How to Find Copyright-Free Images For Your Blog Posts

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Featured images for blog posts look great.

Blog posts with featured images enhance visual appeal, increase clickthroughs, and augment the user experience on your blog.

(With clever use of titles and ALT tags on each image, you can even boost your SEO.)

It is really easy to find images online, and downloading them is a snap. But many bloggers don’t know what images they are allowed to use, and penalties for copyright infringement keep some bloggers from using any images at all.

There are 3 different ways to safely source images for your blog, and listed below are a few different websites for each source.

internet streaming images

1. Creative Commons

Creative commons images are photos that are specifically licensed for public use.

With creative commons images, the photographer shares the rights of the photo under their choice of terms.

Sometimes you are able to use the photo with only listing credit to the photographer.

Some images require links back to the originating site.

There are some other licenses where the photographer will allow use of the photo, but requires that you ask permission before using it.

Some of the most popular creative commons websites are:

Puzzling through the different Creative Commons licenses can be confusing. Here is the least you need to know:

  • They all require attribution (putting ‘Photo By [suchandsuch]’ wherever the photo is used).
  • The less restrictions, the better for you.
  • The best license for bloggers is ‘share-alike commercial reuse with modification.’

I keep a bookmark for a Google Images search with these filters; click here to do the same.

Pics Keys Shows Pictures Or Images Online

2. Royalty-Free Libraries

The best thing about these libraries is they do not require attribution.

The images are free to use, the photos are decent quality, and the libraries are large enough to find just about any type of image you need

.The only downside is that other bloggers have access to these same libraries, and so the best images will tend to make the rounds on lots of blogs. Your blog post on positive thinking may have the same featured image as someone else’s blog post on colon cleansing, so these images will not be orginial or unique to your blog.

These libraries are great to use if you need a lot of images and no budget. You can spend an afternoon searching for a featured image for every blog post you’ve written in the past year. (Couldn’t you?)

hand holds touch screen mobile phone streaming images

3. Commercial Stock Photo Libraries

When you want the perfect image, it’s best to pay for it.

If you don’t mind paying to use an image, you can join a stock photo site which offers a variety of images that you can buy the rights to.

Many of these stock photo sites offer membership options, reducing the fee per image if you are buying blog post images on a regular basis.

By purchasing a stock photo for a few dollars, you have a permanent license to use it and distribute it however you wish.

These images are less likely to be used by other websites, due to the paywall.

What are the Potential Legal Problems from using copyrighted images on your blog?

Using a copyrighted image on your website might result in legal action from the licensing company.

They will likely ask you to remove the image, and they often charge usage fees retroactively for using the image.

The retroactive fees can be quite expensive, sometimes as much as several thousand dollars.

These legal problems can be dodged by avoiding copyrighted images all together, unless you pay the royalty fees which give you permission to use the image.

What other resources are there?

Out of the dozens (okay, hundreds) of photo libraries on the web, I only highlighted these nine.

Do you have a great resource to share?

Or a question I didn’t answer here?

Leave a link in the comments!

By | 2016-12-10T16:12:00+12:00 March 19th, 2014|Blog, Content Marketing, Graphic Design, Pura Vida MultiMedia|

About the Author:

Father of 3. WordPress website designer. Creative director @ Stellar Platforms. Writer, multimedia producer, digital marketer, and retired superhero.


  1. Tshombe March 20, 2014 at 11:49 am - Reply

    Hi Caelan,

    Great list! Here’s another fabulous resource for you & your peeps:

    • Caelan Huntress March 24, 2014 at 11:37 am - Reply

      Nice one, Tshombe! There’s a couple of good resources in that list, too.

  2. johnsmith April 1, 2014 at 4:59 am - Reply

    Nice post

  3. Amy February 1, 2015 at 1:08 pm - Reply

    Thank you! I needed this. I’ve used istock, but hate to pay so it’s nice to have some other options. I appreciate this article as I don’t want to get in any trouble. Whenever possible, I do take my own photos for that reason!

    • Caelan Huntress February 12, 2015 at 10:37 am - Reply

      Original photos are best, but sometimes you need an image on the fly. I’m glad these resources are useful!

    • Susan Lane August 11, 2016 at 8:39 am - Reply

      I am in the same boat as you Amy. I have been really looking around to find places that I can get photos from and not get in trouble. When I was looking around I found this article helpful: It goes over the different image licenses and what they mean to the user of the image. Definitely helped me out.

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