Where to get photos for your blog

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stock photography agencies

It seems like last week’s post about the benefits of using images to enhance your blog really hit home with a lot of people, as a number of readers have contacted me to ask where they can obtain good photos. This week, I’m going to give you a peek into my blogging toolkit and share my favorite sources of photos and other images.

Free Stock Photos

There is no charge to use images from any of the following sites. In some cases, you are required to give attribution to the photographer and/or link back to the site, so be sure to read the Terms before downloading any images.

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.

Low Cost Stock Photos

Generally speaking, the search tools on 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.

Most stock photo sites offer a range of pricing options, allowing you to purchase either a subscription plan or a package of pay-as-you-go credits. For me and most of my clients, pay-as-you-go tends to be the best solution. Here are the sites we use most often:

When choosing a supplier, you’ll want to consider the number of credits needed for each image (there will likely be some variation, even within the same site) and possibly the minimum purchase required. Typically a royalty-free stock photo will cost you between $1.00 and $5.00.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you own an image just because you’ve paid a licensing fee. All you’re paying for is the right to use the image, so again, you need to read the Terms of each site and make sure that you attribute the images in whatever manner is required by the copyright holder.

Your Own Photos

To be sure that the images you use are truly unique to your blog, consider shooting your own. When using your own photos, make sure they are in focus and neither too dark or washed out. Touch them up with photo editing software if necessary.

Some bloggers go so far as to hire a professional photographer. Although this is probably not affordable on an ongoing basis, it’s something you may want to consider for certain key posts. With any luck, you might even 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.

Here’s my challenge for you:

  1. Look at your blog archives and pick out a post that’s really good, but doesn’t have a picture.
  2. Find a good image and add it to your post (with any required attribution, of course).
  3. Pin your post to Pinterest, share it on Facebook, or however you normally draw attention to your posts.
  4. After a week or so, check your Analytics and see how much new traffic you’ve generated to your post. Feel free to share your results in the Comments section.

Photo © yongyuan / iStockPhoto

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A former professional organizer, I now eliminate stress for my clients by hosting, monitoring, and maintaining their WordPress sites so they don’t have to worry about security, downtime or performance issues. When I’m away from my desk, I enjoy reading, photography, watching movies, and cooking.

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  1. Avatar Jill Robson on June 18, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    Great article Janet. I do try to use my own photos when I can, but I haven’t heard of any of the sites you mentioned, so I am going to check them out.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on June 19, 2013 at 6:33 am

      I should warn you, Jill – it’s easy to get caught up in the searching! Have fun!

  2. Avatar Ellen Delap on June 19, 2013 at 8:50 am

    Great subject and challenge Janet! I agree, you will be amazed at the difference in your analytics. Thanks for sharing your tools. Your help gets us ahead!

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on June 19, 2013 at 10:33 am

      I tell my clients, if you often find yourself answering the same questions, that’s a sign it would be a good blog post – thought it was time to take my own advice! 🙂

  3. Avatar Margarita Ibbott ~ on June 19, 2013 at 11:45 am

    Thanks for sharing your ‘trade secrets’. I don’t often use other people’s photos but I always have at least one photo in my post.

    Great challenge. I do need to go back and check some of my photos and the links to them – another good tip – check your link to old photos.

    Thanks Janet.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on June 19, 2013 at 2:05 pm

      Good tip! Broken links are bad for readers and for SEO.

  4. Ron Whitaker Ron Whitaker on June 19, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    It’s always a challenge to find sites on the Internet for images that won’t end up breaking the bank!

    Another one I found is 123RF. You purchase “tokens” and then pay that way. Some images are only 1 token for a 400×250 (or thereabouts) image.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on June 19, 2013 at 4:36 pm

      Thanks for sharing that, Ron – that’s a good deal!

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