How to Find Free Photos and Images for Your Blog: Searching the Public Domain

Images: photos, clip art, comics – you want them for your blog post. Images make the site more visually appealing, and you’ve learned that photos sometimes help get you higher in Google search results.  However, the creator of that photo or image may want compensation for use of their work. Maybe a little, maybe a lot.

And, you either can't or don’t want to pay for photos that you place on your blog.  Other than creating your own images or photos, is there a free and fast alternative?  Yes.

You just need to learn about “public domain.” On the web, lots of people freely release their copyright in order to expose their talent and their work as widely as possible. Anything -- content, software, images, fonts, videos, etc. -- in the public domain may be used freely by anyone without contacting or gaining the permission of the originator.

What is the Public Domain?

The U.S. Copyright Office defines "public domain" as a work "...no longer under copyright protection or if it failed to meet the requirements for copyright protection." The public domain also includes works where the creator has freely released the work into the public domain. All types of creative work exist in the public domain.

Tips on How to Find Photos and Images in the Public Domain – Free and Fast

1. Basic web searching for the phrase "public domain" along with various words or phrases that you are seeking is an easy enough way to find free images and content on the web.

For example, say you were looking for an image of Abraham Lincoln. Google "public domain image Abraham Lincoln" and you'll find a great photo of President Lincoln that the Library of Congress has been kind enough to upload for public use.

2. Wikipedia also provides an online list of links with oodles of free, public domain images -- a list that is continually growing. It is an excellent resource. (One of my favorites is Wikimedia Commons.)

3. Recently, the nonprofit organization Creative Commons (CC) announced the release of its Public Domain Mark (PDM). Through the use of a CC Public Domain Mark, photographers, graphic artists, and others can help others find their work via the use of a PDM -- see the mark, know that you're free to access the image. Surf the web forPDM” to find photos, images, and other available works that may not be otherwise categorized as available in the public domain.


How Long Does it Take For Your Blog to Load? Find Out for Free - and Yes, You Should Care.

Blogs that take too long to appear on screen are likely to be bypassed by impatient readers.  Google also uses load times as part of its decision-making process in which blogs get the top spots in search results. 

Load times are important. 

Adding too many pretty bells and whistles can cost you readership and ranking - so it's important to know how long it takes for your blog to load.

Load?  Show up, fully appear on the screen after you've clicked on the link, surfed to the site. 

Stopwatch will let you know your load time for free. Go here, input your website or blog path name, and watch the timer.  Pingdom does it, too - along with WebPagetest

What Causes Slow Load Times?

Google has a list of possible causes.  So does Yahoo.   Some of this is pretty techie stuff, admittedly. 


Public Domain Mark Unveiled by Creative Commons: Big Help in Finding Free Images for Your Blog

Vanity Fair's 1901
caricature of Leo Tolstoy
author of War & Peace, now
in the public domain
(Wikimedia Commons)
Finding images to use on your blog can be difficult, if you don't want to pay for them and you don't want to infringe on another's copyright. Previously, I've suggested the use of public domain images and within that post, provided links (and lists of links) on how to find them.

This week, the nonprofit organization Creative Commons (CC) announced the release of its Public Domain Mark (PDM). Through the use of a CC Public Domain Mark, photographers, graphic artists, and others can help others find their work via the use of a PDM -- see the mark, know that you're free to access the image.

Of course, the PDM isn't the only way to find public domain images already provided to you on the web. Wikimedia Commons (see my earlier post) has been coordinating this effort for years.

For more information, check out the FAQs at the Creative Commons site.


Twitter Wants To Be Viewed as a News Source - and Maybe Twitter 4 News Isn't So Farfetched

A couple of weeks ago, ReadWriteWeb posted on Twitter's Kevin Thau (he's Vice President of Business and Corporate Development for Twitter.Com) big announcement during Nokia World 2010 that Twitter isn't a social media site so much as it is a news site.   That's right: a source for breaking news on the web. 

Now, there's lots of commentary at ReadWriteWeb about Mr. Thau's promotion of Twitter as a news feed (41 comments as I type this) and you may have your own two cents' worth on this issue. 

My Clients Don't Respect Twitter as Social Media - They Use it to Share Information (i.e., as a News Feed)

Most of my law firm clients either know zip about Twitter - or they know something about it because their kids tweet.  Many lawyers that do know about Twitter consider it silly, something that self-absorbed people do with too much time on their hands.  Who has time for it? 

Clients that are acquainted with Twitter don't use it for discussion.  They zip bursts of information onto Twitter, tweeting about firm news, new blog posts, and the like.  From the comments on ReadWriteWeb, this seems to be the experience of many other individuals out there: "no discussion" is a common refrain by the commenters.

Discussion vs. Information: The Fork in Twitter's Road

Which means that Twitter needs to be seen as a news source, because that absence of discussion is sorta a death knell for a site touting itself a social media application.  Which is fine, because I think that Twitter IS a news source.  I recommend that my clients set up professional Twitter accounts and tweet regularly about business topics. 

Tweets as free, fast news releases: the Jackson Walker example.

Especially law firms; after all, consider Jackson Walker. Jackson Walker was fast to jump on the Twitter train and provides an excellent example of how tweeting is beneficial for law firms and other companies. 

Today, for example, Jackson Walker is tweeting its congratulations to the 40 firm lawyers that have been named 2010 Super Lawyers, with the tweet providing a link to more information.  Smart.  Tweet as news release.  

MSNBC's Breaking News vs. Twitter Trends

Breaking News, an MSNBC attempt to follow Twitter and organize news stories, isn't the best source of breaking news in my experience.  I've found that actually following trending tweets, or searching for a specific phrase regarding a news story, does give me the latest information on a news story. 

The Trends tool is especially useful on Twitter, since you can choose its scope -- from national news down to your local community.  Handy. 

Often, it's Twitter Trending Topics are the most interesting, as well -- people tweeting from the hurricane's path, the football stadium, the crash site.  Remember following the Balloon Boy on Twitter?

The Bottom Line:  Consider Twitter as a News Source -- Because Twitter is a News Feed. 

Twitter is a good news source.  Smart to start promoting as such -- because here's where Twitter really provides a unique, valuable service for us all.