Use Images from Other Sources in Your Blog’s Design

By Melissa Culbertson

To improve your blog’s design, you can use your own images or images from other sources, such as stock images. Using stock images on your blog is easy, since the Internet is full of places to find stock images that you can legitimately use on your blog.

A stock image is a photograph licensed for public or commercial use. You find stock images in online databases that users can search by keyword, category, and so on to locate the right image. Some stock images are free, and some you have to pay to use.

The biggest benefit of free images is, well, they’re free. Having said that, many come with a requirement to attribute the image in some way, such as linking back to the owner.

Although you should never skimp on doing so, you may not find this situation ideal if you’re trying to use an image in your blog header or if you want your page to feel more branded. In that case, there’s the option to pay for images.

Purchasing images often means you receive a higher-quality image (but not always). In addition, although you may not be the only person using that image, chances are that fewer people are using it than if it were a free photo.

Here are some popular sites for free images:

When purchasing images, some sites require you to buy credits instead of purchasing images individually. You purchase a minimum amount of credits, and then each size of an image costs a different number of credits. The more credits you buy at a time, the less expensive each image becomes. Here are some popular sites for purchasing images:

All these paid sites have advanced search options so you can search by keyword, image orientation, and more. For example, the iStockphoto advanced search options let you search by hex code or by marking where you want to place text on a photo.

If you’re on the WordPress.org platform, take advantage of photo-finding plug-ins. These plug-ins find relevant images based on your keyword, and then add them to your blog post while automatically linking to the source. Some of the more popular ones include Photo Dropper, Zemanta, and Flickr Photo Post.

Just because an image is on the Internet doesn’t mean you have free reign to use however you wish. All images are copyrighted, so when using the paid and free options for finding images, you need to understand what permission you have to use the work.

A copyright legally protects original works of authorship. That could be a photo, graphic design, writing, piece of music, or other type of creative work. Unlike trademarks or patents, copyrights don’t require additional paperwork. In the U.S., copyright attaches to a piece of work as soon as you create it.

As a general rule, you can’t use a copyrighted work without permission from the owner. This means that you can’t just use an image from another website (or a place like Google Images) and then credit that person by linking to them. The same goes for right-clicking an image from a website and saving it to your computer. Giving credit isn’t the same as getting permission.

With paid images, you generally don’t need to attribute back to the owner because you’ve essentially purchased the right to use the image. However, before you purchase an image or use one for free, you should always read the licensing agreement.

Free images may require you to link to the source of the image, but you may not be able to use a free or paid photo for commercial use. If you want to purchase an image to use in your blog header design but you also want to make t-shirts to sell with your blog header on them, you might need an extended license.

There are a myriad of other potential requirements, so read the license agreement before you use a particular image.