find photos and images for blog

Want to find some photos and images for your blog? This post is a complete guide on where to look and how to use them effectively.

There are a lot of things to consider before using a photo on your blog.

Are the photos consistent with your website’s branding? Have they been formatted and edited correctly for the web? How about the file size and detailed information for SEO purposes? Lastly, is that a Royalty Free, Creative Commons, or Public Domain photo you’re trying to use?

This topic could go on forever and ever so I’m going to try and condense as much of the useful stuff into one post as possible so that you can bookmark it and keep referring back to it when you need.

Let’s do this! [simple_tooltip content=’These little blue circles will pop up occasionally to give you extra facts, tips and information.’]tooltip[/simple_tooltip]

Disclosure and quick interruption – This post contains some affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of the links on this post I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only ever promote things I use myself. Thanks for the support.

What’s covered in this article?

I’m going to break this post up into some broad sections so you can skip around if you need to. Let’s take a look at:

  1. Where to find photos and images
    Let’s start with the basic question of where to find good photos and images both free and paid.
  2. How to select good photos that work for your brand
    Selecting photos is a really tricky aspect of blogging. Sometimes a bad photo can ruin an excellent post.
  3. The tech aspects of using photos and images
    Here I’ll go into all the little bits and pieces that you need to know about sizing, smushing (yep, that’s a thing), scaling and using photos properly for SEO and things like retina display.
  4. Some legal issues that can pop up
    Photos are particularly tricky when it comes to the legal aspects. Let me show you some tips and resources for further reading.
  5. Tools and plugins and resources
    I’ll finish off with some nice pieces of software, plugins, etc. that you can use for your photo and image editing and so on.

I’m sure I’ll miss a lot of things but hopefully this will be enough to give you a good base for further learning and experimentation.

1. Where to find photos and images for your blog

Let’s go through and look at all the different options available for your blog images. There are actually a lot more than you think – the traditional stock photo site is really one of the last places to look.

Take your own photos

The first and best option for your blog is to take your own photos with your own camera. This means that every photo you take is your own property and is a unique piece of content for SEO purposes.

As I mentioned a while ago, I use a Canon SLR camera to make my YouTube videos as well as taking high quality images for my blogs and social media projects.

It has been a wonderful investment.

Here are some of the main reasons I think bloggers should try to learn a little bit of photography on a quality camera:

  • Decreased costs
    Sure, it is a bit of an outlay initially but it adds up over time as you aren’t paying for each shot that you want to use on your blog or marketing materials.
  • Increased brand presence
    If you take good photos people will share them around. It will enhance your blog and take it to the next level. I’m yet to see one successful fashion blog, for example, that doesn’t take all of their own photos.
  • More content
    Photos are content too. If you are putting your own photos online you are adding to the amount of places that people can find you and your work. That’s a good thing right?
  • Good on social networking sites
    Photos work. They get attention. Even if you are just using a high quality smartphone camera with a funky filter you are likely to find new sources of traffic if those images are interesting or matched with a relevant quote.
  • No copyright headaches
    Can you use that image you bought in your logo? What about in advertising material? Can you sell it? If you took the photo (provided it’s not a photo of something dodgy) then you can do whatever you want with it. Easy.
  • You can make extra money
    Put your photos up on a site like Dreamstime (affiliate) and if people buy them you earn a commission. It’s not a lot of money but if you are good at it and take a lot of photos it might add up.

Now, please don’t let this become another distraction from your blogging or business. We’ve talked about that.

You can also take really good photos with your iPhone if you spend a bit of time researching how to compose a good photo.

How to commission awesome new images

In this case you can use a site like 99designs that allows you to create a job and have different designers, artists and creatives work for a solution. It is a buzzing community and there are a lot of talented people working there which means you get access to a large variety of styles.

For example, I recently used 99designs to get these little Blog Tyrant characters created and I’m now using them on my how to start a blog instructions page:

blog tyrant man

The main thing I used 99designs for was an infographic contest. This is where you create a project and spec it out and then a bunch of different artists create your graphic, logo or image and then you choose a winner.

Here’s two of the 30-odd designs that I had:


In the end I had a great design created that I used on in my article on how to create the perfect blog post which has been quite successful. The quality of designs submitted was really, really amazing and I’ve formed a few relationships with artists since to commission other work.

This is a really amazing way to get quality graphics and I thoroughly enjoyed the process although I do have concerns about artists creating entire graphics based on your contest and then not getting paid because you chose a different format. It seems a little unfair but, of course, everyone who participates does so voluntarily.

I also had this blogging icon set developed there for a really good price.

What if I don’t want to take photos or make my images?

Let’s be honest – we don’t all have the time or inclination to take photos or make new graphics for every blog post that we do. Sometimes you just want to go on to a website and find the right photo and publish as soon as possible.

Well, you’re in luck. There are dozens of really, really good websites that provide free photos. There’s a big list of these sites at the end of this article in the resources section.

The last thing I want to mention in this section is that there are a lot of budding professional photographers who might be interested in teaming up with your blog in order to get a little bit of extra promotion. Do a Google search for photographers in your town or hit up some message boards and just put the word out there.

