Ultimate Guide to Finding, Customizing, & Using Free Images for Blogs

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You already know that visual assets are essential to creating viral blog posts.

Those crisp, clear, captivating images draw in your reader and keep them hooked. The truth is that you can’t have a truly great blog post without images.

free images for blogs

Despite the overwhelming necessity of images for blogs and other forms of content marketing, writers can often get bogged down by confusing copyright stipulations. Don’t worry though – things are about to get a whole lot easier. We’re presenting you with the ultimate guide to blog images, in which we’ll be covering:

Welcome to the world of photos – let’s get started.

RELATED: 6 Places to Learn Photoshop for Free

Finding Free Pictures For Your Blog: Open Source Images

Good news content creators – there are tons of great sites on the web offering downloadable pictures and royalty free clip art that you can use in your blog posts.

Two of favorite sites for finding free to use images are:

Pixabay

Pixabay is almost too good to be true; these free use images can be used on your blog without any restrictions. Pixabay photos can be used for commercial purposes and don’t even require any attribution! It doesn’t get any better than this folks.

free use images

Pixabay features a handy search function so you can find those perfect pics for your blog. With a wide selection and pretty great quality, this site is an absolute must for finding free blog images.

MorgueFile

MorgueFile is very similar to Pixabay, although I find that they usually have a bit less variety. Again, MorgueFile provides open source images can be used for commercial purposes and don’t need any attribution. Like Pixabay, MorgueFile offers a search feature for easy functionality.

free to use images

More Free Use Images (No Attribution)

These sites, like those mentioned above, offer free downloadable images that you can use in your blog posts. Like Pixabay and MorgueFile, these free to use images can be used for commercial purposes and don’t need attribution.

The only difficulty is that these sites don’t offer a search feature – you get what you get and you don’t get upset. And why should you? These high-quality photos, often provided by generous photographers, will look good in any post. However, since there’s often no search feature, these open source images are best when you’re looking for general pictures, not specific topic-related photos.

Gratisography: This site features free blog images from photographer Ryan McGuire. There are no categories or sorting options, but it’s a good spot to scope out general purpose high-quality free blog photos.

Snapographic: A nice selection of free high-resolution photos from photographer Thomas Mühl. One big advantage to Snapographic – there is some categorization, which helps filter photos, although they’re not ultra-specific (animals, abstract, architecture, landscape, nature, textures, things). Download the entire picture collection for 10 euro.

downloadable pictures

99 Free Images from UsersThink: UsersThink provides a collection of 99 free images you can use, no attribution necessary. Just give your email address and they'll send you the whole batch! The collection features a lot of general and tech-related photos, so they're great to use for a variety of blog post topics. 

New Old Stock: Vintage photos from public archives that have become free to use open source images. Some really cool stuff here, but you’ll have to do some digging since there’s no categorization.

Picography: Stunning high-res free use images. No categories, but you can sign up to have new photos sent to you each month.

Unsplash: Truly gorgeous photos – you’re guaranteed to find something you love within 30 seconds, or your image is free… ;) Big thanks to the generous photographers contributing their pics for free photo sharing. 10 new photos are added every 10 days, so be sure to check back often (note: you can subscribe!)

free website images

Split Shire: More awesome looking free to use images, provided by photographer/designer Daniel Hanescu. As a bonus, this photo resource also features categories – sweet stuff!

Life of Pix: Another assortment of copyright-free public domain photos, Life of Pix is a free photo sharing site with plenty to offer. No sorting options - just dive in and enjoy.

open source images

Little Visuals: Sign up with Little Visuals to get 7 new free hi-res images sent to your inbox every week! Alternatively, you can still browse the site and check out their impressive collection of free downloadable pictures.

Believe it or not, there are even more sites out there like the ones listed above! Find more free blog photo sites at Verve, where some of these highlighted photo sharing sites were taken from.

Free photo sharing sites like Flickr can also be used to find creative common images.

free photo sharing

These can be used as free blog images, so long as you remember to follow the restrictions in the creative commons license, which involves providing attribution to the original work, and some times other minimal stipulations.

Free Blog Graphics and Vectors

In addition to free use photos for blog posts, there are also many sites offering royalty free clip art and free vector graphics. The upside to vector graphics is that they can often be used as part of a larger project. For example, you might use some of these free vector elements in an infographic.

