, 9:53 pm

    Yep and I’m now Flickring too Petteri, after realizing that Google Images were not necessarily non-copyright, ouch!

    I find that the available images on Flickr creative commons (even though you quote a vast figure) is not nearly as engaging as is Google Images, however, you made a super point – simply use an image that really stands out, regardless its not exactly related to your blog post. Yes, I love that idea!

    Thanks for the excellent post – retweet coming your way Petteri!
    Joseph recently posted..A SERIOUSLY COOL Tool for Wannabe BACKLINKING ‘Cheats’My Profile

    • Petteri Ollila July 16, 2010, 1:57 pm

      Thanks Joseph!

      It is true that it is easier to find great images if you don’t care about the licensing, but when you search for the “most interesting” photos in Flickr with Creative Commons license, you can still find great photos if you are just open minded with the tags you search for.
      Petteri Ollila recently posted..Would You Like to Have a Life without FailuresMy Profile

  • Tia July 15, 2010, 9:40 pm

    I love using images! It makes a big difference in my theme; and I know some themes are even coded to use images, since they are so valuable.

    I feel like my posts are naked without them. Sometimes I use video in their place, but still, it’s the “accessory” that puts everything together.

    Thanks for the additional places. I find most of mine at Flickr or wikimedia.
    Tia recently posted..Are Your Comments Bringing in Traffic- or NotMy Profile

  • element321 July 15, 2010, 9:15 pm

    Great write up. I did a Creative Commons write a few months back. There is so much information about the way the licenses work.

    I agree with on the first two. I try and only use two license options and I make sure to link back to the source. There are so many people out there that think just because a site like those premium image sites offer a free small image preview download that they are free and they can use them. They are so wrong, they are only free for mock ups if they want to use it anywhere else they have to purchase a license.

    Thats why I always read the fine print on those sites and read the creators profile to make sure I can use it on my site. Also in some cases it might be a good idea to email the owner and ask for permission or at least let them know by commenting to their profile that you used their image and where they can find your work.
    element321 recently posted..30+ Images of Old and Rusty CarsMy Profile

    • Petteri Ollila July 16, 2010, 2:01 pm

      Yeah, that’s a good way to do it. By informing the owner that you have used his or her image, you are being fair and at least giving the opportunity to let you know if it’s not okay to use it.

    • element321 July 16, 2010, 2:09 pm

      I for got to mention. It might also be a good idea to document your conversations with the owner(s) and keep any emails or print screens of the conversation, just in case in the future, the owner says you never had that conversations and tries to pull a fast one over on you… This also includes any sale documents or licenses from premium sites. I have heard stores of website owners being fined for using their images and suing for damages years after purchasing the images. If this happens you need all the proof you can to fight the charges…
      element321 recently posted..External Comment Systems May Not Be the Best Option for a Blog OwnerMy Profile

  • Kent Chow July 15, 2010, 9:14 pm

    Petteri, I have been looking for great free pics for my blog. These links are very handy. Also you CC license explanation helps me a lot!
    Kent Chow recently posted..How to Start a Blog like a ProMy Profile

  • Jay Philips July 15, 2010, 8:58 pm

    Great post not only for blogs but presentations and reports as well. Personally on my blogs I usually insert a Dilbert cartoon (huge fan), if I can’t find a comic strip that matches then I look into adding an image. I always add images in my presentations.
    Jay Philips recently posted..Find Out How Influential/Popular You AreMy Profile

  • Sourav July 15, 2010, 8:40 pm

    Excellent information Petteri, specially the details about all the CC license. I knew nothing about so many attributes.
    And thanks for sharing the list of sites. Hearing about EasyStockPgoto, PicApp and FreeFoto for the first time, but it seems that you are not much impressed by the last two.
    Sourav recently posted..25 Mistakes New Bloggers Need To AvoidMy Profile

    • Petteri Ollila July 16, 2010, 2:09 pm

      Nice to hear that the article was helpful, Sourav!

      Yes, I actually use mostly Flickr nowadays because in my opinion it’s the best option. Another thing I like to do in some of my blogs is to create own images with Photoshop by taking screenshots and then editing the image by adding text, vignetting and lots of different effects that make it look better than just an average screenshot.
      Petteri Ollila recently posted..Would You Like to Have a Life without FailuresMy Profile

  • Julius July 15, 2010, 8:37 pm

    This is a very nice and useful articles. I often use images on my posts for presentation enhancement and to help convey the meaning of my article as well. your guidelines is a big help to me since I’m having difficulties finding good quality pictures which I could use without copyright violations.

    Thanks and more power to you Petteri!
    Julius recently posted..Making the Blogging Community A Better PlaceMy Profile

  • Murlu July 15, 2010, 7:39 pm

    Really glad that you not only shared these sites but talked about attribution.

    I know bloggers would raise hell if their work was ripped so not linking back to the original image follows this same line. Help promote the great images you use on your own site – always link back!
    Murlu recently posted..Creating A Cult Following Behind Your BrandMy Profile

    • Petteri Ollila July 16, 2010, 2:13 pm

      That’s true. One should always think about how you would personally feel if someone used your work without permission. I don’t think that way though, I have taken some photographs that are on Twitter as well as on my website, and I only enjoy if someone can use them for their own good. I hope for a link back to my site though.
      Petteri Ollila recently posted..Would You Like to Have a Life without FailuresMy Profile

  • Sandra Lee July 15, 2010, 7:19 pm

    I haven’t used any of these so I really appreciate the links and info on different types of licenses.
    Sandra Lee recently posted..Exploring vulnerabilitiesMy Profile

  • The Klutzy Cook July 15, 2010, 7:18 pm

    Thanks heaps. I’ve only just discovered Flickr as a source for free images so this information is very timely. You’ve made the whole license issue a lot clearer – I was a bit confused about all that.

    Also, I totally agree that images enhance the user experience. It is definitely worth taking the time to create or source the best you can.
    The Klutzy Cook recently posted..A Versatile Pesto Sauce RecipeMy Profile

  • Gera July 15, 2010, 7:15 pm

    Thanks for the information! It’s difficult for me to post without an image inside. Images grab attention and perk articles up.
    I didn’t know picapp and freephoto, good sharing :-)

    Other interesting site is morguefile.

    Cheers,

    Gera
    Gera recently posted..7 Useful Free Software Applications for Bloggers and Internet SurfersMy Profile

  • Dev July 15, 2010, 6:59 pm

    Hey Petteri,

    Nice Post. My favorite way to find images is flickr.

    And picapp and freephoto are new to me. Going to checkout.
    Thanks for sharing. Really awesome work.

    ~Dev
    Dev recently posted..6 Top Benefits Of Press Release And How It Can Improve Your Internet BusinessMy Profile

  • Mani Viswanathan July 15, 2010, 6:17 pm

    Killer list-up dude, thanks for this. Will be useful from next time :)

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