2. How to select good photos that work for your brand

The next thing I’d like to talk about is photo selection and how this process affects the brand that you put out into the blogosphere.

But what is a brand?

David Ogilvy defines it as:

The intangible sum of a product’s attributes: its name, packaging, and price, its history, its reputation, and the way it’s advertised.

As soon as someone lands on your blog they will get a particular feeling and impression that has a big impact on how much they will interact with your content, whether they will subscribe to your mailing list, and so on. Photos play a big role in this.

The first thing you want to do is avoid stock photos that every one can tell are from a stock photography site and feel cold clinical and quite dull.

When I first started Blog Tyrant I asked my friend (and genius-level photographer) to help me take some photos for a “couch-based blogging business”. The result was this photo:


Ever since I did the post on ViperChill revealing my identity I’ve felt like this couch photo has played a huge role in differentiating my blog from other blogs on similar topics – exactly what a brand should do.

The kids over at NerdFitness are also excellent at selecting images that suit their particular brand.


As you can see, a lot of the in-post images are LEGO characters that are dressed up like a hero from Star Wars, Lord of the Rings or some other nerdy favorite.

But when you visit most blogs what you see is a real mix of photos with nothing tying them to either the individual post or the blog as a whole.

The worst thing you can do is fill your blog up with stock photos. They are really not great – white backgrounds or impersonal modelling situations – it doesn’t invite people to your content at all.

Remember when Vince Vaughn promoted his new movie Unfinished Business by shooting a series of very cliche business photos high in results-driven synergy magic? The photos are hilarious but just highlight how cringe-worthy this type of photo really is if you are using them seriously.

Try to plan out what you want to communicate with your photos and remember that photo will speak to different segments of the community. Memes, photos, graphics, etc. all do different things. If you visit the top websites in your niche and compare their photo selections to the new sites in your niche you’ll see a massive difference.

3. The technical aspects of using photos on your blog

Okay, now we are going to get into the stuff that a lot of people might think is boring, but is actually really important when it comes to using images and photos successfully.

When thinking about tech aspects we need to remember three things:

  1. How an image looks to a reader
    You want to make sure it looks as good as possible for your readers without mucking up the next two.
  2. How an image looks to a computer
    Your photos need to “look” good to computers like your servers, WordPress, browsers, etc. and that means creating them and uploading them with certain things in mind.
  3. How an image looks to Google
    This is the last little factor that we want to think about from a technical point of view because it will affect our blog’s SEO down the line.

The rest of this section will be about addressing all of those items and making sure that we’re dealing with our photos and images in the best way possible.

Types of image files that we should use

The first thing we need to talk about is the file type itself. When you create an image you obviously need to save it so you can upload it and use it on the web. There are really only three file types that are relevant for bloggers and that’s the PNG, JPEG and GIF. Here’s a little graphic made that you can Pin if you like it.

image file types

Now I’m sure a lot of graphic designers and other experts are going to be upset with the simplicity of this presentation but, for most of us, this is all we need to know about the file types themselves. Here’s a really good summary on these file types and optimization methods by Google.

How the image is displayed or used

The next thing you want to think about is how the image is going to be used on your blog. For example, is it a header image that is going to spread to the full width of a screen? If so, it’s going to need to be a larger file size because you’ll need to cover more pixels. [simple_tooltip content=’Pixels are little illuminated squares that make up all the things you see on your screen. For example, an iPhone 6 is 640×1136 pixels whereas a MacBook Pro Retina at 15inches has 2880×1800 pixels. More on this later.’]tooltip[/simple_tooltip]

An image that is only being used in a post, however, will naturally be a smaller width and height and as such you can afford to sacrifice a bit of quality in the name of keeping the file size down. It’s a bit of a balancing act but over time you’ll get a feel for how much you can take off.

For example, when I’m saving my images for the tops of my articles I usually can get the quality down to around 85%-90% before I notice any quality loss, and this usually helps me to keep it under 100KB.

saving images for the web

Now, this all changes depending on the type of image or photo you are using and the file type you selected so make sure you’re selecting the right things as we talked about above.

What width and height should the photo be?

One thing a lot of bloggers do is use different sized images. This can really ruin the visual appeal of your blog and make it look scattered and messy. Where possible you should try to keep all your images the same dimensions so that your layouts becomes easily recognizable.

Here on Blog Tyrant I always try to open with an image that is 650×430 pixels. The reason I choose that width is because it is the width of my content area and thus the image stretches across the whole column.

I am, however, experimenting with some different image layouts (like here on this page about starting a blog) because I was a bit worried that the image was taking up too much space above the fold.

It’s a good idea to specifically mention the image’s height and width as well using a bit of code:

img src="somephoto.jpg" width="125" height="60" alt="photo name"

This helps the browser to recognize the file earlier and will actually help speed up the way in which the page renders for your readers. And that leads us on to the next point.

Making the file size as small as possible

We then need to think about how to get these photos as small as possible in terms of their file size. We know how important speed is for a successful blog and as such this should be a major priority.

