in Misc

The Best Way to Bring Your Vision to Life – Use Royalty Free Images

If you have been blogging for a while, you are probably already aware that some articles need a little boost to get your point across. Some topics can be difficult to explain thoroughly, and could benefit from a visual message.

Photos are an excellent tool to bring your writing to life. Flipping through magazines, the photos typically stand out against the black and white print and can draw people in. The same theory holds true for blogging.

The first time I considered using photos for an article, I wondered if I could do it myself, since I knew exactly what it was that I wanted to convey to the readers. Then I realized that it could take more time than I was willing to give. First, I would have to take the time to find the appropriate ‘subject’ to photograph. Anyone who has an interest in photography knows that it takes time to find the right photo. Second, I would also have to learn the skills it would take to retouch a photograph. I then took a serious look at royalty free images.

What is a Royalty Free Image?

If you haven’t ever considered photos for your blog, then you might be wondering what a royalty free image is. These are images created by other people that are available for you to use. However, free in this case doesn’t mean the image is actually free.

Royalty free image simply means that the photographer allows you the right to use their copyrighted material, without having to pay them royalties for each item that sells, or views in the case of blogs. In the field of illustration and photography, you typically have a one-time right in regard to using the photo, often with very few restrictions. However, make sure you read the License Agreement prior to purchase, as each one could vary. You also want to keep in mind that other people can also use the image you have chosen.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

There is a lot of truth to that familiar phrase. A good photo relating to the message can help with conveying your intended message. But, it can also capture the attention of someone who might not otherwise have stayed around to read.

I performed a test once. With two fairly identical articles and titles, I printed out one without photos, and the other with some colorful images strategically placed within the article. Then, one night when I was expecting company over, I laid both on the table where we would all be congregating. I paid attention to how many times each article was picked up, and how long each article grabbed their attention. I wasn’t surprised to see that the one with photos in it drew more attention, and for longer durations. Think about what this could do for your blog.

Now, don’t go crazy and have more photos than words, but one or two photos with a nice splash of color per page should draw in more traffic, keep them there longer, and most likely bring them back.

You can also use them when you guest blog. I have found that more articles seem to be accepted when there is an image along with it.

Choosing the Right Image

Of course you are the only one who knows what message you are trying to get out to your readers. But, here are some basic guidelines to choosing the right photo(s) for your article:


Keep the photo relevant to the message. In other words, if you are writing about outdoor grilling, it wouldn’t make sense to have a photo of a tree. Then again, it doesn’t have to be a photo of a grill, either. I wrote an article on summer grilling once and used a photo of a picnic table all set, waiting for the food. Be creative, but relevant.


Pay attention to the audience you wish to attract. Keep in mind the diverse population that audience might consist of, with varying ethnicity, religions, genders, and even political backgrounds.


I’m not referring to the message of the photo necessarily. You can go as deep as you want with that. However, if the image is too ‘busy’ it might be distracting enough for the reader to turn away.


When you find a photo you are interested in using, check to see how many times it has been purchased. If it’s the most popular photo used, then it’s likely that some of your readers will recognize it. That isn’t all that bad, unless it’s a photo that has been overused.

The bottom line is I have found that finding a nice royalty free image is often cheaper, and quicker than trying to do photos on my own. I don’t know about anyone else, but I just don’t have the time right now to find the subjects to photograph, let alone sitting through a free Photoshop retouching tutorial.

Where to Find Images

In recent years I have enjoyed They have a nice selection of high quality photos to choose from, with an account that is easy to set up.

Their prices seem to be on the rise lately though, at $3-4 per photo. Don’t get me wrong, that’s still a decent investment for your blog. But, I decided to see what else is out there.

I have just recently found a site called They also have high quality photos, with a large selection. They have sister sites as well that are worth looking into. I have used for WordPress themes, and for my audio work.

In Summary

I have had great success in using royalty free images within my writing career, and wanted to share my thoughts and ideas for anyone who is looking to spruce up their blog.

For the low cost and little time involved, I believe it is a wise investment for both those who are just starting out, and those who have been blogging for a long time and just want to take their site to a new level.


Bogdan is the founder of Top Design Magazine. You can find him in Bucharest-Romania so next time you want to drink a beer there and talk about web and stuff, give him a message.