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Free Images for Blogs Websites and Commercial Use

Updated on April 18, 2015

Royalty Free and Completely FREE Commercial Use Images

Bloggers, website owners and Hubbers alike all need quality images on a regular basis. HubPages recommends three original or properly attributed images in each hub. Some experts caution against the use of excessive images as it may affect the user experience because the load time. And we all know our main goal is the user experience first and foremost. So how can we readily add images properly to our hubs? Paying for images and having a photographer on board is typically beyond our means. Taking real, well-crafted photographs in the days past was tedious and expensive. Today with the advent of new technologies, via the cell phone images are consistently superior to my 35 mm camera. So if the name of the game is to obtain quality images quickly, let us review three great websites - Pixabay, Morguefile and a website named appropriately Free for Commercial Use.

Reminder, as a blogger, since we often connect with affiliate sponsors the images that we use are considered for commercial use.

FREE Images

Commercial Use Includes Hubbers and Bloggers Alike

I know as a writer, fellow Hubber, blogger, the pay is nominal and yet when we write due to our affiliate relationships, the use of photos and images is considered for commercial purposes.

The affiliate income albeit it small, put us in the professional or commercial class of use of images.

If you are a non-profit, a church or other 501 (c) 3 designation, these rules may not be true for you.

Buyer Beware - Royalty Free is Not Necessarily Free

In world of photography and license images the one item that confused me was the term royalty free. For you see royalty free is not necessarily free. It is simply a different commission structure. So before you commit to a specific image or image free site, check the full fee and membership of each specific site.

Royalty-free, or RF, refers to the right to use copyrighted material or intellectual property without the need to pay royalties or license fees for each use or per volume sold, or some time period of use or sales.


Beyond Images - Music and Videos

One website, Shutterstock, offers more than just images. Shutterstock offers a monthly commercial plan for unlimited use for images.

What is unique about Shutterstock is the availability of music and videos.

Looking to craft a gallery from your own images and need music, Shutterstock might be a good source for you to review.

Beyond Photos - Beyond Music and Video - Illustrations

Shutterstock appears to be the most powerful site, to me, because they offer illustrations. If you are writing for the top tier publications in the world, and quality counts and dollars are available, I would strong look into Shutterstock. The volume of images and photos, the icons are exceptional in both quantity and quality, but the illustrations are a game changer.

The illustrations on Shutterstock are really pieces of art and offer a depth of design choices and subjects.

Number One Rule in Marketing - Touch the Heart

As bloggers and website owners, we know the value of the search engine and how we must generate traffic via quality content.

Answering a question, using the right words is just the first step in content creation and curation. Our ultimate goal should be to touch the heart.

Why are you writing? To gain readers, to gain payouts but most importantly to build a reputation for quality. If you seek to please the reader and touch their heart in your writing, you will forever leave a lasting impression.

Social Media is Touchstone of Touching the Heart - Images Convey the Emotion

In real estate the mantra is "location, location, location", in website/blogger world is is "SEO, SEO, SEO" but in marketing your brand, marketing you as a writer we must use images and ideas that people want to share on Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook. These are the forums that make a blog go viral and make a brand great.

Images Need To Convey Emotions

beautiful scenery with the quote from Helen Keller "the best and most beautiful in the world cannot be seen must be felt with the heart"
beautiful scenery with the quote from Helen Keller "the best and most beautiful in the world cannot be seen must be felt with the heart" | Source

Cell Phone Dependence Starts Young

young girl in red vest viewing her cell phone
young girl in red vest viewing her cell phone | Source

Sign In Requirements

Since time is valuable I appreciate the sites that don't demand a sign-in. I imagine someday with new technology the sign-in concern I have for time will no longer be an issue. For now, I feel it is important to detail who mandates a sign-in and who is able to forgo that sign-in.

Image Size

Another feature on image sites I have found helpful is the option of choosing what size image you wish to download. This is especially helpful in managing headers and other size restrictions and constraints.

In a perfect world, all image sites would offer this feature. Yes, I know there is a way to change it but again I am aiming simply for speed. Learning the ropes of the graphic designer is not on my agenda at this late age in my life. And even if I were 28 again, I would challenge we all have better things to do when something this simplistic could be automated. Isn't that why we are connected by the hip to the computer after all? Or should I say the Apple watch on the wrist?

Free Quality Images - Various Websites To Choose From

Website Name
Images and Clip Art/Icons
Sign In Required
Other Services
Donations Accepted
Yes, create photos, social media backgrounds, etc...
Photos delivered to your inbox
Not at this time
Images Only
Music + Videos + Illustrations

Donations and Tips Accepted at Some Websites

donation jar with green dollar bin and the words thank you for your donation typed on the jar
donation jar with green dollar bin and the words thank you for your donation typed on the jar | Source

Have you used one of these free photo / image website?