Once you’ve saved the file as above you can then go to a website like Dynamic Drive and run it through their image compressor. This shows you various percentages of size savings and allows you to select one that looks good.

dynamic drive re-size
© Adrenalinapura |

For example, I added a graphic of a guy skateboarding that I’m using for another post and got it all the way down to 21KB and a saving of 93% before I started noticing the background colors getting a bit patchy. This is an incredible saving for an image.

Now, if you’re using a self-hosted WordPress setup you’ll be able to achieve this same effect with a plugin called WP Smush which is created by the very cool people at WPMU DEV. This plugin allows you to bulk “smush” all of your existing photos which can save you a lot of time and a lot of load time speed.

Dealing with Apple’s retina display screens

If you’re using a Mac with a Retina display you might have noticed that a lot of photos and images are now looking a bit blurry.

This is a result of more pixels being packed into a smaller area and it is something that we should try to address. [simple_tooltip content=’To be totally honest this topic still confuses me. If you have any more insights about good ways to use images for Retina display make sure you leave a comment.’]tooltip[/simple_tooltip]

So, a computer or phone screen is made up of tiny squares called pixels that display colors to make up all the text and images that you see.

Retina display is an Apple invention that essentially doubles the pixels per area as you can see in the amazing graphic that I whipped up just now. Where a normal screen has one pixel, a retina display will have four. The result is that things look sharper and crisper (or blurry and crappy) if you upload images at double the size.

retina display

This creates all kinds of problems for image sizing and website design because larger images are inherently bigger file sizes. Here’s a really good tutorial about how to use CSS and some coding tricks to make sure you’re doing it as efficiently as possible.

Using the alt tag on images

When you upload an image to your blog it’s good to add an alt description to help Google know what the image is about. This is an important SEO factor for photos and image.

img src="dog.jpg" width="125" height="60" alt="Dog sitting down"

All of the technical items that we’ve been covering above will help with SEO, but this one is specifically very important to make sure you’ve got covered.

Here’s a video showing some of these bits and pieces:

4. Legally using photos and images on your blog

When you run a blog you have to actually know quite a few legal concepts. For example, you can’t write libelous statements about people, you can’t plagiarize other author’s works, and you also can’t just use any photo that you find.

NOTE: I am NOT a lawyer and this is not legal advice. I’m just pointing out some interesting issues in the hope that you will use it to further your own research. If you aren’t sure about a concept you should consult a lawyer because these issues differ from country to country.

What follows is an overview of the main concepts and traps that we need to be aware of. Honestly, even after all these years I’m still trying to figure out how to correctly use photos!

Navigating photo licenses

When you’re talking about the legal aspects of photos and images the main thing you are doing is navigating the varying licenses that are attached to the images. Each photo could be different, each photographer is different, and the consequences of getting it wrong can be bad.

It basically seems works like this in most places around the world: when a photo is taken the person who took the photo owns the copyright to that photo. There are some exceptions (like journalistic photographers who are employed) but mainly it’s the gal or guy who took the shot that owns the rights.

That photographer can then grant licenses where other people can use that photo in certain circumstances and under certain conditions.

Bloggers are essentially looking for one of three to choose from which are Royalty Free, Creative Commons and Public Domain. However, each of those have their own restrictions and conditions:

  • Royalty Free
    This is what you find on most stock photo websites and is where you pay a one time fee in order to use the photo without heaps of restrictions placed on it. You still can’t sell it and there are things like not using it as part of your branding that you need to be mindful of.
  • Creative Commons
    Creative Commons is actually a not for profit organization that has come up with certain licenses that enable photographers to put their material out there and have it used without people making money off of it. There are several different licenses (Attribution, Non Commercial, etc.) and photographer can pick one or more. Flickr has a really good summary about it all.
  • Public Domain
    This is where there is essentially no copyright because it has expired or wasn’t eligible for copyright in the first place. A lot of these photos are related to the Government use. Interestingly, attribution is often still required.

There are many other types of licenses out there. [simple_tooltip content=”See why I told you to take your own photos where possible at the start of this post – it’s exhausting.”]tooltip[/simple_tooltip]

Figuring out which license a photo is under can be tricky and that’s why it’s important to get your photos from sources that you trust where you are sure that you know what is going on.

What can happen if you don’t get it right

Please don’t just take images from Google Images and assume it will be okay. It might not be okay and, honestly speaking, it’s not very fair to take a photographer’s work and use it without compensating them.

Sadly, some photographers make their money through law suits. They spend their time searching for improper uses of their images and then use lawyer’s letters to get money out of website owners – sometimes it’s upwards of $5,000 per image!

Other photographers will ask you to give a credit or request that you take the image down, which is a much kinder route for bloggers who may not be aware. But all of this means that it’s best not to use an image unless you are sure that you can, and make sure you give a credit where you’re supposed to.

How to be safe

This is one of those situations where it is better to be safe then sorry. Don’t use an image unless you know its license, and always give a credit by default.

It’s important to try and get your head around the different options as best as you can and make sure that your own specific country or state doesn’t have different laws.

