A good image will draw people in to read your blog posts, making them more engaging. On the other hand, imagine going to a blog page with ten post excerpts and seeing a wall of words, broken up by the ten post titles. I’d have to be really motivated to dive in to read those posts.
Images at the start of a post, make it easy for your readers to begin reading. As a bonus, social media updates with images get twice as much action as those without one.
At New Tricks, we strongly suggest our clients have a professional photoshoot for their team and maybe office shots. But often we need some other “filler” images. Many people shudder when they hear the phrase stock image. That’s because most web designers do a terrible job of choosing images with the result being obvious stock which result in detracting from the effectiveness of the website.
When selecting a format for your blog images its best if you create a branded look, rather than having the featured images all different sizes and the post images placed helter-skelter. Take a look at our New Tricks blog page and see how the images have a similar look and feel when you scroll down the page. If you like to use gifs, be careful to spread them out to once every ten posts so that you only see one on at a time. Otherwise, all that moving around could induce a seizure!
So where can you find these images? First, don’t go download images from Google images unless they are to use for inspiration. You don’t have permission to use those images. If you happen to see an image that you like, you can run it through TinEye, a free reverse image search engine to see if it is available somewhere for sale. Enter the URL of the image you are looking for and TinEye will show you other places it shows up on the web. Hopefully, you will find that it is available to buy, at one or more Stock Image sites.
My list of companies that offer images changes from time to time as they go out of business or get acquired by another company. Recently, my former go-to site, Dollar Photo Club was acquired by Adobe Stock. I was very sad. But, change happens, even when I am not happy about it!
Here are some of the other sources we use to find images for our clients’ sites and for our own blog posts. Do you have some favorites? Please add them to the comments below.
- Big Stock Images for photographs and illustrations, especially for your business website.
- Adobe Stock has some very good quality images. At New Tricks, we are extremely picky about which stock images to use and when to use them. After my disappointment about their acquisition of Dollar Photo Club, I bit the bullet and got an account. If you are looking for the best you should look here.
- PicWizard is relatively new to us but I’ve been really impressed they offer over 100,000 free images and, over 20,000 of those are exclusive to them. They have great images of people that don’t look like stock image robots. They’re looking to grow their image library to one million images!
- Creative Market for graphics and illustrations. I love the Creative Market for icons, illustrations, and other well creative images. They do have photographs but Creative Market is more like a candy shop for graphic designers who need a shortcut occasionally for some parts, pieces, and do-dads to use in other artwork.
- Video Hive for video clips. Check out the inexpensive video clips we used for our clients such as ABLT, Adore Hair Salon and Aveo Systems.
- Canva Pro for creating graphic images with text and other treatments. Before Canva, to make graphics this good you would usually have to go with Photoshop, which is more expensive and harder to learn to use. Canva is simple enough for non-designers to use. Interested? I wrote a post with more about Canva and how it offers some free image backgrounds and graphic elements for you to create graphics for your blog and social media updates. You can update your own images, into Canva to start with and they also offer some stock images and graphics for a small fee.
Free image sources:
Some free image sites are basically a front for a company like ShutterStock to use to lure people in and then when the visitor sees the poor quality selection others pop up that you need to pay for. I have nothing against Shutterstock, but I hate getting the old bait and switch. These free sites have pretty good images and are a great resource.
- Unsplash for high-resolution artistic photographs that you can use free of charge and free of attribution. Check out what people have created using images from Unsplash. Amazing images comes from collaborating with Unsplash + Canva.
- Free Images The interesting thing about this site is that it includes some photos that look more real. Sometimes the images of the perfect looking people are not what you need. If that’s the look you are going for, give this site a try.
- Morguefile is a site where creatives send their photos or graphics to be available for others to use at no charge. There are some great images here. Have fun.
- PikWizard with over 100 K free images.
- Pixabay for free high-resolution photography without dealing with copyrights. You can use these images in any way you want, even for commercial purposes without asking permission and without giving attribution. Not bad huh?
- Pond Five for more than 65,000 public domain images and some film clips. It is a good source for historical images that are not under copyright any longer.
- Public Domain Archive for great copyright-free high-resolution images from wonderful photographers. This site encourages great submissions offered for use with no attribution and no charge. With a $10 monthly subscription, you can download all images in bulk and get many more great perks.
- Wikimedia Commons for some high-resolution photographs with Creative Commons license, free to use with attribution.
- Flickr for images that are available under Creative Commons license. You can embed these images as long as you follow their licensing conditions and give the attribution to the author. You can use Codr to easily create an embed code to place a Flickr image on your site that includes the creative commons attribution link.
There is another way to get great images for your website, especially if you are looking for something very specific. If you find that perfect image on a blog or on Flickr with copyright, send a request to the photographer and ask to use it. If you let them know what it is for, how it is the perfect image for the purpose and offer them attribution and a link on your site, most people will give you permission.
That’s how I got the dog to use on the original New Tricks logo many years ago. I had been working on an idea for the logo and needed to find the perfect canine image.
One night, while working on a website for a band and looking at other bands’ websites, I discovered The Silos website and a link that said Walter’s Dogs. Being a curious dog person, I checked out his paintings of weird dogs for sale. One was just what I had been seeking.
I wrote Walter requesting to license the use of the image of dog number 537. He told me that painting had been sold. I assured him I only needed the digital art to use for my logo. He said sure—and I could pay whatever I thought would be reasonable. I paid him $250, and that was how the New Tricks dog came to represent us.
Amazing what happens if we ask. And the first question you need to be asking is if your images are doing the work they should be. Your website images need to represent your company as fair, accurate and professional. My list of resources for great images will help you find what you need to ratchet up your content marketing a notch or two!
Need more resources? Check out this post by Buffer App with 53 resources.