One sure-fire way to generate traffic to your blog and capture the attention of your visitors is the use of visual content.

On average, posts with images get 94 percent more views and, in a study conducted by MDG Advertising, it was also found that 67 percent of consumers considered clear and detailed images more important than product description or even customer ratings.

A good image will stand you apart from the crowd. It will make you more shareable on social media, especially within the picture-driven networks like Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook, and because of that, you will have more of a chance of your content going viral.

But don’t panic, there is no need to exhaust your purse strings and fill your blog with expensive stock pictures or run the copyright gauntlet of ‘borrowing’ photographs from google images.

There are, in fact, plenty of great places that you can take images from free of charge to use on your own site. These images either have Creative Commons licences (which vary from needing attribution and restricting editing, to allowing edits and not needing to credit where they originally came from) or are in the Public Domain (which means their copyright has expired and are free to use however you wish).

Below are 21 of the best:

1. Wikimedia Commons

Big_Ben_at_sunsetWikimedia_Commons

Image Credit: © User:Colin / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-4.0

This is a great site with a wealth of images, though you do need to make sure when you provide the correct attribution.

Note: How to attribute your image (this applies to most images within the creative commons license, not just on Wikimedia Commons).

This is easily done. Once you have found the picture you want to use, click on it, and more information like the author and link to the Creative Commons license will appear.

Click on the link for the license information and copy the attribution line in full (this should include the author, link to the image and license) and use that to credit the image on your site.

2. Flickr

Smiling woman

Image credit: Smiling young woman in sunglasses by Barn Images via Flickr. Under CC license 2.0

This site contains a mix of images that can and cannot be used for free.

To access the ones you can use, go to the homepage and search for your image with specific terms (for example coffee cup or cherry blossom).

Once you have searched, make sure you select ‘creative commons only’ on the license tab (this is above the images,) and this will bring up an assortment of  pictures you can use.

Once you have downloaded your desired image, be certain to provide attribution and link back to the source.

The quickest and easiest way to do this, is to use the tool http://www.imagecodr.org/get.php which you then add the flickr url address of the image to. This generates the text and links that you need to post underneath your picture as well as giving you a handy guide regarding the specific creative commons license the picture falls under.

3. Unsplash.com

unsplash

Unsplash gives you 10 free images, every 10 days. Their images are not under any license meaning you don’t need to attribute or link back to their site.

4. Pixabay

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This is a large and wonderful source of varied  images within the public domain (no attribution necessary)

5. Gratisography.com

gratisography

A free resource of photographs that are free of copyright restrictions and that can be edited. They are arty, fun and perfect for blog posts looking to make an immediate statement.

6. Photopin.com

Photopin sources its images from Flickr and gives you a handy HTML code that contains the full attribution. You would post this either underneath your image or at the end of your article. It contains a large range of cityscape images.

7. Splitshire.com

SplitShire

A free stock photo site for both commercial and creative use. No attribution required and the photos are a high quality mix of art-style and magazine-style works.

8. Stock Up

Crowd

This search engine gathers up images from various sites offering free pictures, though you need to make sure that you check the license for the image with the site that it originates from.

9. Life of Pix

life_of_pix

A good mix of photographs including black and white, object, and texture pictures. All are free within the public domain, so no attribution necessary.

10. Photoeverywhere.co.uk

Colorful Helemano Plantation sign on a pineapple plantation visitor center in Hawaii with palm trees, frangipani and hibiscus flowers and peoples faces

Image credit: Helemano Plantation sign taken from Photoeverywhere.co.uk

A spectacular selection of travel photography. These fall within the creative commons license, so make sure to credit your image accordingly.

11. Kaboompics

kaboompics.com_Falling powder sugar on donuts

KaboomPics is  another varied resource for free pictures. Its catalogue contains food, landscapes, fashion and abstract images and all can be used uncredited.

12. Picjumbo.com

Picjumbo contains a host of free images with no attribution needed though to get full access to the catalogue you need to subscribe.

13. New Old Stock

Chucks high up

Looking for something a bit more retro? New Old Stock is the place to delve, the site is stacked full of vintage photos from the public archives. Worth a follow on Twitter too.

14.  Move East

Move East

Move East is really a personal photo journal of one Portuguese man’s travels. There’s no search function which makes things a little tricky (you might find yourself scrolling and searching with no joy) but they’re well tagged and the photos are high quality. And, of course, FREE!

15. Designer Pics

morning_thoughts_hires

Clean, crisp and classy; Designer Pics is chock full of gorgeous looking imagery. It won’t win any awards for originality, don’t expect anything too esoteric here, but what it does, it does well. Snaps are handily arranged in categories, from Architecture to Nature, Wild life to Concepts and there’s no attribution required for any of them either.

16. ISO Republic

lapis-blue-wooden-texture

The strapline says it all ‘High quality free photos for creatives.’ Great for architecture and places, plus some slightly more obscure categories such as ‘Textures’. Great pictures which look beyond the stock.

17. Startup Stock Photos

Startup Stock Photo

U.S startup takes regular photos, releases them into the wild of the internet for free. Slightly limited in terms of search functionality so you could be scrolling a while to find the perfect shot for you. Still, free. And therefore fits into our round-up.

18. Skitter Photo

Cyclist-panning-license-free-CC0

Image credit: via Skitterphoto

Big, bright, bold and brilliant, Skitter is a cracking resource for original pictures you won’t find anywhere else. There are no logins required and no attributions either (although it would be nice if you did eh?)

19. Jay Mantri

sailaway

Gorgeous Tumblr photo blog from Jay Mantri. Who is Jay Mantri? I hear you ask. Dunno. He takes nice pictures, though. And gives them away for free. The lovely man.

20. Snapwire Snaps

Ryan+McQueen_SW

Following the Unsplash model, Snapwire offers up seven free images every seven days, for free. License and commission photos from 170,000 of the world’s most talented photographers

21. Jé Shoots

Camera

Jé is “24 years old dreamer Jan Vasek.” In his words, he founded the site, “because they like to take pictures and it’s a shame some photos withhold the entire world for free, all designers, all working with photos, for those who need a thematic photo free.” Exactly.

So there we have it, a list of the best places to find images to make your blog sing. As a general rule of thumb, if you’re unsure whether the image is copyrighted or not, don’t use it. That’s not advice without experience either; one of our writers sourced an image for a piece we wrote a few months back, it turned out to be copyrighted to Getty Images and we ended up with an £850 fine. Be vigilant.

Also, while this is a good source for images, think creatively about how you can illustrate a piece. If you’re talking about, say, radiators, there may be a temptation to just plonk in a picture of a radiator. This is dull. Think about what a radiator does; keeps you warm. An Innuit warming by a fire tells that story more interestingly, or a self-immolating monk (okay, not that one, but you get the idea).

A picture is only worth 1000 words if it’s saying something.

Future Content can help with blog strategy, writing and presentation. To find our how we can help you, get in touch

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Susie is a writer, reader, gamer and really big nerd. When she is not squeezing in late night zombie kills via her PS3, she can be found writing for various sites such as metro.co.uk and nerdlikeyou.com.