And again, if you want to be super safe then make your own images, take your own photos or have someone make them for you using a site like 99designs.

5. Tools, plugins and resources to help you with your blog’s images

I wanted to finish this article by giving you a big list of helpful resources that will make things as easy as possible for you.

As always, if you think I’ve missed something important please let me know as I’m always on the lookout for new an interesting things.

  • A Complete List of Royalty Free Websites for Photos
    Here’s a huge list that we put together that may help you find images and photos for your blog that you didn’t even know was possible.
  • Flickr
    Flickr is actually a really big source of free photos as long as you credit the photographer and don’t use them for commercial purposes. You can adjust the search settings to just find images like this.
  • Pixabay
    An incredible resource with half a million images that you can use for free.
  • Gratisography
    This is a cool website with some quirky photos that you can usually use without an attribution although it’s still a good idea to give credit when you can.
  • Picjumbo
    This one is mostly free to use but you can get a membership to access more features. Lots of very high quality images.
  • Unsplash
    Unsplash is a website that publishes a new photo every now and then and allows you to use them for free without an attribution.
  • Dreamstime
    Has a paid and free area. The free photos are alright but not nearly as good quality as you’ll get if you pay a fee. Can be a good starting point but you will need to credit photographers.
  • Death to Stock
    This is a really cool website that sends you photos to your email each month in a big package. I like their email focused strategy!
  • WP Smush
    A plugin that allows you to smush your photos automatically from your WordPress dashboard instead of doing it before you upload.
  • Cloud Flare
    A content delivery network helps you speed up your website by using more efficient server locations around the world. Can be a good idea if you have an image-heavy website.
  • W3 Total Cache
    Caching plugins are very good for speeding up some image functions on your blog and this is one of the most well loved plugins for WordPress.
  • Pixelmator
    This is a light-weight but very powerful app that I use for image editing on my Macbook. A good alternative if you don’t want something as big as Photoshop.
  • Adobe Photoshop
    This is the default image editing software for more advanced users. Once very expensive, they now have good annual options available for download.
  • Word Swag
    Word Swag is an app for your smart phone that allows you to easily add cool typography to your photos and quickly upload to social media.
  • imgur
    We all know that imgur is a social networking site with funny images but it’s also a good place to upload and store images off-site if you need extra space. It’s free.
  • Digital Photography School
    This is Darren Rowse’s baby and the biggest photography website in the world. Excellent tips and tutorials.
  • Fiverr
    A good place to get graphics, drawings, images and other illustrations created for an affordable price. Here’s a bit of a guide to using fiverr on the cheap.
  • A guide to photo editing
    This is a really good basic guide to editing images that covers most of the techniques you need to know.
  • EWWW
    This is another smushing plugin for WordPress that is a good alternative for some sites. If WP Smush doesn’t work for you check this one out.
  • Lazy load
    Have you noticed that a lot of websites and blog only load the image when you scroll to the part of the page where the image is? It saves overall page load time. They’re using a plugin like this. I haven’t tested it yet but am currently researching.
  • JPEGmini
    This is a really interesting piece of software that allows you to reduce photo sizes without any discernible loss in quality. It’s used by companies like Netflix so it definitely worthy a look.

How do you go with your images?

I’d be really interested to know how you go with photos and images on your blog. What is your main solution? Do you have any big problems that I haven’t covered here? Have you ever used a photo or image that was particularly successful?

Please leave a comment and let me know and if you enjoyed the post I’d really appreciate a share.


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  1. Excellent article. A great read and full of valuable information and insights. That’s definitely how to do it! Thanks.

    1. There is absolutely no way you read it. 😉

      1. Ha ha! You remind me of likes I get on Facebook for new posts!

      2. LOL!

    2. Didn’t just read it, I memorised it! Brilliant post, inspired me to think about how I can produce such valuable content on my blog… I still have a long way to go, but after seeing the quality of this post I am motivated to try harder.

  2. Joep van der Poel on December 7, 2015

    Hi Ramsay,

    Great post and a lot of valuable information. I must admit that I am sometimes guilty of using stock photos, although I try to give them my own twist.

    Great mention of the WP Smush plugin, for those not looking to use yet another plugin is a great tool to reduce your image size.

    I agree that it is best to make your own pictures and that copyright infringements are a serious deal. I see so many people on the internet just copying pictures and as a serious blogger this is not something that you should take lightly.

    Another great tool to use to make nice blog headers, infographics and any type of image is, a great tool to make neat looking images without Photoshop or another (expensive) professional editor.

    Thanks for sharing this post, very helpful and I am definitely going to implement some of your suggestions for my next images!



    1. Awesome resources! Thank you for taking the time to write that. I forgot about Canva!

    2. Hoi Joep,

      Thanks for the canva link. Looks very simple and fast to create.

      And thanks, Ramsay, to you too. Useful reading as always!

      1. Joep van der Poel on December 7, 2015

        Hoi Terje,

        Glad you find Canva useful. Good luck with creating your images!