See results

Donations and Fees

With 350,000 photos and images, with I can almost always find an appropriate image. What I love is the fact that I don't have to even sign in! Yes, if you want to follow a specific photographer you will need to sign in. And it will allow you to sign in with a social media account (which didn't work for me but I am always just so problematic somehow anyway!).

Some sites demand a royalty, some sites demand a fee (such as Canva), one site, thankfully takes donations and I greatly appreciate that flexibility.

Pixabay is one site that accepts donations and doesn't demand a log in or a fee for each image. Please understand, I don't want to always receive free images but the checkbook says I must receive free images. But when a site such as Pixabay provides such convenient and consistent access, when a stellar photo comes along I jump for joy and send them a few dollars via my PayPal account.

Canva on the other hand, the images are typically one dollar and there is no negotiation. Recently I purchased $10 of images from Canva but that was before I found Pixabay. Of course, it is all a matter of need.

There is a time and occasion to purchase a custom piece from a photographer or a graphic artist. For graphic artist needs, I am completely satisfied with For five dollars for most gigs (not all) you can readily have something crafted for you use. has saved me hours of study of learning Photoshop not to mention the software fees. Yes, I know there free sources but that requires lead time for me to 1.) find and sign up for the software and 2.) learn my way around the software. I am firm believe of delegating certain chores and I have chosen to write and compile and promote not design.

Other Quick Photo Image Tips

- Right click to copy an online image*

- Microsoft Windows Snipping tool will allow you to grab a portion of the image on the screen*

- Paint is a free program that will allow you re-size, clip, and remove background images (there are better programs to remove the background image - simply ask Google)

- Power Point will allow you to save a slide as a jpg

- Smart phone apps offer a photo adjustments

*if the image is not copyrighted and if the image is free

State of the Art Sizing Options

Canva hands down is the premier image site for sizing options. They provide the cookbook for social media, posters, and even blog headings.

Canva is a game changer when it comes to images and social media.

I love the fact that sizes are not in the confusing size terms - I am a numbers person but have not and will never work with images enough to care to remember the proper sizes and proportions.

Five stars is given to Canva for performing the heavy lifting of sizing images.

Upload Your Own Image

Canva also is premier in the fact that you can upload your own images and add text and resize and change out the colors.

Free Smart Phone Apps for Modifying the Image or Photo - Android

- Collage makers - Diptic / Fotor / Photogrid

- Cymera

- Instagram

- Photoshop Express

- Picsay

- Pixlr (formerly Pixlr Express)

- Snapseed

- Watermark (love this app - only app I have ever paid for the upgrade)

Images Made for Sharing Review - Pros and Cons Discussed

Some sites are made for sharing. Canva is that way with multiple options of sharing, emailing (complete with edits). You can share a Canva image to Twitter, Facebook but what is really nice is the "stream" available on Canva. There is literally a stream of images rolling across your desktop to review, garner ideas from or opt to use.

Canva frustrates me currently because I must download, share or email - I am a right click girl and the quicker I can click the happier I am. I wish Canva allowed the right click images at least for those images that are completely free (without signing in but of course!).

Dreamy Photos

While many of the images you will need are functional and offer no emotional connection, on rare occasion, you will find a free image that hits your very core and your very soul awakens. In cases such as this, I would recommend dropping a note to photographer (if known) or better yet sending a donation (again if available) to the site providing the image.

We all work hard for a living and knowing that someone is watching and caring about your work means a great deal. Play it forward with the photos you use and give credit where credit is due and send a note of appreciation or a tiny dollar donation to show someone on the world wide web recognizes the effort and expertise.

Favorite Free Photo

beautiful water way with cliffs on each side with a blue pedal boat with two people
beautiful water way with cliffs on each side with a blue pedal boat with two people | Source

More Sources for Free Images

The world is a big place, the world wide web in many ways is even larger. The technology is changing and "new and improved" is literally launching every day. I wanted to bring to you the best of the best that I have come across but there are many more sources and I am sure that there will be many new sites emerging.

Share with us your favorite sites but please detail to us why. What makes a great free image site to you? Not signing in? Completely free? Ability to add text and create specific sizes? What are your musts in accessing images?

A couple more options and reviews are provided below for your review.

Free Images

Free Images - Great Sources
Free Images - Great Sources | Source

Share Your Free Images Preferences

I don't have all the answers and this hub was in no means meant to be comprehensive. I encourage you to seek out other sources, read other blogs and develop your own routine. If you could help us all out by leaving a comment below, we would greatly appreciate it.

Please share your story below - what websites have you find easy to navigate and use for royalty free images? What do you like/dislike about these sites?

Share Your Demand for Free Images

How Often Do You Need Free Images

See results

© 2015 Kelly Kline Burnett


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