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Creating a new website or blog doesn’t really come with a how-to guide.  So many of us simply sign up for a service and start cranking out posts. (Get IT Girl!) But there are 3 words that can immediately stop the music at this productivity party.

Cease And Desist.

Scary as hell right?

Here’s what many bloggers and entrepreneurs don’t realize.  Using photos that you find on the internet could be illegal.  Yes, even all those free “looking” photos on Google. Did you hear about Lauren Conrad’s recent nightmare?  You see, the original owner of any image has the legal right to ask you to remove their photo from your website or worst, they can ask for compensation for the use of the photo without their permission. (Even if your blog hasn’t made any  money yet!) Ouch!

How do you avoid breaking the law and losing coins?

Don’t worry.  I got you.

First, let’s break down “Copyright”.

Copyright is a federal law that protects original works.  This includes written, visual, and artistic works.  Copyright does not have to be applied for, so it starts automatically when the work is created, whether it’s finished or not.  So most of the photos taken by other people are off limits unless you have their express permission to use it.

There are exceptions, though.  It’s called Fair Use.  You can learn more about that HERE.

My advice though is to break your Googling habit right now. That’s why I’m sharing three ways to find and include photos on your website while avoiding the 5-0.


1. Use Copyright Free Photos – There are 2 main places to get copyright free photos.

Creative Commons Licensed Pics — You can search for photos that are free to use through Creative Commons.  Usually, this means you have to cite the source of the photo and link back to their site.  To find these photos, all you do is go to, type in what you’re looking for in the search box, check the boxes to image for commercial purposes and/or modify them, then choose which library/search engine you want to use to search for your image.  Finito! Don’t forget to cite the source!

If you aren’t in the mood to give credit you can also use photos that are in the public domain.


2. Take Your Own Photos – Hey it’s FREE99.

All that matters here is photo quality.  You can get a really good camera for a 100 bucks.  I usually use my IphoiPhone little tip is to hold your finger against the portion of the screen you would like to focus on. This will enable your iPhone’s exposure and focus lock. The letters AE/FE should appear on the screen to indicate you’re in that mode.  Your pictures come out looking so much more professional this way.


3. Sign Up For A Free or Low Cost Stock Photo Subscription – This is my favorite of the 3.  If not for a designer I recently hired, I would have never known about these awesome sites run by photographers who give out a free set of photos every few days.  You can have access to all the photos for a low subscription cost. (Like $7)  My top 2 are below as well as a link to a more extensive list.

CreateHerStock – CreateHERStock is a collection of awesome images for the everyday female blogger and creatives of color. I mean helloooooo is this awesome or what?!  I splurged on the $7 subscription 8 months ago.  It’s by far one of my best business investments.

DeathToTheStockPhoto – I’ve gotten some pretty diverse photos from the photographers at DeathToStockPhoto. Their photos lean more towards the creative side so they’re perfect for blogs related to lifestyle or design.

Here are some honorable mentions:

Colorstock – This catalog offers images of Black, Asian, Latin, and other ethnically diverse people at work and at play.  You have to pay though.  The other caveat is that they don’t provide a subscription service.

Black Stock Photo – Black Stock Photo is similar to other traditional stock photo sites like ThinkStock and Getty Images in that you have a subscription or pay per photo option. The only difference is the photos focus on people of color. If you’ve got the coins, definitely try them out!

Unsplash – The photos can be a bit random, but they are all great quality.


For more options on Subscription Photo sites, check out this extensive list that Shopify did.  You can find it HERE.

Let me know which service you use in the comments below!

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