The last of the colorful leaves are barely sticking to the trees and fall is coming to a close. This is my favorite time of year and it brings out the creative photographer in me.
I can’t help but grab my camera and start snapping away when I see the brilliant yellows, oranges, and reds covering the mountains around my home.
It reminds me again of how frustrated I am by the lack of beautiful images available (for free) online. They are all so stock. So boring. So NOT creative.
If anything most stock images detract form your blog content. They look sleazy and don’t give off a good vibe to your readers.
So I decided to put a post together to help you find the perfect images for your blog…
The Big Guys
First I looked into the sites like Shutterstock.com and istockphoto.com. These are great if you want to spend a hundred bucks a month, but not so much if you’re just looking to spruce up your blog posts.
Both of these sites have free downloads that change every week! Even if you don’t see a use for any of the photos now, you might as well download the ones you like and use them later.
You’ll collect a lot of these downloaded images over time and have a good selection to choose form later on.
Flickr Creative Commons
Flickr is probably the most common source for bloggers looking for free stock photos. Their creative commons section allows you to search for photos based on the type of license. Basically anything with an “attribution” license means that you have to give the photographer credit somewhere on your site. Pretty good deal considering it’s free!
The downside is while there are tons of amazing photos on Flickr, there are tons of pretty awful ones too. Sometimes you’ll have an idea in mind for a photo and when you go to search on Flickr, all that comes back are random images that are not the professional quality you’re looking for.
Another option similar to Flickr, is Foter. Foter pulls in free-to-use images form Flickr and other photo sharing sites. They are sorted by commercial and non-commercial use so make sure you choose the right option for you.
Foter has a free WordPress plugin that allows you to browse through images and easily add them to a post or page on your site. If you use stock images a lot and don’t want to leave the WordPress dashboard to find and download them, this is a great choice.
Pixabay is a photo site that provides free images for both commercial and non-commercial use. They have a large library of mostly professional quality images and a great community of photographers.
You don’t even have to create an account to begin downloading images. Definitely worth checking out.
The DIY Approach
Don’t dismiss your ability to create your own photos. Sometimes the images you draw by hand are even better than those you take with a camera.
I recently downloaded the paper app on my ipad which allows you to draw, paint, or sketch using only your finger (or stylus) and your screen. It’s amazing how easy it is to create simple drawings that look surprisingly professional.
They don’t have to be complicated, either. I think sometimes the simpliest of graphics can have the biggest impact for your readers.
They don’t distract from your content and they add a personalized feel to your messaging. A great example of someone who uses this tactic is Nathan Barry.
Look at how beautifully simple these featured images are? Easy, right?
I won’t go into this too much here because I recently wrote an entire post about creating graphics with Canva. I highly recommend you check it out and sign up for a free account.
Are you a fan of Instagram? The featured image for this post is one that I shot and edited with Instagram?
You don’t need to be an amazing photographer to capture great images on your phone with Instagram or any other cool photo app. Add a fun filter and you’re good to go!
The problem with so many blog photos is that they represent the post too literally. Think outside the box a little and get out of the mindset that your photo has to represent exactly what’s in your copy.
Instead, look at how it compliments what you’re writing about and maybe even adds a hint of mystery.
People will appreciate good, creative visuals over boring stock photos any day.
Penelope Trunk’s blog is a great example. She has fantastic photography that depicts things that are going on in her life, whether or not they 100% represent the post title. Sometimes you just have to keep reading to see how it all ties in.
Lots of Options
Whether you’re into the DIY approach or you prefer to stick to stock photos online, it doesn’t matter so long as you’re images make you and your readers happy.
And don’t forget, if you do use someone elses photos, make sure to attribute correctly.
Do you have a creative source for free stock images online? Share below in the comments.