How to Get Free Images to Use on Your Website

The web is full of stolen content. Splogs (ie, blogs setup for the sole purpose of creating links to other blogs in hopes that they’ll somehow increase search result placement) steal copy, people steal copy, but more than anything, people steal images.

Maybe you’re unaware, but taking an image that someone else created, be it an illustration or photograph, and using it on your website is considered copyright infringement. Which can get you into a lot of trouble. Many bloggers and website administrators think that if their website is small, those types of rules don’t apply. But they most certainly do.

So how can you get images to use on your website legally? Well, you can pay someone. Photographers charge from $25 – $2000 for the rights to their images, though. Even sites like iStockPhoto have increased pricing to the point where you might end up paying $70 or so for an image, more than most bloggers will want to dish out for a nice banner image.

So how can you get images to use on your website legally, and for free?

Yay for Flickr! And the community that drives it. Many Flickr users post their photos under a Creative Commons license, which means you can use the photos on your site with little more than a link back to their Flickr profile or the original image page. You give them a bit of credit, they give you free imagery.

However, there are a ton of different types of Creative Commons licenses, some which don’t allow images to be used on sites that are for-profit, others which don’t allow you to alter the image (even cropping it, such as WordPress will do automatically in many themes). To find 100% usable images regardless of whether you’re a corporation, running a tiny blog, and/or want to alter the images, here’s how to do it on Flickr.

  1. Go to Flickr
  2. In the search field near the top right of the page (as of 7/2014), type in a search query for whatever type of image you’re hoping to find.
  3. After you’ve done that, and the results begin to load, look for the Advanced Search link below the search box, and give it a click.
  4. There are a bunch of options on that page, but for our purposes, scroll down to the very bottom, in the Creative Commons section. Check all three boxes:
    • Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content
    • Find content to use commercially
    • Find content to modify, adapt, or build upon

Click Search again and you’ll only be shown those images which are Creative Commons-licensed, available for commercial use, and also available for adaptation.

With some gigawatillion images to search through, you’re bound to find something that will work for your needs. Just remember, you are required to provide a link back to the original page you grabbed the image from!

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