If you are new to blogging (or even if you have been blogging for some time), images matter, in fact, they matter A LOT (read more about How to Make Your Pin Go Viral).
Images are important for all blog posts. They set the tone and provide insight and emotion to help the reader better understand what it is you want to say.
While that sounds great, using blog images can pose a challenge. If you are a photographer you can take your own shots. But, if you aren’t, where do you find images?
And then, what size of image do you need? What is the proper format? What is image compression and should I use it on my site?
Before you jump in and do a Google search and add an image to your site, you need to make sure you are not only using a legal image but that you are using images in the best possible way.
Make sure you download my Free Image Sizes Cheatsheet so you can post it where you can see it and remind yourself of what you need to do to become a success!!
Why are images important on a blog post?
A blog image can instantly give the reader insight about your post. It can invoke emotion and feeling. But, your images can do even more than that. Images are an important part of any well-written blog post.
Breaks up the content
When you add images to long articles, it breaks up the text. It makes it easier to read. If a reader sees a long block of text, they may click out and head to another site for information.
Adding an image makes reading long articles much, much easier. Just make sure they have the right vibe and feel for your post.
Skip the image and use the screenshot
The great thing is that you don’t even need to use an actual image. You can use an infographic – or even a screenshot (see below). Screenshots can be very effective at showing stats or how to do something.
Images can help your SEO
Yep! They can! You will want to complete the alt text section of your image. It should not only describe the image but also include the proper keywords.
I know, you were probably told to use the alt text for your Pinterest description. Sorry folks, that is not what it is for. The alt text is what visually impaired people will have read to them and it also is the text that is seen if your image cannot load for any reason.
That means it should visually describe what the image is about and include a keyword if possible. For example, you could say “white plate with knock you naked brownies” – where knock you naked brownies is your keyword.
Should I save my blog images as JPG or PNG?
A common question bloggers have is the format that images should be saved. The most common are PNG and JPG. If you use any online sites, such as Canva, they offer PNG as a format. Believe it or not, there is a better way to save your images.
What is the difference between JPG and PNG?
The difference between the two formats is the compression that is used. A JPG image uses lossy compression that gets rid of some of the image information so that the image file size can be reduced. It can result in reduced image quality.
A PNG format uses a lossless format that retains all of the information. That means that the file size is usually larger, but the quality will not change.
Note that if you happen to have a transparent background, the only way to retain that setting is to use a PNG format.
What is the best image format for a blog?
Since you are trying to reduce the page load time, the best format to use is jpg. If you currently use png you may want to swap out some of those images so that the file is not as large and you could see improvements on page speed.
What are the blog image dimensions I should use?
The size image you need to use on your site is based upon your theme. While one person may be able to upload something as wide is 700 px, another may be limited to 525 px. You can find this by digging into your theme settings. You can also quickly do this by using Chrome and opening an article on your site.
Hover on your image (or where the image belongs) and select the right click button on your mouse. Then, click on Inspect. A small box opens on the bottom of the screen. Look for the word STYLE and then scroll down to the bottom of the box and you will see an image like this. The inside size shows you your max image width. You can see that on this site, the maximum width I can make an image is 657 px.
It is very important to note that you should ALWAYS size the image to the size you want on your site and not force a resize on WordPress. Why?
Because every time that image loads WordPress has to change the dimensions. That can make your page load much more slowly which is not only a negative user experience but can also affect the ability for you to rank.
Which image compression plugin should I use?
Image compression is extremely important on blogs. It is something every blogger must take into consideration and make sure they are doing with each and every image added to their site.
What is image compression?
Image compression is when certain parts of an image file are either removed or grouped together in order to reduce the file size.
Why do I need to compress my images?
The main reason you want to compress your images is for website optimization. Images that are not compressed can take longer to load. That may result in bounced users. You don’t want that.
You will also be able to reduce the storage size in your database. The less memory your database uses, the faster your site loads — and the less it will cost. As you need more memory, you have to pay your hosting company a larger monthly fee.
Which image compression plugin is the best for a blog?
I’ve tested many compression plugins over the years. There is only one I’d recommend is ShortPixel. The reason is that it does the best at compressing images without reducing the quality of your images. If you are using anything else, you may want to drop it and sign up with ShortPixel.
What type of compression do I need to use on my site?
There are three different types of image compression you can use on your site – Glossy, Lossless and Lossy. Trying to figure out the best one to use for your site can be a tad overwhelming.
ShortPixel does an excellent job explaining this, as you can see here:
Where can I find blog images I can use?
Types of Images
When you find images in the public domain, it means that these are works whose copyrights have expired or who’s creator has relinquished rights to that image. This means you can use them for either personal or commercial use.
The only exception to the free for all use policy is that if the photo is of a recognizable person (i.e., celebrity), you may still need to get that person’s permission to use the picture. There may be a release assigned with the image. If in doubt, make sure you review the license agreement, so you know for sure.
If images are royalty-free, it means that you will purchase the image. It also means that the purchaser will not charge additional licensing or royalty fees for you to use it. This is what you find on paid stock image sites.
When photographers license their images under Creative Commons (CC), he or she can choose how you can use their pictures by specifying a particular CC license. There are two different licenses. One is a CC0 license, which means the owner has relinquished all rights. The other license is a CC 2.0, which requires attribution.
