In my experience, one of the most challenging parts of putting together a blog post for my real estate clients is finding photos to use.
When you publish a blog post, you’ll always want at least a featured image. Most website layouts have the featured image representing the blog post in various formats, and it usually displays prominently within the blog post itself as well. This is also the image that Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms will “grab” and feature when you share the link to your blog post.
It’s important that your blog post’s featured image is:
Related to the content of your blog post
Legal for you to use
There’s a lot to be said about finding the right photo(s) to use with your blog post, but here, I’m going to delve into a few great places to find featured images for your blog posts.
1. Take your own original photos.
This one is the most obvious, so I’m going to get this one out of the way first! Using your own unique photos is always the BEST choice if you have this option available to you. If you have a phone that takes decent photos (even an iPhone can do wonders—see examples of photos taken with the iPhone 6 here!), use it to your advantage. If you have your own DSLR, even better!
Whether you plan to blog about your local community or home inspections, you’ll want to get in the habit of snapping a few photos whenever the right moment presents itself. Getting breakfast at your favorite restaurant? Take a few photos of your meal, a photo of the outside of the building, and a fun selfie of you with a cup of coffee. When you go to blog about your favorite breakfast spots, you’ll be so glad you have these photos stored and ready to go!
2. Hire a professional photographer.
Getting high-quality, original photos can really take the overall quality of your website and blog up a few notches. One great way to do this is to plan ahead. Let’s say you’re working on a 12-month content strategy with 5 blog posts per month. Typically what I’ll do for my clients who have their own photographers is I’ll make an outline of all 5 blog posts for the upcoming month, make a list of key components of each blog post, and give that list to a photographer. The photographer can spend a few hours (or even a day, depending how long your list is!) taking photos of everything on the list. Voilà! You have all of the photos you need for the next month of content.
3. Use searchable libraries with free high-res photos.
A few of my favorite photo resources include Unsplash, PicJumbo, and Pexels. (There are SO many out there now—a Google search for “free stock photos” will have you swimming in results!) Many of these libraries explicitly state on their websites that their photos are FREE and available for any type of use. You are encouraged to give the photographer credit, but you’re definitely not required to.
(Tip: Some of these websites have become so popular that you’ll see the same stock image over and over again in various marketing campaigns. Try to choose a photo that you might not have seen before!)
4. Buy stock images.
While there are a lot of free stock images out there, you might not be able to find quite the image you’re looking for. Or maybe you’ve found the perfect picture that’s free, but you’ve seen it used too many times already. This might be a could time to invest in some paid stock photography.
If you already visited PicJumbo, then you may have noticed that while they have many photos available for free, they also offer a paid version. This will give you access to even more photos to choose from. A few other examples of paid services include Shutterstock, Adobe Stock,
5. Embed photos from Flickr.
If you’re searching for something more local or you can’t find what you need on one of the larger sites, Flickr is another great option. However, you should be a bit more careful with Flickr, since each photo has a different license setting when you initially search for something.
In the image to the left here, I’ve searched for “Seattle” and several results have popped up. Now, you’ll want to click on the little arrow to the right of “Any license” to select the type of license you’d like to search by, depending what your needs are.
I’ve also circled a little arrow on the right. Click this to find the “embed” option. This makes it easy to embed the photo in your blog post, and doing so will automatically grab attribution information and make it obvious where the photo came from (Flickr!).
6. Embed Instagram posts.
Including Instagram posts within your blog post is a great way to show a true local perspective. You can easily do this by embedding an Instagram post from public accounts. Find the photos you’re looking for by searching for a relevant location, hashtag, or by finding the particular business/org/person/etc. on Instagram.
Embedding an Instagram photo in your blog post is easy to do: in the screenshot on the left, you’ll see 3 dots in the righthand corner. Click on this, and you’ll be presented with a few options in a white pop-up. Select “Embed” to copy the code and embed the Instagram post directly in your blog post.
The downside of this is that the person or account with the photo you’re featuring may one day make their account private, or delete the photo or the account. This will leave you with a blank photo in your blog post. It’s worth it to go through some of your more evergreen blog posts once a year or so and make any necessary updates (like replacing deleted photos!).
7. Embed Facebook photos.
Embedding Facebook photos in your blog post is the same concept as embedding Instagram photos.
To keep things looking more uniform in your blog post, you might choose to use only Facebook photos or only Instagram photos. However, it can be helpful to mix it up if, for example, you can’t find photos on Instagram of a business that you want to feature. If that’s the case, you might try looking on Facebook and find that they have more of a presence there.
To embed a Facebook photo, click on the photo you’d want to use, and in the bottom righthand corner of the photo you’ll see “Options.” Click on this, and you’ll be presented with a pop-up. Select “embed” to get the embed code for the photo.
Important Note: Just because a photo is on the internet does not make it free and available for you to use on your blog. Do not do a Google search and just grab images you find!
Luckily, free photo websites have expanded greatly in recent years, meaning there are plenty of legal options for you out there. If you DO accidentally use a photo that you don’t have permission to use and someone calls you out on it, just apologize, give the photographer a compliment, and take down the image immediately.