Flickr is a great resource for finding top quality free pictures to use on your blog. Lately, I’ve explained how to find and use free pictures on flickr to several people so for future reference here’s a short guide on the best way of finding and using pictures on flickr.
Search Creative Commons Pictures
Head on over to the flickr Creative Commons search to find pictures you can use on your blog for free. The only stipulation is you must attribute the original owner of the picture, but that is a small price to pay for free top quality pictures.
Download and optimize
Once you find a nice picture, click the all sizes button. You can then select from a variety of resolutions to download to your computer. I usually choose a larger option, which I then crop, scale and compress in GIMP. The GNU Image Manipulation Program is an open-source image editor that has many of the same features of Photoshop but at a much more affordable price (free). I also rename the file from the random letters and characters flickr assigns it to a more descriptive filename that better describes the picture.
For instance, the picture you see at the top of this post was scaled down to 500 pixels in width, and compressed at 85% quality. It was also renamed as “flickr-badges.jpg”.
Upload and tag
Once you have your picture optimized for the web (scaled to fit your blog post width, compressed to a smaller size and renamed to be descriptive) you’re then ready to upload it to your blog. Once it’s uploaded, make sure you give it a good description and fill in the alt tag so that you can have a caption and so that visually impaired individuals (including the Googlebot) can figure out what the picture is about.
Attribute your source
Once your free flickr picture is optimized, uploaded and tagged, you’re ready to attribute your source. If you scroll to the bottom of this post you’ll see my attribution to “poolie” for the picture of the flickr buttons inserted at the top of this post. My personal method is to link the person’s username to the picture’s page so that my readers can easily access the picture themselves. This way provides proper attribution and also helps with the next recommended step.
Comment on the owner’s picture page
Once your post is published, use the attribution link to head back to the flickr page of the person who originally took and uploaded the picture. Leave them a brief comment thanking them for kindly uploading the picture under the Creative Commons license and leave them a link to your post (note, you can use html link tags in the flickr comments). The owner will likely check out your post to see how the picture was used and so might other people who stumble upon the post. It might generate a little bit of traffic but more importantly notifies the owner that his/her picture was used.
There you have it, the short, simple guide to finding and using top quality free pictures from flickr. If you have any additional tips please let us know in the comments.
Thanks to poolie for the great picture of the flickr badges.