Ultimate Guide to Finding, Customizing, & Using Free Images for Blogs
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.
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:
- How to find free images for blogs (100% free, no attribution)
- How to create custom text over image graphics
- How to customize and repurpose blog images for social media
Welcome to the world of photos – let’s get started.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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!)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 is another awesome free text over image generator that you can use to quickly and easily create sweet looking blog post graphic 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!
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.
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!)
Exporting from Canva is easy – download as an image file, export to PDF, or use the share link.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Canva has the ability to create different projects based on specific social media dimension sizes too! How cool is that?
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.
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.
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!
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