Photos can give your blog visual interest and make your content really pop! Here's where you can find them...for FREE!
When it comes to business blogging, images are an absolute must.
They create visual interest, contribute to your website’s visibility in search results, and help reinforce the messaging and content of your posts.
You can use stock photography but that usually means you’re not only going to have to spend some cash, but also end up with images that look unmistakably like stock photography.
In other words, you’re going to have a hard time finding something that looks real and authentic and that reflects the unique personality of your blog and your small business.
As with any images that you include on your business blog that aren’t your own, ALWAYS make sure you:
- verify usage rights to make sure you have permission to actually use that particular image and,
- attribute the image at the bottom of your post ex. [Image: Flickr user Annie Pilon] with a link to the image.
Let’s take a closer look at where you can find free images for your small business blog...
This one is a no-brainer. Pretty much any new smartphone on the market comes equipped with a high quality camera—exponentially better than most point and shoot cameras from even a few years ago.
I speak with a lot of small business owners who worry that the images need to be captured by a professional photographer but that definitely doesn’t have to be the case.
Before you hire someone, try capturing your own photos. The only caveat is to watch where and what you shoot. Even if they’re not direct competitors, other businesses get awfully squirrely if you start taking pictures of their stuff.
This is where I typically pull most of the images for my business blog (and they're free). With Flickr, I type in a word or phrase for the type of images I’m looking for in the search box. Once the results of the search appear, you want click on “Advanced Search” in the upper right hand corner of your browsing window.
Scroll down and check the boxes for “Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content” and “Find content to use commercially.” Continue your search.
Once you find the image you’re looking for, give it a click. Then right click on the image to view usage rights and available sizes.
Don’t let the name scare you. According to the site, a “morgue file is a place to keep post production materials for use of reference, an inactive job file. This morgue file contains free high resolution digital stock photography for either corporate or public use.”
You can use morgueFile images in business blog posts for free if you first alter them (ex. changing the photo's size, editing them in Photoshop or adding text over the images).
If you wish to use a photo as is, you're required to contact the photographer directly for permission per the terms of their licensing agreement.
Usually the next place small business owners look when searching for photos. However, just because images appear in the search results doesn’t mean you can automatically use them without permission.
To narrow your search, click on the “Options” icon in the upper right corner of your browsing window and then select “Advanced Search.”
From there, add any search criteria that you wish before scrolling down to the “Usage Rights” filter.
To be safe, select “free to use, share or modify, even commercially.” This will show you images that are part of the Creative Commons— a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of photos and other creative tools.
Once you find the right image, always make sure to double check usage rights before downloading or copying the file just to make sure it has been categorized correctly.
Have other sites you like to use to find images?
Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Questions about starting a small business blog?
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By: Shawn Graham
[Image: Flickr user Annie Pilon]