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If you have a blog or website, you probably know the importance of adding images. Interesting images can draw people into your site. They enhance the reading experience and make your site a more beautiful place to visit. But that beauty doesn’t come cheaply. In fact, some photos can cost hundreds of dollars.

It’s no wonder that webmasters are on the lookout for sites that offer quality images at affordable prices. Most people prefer to use royalty-free images. But this should not be confused with free or even with copyright-free. There is a huge difference between the three terms.

The Shades of Free

When you find work offered according to royalty free terms, you will pay a one-time fee. This allows you to use the image in an ongoing way, but only according to any terms agreed upon.

Free is free. It’s just that simple. The price of free is usually adding a link back to the provider. But free is very hard to find, and when you do, the quality is likely to be low.

Copyright free images or work is not protected by copyright. This means that although you may be charged a fee for a copy of the image, you will be able to use the image in any way you want, unless, you have agreed to certain terms.

Where to Find Royalty-Free Images

Now that you know what royalty-free means, it’s time to list the top places you can find those images you need. Just be sure to carefully read the terms listed at each site and for any image you purchase.

1 – Dreamstime

Dreamstime is a great resource for webmasters. It offers a nice collection of free and royalty free images for as low as $0.20 per image. As always, it is important to read the license agreements for each image.

2 – everystockphoto

A visit to everystockphoto can streamline your search for images. Its photo search engine actually searches several photo sites at once. This saves you time in finding the right royalty-free image; however, because images are pulled from different sites, you will need to carefully read the license details for each photo you are interested in. Different sites are likely to have different regulations.

3 – Flickr

Flickr is a popular image site. One reason the site is so popular is its easy access. Anyone can share images at the site, and anyone can use the site. But of course, not all of the images are totally free. You have to read the license agreements. In some cases, all you need to do is add a link back to give credit to the photographer — but not always.

4 – Iconfinder

Iconfinder is unique because it is great for finding icons for blogs and websites. Be sure to use the license filter ‘Allowed for commercial use.’ You will find this in the upper right corner.

5 – Image*After

Image*After is the ideal place to visit if you want free images — especially if you plan to redistribute them. Images at this site can be edited and used in almost any way you want.

6 – Kozzi

Kozzi’s lightbox feature makes it easy to organize images. This can be especially helpful if you are working on large or ongoing projects. Besides images, this site also offers video and clip art. Subscription plans are available.

7 – stock.xchng

Stock.xchng is probably the best-known source of online images. This site offers a huge selection of high-quality images. You will enjoy free downloads, and in many cases no link attribution is required. Keep in mind that many photos are not free and you will need to read the license agreement for each image.

Final Tips

A picture is worth a thousand words, but only when that picture is relevant and appropriate. Be sure the images you add to your site and to articles actually make sense. That is, they should help tell your story in some way and they should engage your audience.

Tagging images can help with SEO plans. Therefore, your site or post is more likely to get ranked appropriately.

And perhaps most important of all, keep in mind that you don’t have the freedom to use any image you happen to find. Using a copyrighted image can get you into a lot of trouble. Be sure to only use images that you own or have a license to use.

Let us know if you have additional sites to add to this list of resources for royalty-free images. You can help others by sharing it in the comments.

Debbie Allen, a freelance writer, blogger, and online marketer, often writes about various issues related to working at home and blogging. She’s also interested in writing about things like the price of gold, DIY home decorating ideas, and home remedies.