You’ve done it! You and your team have toiled day-and-night to ensure your website design is pixel perfect. You’ve labored over your website copy. You’ve planned an editorial calendar, and you’re ready to start blogging and focusing on inbound marketing. But have you considered the visuals for your blog posts? Do you know how to choose the best stock photography for your website?

Adding relevant images to your blog posts can increase total views by 94% over blogs without images! That’s incredible. Additionally, it’s a good rule of thumb to use an image every 75-100 words. With that understanding of the importance of visuals in a blog post, where can you find them and how do you choose?

01 Mama Taught You Not to Steal

copyright infringement matters on your website - Austin web design

This applies to photography, too. Copyright infringement is a big deal on the web. You should not simply Google an image, download it, and use it for your own purposes. Most likely, you will be infringing on someone’s copyright and could end up in a lawsuit.

Option 1: Pay for your photos

When you use a stock photography site like, you are paying for a license. The photographer gets a cut, and iStock gets a cut. Quick and easy.

Option 2: Use Creative Commons photos

There are plenty of ways to find Creative Commons photos. CC Search is one of them. You entry your search query, select if you need to use it for commercial purposes, select if you want to modify, adapt, or build upon it (like if you’re going to add text on top for a shareable quote), and select the service you want to search.

Creative Commons search for website photography
If I do a CC search for “bulldogs” on Flickr, it comes up with 21,282 results. Once you find a photo you love, you’ll want to check the exact copyright specifications.
Check the copyright rules on Flickr - Design It Please
By clicking on the “some rights reserved” link, a Creative Commons page will open that will tell you the terms for using the photo. In this case, you must have an attribution somewhere on your website to credit the photographer for this photo.
Check the attribution rules on your creative commons photo - Austin WordPress development

If you don’t want to credit the photographer on the blog post, you can create an Attributions page on your website and list all attributions in one place.

Protip: If you’re looking for icons, check out Noun Project – Icons for Everything.

Option 3: Use Attribution-Free photos

Over the past few years, a bunch of stock photography sites have popped up that are dedicated to providing great photography at zero cost with zero attributions needed.

These include:

02 Remember Your Personas

Remember your website personas - Design It Please

You hear me talk about personas a lot. Personas are your target audience. They are your users and ideal customers. They are the people for whom you exist and without whom you would cease to exist. So, when you’re choosing photos for your site, do it through your persona’s eyes.

If your company or non-profit is focused on minority populations, you won’t want to use photos of white men. If you’re a therapist, make sure you include photos of men as well as women (and probably non-binary individuals).

Pictures of people increase engagement with your post, but if your imagery doesn’t connect with your personas, it might as well not be there.

03 Size Matters

Photo size matters on your website

Image size affects page load speed and pixelation. An image that is too big will slow down your post’s load time. On the flip side, an image that is too small for the space can result in blurriness or pixelation which looks unprofessional and defeats the purpose of engaging the user.

Most of the images you’ll find on the sites listed above will not be too small, but they may be too big. If you don’t know the proper specs for your website images or don’t know how to resize a photo, reach out to your web person or contact us.

04 Why So Serious?

You don’t always have to go the serious/literal route with your visuals. It’s okay to laugh. Let your personality and your company’s personality shine through. Above all, a user is looking for authenticity, so be authentic.

Ready, Set, Go Find Those Photos!

Armed with these four tips, you should be ready to get out there and find the best stock photography for your blog posts. In the end, remember that communication happens through visuals just as much, and sometimes more, than written words.

Still have questions about stock photography or your website? Don’t miss the FREE Ask a Web Designer hangout!