Get great pictures for your blog – a free and legal source!

Photo of wind turbines and sunset
Stunning photos like this are readily available for free. Just be sure to include a photo credit and link.

Pictures may or may not be worth a thousand words (depending on circumstances), but they have been proven to increase readership. Adding them to your blog posts can definitely spruce up your site and make it more attractive to visitors.

It’s easy to find pictures online. What’s not so easy is finding pictures that are both free and legal to use.

Now, I don’t mean to imply that purchasing photos is a bad idea. It can definitely be worth subscribing to a stock photo service such as IStockPhoto. The quality and selection is generally good and if you’re just purchasing a few small photos it’s very economical. However, a dollar or two here and there does add up over time.  Why pay for something if you can get it free for the same effort?

Copyright is another issue. It’s a really bad idea to just go swiping pictures willy-nilly off the web. While some people don’t mind (especially if you link back to their site), others take offense.  Using pictures without permission leaves you vulnerable to legal action.

A much better alternative is to use photos that are posted online under the Creative Commons agreement. The owners of these photos have given permission for their use under specific circumstances. Some even allow you to use their photos for commercial purposes. These are the ones you want if you need photos to help promote your business.

One of the easiest ways to find Creative Commons photos suitable for business use is the website Photo Pin.

Using Photo Pin is very simple. Just type your image keyword into the search box on the home page. The site will pull up all sorts of relevant photos which have been registered under the Creative Commons license.

Before you choose a photo, be sure to tick the box on the left hand side that says “Commercial.” That way you’ll be sure to only view photos that are ok to use for business.

Once you find a photo you like, click on “download.” You’ll be given the option to download the photo in many sizes, from tiny thumbnails to as large as the original photo size. Choose the one you want, save it to your hard drive and you’re almost done.

There’s one important step left.  The photo is free, but you are expected to include a photo credit. This can be unobtrusive and should not interfere with your use of the photo, but it’s very important to do.

Photo Pin makes giving credit very easy. At the bottom of the download popup for each photo, there is a block of HTML. Paste this into the HTML editor of your blog at the bottom of your post, and it will automatically show up as a photo credit with link. No fuss or bother required. (See the bottom of this post for an example.)

You can also use Photo Pin for articles and other online applications. So next time you have something to publish, make sure it looks as good as it reads. It could boost your response, and doesn’t need to cost you a thing.

photo credit: TumblingRun via photo pin cc

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