Unrestricted Stock: Great free vectors and icon collections. While there’s a limited selection, everything is 100% free, no attribution needed.

free blog graphics

Vecteezy: Vecteezy provides a huge collection of free vector graphics that can be used for personal or commercial use. However, you need to provide attribution to Vecteezy and the contributor, when applicable. I’m a big fan of using Vecteezy for free infographic elements - there’s often quite a bit to choose from.

royalty free clip art

Open Clipart. Open clipart doesn’t have the most beautiful of interfaces, proving you can’t judge a book by its cover, as Open Clipart offers 100% free clip art, unlimited commercial use, all public domain, no attribution needed. OK, so most clip art here isn’t gorgeous looking, but there are certainly some gems hidden in the rubble.

You should have no shortage of free blog images now, but our mission isn’t over yet – not even close! Time to continue on to Phase 2!

Customizing Blog Post Photos: Creating Text Over Image Graphics

You have your free blog photos, and you could stop there. Adding those awesome high-quality images into your blog posts will be sure to break up text and hold readers’ attentions.

However, you can take things a step further and, with some minimal effort, get much more return out of your free blog photos.

Text Overlay Images: Why They Rock

Creating your own customized text over image graphics for your blog posts can do some pretty awesome things for your blog. They can:

  • Make your blog appear much more professional
  • Increases credibility and trustworthiness of your content
  • Boosts click-through-rates from social media sites
  • Increase shares and likes

Numerous studies have already shown the advantages of posting images alongside your articles on social media sites. When those images are customized title panels promoting your article, you are pretty much guaranteed to see HUGE jumps in your metrics.

text over picture

Brian Dean aka Backlinko notes the importance of design in an OkDork guide on creating content that drives traffic (one of the fantastic articles featured in our Top 31 Online Marketing Articles collection).

Brian agrees that it’s well worth spending $15-20 per post for a quality custom image, which he does for every Backlinko post.

text over image

Want to hear something awesome – you don’t even have to spend a penny if you don’t want to! There are some really great, high-quality tools out there that can help you create beautiful text image overlay pictures for your blog in a few quick minutes.

Custom Blog Post Image Generators

Check out some of the awesome text over image apps available to help you craft that custom cover image for your blog.

Share As Image

One of the tools featured in our post detailing the best social media promotion tools, Share As Image makes it ridiculously easy to create your own text on image graphic.

text over image generator

Install the Chrome extension and then highlight an image, click the bookmarklet, and you’re image will appear in a pop out box with different customization options.

text over image app

What’s cool about this text over image generator is that you don’t even need to download an image – you can just visit a site like Pixabay and start customizing your own blog pictures right from within your browser!

Share As Image lets you customize images with:

  • Fonts. 50+ fancy fonts.
  • Filters. 16 Instagram-esque filters make your pics even more arresting.
  • Easy-to-use. Customize text size, alignment, text border colors, and text background blocks.
  • Multiple text fields. Allows you to use different fonts for different text sections.
  • Download image. Download an SD version of your custom picture.

For $8/month you can go PRO and get even more features like:

  • 1000+ Free Stock Photos. As part of the pro package, you get high-quality stock photos built into the app. That sure makes things a heck of a lot easier!
  • Add Your Own Logo. Swamp out the “Share As Image” logo with your own.
  • HD Image Download. Download the HD version of your image creations.
  • Templates. Use beautiful baked-in templates and save your own custom templates.
  • Store Unlimited Photos. With Pro, Share As Image stores your custom photo creations so you can save and edit your graphics whenever you want.

Let’s take a step-by-step look at how you create a text on image custom graphic with Share As Image.

Step1: Grab an Image

First I’m going to visit Pixabay and pick an image I want to use.

Lately I’ve been really into seagulls. I thought I was well past the age of obtaining new favorite animals, but surprise - it still happens!

I’m going to go ahead and use this majestic winged creature, right clicking and choosing “share as image.” Alternatively, you can click the bookmarklet after installing it.

share as image

Step 2: Add Text

Here I’ve added some text, using the slider to adjust the size and mixing up the font styles and colors. This design is actually composed of six different text boxes. I used separate text boxes so that I could easily place the different text elements and customize them with different fonts, colors, and sizes.

text over image tool

Step 3: Add Filters

Next I’m going to check out the filters. I actually liked this filter a lot, but it made my text harder to read so I didn’t end up using it. In some cases it might be worth choosing your filter before fine-tuning your text, in case the filter affects what your text looks like.

custom blog photos

Step 4: Save and Share

Now all I have to do is hit “save and share.” From there I can share my text on image overlay graphic on different social sites, or I can download it to use in my blog post. Cool!

custom blog images

I’d also suggest checking out the Share As Image templates. Even though you can’t use them with the free version, you can still see them, and they provide some nice inspiration.

custom blog pics

What do you think? Pretty cool right? To get started with your own account, head over to Share As Image, and click “try it for free” (under the Buy Now button). Once you create an image, you’ll be prompted to make an account and install the bookmarklet.

