Copyright with magnifying glass | SCRIBACEOUS.COM

Oftentimes people rush through (or cheat) the process of choosing an image for the blog they wrote. But, you shouldn’t. In this post, we’ll bring you up to speed on how to legally use free blog images.

As the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Photos convey feelings and using the right photos on your blog has a powerful effect. But, if you ignore the laws regarding the use of images online, you may get yourself in trouble.

The Golden Rule

If you found something you created on someone else’s website, you’d be upset. Right? And, you’d likely be angry if they were passing it off their own.

What about if they were using it to promote their business and make money? Chances are you’d consider taking legal action because they’re are stealing something from you.

Professional photographers deal with this constantly and, these days, they’re fighting back legally. Can you blame them? It makes it harder to earn a living when people think nothing of right clicking on an image we see online and use it without giving credit or payment.

When it comes to digital images, following the Golden Rule is absolutely the right thing to do.

The good news is that the Golden Rule doesn’t mean you have to pay for your images! There are free blog images that you are able to use legally. Before I tell you where to find them, let’s get a little educated about how to legally use free blog images.

Copyright & Copyright Infringement

Did you know that as soon as a photographer snaps a photo, they automatically have a copyright on that image? That means that all of the images you find on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, and Google are copyrighted.

A copyright gives the photographer full rights and control over an image; they decide whether it can be reproduced, displayed, distributed, and sold or transferred, among other things.

If you use a copyrighted image belonging to a photographer, at the very least they can send you a cease and desist order to stop using their photo; at the most, they can sue you for damages for unlawfully using their photo.

Violating copyright is a big deal—and so is copyright infringement. Violating a copyright could cost you up to $150,000 per infringement!

That’s a huge price to pay, so this is why it’s crucial to know what you’re doing when you add a photo to your blog.

You can always contact a photographer and ask for permission to use their image. If they grant you permission, print it out and keep it in case you need it later. (I’m serious.)


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Creative Commons License

Some photographers don’t mind sharing their work with certain conditions. In this case, they may grant you a Creative Commons license.

You’ll often find these types of images on Flickr or Google images.

With a Creative Commons license, the photographer still owns the copyright to their work, but they allow others to use it under the terms of the license.

Sounds nice, right? Well, it’s not quite that simple.

There are different types of Creative Commons licenses and the license comes with the responsibility of doing certain things in order to activate it.

For instance, you must give public attribution in a specific way. Or, you may not be allowed to use it for commercial purposes.

And, because the license can be revoked at a later date, trademark attorneys recommend that you print out the license that was valid at the time you used it so you can’t be accused of a copyright violation in the future.

Personally, I avoid using Creative Commons images as I don’t find it worth the hassle or the risk.

If You Think You’re Infringing Now

Have you been using images you found on Google in your blog posts? If so, it’s highly likely you’re infringing upon a valid copyright.

Here’s what you want to do (now):

  1. Upload the blog images in question into the Google Images search bar by clicking on the camera icon.
  2. When you find the image, take note of the original source. If it looks like you don’t have the right to the image, take it off your blog and substitute a free blog image.

How to Legally Use Free Blog Images

There are many truly free blog images out there, you just have to know where to look.

Lots of photographers don’t mind you using their images for free and don’t put any restrictions on you if you use them. They just appreciate the exposure of their art.

Here are my top three sources of free blog images:

Let’s take a look at each of these three sites because they’re some of the best places for free blog images.

Unsplash

Unsplash has every type of photo imaginable and you can find plenty of free blog images, as well as paid ones.

Many professional photographers offer some of their best, high-resolution photos for your use with no strings attached.

All photos downloaded from Unsplash are free for both commercial and non-commercial use. Attribution is not required, though the photographers always appreciate it.

While I didn’t used to bother with attribution, I do today whenever possible. It’s just the polite thing to do for a hard working artist trying to make it in a highly competitive world.

Pixabay

Pixabay is another great site providing a plethora of images for free. Once downloaded, you’re free to use them for commercial or non-commercial use.

Like Unsplash, the photographers appreciate attribution, but it’s not required. Be sure and go the site and read their FAQs for more information about this awesome free images site.

Canva

You can kill two birds with one stone by using Canva.

This amazing graphic design tool offers a wealth of free images you can use in your graphics and your blog. Canva is a fantastic solution!

You can have a free account or the paid “Pro” account. The free account offers over 8,000 templates, as well as hundreds of thousands of graphics and photos.

For about $12.95 a month (or $114 per year), you’ll get over 60,000 graphic design templates and the use of over 60 million photos, graphics, and videos.

See below for some other sources for free blog images.

Your Own Images

Don’t forget to consider using your own photos in your blog! You don’t have to be a professional photographer, but do follow these guidelines:

  • Make sure your images have a decent resolution (fuzzy photos will make your blog look unprofessional)
  • Pay attention to lighting (don’t use images that are too dark or washed out)
  • Watch your composition (it doesn’t need to be professional, but you don’t want it to look like a kindergartener took it!)

Buying a professional-grade camera isn’t necessary for most blogs as most smartphones take good web-ready photos.

Just remember that the better your photos look, the more professional you look!

Optimize Your Blog Images

The loading speed of your website has a huge impact on your Google ranking, Google actually punishes sites by knocking down their ranking if they move to slow and large photos have a huge impact on website loading times, so you need to ensure that your images are not too large and slowing down the page load speed.

The rule of thumb is that a website image shouldn’t be any larger than 100kb (unless it’s blurry, then you go bigger). This size works for most blog images.

If your blog is on WordPress and you’re not using Canva, you’ll need to resize your images manually. Here’s the website I use: Resize Images


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The IHUBApp Makes Images Easy!

There are SO many reasons I prefer the IHUBApp over WordPress. The way it handles images is one of them.

Straight from the image field in the post creation area, you can click on Add Image and search for the royalty-free image of your choice. This is because IHUBApp is integrated with Unsplash, specifically to make things easier for their users.

And, no more worrying about image optimization! The IHUBApp automatically optimizes the image you choose from the built-in image library.

Using Free Photos for Blogs

If I’ve taught you one thing today, it’s to take copyright law seriously! It’s just not worth it to use Google or Flickr as a source for free blog images. Use one of the reputable websites offering truly free blog images that I mentioned above—or, even better, make your life easier and switch to the IHUBApp.

And, if you suspect you’re in violation of image copyrights, take the time to check the source of all your images or, even better, hire us to make sure you’re in compliance with copyright law. Not only can we potentially save you from incurring a substantial fine, we offer our clients a substantial discount on higher quality royalty-free images.

We may receive commissions when you click the links on this page and make a purchase. However, this is not why we include them here. We truly believe these service providers will help you and your business!

About the author : Janet Doré

Janet Doré is the founder and CEO (Chief Everything Officer) of Scribaceous, Inc., a boutique design company specializing in branding & graphic design, IHubApp PWAs, WordPress websites, and optimized blog content. She is also the proud creator of the Hub Mama program where she trains and mentors those looking to grow their own freelance Hubmaster business.