If you're like me, you started blogging because you enjoy writing. You have a message you want to communicate, something you are passionate about that you want to share with the world and you enjoy writing about. Thus, your blog was born. However, it doesn't take long to realize there is a lot more to having a blogging business than simply writing, like finding stock photos to create graphics with.
If you look at any professional blog, you will notice that they have beautiful graphics that complement their site. Not only does it add that visual appeal that readers love, but they are great for social media too. When you share a post on social media the graphics are going to be what draws the eye of people as they scroll. Your photos and graphics help you make a good first impression.
This can seem overwhelming if you don't have a natural eye as a photographer. If you can't take your own photos, what options do you have? Stock photos. This is one of the first "other tasks" that bloggers have to figure out. But, don't worry, I got you covered. Finding stock photos to use really isn't as hard as it seems, but you do have to know what rules to follow.
Warning -- read this first!
Let me start with a warning. You CANNOT just Google something you want to have a picture of and use whatever comes up in the search. Yes, Google Images is full of amazing photos that might be exactly what you are looking for, but you need to make sure you have permission to use photos on your blog.
Now, I'm not an attorney or fully versed in legal matters, but I do know that you need to be concerned about copyright issues when finding photos to use in your graphics. There are a few things you need to pay attention to—royalties and copyright.
Royalty free images - When an image is specified as "royalty-free" it doesn't mean that you don't have to pay for image. You might not, but not necessarily. What it does mean is that once you have the right to use the image, you can use it as many times as you’d like without having to pay anything else.
Copyright free images - When an image is specified as "copyright free" it means that it is in the public domain and open for use. You don't need a license in order to use it for your blogging business. Here's a quick rundown on copyright for images: you own the copyright to the images you take as soon as you take them. That means if you see a photo you like that someone else took, you cannot just use it without first getting their permission to do so.
Now, you can find some images that are copyright and royalty free that still require you to give credit to the photographer. You can do this with a simple caption along with the image. But do you really want to do that when you’re creating graphics like Pinterest pins? No, not really.
It's important when finding photos online that you understand the terms and requirements for the images you are using. If in doubt, ask the person who took them!
How do I find stock images?
There are tons of websites online that sell stock photography. But buying stock photos adds up fast…trust me!
Some sites offer beautiful high-quality images in packages but depending on the one you buy, they can still really cost a lot of money. For example, one popular site has an option where you can buy 5 images for $49. Almost $10 an image is a lot to spend for any blogger. If you are looking for ways to save money while starting and growing your blog this is out of the question.
Luckily, there are some sites where you can get royalty-free and copyright-free images. That means these images are yours to use on your blog and your graphics for FREE. You don't have to worry about falling into copyright trouble and you don't have to obtain permission to use them. When these photographers make the images available in the public domain they are giving permission. This is great news for us bloggers!
My favorite place for free stock photos is…
My favorite free stock photo website is Pixabay. All of the images are released under “creative commons CCO.” That means the photographer or publisher is making them available for you to use any way that you like. When you use these images, you don't have to worry about potential legal trouble.
One of the things that I love about this site is that you can search for images by specific photographers. You will find that there are some photographers that have the same overall aesthetic and theme that you use on your blog. Their pictures will tend to line up more with what you are looking for. When you find profiles you really love, keep track of their name on Pixabay by “favoriting” their photos or following their page. There is an option to view the page and photos of just that one photographer.
This is a big time saver for me. My favorite photographer on the site is Free-Photos. So when I'm looking for an image, I will search their specific images for whatever I'm looking for before doing a general search on the site. Since I already know that I like their style, it's a lot faster to search "girl" in their photographs than to look at all the photos of girls on Pixabay.
Make sure you take your time when you’re looking for stock photos. Choose pictures that align with your brand identity. Remember that your graphics are a large part of what draws people in to read your blog from social media sites. And always make sure you are checking that you have permission to use the images that you find! When you stick to these rules, you can find images for free that you can use without any stress.
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