        Have a good day,


  3. Extreme Sports Blogger on December 7, 2015

    Thanks Ramsay. As my blog will use lots of images this is yet another info ram packed post to bookmark and come back to time and time again.

    1. Hope it helps!

  4. Vishal Ostwal on December 7, 2015

    Hey Ramsay,

    Happy to get such a post from you (as we can expect assured quality).

    Here are a few quick questions:

    1. If I use photos of trademarks of websites while writing about them, is that okay?

    2. Is the use of screenshots of certain websites to display what they look like okay? (such things are quite common, yet I’d like to know if an attribution is always necessary.)

    3. Is the use of images of popular people in social media posts or blogs alright? (e.g: Neil Patel uses a lot of pics of Elon Musk, etc. without credit on his social media posts, would you say that’s fine?)

    Although I don’t feel that legal issues are so common, I’m curious to know about these.

    I guess you’ll need to keep updating this post frequently along with the questions that come in.

    Thanks for those resources! (we all keep hunting them).

    1. Hey mate.

      1. No, I don’t think so. You still need permission.
      2. I think that’s okay because it’s educational but I’m not 100% sure.
      3. I’m not sure how he does that. There may be some free photos of celebrities available somewhere.

  5. Thank you again Ramsay,
    I’m a French blogger and I’m always happy to read your articles because you come with something to teach us. It’s true that shooting your own photos is the best way to avoid any problem.

    The inconvenience is that it can be a challenge for people like me. I’m living in West Africa today and it is quite difficult for me to find a way to have good photos about fitness here.

    But still, my blog is new and I’m thinking about something creative. Before you came with this article I had already noticed the way it is done on the Nerdfitness blog. Definitly something I’m thinking about. But I have to create my own way (no plagiarism of course).

    When I’m looking for a funny picture, I’m using because I always find something great. The only problem is that a lot of blogs are using them around.

    Please continue your good work for our own benefit.

    Many thanks again.

    1. Yeah Nerd Fitness is amazing! Love their work. Good luck!

  6. Michael White on December 7, 2015 seems to be a broken link. or it may be because I’m still on windows ’98 here at work?

    1. Fixed!

    2. Just remove the .au and it will work fine

  7. Under “unsplash” it says you’ll talk more about it. What were you going to say? I’ve been using their photos and really like them. Great post!

    1. Whoops. That’s my mistake. I moved that section down but was referencing the licensing part.

  8. Kamlesh Drolia on December 7, 2015

    Hi Ramsay,

    It’s a great article covering all aspects of image usage in blog posts.
    Earlier i used to use any image from google.
    But, now i am more sincere in finding out correctly licensed images and i also bought a Canon DSlr Camera.
    I have one question…..If i am making a post on Best pictures taken on some topic……Can i use those in my blog post? Ofcourse, crediting the website.

    1. Hi Kamlesh. I think in those cases it is best to ask permission if the photo is not already under a creative commons license that allows it.

  9. jill brock on December 7, 2015

    Thanks Ramsay, Great resources. I’ve been using Pixabay a lot but I love the photos on Unsplash and Gratisography.

    1. Thanks Jill. Yeah, they are great resources.

  10. Maria Geronico on December 7, 2015

    Hi Ramsay! I agree with you… we all need a good camera even thought it means quite an investment at the beginning.
    Well, from my side is goes very easy… I just find all the pictures I need on Internet. As I write about Fashion, advertising campaigns, and others news, I don’t need to take my own pictures. The only problem I could face, it to do something illegal by being using other people’s photos. However, since they are on Internet, I guess they are public, don’t they?

    Have a nice week! M

    1. Hi Maria. No I don’t think this is correct. Just because a photo is on the internet does not mean it can be used. Please read the section on licensing above.

  11. I appreciate all the information you assembled here. It’s a good summary.

    I use my blog for real estate in Denver, Colorado. I have found a great way to edit, crop, resize and enhance photos I take is It does all that quickly and easily on-line. The basic version is free and makes editing a snap.

    Good photos are important in any blog but especially so in real estate with homes for sale.

    Keep up the good work.


    1. Haven’t heard of that one! Thanks Larry.

  12. Hello, Mr. Ramsey
    Thanks for the information. Never new using pictures off Google could get someone into trouble. I think I’ll try taking my own pictures.

    1. Yep, best to be careful.

  13. Great post again, especially for new bloggers!
    I am a designer, so most of the times I use my own photos or designs in my site and for my blog post featured photos.
    I create, edit and optimize my jpg photos or designs with Photoshop (there is a save for web option).
    Pixlr is a free online image editor, almost similar to Photoshop.
    I never use stock photos.
    I have a design blog, so I include a lot of photos about interior design, architecture and art in my posts.
    I try to find the initial source of a photo and I always give credits and direct links to the owners.
    I haven’t had a problem or complaint so far, on the contrary, most creators like it, because I “advertise” their work and send traffic to their sites. Sometimes I inform them that I (will) share their work.
    When it is impossible to find where a photo is coming from I may still use it, if it’s a good fit with my content.

