Finding images for your blog posts is very time-consuming, particularly if like me, you're not a graphic designer. I have two options that I use for getting images for my blog posts, I either use creative commons photos or I create them using

The problem that I see newbie bloggers make, is when they grab an image from a Google search and then don't provide proper attribution or copy the image from a site directly. Both big no-no's but easy to do.

I can put my hand up and say I made these mistakes when I first started out.

How often have you searched for an image on Google and then just right-mouse clicked it and hit ‘save'?! I'm picking more often than not…

You can probably fly under the radar for a little while, but once you start getting followers and commenters on your blog, things can start to get a little tricky and you could receive a nasty email from a lawyer asking you to promptly remove said photo, or face some hefty legal battle.

No-one wants that to happen!

[Tweet “You can probably fly under the radar for a little while… on CC”]

It goes without saying that you want to avoid stealing people's images, it's bad karma and unless you want to receive an email like the one above, you need to make sure that if you're accessing images from the internet, that you follow some guidelines.

How to Avoid Making These Mistakes With Creative Commons Photos

Avoid these mistakes new freelancers make

First things first, you need to know where you can access free images from. Below is a list of the sites that offer creative commons images:

  1. Flickr
  2. Compfight
  3. Photopin
  4. Open Clipart
  5. Wikimedia Commons
  6. The Noun Project
  7. Medium Blog Post

This is a pretty comprehensive list, but there are many options. The last point, the Medium blog post, provides you with some free and paid options. If you're buying an image, then you don't have to worry about attribution (normally), but always check licensing information before you do anything with those images.

The next thing is to make sure you follow these best practices when it comes to attribution. Most creative commons images will come with some requirements associated with using them, so make sure you read the fine print before you download them.

Creative Commons Photos: Best Practices

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  • Always mention the title of the image
  • Mention the author and link to their profile page
  • Mention the source and link to that source
  • Mention the license and link to the license deed


If you decide to modify the image (if allowed) you also need to add the words “desaturated from original”. You can find more comprehensive details on the Creative Commons website.

It's important that you understand and read the license that is associated with the image. Not all Creative Commons allows you to post the image anywhere, some may limit you to just a blog post, meaning you can't use the image on social media.

Here's a list of the different types of Creative Commons licenses that you'll encounter:

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  • Attribution: you need to attribute the work back to the original author in a way they specific. This could be a link to their site or something else. Don't imply that the original author has endorsed you either.
  • Non-Commercial: you can only use the image for non-commercial purposes, nothing else is allowed.
  • Share-Alike: you cannot place the image under any different or restrictive terms other than what the original author has stipulated.
  • No Derivative Works: you're unable to make any changes to the image, you must use it as is.


The bottom line is this – if you plan to use an image that you have not paid for, you need to ensure that you meet any attribution requirements and that you're actually allowed to use the image for what you intend to use it for.

Once you understand this, using Creative Commons images becomes quite easy.

Photo credit: VinothChandar via photopin cc

Do you have any other sources for Creative Commons images? Leave your ideas in the comments below!

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Lise Cartwright
Lise Cartwright

Founder of Hustle & Groove and your creative business strategist. If you want to get notified of new posts just like the ones you see here, then make sure you join the awesome H & G community — Join Now!

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