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How To Find Free Stock Photos For Your Freelance Writing Blog

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Since early 2010, I've been hired to create a lot of photo blog posts.  I don't know whether it's something that other people are experiencing or that for some reason it's just my workload that's consisting of this type of work, but I really enjoy creating them.

One of the most time consuming parts, however, is actually finding photos that can be used.  I occasionally use stock photo websites that require a paid subscription, but I've found that one of the easiest ways to find stock photos - and for free - is to simply search Google Images for images labelled with reuse rights.

  1. Firstly, head over to http://www.google.com and click on the ‘Images’ link at the top
  2. Click on the ‘Advanced Image Search’ section next to the search box and when the advanced options load up, put your search term in the box that says ‘related to all of the words’
  3. Next, in the last box that says ‘Usage Rights: Return images that are’, change this from ‘not filtered by license’ to ‘labeled for reuse’
  4. Click search and all of the images displayed are available for to use, free of charge.  The only thing you have to note is that you should let the image owner know that you will be using their image, if possible and it's always good practice to give them credit in the actual blog post that you're using their photo in.

If you can’t find an image that is labelled for reuse straight away - and you don't want to pay for it - don’t simply give up your search.   Use a few different, but related, search terms, change the spelling (not only taking into consideration the differences between British and American English, but also common misspellings) or make your term broader.

It can take time to find the photo you are after, but it’s highly unlikely - unless the image you're looking for is particularly specialist - that you will ever face the problem of not being able to find a free stock photo for you to use through this method.

13 thoughts on “How To Find Free Stock Photos For Your Freelance Writing Blog”

  1. I actually don’t trust Google to return the right images. So I use sites like MorgueFile, Stock.xchng and sometimes everystockphoto. I have used Flickr’s creative commons search, but it is a pain when people load photos that are CC and then later change them to ARR. So you have to be careful there.

    Reply
    • The problem I have with sites like stock.xchng is that I often struggle to find suitable photos a lot of the time.

      They do have a wide variety of images, but I’ve always found that the photos are very similar and not to the quality I require.

      I’ve never encountered someone changing the rights of an image from Creative Commons myself, but I’m assuming that there wouldn’t be much of an argument if if you took the image down straight away should the owner of it come back to you at a later date and said “hey, look, I’ve changed the rules, I want x dollars now”.

      Yeah, it’s might take a bit of time to change the image, but I’m sure unless the image was an unusually specific one, a replacement wouldn’t be hard to find.

      Reply
  2. Thanks for pointing this out, I’ve been using Creative Commons Search to find a lot of my blog post images but sometimes it can be a bit slow and doesn’t always bring up the images I want.

    Gonna keep this in mind for the next post 🙂

    Reply
  3. Have you tried BigStockPhoto.com, Rebecca?

    It’s one of the paid ones, but the amount of photos they have – and the quality of them – is fantastic.

    Reply
  4. Thanks for the tip! I use Stock Exchange as well. They don’t always have the photo I’m looking for so I try to find one that’s close. I would purchase photos from Stock Experts but iStockphoto bought them. Sometimes I’ll use Dreamstime or Getty Images.

    Reply
  5. I use a WordPress plugin PhotoDropper that lets you search for Creative Commons photos on Flickr and insert them directly them into your post with the proper attribution right from the write post page. It works very well for me.

    Reply
  6. This is a fine way to do an initial search, but one should always check the specific terms after finding the photo. Google will often show “some rights reserved” pics in these searches that *require* attribution and restrict usage to non-commercial activity. Obviously, that limitation on commercial use can be an important consideration.

    Reply
  7. I’ve just started using Zemanta for this. It will find images and tell you the rights/usage restrictions right in your post editing page. Just click on the photo to insert it in your post. It will also suggest tags and related links (both on your own blog and off).

    Reply
    • It’s great this is useful to you, Heath (and anyone else), but do keep in mind what Carson mentioned – it never hurts to have a quick check to make sure that the rights associated with the photo are those that are suited to the way that you’re going to be using it.

      Reply
    • Thanks for the recommendation Adam. I just took a look and it looks like a nice site in its early stages. Do you know if they have licensing info anywhere? I wasn’t able to find it on the site (not sure if it’s yours or if you’re simply a fan). I’d be very cautious about free photo sites — licensing info should always be publicly available so there are no questions about legal use and no one can simply change the terms later and come after publishers. I definitely like what I see there though. 🙂

      Reply

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