Canva

Canva is another awesome free text over image generator that you can use to quickly and easily create sweet looking blog post graphic images.

creating custom images

Canva is an amazing feat of glory, helping you produce designer-quality work all on your own. Some highlights of Canva include:

  • Tons of gorgeous layouts and pre-designed templates (that you can fiddle with)
  • +120 fonts. Yes, that is crazy awesome
  • Gorgeous text stickers, graphics, and buttons (by far the coolest part of Canva)
  • Ability to upload your own image
  • No Canva watermark

Canva is completely free to use, and it’s astounding how many high-quality graphic elements and stickers they provide for free. This is crème of the crop stuff!

canva stickers

Some of the awesome free stickers you can use on Canva

All right, so there is a small catch, but it’s tiny – some of the Canva elements will cost you (extra graphics are $1). The paid elements are pretty easy to avoid though, so long as you don’t need a very specific image or graphic. The only are you may find the free selection lacking is with the backgrounds, but plain color backgrounds are probably a better choice anyway if you want to make use of all the awesome buttons, lines, and sticker elements in Canva.

Everything free is marked accordingly. Paid elements are unmarked (you’ll see a $1 notice when you hover over them). Layouts with paid photos will have a Canva watermark, which indicate that they come at a cost.

Canva is very easy to use – just drag and drop the elements you want to use onto your canvas, then resize or rotate them as needed.

creating images with canva

Canva has a bunch of other cool editing options too. You can:

  • Adjust transparency
  • Change graphic layers to choose which elements sit in front or behind others
  • Add links to individual elements

One feature I really love is that Canva keeps track of what colors you’ve been using, so it’s easy to match color elements to one another (yes, you can change the color of the sticker graphics too!)

canva colors

Exporting from Canva is easy – download as an image file, export to PDF, or use the share link.

canva export

To top it off, Canva has a bunch of great interative tutorials, helping you get the most out of the Canva image creation tool. In fact, they have a few guides that connect directly with what we're covering today! Pretty cool.

creating blog images

Share As Image vs. Canva

Canva is like Share As Image on steroids; it can do 10X as much. While Canva has tons more customization, extra goodies, and bonuses, each tool has its place.

I promise you, Canva will suck you in. You can create some gorgeous, stunning stuff with Canva that will have folks thinking a designer helped you, but it can easily turn into a time sink. Share As Image is much more simple, and much faster.

  • Want sophisticated graphics and super customization? Go with Canva
  • Want simplicity and speed? Go with Share As Image

Other Text Overlay Tools

Canva and Share As Image are two awesome tools, and you’ll likely get on perfectly fine with them. However, there are also some other text overlay image options worth mentioning.

  • Adobe Illustrator: Adobe’s graphic design illustrator software allows you to create vector graphics for everything from logos to posters. This heavy-duty tool lets artists create beautiful visual elements. Definitely worth checking out if you want to do something more advanced, although there’s quite the learning curve with this one. Adobe Illustator starts at $240/year, or you can download a free trial.
  • Skitch from Evernote: Skitch can be used to edit screen shots, add text and graphics to images, and share your creations over the web. Skitch is super easy to use, free, and can be used across devices, which provides unique value.

Time for our final step…

Sharing Your Custom Blog Images Over Social Media

So now you’ve got your snazzy custom images, and they’ll look fantastic in your blog posts.

text on image

You can share these super clickable images on social networks as well, but since different networks have different sizing dimensions, your pictures might not end up looking quite right.

If you really want to make the most of your awesome custom blog images, you’ll want to create different version sizes specifically for various social networks. Before you groan and bash your head down onto your keyboard, I want to say – this isn’t as hard as you think!

In fact, the tools we discussed today have those features built in! Hurrah!

Share As Image lets you change the dimensions of your image depending on which network you want to share it on. It’s pretty darn easy too.

