The right illustrations can make your blog more attractive and inviting. Readers are more likely to stay awhile if they’re not faced with unbroken print.
If you have a digital camera or a smart phone, you can take your own pictures. You are your best source of free images, because (unless you’re taking a photograph of a person without their permission, or of something that discloses proprietary information) you aren’t infringing on someone else’s rights.
But sometimes you just can’t snap the picture you need. Maybe, for a particular post, you need a tropical scene, or an aerial view. Maybe you need snowy mountains, but you live in the desert. Lots of photo services will sell you what you need, but if, like me, you blog for love, not money, you need to keep your expenses low. (Like, $0.00.)
Here are the best sources I’ve found for free images (totally free to use, no attribution necessary):
- Unsplash. High-quality, high-resolution photographs. You can sign up to periodically receive pictures in your email. Unsplash also has a search feature.
- Death to Stock. I subscribe to their free email service, and download all the freebies I think I may actually use. To have access to their entire library (1500+ and growing), you have to sign up for their premium plan, $180 per year.
- StockSnap. If I’m looking for a particular subject, I often look through this searchable database first.
- Pixabay. Sometimes you envision a tall, skinny picture to border a list. Pixabay has an orientation filter on their search engine that will select vertical shots for you, and leave out the horizontal ones (or vice versa).
- Ivorymix. These are fashionable, stylized shots. You can sign up to get a free packet every month by email. I find their site difficult to search. Here’s their infomercial:
- FancyCrave. I just discovered this site. I signed up to receive 14 free photos each week by email.
If you can’t find what you need among those sources, try these:
- Wikipedia. Search for the subject you want a photo of, like Winston Churchill, unicorns, etc. Virtually all the photographs on Wikipedia are either in the public domain, or usable under a Creative Commons license. Click on the image you like, and click on the More details Scroll down, and you can read whether the picture is public domain, if you’re allowed to alter it in any way, or if you need to attribute the photographer or artist, and any other requirements.
- Bing. When you hunt for images on Bing, I strongly recommend you click the Filter button, and under the License option, choose either Public domain or All Creative Commons. Even so, the picture might be still copyrighted, so only use it if you are sure you’re not infringing on someone’s possible rights.
What do you do for illustrations for your blog? Do you like a source not listed here? Please share in the comments below.