The time is long past when you could just post an article on your website and hope to hold readers’ attention. These days, people expect to see big bold beautiful images – and lots of them!
Although in most cases you don’t want the photos to overshadow your text, it’s important to include at least one full size image on each of your blog posts – not just to embellish the post, but so it’s more compelling when shared on social media.
There are hundreds of sites offering photos you can use, either for free or by paying a licensing fee, but here are a few of my favorite sources.
Free Stock Photos
For free photos, I really like Pexels. You’re allowed to use any of the 40,000+ photos on their site for any legal purpose, even commercially, with no attribution required. You can even download them in the exact size you need so you can skip the step of resizing them before you upload them to your blog.
You can also download images from any of the following sites absolutely free, and with no attribution required. You don’t even have to share your email address!
If you don’t mind joining their mailing list, HubSpot offers a collection, which you’ll find here.
You can also find great photos on Flickr, but you’ll need to do an Advanced Search to pinpoint those that have a Creative Commons license and are available to use commercially. When using Creative Commons content, you must attribute the work in the manner specified by the photographer – usually this involves a link back to their Flickr profile, but always check in case they’ve requested something different.
Speaking of attribution, it’s nice to acknowledge a photographer, even when it’s not required. Everyone likes to receive credit for their work!
There are loads more free stock photo sites than what I’ve mentioned here, but I’ve only got so much time for exploring! For a longer list which includes the pros and cons of each site, check out The 27 Best Free Stock Photo Sites.
Inexpensive Stock Photos
The search tools on most free sites aren’t very powerful, so you can end up spending a lot of time trying to find an image that portrays the concept of your post, is the right shape for your blog, and harmonizes with the colors of your site. For that reason, it’s often worth it to spend a little money to find what you need more quickly.
Depositphotos often has a special offer on their site where you can buy 100 on demand downloads for $100 (good for one year) and you can sometimes get a great price on photo credits through AppSumo or another deal site. Otherwise, you’re looking at a minimum spend of $49.00 for 10 images or $29.00 for a monthly subscription allowing you to download 30 images. The more you spend, the lower your cost per image works out to be.
Crestock also offers monthly subscriptions as well as credit packages which are good for up to one year.
Styled stock photos are a good choice if your blog is geared towards women, and you’ll find a great selection at IvoryMix. Unlike most stock photo sites, where a variety of photographers upload their photos for sale, all the photos on IvoryMix are taken by Kayla Butler. She sells bundles of photos that are related by theme and/or or color, which is great if you’re trying to achieve a consistent brand image on your blog. She also offers memberships, where you can access her entire library for a set yearly price.
All three of these sites offer selected photos for free, so be sure to check them out.
Your Own Photos
One of the downsides of using stock photos, especially from the more popular free sites, is that lots of other bloggers are using the same ones.
To be sure that the images you use are truly unique to your blog, consider shooting your own. If you do, make sure your photos are in focus and neither too dark or washed out. Touch them up with photo editing software, such as PicMonkey or ACDSee (affiliate links), if necessary.
I know that hiring a professional photographer for your blog is probably not in your budget. However, if you’re paying someone to do your headshots or to photograph your products, see if you can think of ways to use those top quality images on your blog as well.
Alternatively, you might be able to find a photography student or new photographer in your local network who would be willing to take some photos for you in exchange for a credit on your website.
Where do you get the photos for your blog?