One of the most time consuming jobs for any social media manager, content marketer or blogger is finding the perfect image to complement your content. Images play a massive role in engaging and attracting your audience so making sure you have a quality picture paired with your content is crucial. Unfortunately, this can often mean paying high prices for access to a specific database of images or searching for hours on end to make sure your find the right image.

I’ve put together a guide to help outline some key information around copyright issues, and to point you in the right direction for some amazing free images you can use for your blog.

Copyright

When searching for free images for your content, copyright can be an extremely confusing topic. While the legislations do vary from country to country, some things remain constant; copyright applies to everyone and ignoring it could land you in a lot of trouble.

Copyright is defined as:

The exclusive legal right, given to the originator, to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material for a fixed period of time.

Some content creators will sell the rights to their work as a source of income while others just want to be credited if their work is reused. No matter what the reason is, if someone has decided to copyright their work then the licence under which the work is protected must be respected.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons provide a variety of different licenses that fit within the standard “all rights reserved” setting that copyright law creates. Furthermore the tools offered by Creative Commons offer a simple and standardised solution to help creators grant copyright permissions for their work. The licenses available via Creative Commons differ massively; from the extremely strict, which will only allow content to be shared on a non-commercial basis if the creator is credited (Attribution – NonCommercial – NoDerivs), to the more lenient, which allows others to edit, remix and share work both personally and commercially as long as the creator is credited (Attribution – ShareAlike).

Creative Commons do also offer their Creative Commons Zero license, which enables creators and owners of copyright or database-protected content to to opt out of the copyright and database protection allowing the content to be enhanced, edited and reused for any purpose without restriction. This content can be modified and edited, and shared for both personal and commercial use with no required recognition for the creator.

Sourcing free images for your content

Searching for free images can be a long and laborious process, below are some of the best places I have found that offer free pictures you can use on your blog and various social media channels.

One of the best places to start is using the Creative Commons Search tool.  This tool offers convenient access to search services provided by other independent organisations including Google Images, Flickr and YouTube. It allows you to select the platform you want to search and then refine the search to ensure you are searching for content under the correct license. From here you can sift through a range of different content including images, videos and music. I find this the most logical place to start my search, as it makes the initial browsing simple by bringing several different sources into one place.

Pexels, Pixabay and Gratisography are all examples of sites that offer a good range of quality images available for both personal and commercial use. With high resolution images from a collection of different photographers covering a broad spectrum of categories, and with new photos added regularly, you’re almost spoilt for choice. All the images on these pages are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero license, meaning they are royalty free and available for use whenever you require.

Next time you’re searching for a free image to complement your great piece of content, make sure you take extra care with regards to copyright. Just because an image is easily available, or out in the public domain, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is available to be used freely.