    1. Interesting approach. I’m glad it’s working for you.

  14. Great, as always! While an iphone is great to snap an image, I take this one step further. I carry my Canon T3 with telephoto lens in my backpack. That has enabled me to go from “ok” photos to “great” photos where I could focus in on the subject. For people who don’t want to carry a DSLR and would rather stay with their iphone, I recommend the Camera+ app for a few bucks.

    One area where I have trouble is in blog feature image size. For example, you have a huge image at the top of each blog, both in the post and the blog summary pages; ( But with a visitor mindset on scanning, I don’t see how these big images benefit the reader. I see other big name bloggers do it including CopyBlogger though they seem to have shrunk the image height a little and added more text in the summary pages.

    I don’t use one that big and would love to know your thoughts on the big feature image size.

    A quick tip on Apple Retina. While it does take a bit of extra work to create a retina-version of post images, I do think a site’s logo image and personal profile photos should have retina versions. That part is a must in my book.

    1. Hey mate.

      The thinking behind the images is that it helps to draw the eye down. I’m in two minds about it – some stats show it helps bounce rate others not so much. Some websites like WPDEVMU have the full screen start photo. It looks beautiful but no idea how it helps with content engagement. I think people are pretty used to scrolling now with the advent of parallax. Not sure though.

  15. Hi Ramsay,

    Glad you’ve covered this. Visuals are so important in marketing! I also wrote an article about it and since I did, I’ve applied them more often and really took my time to create great visuals.

    For instance. I wrote a topic about the 10 benefits of reading books. After I wrote it I thought by myself, why not make an infographic? I used Canva and made an infographic within an hour and it went viral on Google+ (yes Google+ is still alive)

    I hope you have the time to check out my post sometimes. I go deeper in details about which tools to use to make graphics and also about video, infographics and slide decks. I’ll email it to you, so I won’t come over as a spammer 😉

    Have a good one!

    1. Saw the link in your name. I’ll check it out. Thanks!

  16. Thank you for an informative blog! I’m new to blogging and these tips will help immensely.

    I have it saved to refer to again and again.

    1. Thanks James. Glad you liked it.

  17. Wen Johnson on December 7, 2015

    Whoa, lots of great info in this blog, some whooshed straight over my head so will need to read again (and again I guess!). We’re just starting to put the finishing touches to a blog on our new e-commerce website. Got the content mix under control but still coming to grips with images. Thanks for a great resource 🙂

    1. Hope it helps.

  18. Once again, really useful stuff. Thanks Ramsay

    1. Thanks Garth.

  19. Loved this blog post, I am still reading it but I figured I would comment before I have an A.D.D. moment and forget. 😛 I feel like I am reading a really good book with so much information. Love it, and I love how you broke down the different types of file types. I am a graphic designer and I loved that!

    1. Thanks for commenting, Ashley!

  20. Thanks Ramsey. I have been buying photos from Adobe and they are very professional but lack the personal touch so your advice is very much appreciated. I need a graphic designer – do you know a good one? I had a very bad experience through Envato with a guy in India – caveat emptor. Not your fault, I still think Envato are good operators. Then I need to get serious about blogging and selling my tours through bloggers rather than through retail travel agents.
    How do these guys link their blog to their name? Obviously I’m new. I just run unique and exciting tours and have done for a very very long time. Much to learn.
    Many thanks

  21. Great tips!
    How about for getting images?

  22. Hey Ramsay,
    This post came at the perfect time for me, Thank you!
    Definitely looking forwarding to “smushing” instead of doing all that work before I upload my photos.

    1. Hope it helps!

      1. I had already read this and it definitely helped! For my content, I definitely need my own photos… now I just need to get better with my camera…..

  23. Pankaj Dhawan on December 8, 2015

    Exhaustive and yet to the point post. I would say every word was informative and the resources are really helpful. Photos are very important to a blog and if used correctly, they make huge impact for sure.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Pankaj.

  24. James Bogash, DC on December 8, 2015

    I’m probably (unfortunately) more of an expert on this than most. In my early days I was just grabbing images off of Google. At least until I got slapped with a lawsuit from one of the snake companies you referred to and it ended up in Federal court. The company now uses me as an example to prove that they do file suit to all the letters they send out. So I moved to Flickr and used proper attribution. No luck there. Another lawsuit who claimed that the Flickr image (under CC use) was not supposed to be there. Had to get permission (and pay a hefty sum) to get the rights to the image. Had the definite feel of a scam. I’ve since moved to DollarPhotoClub. When I was cranking out 4-6 blogs per week (on a non-intentionally non-monitized blog), $1 fit my budget. BE VERY CAREFUL WHERE YOU GET YOUR IMAGES FROM!!

    1. Massive sad face. So sorry to hear about that.

  25. Benjamin Houy on December 10, 2015

    Thanks for this great post. Here are a few things I’d like to add:

    1)When you take pictures yourself, you still need to be careful. If there are people on the picture, you may need their written authorisation to use it. Same for some historical buildings.

    2)I personally stopped using creative commons pictures, because the truth is: everyone can take a random picture in google and publish it as creative commons on Flickr. I even heard story of people taking a picture and putting it as creative commons, and then changing the licence. So I don’t the risk.

