I am a very visual person by nature. I often find myself starring at amazing photographs for long periods of time…I know, I have issues…but no one can argue that a killer image on your blog or article can really draw attention to your content and bring repeat visitors or add subscribers.

The biggest question is…where do I find these images and how can I use them without breaking the bank? Over the years, I have found several techniques to finding fantastic images for articles that I am now going to share. Content is king…but visuals can be just as appealing…

5 Sure Fire Ways To Find Fantastic Images For Your Blog

  1. Flickr CC Images – This is one of the methods that I use most often. Flickr contains some incredible photographers and they share their images with each other in an easy to find manner. If you are looking for something specific…Flickr probably has it. There is one major catch that you need to take into consideration. Flickr images have protection laws attached to them. You can’t just go grab any image you want and post it on your blog. So how do you get around this without breaking the law?You do an advanced search for your keywords and check the Creative Commons box at the bottom of the page. This will return a list of images that are available for public use under certain conditions. You can’t edit the image and you need to give credit to the photographer. If you look at the top of this post, you will notice an amazing shot and right below that image, there is an italicized line that says “Image by…”. I then link back to that photographers Flickr account so that it is very clear that I am not claiming that image as my own.Sounds easy enough right? It is! Both parties win in this situation. You get a great image to use on your blog and the photographer gets increased exposure for their shot! It might be a good idea to email the photographer just to give them a heads up that you really like the shot and you used it on your blog. Artists like to get feedback on their work.
  2. Buy Them – There are a ton of sites on the net that allow you to purchase royalty free, copyrighted images for use as you please. These sites are a great source for some incredible shots that will really attract some attention. The downside…it can get really expensive. If you are not making much money from your site, this investment is coming straight out of your pocket and you can not really measure the return on your investment.Getting a handful of these images in a batch is normally the best route to go. It cuts down on cost and you have a set to use over time. I normally use this route when the other sources on this list completely fall through.Check out sites like istockphoto.com, fotosearch.com and stock.schng for some fantastic shots and great prices.
  3. Email Owners of Copyrighted Images – Just browsing around Flickr.com or somewhere else on the web and saw an image that you knew would be perfect…email the owner of the image and ask if you can use the shot. Many times, the photographer copyrights their photography to insure that it is not spread around the web being used in a manner that they do not approve. You never know…they might let you use the image on your site for increased exposure, or sell it to you for a small fee.There are a couple of things to keep in mind when emailing the owners of images.
    • You may not get a response at all and in that case…DO NOT USE THE IMAGE!
    • When you write your email, be very personal and explain exactly (every last detail) how and where you want to use the image. Also explain exactly how you are going to give credit to the photographer.
    • If they say no, thank them for taking the time to respond and express how much you love the image. Just because they might not want you to use it…doesn’t mean that they don’t like their work appreciated.
    • If they say yes, show credit where it is due and use the image exactly how you explained it in the email. Be sure to shoot them the link after the article is posted. After that…do not use that image again without further consent.
  4. “Borrow” Images from Friends – This is also one of my favorites! As many of my friends already know…I use their images in my blogs. This…of course…is not done without permission and giving credit (starting to see a theme here…). If you are blogging about something that you are passionate about, chances are that you are hanging out with a group of people that are passionate about the same thing! We take images to share on local forums and other blogs, so…naturally…these images are perfect for my blog. Be sure to link where you need to and spread the love.
  5. Take Your Own! – This is a method that I have really tried to adopt over the past year, and it has turned into another hobby/obsession. Photography can be very rewarding, and if you take your own stock photos…you can do anything you want with them. Whenever I need a specific shot that I really want to end up like it is in my head, I grab my Nikon D80 and go find that picture. Once I get home, I have full editing freedom and I can use that image whenever I want to…because it’s mine! I challenge you, as a website/blog owner, to take more of your stock photography. You never know…you could carve out another set of readers that stop by just to see your images.
    • Set up a Flickr account and post some of your best shots.
    • Set up a Flickr group to share those shots with others.
    • Set up a Flickr plugin on your blog to share the group pictures on your blog.
    • Congratulations…you just found another traffic source!

In the image that you see at the top of this article, I used two of the methods above. I emailed the owner of the image and…the owner (regularjoe)…who happens to be a great friend of mine…approved the use of the image for this article. I also shoot with him from time to time.

The important thing to take away from this article is to follow the rules and give credit where it is due. As long as you take that to heart, you should have some incredible images attached to your blog that increase the overall user experience.

Image by regularjoe