The right images can take your blog post from good to great. But not every writer has access to a pool of images – let alone images that are relevant to their topic. Many end up in rabid Google Searches, and ask the same question – “Can you use other people’s images on your blog?”
Short answer: No. Using someone else’s image for your blog is stealing, and the result of doing so can range from looking unprofessional to getting sued.
But that doesn’t mean you need to become a professional photographer or illustrator. There are plenty of ways to get your hands on high quality images to use – without the potentially devastating repercussions of using other people’s images on your blog.
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Using Images from Google
Google Images can be a great way to find high quality and relevant images for your blog post. But you have to go further than the image results before you can use it.
You have to go to the original website, and find a way to contact them and get proper permission.
Google has even made it harder to save images directly from the search results, encouraging you go directly to the source.
For my recent post about Cyberpunk 2077, I contacted CD Projekt Red directly and they gave permission to use their images. As well, they directed me to access a proper press kit.
Asking permission can be as simple as an email, and agreeing to include a link in the caption where the image is used.
It’s a small hassle, but it helps avoid a much bigger hassle later.
Tip: Always use a written form of permission (email, DM, etc.). You can’t refer back to a phone call if you need to show proof later that you had permission.
Getting a Press Kit
Depending on what you’re writing about, going directly to the souce and sending a quick email is the best route. You can even directly ask for a press kit, or just search for it. Many brands have a publicly available media or press kit on their website.
If you get a press kit, you’ll have access and permission to use plenty of images. This is a much safer option than stealing an image from elsewhere, or using their logo on your own which can cause other issues.
Creating Your Own Images
There are plenty of tools available to create your own images for free. You don’t need to be an expert at graphic design to make due with most of these tools. But you do have to be willing to learn.
Canva is an extremely powerful tool for creating images for your blog – even if you don’t have an artistic bone in your body.
There is a full suite of elements and templates that you can use and manipulate. And that library of assets is much, much larger for premium accounts.
With the ability to create images and video so easily – Canva may be the best way to create high quality visuals for your next blog post.
Figma is one of the most popular design tools on the internet at the moment.
Making design collaborative, and being fully based in the browser makes Figma the new go to design tool for teams.
It may be considered old school at this point, but Gimp has been at the center of all of my designs since I started creating random things on the internet.
Gimp is a free, open source photoshop competitor, and in my experience is the closest free alternative to photoshop on the market.
Photopea is an amazing resource that I came across recently.
It’s an online, browser based photoshop competitor.
Even better, it has one of the most user-friendly premium payment structures I have come across.
All features are free, but with a low premium price you go ad-free, and get faster support and more history stored for your projects.
Finding Free to Use Images
If you don’t want to learn about design and create your own images, there are plenty of services available to find free to use images for your blog instead of using other people’s images.
They all have different use cases, and crediting rules so make sure you read more about whichever platform you choose to use.
Pixabay is a great tool to source royalty free images for your blog post. They have a huge selection, and an accurate search tool making it easy to find a good photo.
Tip: The first few results will be popular, and probably used on 1000s of other blog posts. Try scrolling a little further in the results to find a unique image.
Morgue File is a really interesting source for free to use images. Founded in 1996, it is a community-based photo exchange.
I haven’t had as much luck in terms of quality, but it’s a great resource to have in the back pocket when searching for images to use in a blog post.
Expert World Travel – Free Photo Finder
Expert World Travel is more of a directory than a source of images itself. You can search a term and it will point you towards different places you can find photos. Separated by the type of licensing involved to make it even easier to find exactly what you need.
Pexels has been one of my go-to sources for royalty free images since I started writing on the internet. Their search tool is accurate, and their library has a great range of results.
Some images from Pexels require a link or credit, but providing the link makes it easy to source all at once. Pexels even comes built into a lot of WordPress websites, making it probably the easiest and fastest option of all the sources listed.
Where to Get Images to Use in Your Blog Post
A great blog post needs great images, but you can’t use other people’s images in your post without proper permission.
It may mean changing your process to include images in the planning stage, or simply changing how you seek out the images to use. You can’t use an image result from Google, but search those keywords on Pexels or another source and see what you find. Or grow your own design skills and create something from scratch using free design tools.