When you first start blogging you quickly realize that you need images to use freely without paying too much. You search Google for royalty free images and end up on sites that are of no use.

UPDATE: I have since found a few sites that offer royalty free images under creative commons license (more about that below). These are no stock photos and each is a work of art taken by a photographer. Please credit the photographers as this is their art.

The right way.

Creative Commons License (CC) is your answer to this problem. In short, it’s a type of license that allows other users to use images, video and all sorts unrestricted apart from attributing the image or item in question to the original author.

This is the best thing since sliced bread for site owners.

How to use Creative Commons search.

There are two ways to search for images under Creative Commons licenses.

  1. Directly on Google
  2. On the Creative Commons website

Creative Commons image search via Google.

  1. Go to Google Image search
  2. Click on Search tools
  3. Under Usage rights select ‘Labeled for reuse with modification’
  4. Search for keywords of images you are after as you normally would.

Tip: often when you don’t really have a keyword like ‘car’ to search for and instead looking for something specific- think of keywords that the owner would have used in the alt tags. This will often help get you to where you want to be.

Watch out for: when clicking on an image you and Google Images enlarges the image preview you will be presented with similar or related images. These images may not always carry the same license. Make sure when you are searching (because it looks like a normal Google image search) you are indeed on the ‘labeled for reuse with modification’ filter.

On the Creative Commons website.

  1. Go to Creative Commons Search
  2. Make sure you have selected use for ‘commercial purposes’ and if you are planning to modify an image select ‘modify, adapt or build upon’ tick box.
  3. You now have the option to search for images, media, music, video etc… If you type your keyword and select Google images it will automatically redirect you to Google CC search. If you select Flickr then it will redirect you to Flickr etcetera.

What you MUST do.

Using any CC image requires that you attribute it to the original author. According to the license terms you MUST:

Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.

For more information about the license terms and what you can and cannot do please read the Creative Commons License.

When you cannot find the right image.

Ok, so there will be times when you simply cannot find the image you are after. What do you do now?


  1. Go to Flickr and find an image that you like (this can be tricky too as you need to use keywords to find the image). Artists and photographers don’t always call a car a car.
  2. Contact the owner of the image and request permission. Im presuming you know how to ask properly :).

Dollar Photo Club.

Visit DollarPhotoClub– I use this quite a bit as it gives you commercial quality, uses the same search style as some of the bigger commercial image sites and each photo costs 1USD. Awesome!


This is self explanatory, grab a camera and learn to take good shots. Feel free to give back to the CC community by releasing any images under the Creative Commons License.