Perhaps you are gifted enough to create your own images....after all, digital devices are getting smarter and better each day....and if all it took was a device, then you'd be set...however there are other pesky things involved in capturing great images, like lighting, scenery, subject matter, quality, the correct sizes, your budget and ahhh yes...that other thing ...your busy schedule. While some images you find online are perfectly okay to use, others can bring trouble that you do not want, careful is the key word.
Even when you pay your hard earned money for an image ...occasionally a dissatisfied artist or a designer can cause trouble by claiming their rights have been violated in some way. Most of the time, when you legally purchase an image, if there are disputes later, the artist/designer will allow you to remove the offending item ...or pay a nominal fee to keep using it. That's all good.
With all of that said, if you are a blogger, teacher or provide information to your audience on a broad number of topics, then your appetite for images may be insatiable.
Hence we enter the realm of FREE images. And the first statement I'll be making is: NOTHING IS FREE. For an example, just the other day I was looking for some images of "working" people taking the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator. When I did come across a "free" one, it was always a man (no disrespect, but the article was for a female audience) and the clothing was out of date. No problem, I found what I needed, but it was time-consuming, time is money ...an that brings me to my second recommendation: let a professional design your website and posts. Not trying to say you can't do it on your own, however there are always some caveats to using OPA (other people artwork) and artwork is critical in marketing and promoting your business or organization.
Here's something to keep in mind...."Free" and "Royalty Free" are not the same and (I'll just say it again,) there is hardly any such thing as “truly free”…but with that said, there are some great resources online to acquire images from artists who have generously given over their work to CC (creative commons) along with their permission for you to "freely" use them.... sort of.
This statement " Public Domain. Free for commercial use No attribution required " is what you want to see. But that's not all.
There are some other "snakes-in-the-grass" when using artwork that you did not create or purchase: Watch out for viruses and spyware. Hackers know that most small businesses need images and “free” images are a hot commodity. Be very careful BEFORE you “click” on any site that promises free images, music or video. (If you have a "Membership" with a graphics provider then this may not be an issue) Avoid putting your devices at risk...for sure ...you can even kill them....dead!
Oh and for you "Entrepreneurs" out there....please don't be tempted to sell a "free" image. Just because you get something for “free” does not mean you should invoice your clients for it. That practice is unethical, illegal and it could really screw up your fee schedule, because at some point you may actually need to purchase images for your client...and you may find it difficult to justify the price hike.
Honesty is the best policy .... let your clients know about the images you are using on their behalf. Don't worry, you won't lose anything, because while it may not be “legal” to sell the “free” image, there is certainly no law against billing the client for your over all “design” services.
For those who plan to make marketing and advertising a career and don't have the natural skills for design, you will save time, effort and money, if you simply join a paid image program. With a paid service you can download hundreds of images for just a few bucks. If you have a niche its even better. The sweet part is that most any platform you pay for will provide you "free" images or make occasional great offers. A word of caution when purchasing a monthly/yearly Membership plan, no matter how tempting it may seem. Unless you are a full time service provider, with a list full of clients …it’s usually not worth it. That would be pretty much like purchasing a gym membership or a timeshare...it's not for everyone!
Again, along the lines "nothing is truly free" so when you start signing up for "free" stuff you will see a lot of "Junk Mail" rolling in. Not to worry just get another "free" email account and enjoy your "freebies."
In the end, "ownership" is king, so keep practicing your graphic skills…you’ll soon be a graphics guru. You can create your own images and Ka-Ching...sell them for profit!