Free & Commercial Use
Finding quality creative commons images can be a challenge. If you’re adding new content frequently, you need a steady stream of pictures and artwork to make your words stand out on a page. In this post I’ll explain the different licensing types, a couple of free reliable sources, as well as some advice when using creative commons images for your website and/or blog.
The Varying Flavors of Creative Commons, A Few Definitions
First, when you are searching for free visuals, you need to know and understand the different flavors of creative commons images.There are six related creative commons licenses. They are:
This is the broadest type of creative commons license. It allows you to remix, change or put your own creative mark on the piece. Attribution simply means you are giving proper credit to the artist, photographer, or creator of the image you’re using.
You can give appropriate attribution by adding the artist’s name to the image itself. Or, if you’re not comfortable manipulating creative commons images in programs like Pixlar or Photoshop, you can add the information below the image or at the bottom of the web page. CreativeCommons.org has a handy guide to show different ways you can add attribution.
Similar to Attribution above, it means that if you modify the image, you must retain the same licensing level. This means when you tweak a creative commons image, the modified work must give attribution to the original artist and the license must work under identical terms.
Artists use this creative commons when they want to keep their work intact. You can’t modify the image; it must remain whole and unchanged. However, you’re free to use the work commercially with the proper attribution.
Note: The next three creative commons licenses do not apply to business use.
If you are looking for creative commons images to use on your business’ website, stay away from this license. Artists may share works in order to help those needing images for non-business related uses.
When using creative commons images with this designation means you can tweak it with attribution, use it in a non-commercial way and share it with the same licensing level.
You probably get the idea now. This is the most restrictive licensing: no modifications, only attribution and use it for non-business purposes.
Where To Look for Creative Commons Images
Now that we’ve got the definitions out-of-the-way, where do you find creative commons images? Here are our top two sources:
Flickr – Use the advanced search feature to choose the right licensing. Because Flickr’s search feature can be squirrely, we recommend double-checking each image you find and want to use. Near the bottom right of each image is the licensing requirements.
500PX – This site has absolutely stunning photos. You can sort by topic category (e.g., nature, landscapes, people). Be sure to search by the appropriate license which is at the far top right.
Some Online Marketing Advice
Now that you know how to find creative commons images, we ask that you use them correctly on your website. Here are a few guidelines:
- Artists who receive proper attribution are more likely to share additional creative commons images. This is the beauty of the web… sharing.
- Hopefully you’re using images to visually spice up your content. Remember that your reader first feasts with their eyes. So, use pictures and headlines strategically to tell a story.
- Don’t over optimize your images by naming the file stuffed with keywords.
- Be mindful of resolution sizes as they can negatively impact page load times.
- Using sites like Flickr can offer link opportunities — you can add a comment with a link back to your website — but it can negatively impact SEO. Google is cracking down on spammy Webmasters. Even though you want to share a link with the artist (good manners), search engines don’t understand this context and may see this practice as a link scheme.
Do you have other free, reliable sources for creative commons images? Please share-alike!
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