    What I do is either use my own pictures, or use websites like Death to The Stock where you’re sure that the photographer owns the rights to the pictures he sells.

    1. Yeah those are really good points. I’m thinking about editing the post as I’ve heard a few horror stories since publishing.

  26. Slavko Desik on December 10, 2015

    Awesome guide! Not a thing missing, and many more technical details than I expected.

    Shooting your own pics is the final stage of the evolving pattern for most bloggers. Still not there, but I’m experimenting with a post I created about moissanite engagement rings. Looked for stock photos, and while there are many that look nice, there is still that itch that is telling you to “search one more page”. Have put the whole “taking pics” on hold for a while, but reading this post, I’m fired up again.

    The about page is the place where image selecting skills shine the most. It’s been a while since I first stumbled across Blog Tyrant, and no matter how many videos you shot, or how many pictures you add, the couch photo is still the first photo that comes to mind whenever I think about this brand. Again, this article allows me to reflect on my own thing and motivates me to change the about page as well.

    Oh, and Fiver is definitely worth the shot. I’ve found that narration is top notch and for a ridiculously cheap sum of money. Never tried graphics though, but thanks for the suggestion… Sometimes I forget that the solution for a problem (needing graphics for example), is a thing that I’m already familiar with.

    Btw, loving the blue notes! Saw them first on Wait But Why, and I’m obsessed with their ability to change the format of a text ever since. Blog tyrant is the first site in the niche to use them as far as I know- Kudos!

    1. Ha, that’s exactly where I stole the idea from.

  27. Trina Lea Grant on December 10, 2015

    I use for images I can’t create myself. They are under the creative commons license. Some do not require credit.

    To make my own or edit images, I use the PicsArt app.

    It is so important to properly credit photographers and designers for use of their images. I have had my writing plagiarized and it is a terrible, visceral feeling. At the end of the day, “borrowing” someone else’s work without credit or permission is THEFT.

  28. I’m getting nervous of using plugins as they sometimes slow my site dramatically. I do however use shortpixel to squish my photos. Do you know if this or Smush have a dramatic impact on speed of loading?

    1. Hi Anne,

      I work at WPMU DEV (we build and host Smush).

      For Smush free to work, we set you up with a free API key, and all your images are then sent to be “smushed” on our servers. That means that no, your site won’t slow down at any point, because we do all the image processing and your site does none. Not all image optimizer plugins work in quite the same way, just a heads up 🙂

      1. *However* – the impact it has on your site load time depends wildly on how big your images are, and how well you optimized them when you saved them.

        If you use the highest compression rates when you save in Photoshop, you won’t see massive performance increases.

        To get an idea of how much time your images take on page load, I’d recommend you to check out

      2. Thanks so much for dropping in Bjorn.

  29. Lewis LaLanne on December 10, 2015

    Smush seems like a life-saver for someone who has gone a long time without paying attention to the size of the photos they uploaded into their posts.

    I was that guy a few years ago and the process of modifying 100’s of pictures was far from “One-Click”.

    Until now I was unaware that this app existed and I’m incredibly grateful that you’ve turned me onto it.

    Hopefully I’ll get the opportunity to share it with someone in the future who really needs it.

    1. Might be a bit problematic if you’ve got a huge number of images that need work. My be best to talk to your server admin first.

      1. In thread with Ramsay’s comment above, if you have a massive amount of non-optimized images on your site, and you want them all smushed, you might want to drop the $19 it costs to go pro for one month. You then get a “bulk smush” option and can just click once, we’ll handle the rest.

        Not saying this is the *only* way Smush can help you with a lot of images, but it’s definitely the most efficient in terms of time spent.

        And yes, I do work at WPMU DEV – BUT, the 300K people with the free version installed don’t 😉

        1. Okay it’s time I give this a shot!

  30. Thank you so much for sharing great article. Your blog post is very helpful for finding Quality website for find images for your blog. As before i was using image from google but that is not good for blog site. You have added almost all top site. I m trying to set keyword for my website. please advise very needful. Thanks

    1. I’m glad you’re not using images from Google anymore. Please make sure you change any images you have on your blog.

  31. I am happy to getting your comments regarding your image selection on blog posting. It will help to bring the quality image output the keyword

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  32. A Really Big Guide to Finding Images for Your Blog (and How to Use Them Like a Pro) | Affiliate Marketing Hero on December 13, 2015

    […] Source link […]

  33. the 10 Basics of Blogging Search Engine Optimization | on December 14, 2015

    […] Here’s a big guide to finding images for your blog that talks about why you need original images and photos and how to use them to your best […]

  34. James Hipkin on December 14, 2015

    I saw this excellent post and it inspired us to publish a plugin we developed and use internally for the custom sites we build. Image Attribution Tagger is available now on the plugin repository. As the name suggests, it makes it easy to attach the Creative Commons image attribution or any sort of license to the images you use on your site. Hopefully your readers will benefit from a tool like this.

    Have a look. Let me know what you think.


