Illustrate your WordPress site, on a budget

It can get expensive to use paid stock images for all of your blog posts, here are some ideas of where to source free stock images that you can use in your WordPress website


We spend a lot of time on our blog discussing SEO for WordPress, optimising the words and structure of webpages but not a lot on the visual side of things. So today let’s look at some resources you may not know about to help you illustrate your content.

You may know about popular sites like or

These sites are very popular and boast millions of images each. They mostly work in a similar way, you pay for credits and then depending on the images you select a number of credits will be deducted when you download an image. is a little different in that you can subscribe for a monthly fee and download a set number of images each month.

We use these services regularly to get images to help illustrate sites as we’re building them.

It can start to get a bit expensive though if you use paid stock images every time you want to publish a new post. We’ve written recently about the importance of posting regular content to your WordPress site to help your SEO, so what to do if you’re publishing regularly and want to keep a lid of the cost of stock images?

Use Free Stock Images!

There are some good stock image sites around that allow you to use images without cost. You do need to read their licensing to familiarise yourself with it, for example some photographers listed on these sites allow you to use the image freely but request a link crediting them as the owner.

  • Stock.xchng – boasts more then 350,000 images
  • StockVault – a smaller collection but still plenty of quality images
  • EveryStockPhoto – this one has a different approach, it’s more like a search engine of stock photos than a dedicated library

Using images in your WordPress site

Now that you’ve got a few ideas to look for images it’s worth pointing out a few tips to remember when you’re preparing the images for use on your site. You don’t need to be a Photoshop guru these couple of ideas will get you a long way.

Size the image for where it’s going be used

If your using an image inside your site content, chance are that it needs to be reduced to the correct size for your WordPress setup. It’s better to reduce the images on your computer before you upload them to WordPress. On Mac OS X you can right click and image and then click ‘get info‘ to see the size that it is, on Windows right click an image and click properties.

Pay attention to the file size too

Once you have the image dimensions correct, also take a look at the size of the image file in kilobytes (kb). Many sites are drastically slowed by their owners uploading very large files. As a quick rule of thumb, images should be certainly under 100kb but ideally under 50 or 60kb is you can. Most image editing tools have the ability to compress images, particularly jpg images to reduce the file size.

Use the correct image format

For display on your WordPress site you should only be using JPG, PNG and GIF images. While some browsers will cope with other like TIFF it’s not going to work everywhere. Also consider these guidelines for choosing which image format should be used. You should use the correct image format for the specific type of image.

  • JPG – anything that is photographic, a scene, a person etc..
  • PNG – icons, illustrations, computer drawn images, perhaps even images that have text only in them
  • GIF – similar to PNG but this format also supports simple animation

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