When looking for this type of image, the most flexible to use is the CCo. “CC0 enables scientists, educators, artists and other creators and owners of copyright or database-protected content to waive those interests in their works and thereby place them as completely as possible in the public domain, so that others may freely build upon, enhance and reuse the works for any purposes without restriction under copyright or database law.”
The sites listed below are either creative commons or public domain. Although they included in this list, the licensing may have changed since posting. It is crucial that you exercise due diligence in ensuring you can use them, especially if you are doing so for commercial purposes.
What are the legal issues with using images?
IMPORTANT: Even if you use an image you believe to be free, you could still be liable for using it illegally.
There have been instances where a photographer’s image was shared illegally. If they find that out and you used it as well, then you could be on the hook. If you plan to use a free image, make sure you really are allowed to do so and provide the proper attribution when necessary.
Can’t I just run a search and use any image I find?
Images found through a search on Pinterest, Google, or other search engines does not mean you are allowed to use them. This is one way to land yourself in hot water.
Never use another site’s image without permission. Ever. If they have posted it themselves, then they own the rights or used proper attribution to be able to use it.
When it comes to searching for images, don’t use those you may find via search.
Is there I way I can use another blogger’s images legally?
Of course! If you are doing a post where you want to showcase articles from another blogger, for example, you can email them to ask if you can use their image on your site. They must provide written consent for you to do so.
Keep in mind that just because you can use the image on your site does not mean you can use it on Pinterest or promote your article. If you need to do that, make sure you get those permissions as well.
Again, I do not recommend you use free images. There is much liability here for bloggers. Free images are those that regular uses should use and not those business owners should include.
Why free images are not good?
First of all, it is possible that the image was stolen and uploaded without permission. Should that happen and you use the image then you are liable. Yes. You can be sued and forced to remove the image everywhere you shared it.
The second reason is that you need original images on Pinterest. Free images are used by many but the content may be different. It could be a desktop image that is used by a blogger, parenting planner or make money at home. Those articles do not relate to one another. That makes it more difficult for Pinterest to know which are the related posts and connect yours to the right reader.
Where to find free images
If you are still set on using free images you can find them here. Be sure you give attribution with the free image to try avoid potential issues. But do not use them to make your Pinterest pins.
1. Pixabay. Pixaby is one of the largest sites of public domain images. Attribution is not required for these images.
2. Public Domain Archive. These images are all completely free for use without link or attribution.
3. Magdeline. Each day you will find a free image you can use. They also have a large database of images you can use as well. Attribution is not needed.
4. Picjumbo. The site with high-resolution photos. Attribution is not necessary with the image on this site.
5. New Old Stock. This site has vintage photos originally shared in the public archives. No attribution required.
6. Foodie’s Feed. This site is a foodie’s dream! Nothing but high-resolution food images. Attribution is not required.
7. Picography. This site is not searchable but has beautiful images. Attribution is not required.
8. Unsplash. Find ten new, high-quality photos every ten days. Attribution is not necessary.
9. Death to the Stock Photo. This site offers free images – delivered monthly to your inbox. (Important to note that you can not add your watermark or logo to these images). No need to include attribution.
10. Free Range Stock. This site recommends you give credit to the owner, but it is not required.
11. Pickup Image. A database filled with public domain images. Attribution not required.
12. Good Free Photos. These are public domain images. No attribution is necessary.
13. GetRefe. This site includes images taken throughout Europe. Attribution is not required.
14. Gratisography. All photos on this site are available under the CCO license. Attribution is not necessary.
15. Photogen. Free photos for commercial or personal use. Attribution is not required.
16. Skitterphoto. Images available for use under the CCO license. Attribution is not needed.
17. Life of Pix. Awesome public domain images. No attribution required.
18. Flickr: Creative Commons. Make sure you only search files under Public Domain, so you know you are free to use them without licensing or attribution.
19. Pexels. Database of CC0 images. No attribution needed.
20. FreeImages. Another great resource filled with free images. Attribution not required.
21. IM Creator. This is a smaller site filled with amazing, high-quality images. Attribution is required on all images used on this site.
22. StockSnap. Images available under the CCO license. No attribution required.
23. Morgue File. These images can be used for either personal or commercial use (but you can’t claim ownership, so no watermarking). Attribution is not needed.
24. Gratisography. Incredible images which require no attribution at all.
25. SuperFamous. A site filled with high-resolution images. The images on this site require attribution.
26. SplitShire. No copyright restrictions on these photos – which means no attribution needed either.
27. LittleVisuals. Join their email list and get a weekly file with seven high-resolution images. Attribution is not needed.
28. 1 Million Free Pictures. These are all amateur images. They may not be the best quality, but they are free for use. Attribution is not required.
29. pdpics. All public domain images. Attribution is not needed.
30. Negative Space. Photos are released under the CCO license. You can search for these images. Attribution is not required.
31. Tookapic Stock. Filter by free photos under the CCO License….which means attribution is not necessary.
32. MMT STock. These are photos provided by Jeffrey Betts. All images released fall under the CCO license and attribution is not necessary.
33. Kaboom Pics. A large variety of high-quality images. Attribution is not necessary.
34. Epicantus. High-resolution photos for your site. All images fall under the CCO license, which means attribution is not necessary.
35. PicXclicX. Must provide attribution on all images. However, you can pay for them instead and use them without attribution. (Update: You will pay $5 for access, but that is a one time fee).