Create your initial custom blog image, save it, and then using the “back” option.

social media sharing images

From there you can create different versions with the canvas shape dropdown option. Switching between sizes might require you to adjust your text positioning and sizing a bit.

mutiple social share as image

Canva has the ability to create different projects based on specific social media dimension sizes too! How cool is that?

social media designs

Unfortunately it seems that with Canva you can’t adjust the design of an existing project, which kind of stinks, but if you make your individual social media images right after making the original, it shouldn’t be too tough to recreate your piece in different designs.

You might also want to check out our social media images guide, which gives dimension and sizing info for images across different networks. Sometimes the easiest solution might be to just crop the original image a few different ways manually.

MORE: 11 Genius Ways to Repurpose Content

Which Social Sites Need Custom Images?

You might be able to get away posting your original custom blog image on some social sites as is (Facebook is very generous, and lets you crop in-stream thumbnails).

Others truly require deep customization. Twitter image sizing is especially tricky and worth devoting extra time to – uploading any old image won’t work, as Twitter has very specific (and annoying) in-feed image sizing.

twitter image cropping

wrong Twitter sizing can look pretty weird

The effort is well worth it though – adding images to your tweets has been shown to greatly improve CTRs.

Congratulations, you’ve made it to the end! It was a long journey – hopefully you took a bathroom break. Now you’re set to create your very own custom text over image creations for your blog posts!

Best of luck, and let us know what you think of these tools in the comments.

 
 

Comments

Michael Connolly
Nov 17, 2014

Thanks Megan! That's an excellent resource. Finding and customising images can be very time-consuming without a few good go-to sites and a little knowledge.Courtney Seiter @courtneyseiter from Buffer has another good post  https://blog.bufferapp.com/free-image-sources-listHowever, your article is far more than a list which makes it more useful than 99% of trending content. Thanks again.I think it's also important for a blog to develop a style by choosing a group of fonts and having some in-house image guidelines.Although I'm a big Fireworks user, I find Canva a great tool to use and have recommended it to many clients.

Elisa Gabbert
Nov 18, 2014

Yep, agreed this is more than just a list of stock photo sites. I love Meg's tips for customizing free images!

Azizul Yusof
Nov 18, 2014

Pheww... that's a great guide Megan.I am sure it will helps a lot of people.I recently found Canva and loving it.Recommending it to clients that wanted to cut down their costs on Graphic Designs(especialy to those who have time to do the work by themselves).Again, great guide...and thanks for the time dedicated for it.

Elisa Gabbert
Nov 18, 2014

Canva is really handy.

Chauncey
Jul 29, 2015

bookmarked!!, I love your site!

Martin Vorel
Nov 18, 2014

Hi here is also free photos in high resolution: freepix.eu

Kelsey Vere
Nov 18, 2014

Great list! I have to say, I am a huge fan of Pixabay. I am both a photographer and a writer, and therefore, I LOVE pixabay.It's a great source for sharing my photography with the world and getting my name out there.It's also an amazing source for finding the perfect photo for my blog posts.Sometimes I find that the quality of images isn't always the best. Another great source I like to use is picjumbo.com.The only thing I don't like about Pic Jumbo is that there isn't any search capabilities. However, the image quality is prestine.Thanks again for this fantastic list!!!If anyone is interested in viewing my photos, check out my Pixabay profile! I love to hear feedback: kelseyannvere 

Anne Violette
Nov 24, 2014

Wow! Just like the websites you mentioned free stock photography, your article is almost too good to be true! I'm running out of good images on the basic (not-so-helpful-anymore) collection on good ol' Microsoft Word. Thanks so much for a valuable topic that every blogger cares about.

Obat Benjolan Di Payudara
Dec 04, 2014

This article is very useful, and very helpful for beginners like me, continue to write admin and continue to share knowledge in order starters as we could better understand
thank you very much.

Scott Barnes
Jan 17, 2015

nice list, some new ones, some old ones

Ron
Jul 01, 2015

Thanks, it's a great article - a lot of work goes into putting that together!
A question I am stewing over: when creating text over image things with, say, Canva, how much must I worry about the fact that stuff going on a website will be viewed on platforms big and small, from desktops to mobiles? Won't text that looks great on an image when viewed on a desktop seem really small on a mobile, since the whole image has to be shown on the small mobile screen?

Klaye Morrison
Jul 25, 2015

Hey, awesome guide. I'll recommend this to some of my clients. P.S. I'm a travel photographer and have launched http://shutteroo.com for free photos in the travel niche. I hope others may find it useful.

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