I have had a few people ask me how to get royalty free images for their website. They are often surprised when I tell them that most of the images on my website are free, and also legal to use at the same time, providing you adhere to certain conditions.
The site that I get my images from is 123rf.com, and is easily the best free image source on the internet as far as I am aware. If there is better than this around, then feel free to correct me.
123rf.com has both free and paid images, but I only use the free ones because I can find quality images that suit exactly what I am looking for in most cases without having to pay for them
Now I am guessing that you are wondering if it is legal to use these images.
Well, it is as long as you put the image credit somewhere on the page. You can see an example at the bottom of this post where I give credit to the owner of the image. If you don't do this step then it is illegal to use the images.
The image credit includes a link back to 123rf.com, and is effectively free advertising for them. That is why they allow you to use the free images.
How To Find The Free Images
If you haven't already, you will need to register an account with 123rf.com. This is the simple process of clicking on register and filling in your details.
Once you have registered and are logged in, you will now need to use a special URL to search for free images
123rf.com does not make it easy to find the free images, and you will need to copy and paste the following URL into your browser – http://www.123rf.com/freeimages.php
From here it is relatively straight forward. Just type in a phrase into the search field until you have found a suitable image. You may need to try a few different search fields before you find what you want, and you may also find that some search phrases have no results.
Once you have found an image that you happy with, you simply click on it and then select the small size. The small size is the only size (at the time of writing) that is free – but this size is perfect for blog posts. I use this small size every time and have no problem with it all.
Once the image is downloaded, you need to then upload it onto your website.But don't forget to put the code for the image credit (this is on the download page) somewhere on the page that you use the image.
Other places to find royalty free images
The last one listed above is actually Google Advanced Image Search. Make sure you tick the box that says "limit to images labeled for commercial use". This ensures that you are only searching for images that have been marked as royalty free.
The most important thing to remember with royalty free images is to respect the rules and guidelines of the websites that provide the free images. It is simply not worth the risk to be sued for a copyright infringement.
These other image sites listed above are reasonable to try, but in my opinion don't come close to the ease of use and range of royalty free images on 123rf.com.
As a tip it is best to find images that either have a transparent or white background (if your site has a white background) as they blend into the page better and look cleaner in my opinion.
If you take a look at this website, you will see that almost all of the images have a white background and this gives the site a clean, crisp professional look.
And another recommendation is to use a WordPress plugin called WP Smush.it. This plugin compresses your images to increase disk space, which can make a massive difference if you have a large number of images.
Image Copyright (c) from 123RF Stock Photos how to get royalty free images.