There’s no problem with choosing a DIY approach to creating your own personal website or blog. If you choose your tools carefully it is possible to create a professional looking web site without spending a fortune on website designers.

Services like WordPress are excellent if you don’t mind investing a little bit of time learning how to use them. They make setting up a website easy as there are already 1000’s of themes available for you to try. Many are free whilst others are paid – if you’re unsure which is best – take a look at the Free vs. Paid wordpress theme debate.

The Golden Rule: Don’t forget to consider your websites imagery

No matter how you decide to create and update your website, it’s a good idea to take care over the photos and images you use on it. Images are an essential part of any website and it’s important you put the right images, in the right places.
You might be inclined to just rip images from Google’s image search. But finding an image that’s already been posted on the web doesn’t give you the right to use it.

Someone still owns the copyright, so if you did use a photo without permission, you’d be breaking the law. It’s an oversight some national newspapers have even made.

 So, how can you find great images for your website, without spending a fortune? Here are 5 things to try:

1. Search for Creative Commons images

Creative Commons is a licensing system which lets people make their photos readily available for use by others. There’s a huge choice of images and they’re completely free. You just need to ensure you provide the photographer a credit – look into the terms specified with every image you find. There are various kinds of Creative Commons licenses so it’s important you get images available for commercial use. To begin searching, try Flickr’s advanced search (be sure to tick the ‘Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content’ and ‘Find content to use commercially’ boxes). Or you can try the search tools on the Creative Commons website.

2. Start looking for rights-free photography

If the various kinds of Creative Commons license seem confusing or you simply can’t find what you want, there are numerous other free photographs available on the internet. To be sure you’re not infringing on anyone’s copyright, it’s advisable to search on reputable websites like stock.xchng or MorgueFile. There’s a whole list of good sites here. As with Creative Commons images, check the usage rights of each individual image carefully. You may be required to credit the photographer, or use may be forbidden in certain situations.

3. Purchase cheap stock photography

It’s all well and good searching for free photos, but it’s often easier to spend a small amount of money than to spend hours finding the perfect free image. That’s where websites like iStockPhoto and ShutterStock come in. These vast databases contain thousands of images, many of which you can buy for just a few pounds. Sure, they may be frustratingly clichéd at times, but a bit of experimentation with what you search for can usually get results. Expect to pay from £1 upwards for each image.

4. Ask permission

This is probably your best option if you’re looking for an image of a recent event or particular person to use with an article or blog post on your website. Amateur photographers will often be happy to let their photos be used at no charge – if you ask nicely. A great way to find images is via Flickr. For example, there are plenty of David Cameron and Tom Cruise to choose from. Once you’ve found a photograph you like, just use Flickr’s contact option to send the photographer a message asking their permission. (Do be wary using photos of highly successful people – while generally it’s ok to use them along with news stories and other editorial, you’ll get in trouble if it seems as if they’re endorsing your products or services.)

5. Take your own photos

With even cheap mobile phones able to produce reasonable-quality photos, you don’t need to be a pro to capture photos that will be sufficiently good for your website. Even though the company is in all sorts of trouble, there are several good tips for taking better photos on the Kodak website. Presuming you already own a camera, this approach is virtually free – plus it holds other benefits over stock photos. For instance, do you think website visitors would rather see a generic image of someone on the phone, or an actual person in your sales team at work in your office?

How do you find photos for your website? Leave a comment to let us know.

This post was written by Helen Clough.