    1. Sounds like a much-needed service! Nice work.

  35. Great advice regarding images. It’s definitely a weekly battle for me! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hope it helped!

  36. We have a confession to make… | Two Cameras and a Bucket List on December 15, 2015

    […] more amateur/professional reasons such as embellishing you blog or growing your […]

  37. Aniruddha Bhattacharya (Aryan) on December 15, 2015

    Those were some really great tips worth spending time on. I have been asked the same questions by many of my friends regarding image licence and how to provide quality images for their articles, but I always fumbled and wasn’t able to tell them in a simple way even though I knew it. You helped me out a big time man. I love the way you present the tips and how-to.


    1. Thanks man!

  38. Christopher Jan Benitez on December 17, 2015

    Thank goodness it’s not just a post of free stock image sites. It actually has…dare I say it…VALUE to readers who are looking for more effective solutions of using images for their blog. Also, aside from Canva, PicMonkey and Visme are great tools to create new images for your site or edit the ones you found on free stock image sites.

    1. Oh cool I haven’t heard of those. Thanks!

  39. Andrew Riedel on December 17, 2015

    i didn’t know that putting photos on a site like Dreamstime can make money! thanks for the information. it really inspired me.

    1. I’m glad it helped.

  40. A Really Big Guide to Finding Images for Your Blog | TLTC Blogs on December 17, 2015

    […] This is a nice resource on using images on your site. There are suggestions for file formats and sizes, plugins to use, branding considerations, copyright and where to find royalty-free or public domain images that are ready to use. […]

  41. Man what a great post, this is my first time at your blog but I’m glad I found you over at viperchill. Never know there were so many different sources for blog post images available, thanks for the advice!

    1. I’m glad you’re reading ViperChill! It’s a great site.

  42. Donna Merrill on December 18, 2015

    Hi Ramsay,

    There’s so much to consider with putting images on your blog. I tell my blogging students to make their own images. It’s just the safest way to go in the long run for all the reasons you say.

    I know people that use Google images, and you can go to the Options gear and then Advanced Search to narrow your search to images that can be freely used. But even then, you’re supposed to give credit for the vast majority of those.

    Bottom line… these tools you’ve given are great. Bloggers just need to use some of them to get the job done. Personally, I do almost all of mine with a combination of iPhone and then Canva or PicMonkey.


    1. Thanks Donna. Great tips there.

  43. Reading Roundup: What's New in Blogging Lately? - ProBlogger on December 18, 2015

    […] image credit […]

  44. Reading Roundup: What’s New in Blogging Lately? | Silvino Mills on December 18, 2015

    […] image credit […]

  45. bulksms/poonam on December 21, 2015

    It is very helpfull blog.

  46. Eze Sylvester on December 22, 2015

    Sourcing a for images has really been a big issue for me. Thanks for this post, it helped me a lot.

  47. Oh my gosh, this is such a great post! Thank you so much! I’m new to blogging and I feel like this cleared up so many of my questions.

  48. Using images on blogs is not an easy task, but everyone should use 1 image per 350 words to make their content visually appealing.
    As 90% of information processed by brain is visual, it is common sense.
    But you should also be aware of the various rights reserved for images.
    Please check that before using any image as it can cost you much.

    What you say Ramsy?

  49. A Really Big Guide to Finding Images for Your Blog (and How to Use Them Like a Pro) | Worpress Lawyers Themes on December 27, 2015

    […] Read more […]

  50. Awesome info! Very helpful stuff , and no filler. Can’t think of too many things I’ve read with value from beginning to end !

  51. Great tips! Thank you.

  52. Taylor Davidson on January 2, 2016

    What a massive article on using images for the blog. I usually gran images from flickr and copyright free sources. Creating an image by yourself has always been a daunting task for a non-techy guy for me.

  53. Thanks for the info Ramsay! I always try to use my own photos if possible.

  54. vinod juneja on January 2, 2016

    that’s really a lot of help…appreciate it 🙂 i was in search of images…

    Thanks ram

  55. Sapna Haryanavi on January 4, 2016

    Great content! Really touched on some key points. Thank you!

  56. Hi,

    This post was great, yet I still think you forgot two details:

    One of them is that you cannot use only JPG, GIF and PNG picture files. On the web you can use SVG too. It is an international standard, it is compatible with all browsers, as you can confirm on this page; an it gives you the advantage of not losing any resolution quality in retina displays or future similar technologies.

    Where to get SVG files? On many websites, yet I like OpenClipArt.

    The second one is that there is a free software tool which is very good at manipulating graphics, which is called ImageMagick. There is a learning curve, but once you get comfortable with the instructions you can get optimized pictures for your site without needing to upload them to any site for optimization.

    I am adding this in case someone finds the information useful.

  57. Zero Degree on January 5, 2016

    Very helpful and informative post. Thanks for share this article.

  58. Dan Neamtu on January 5, 2016

    Hi Ramsay,
    Most complete article about how to find images for your blog and some advices, thank for sharing!

  59. Thanks, as always great content! I always try to use original photos, my problem is always size of photos

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