Including images in your blog posts has many benefits including helping to break up the to text to make your content appear more inviting, allowing you to better illustrate the points are you making, show off a place or product, or simply give your blog a more professional look. After all, if a picture says a thousand words, you might as well spend a bit of time finding or crafting the right image for your posts.
However, working with images in WordPress, and especially finding the right graphics to use, can be time consuming and a bit of a pain if you want to do anything more than insert media into your posts.
So today we will be looking at a compendium of plugins, tools, and services that make it easier to work with images in WordPress, as well as taking a look at some places you can find professional images at little to no cost.
WordPress Image Plugins for Working Smarter Not Harder
Here are some mainly free plugins and resources for making it quicker and easier to add images to your posts, and also ensure your images aren’t a burden on the performance of your website.
There are also some free and very affordable stock image libraries you might not have heard of that put you in touch with countless photos and designs to help illustrate your content for a very low price. Lastly we will look at an online image creation tool that will hopefully surprise you with its ease of use, set of features, and professional results.
Replace Images in Your Media Library
The free Enable Media Replace plugin is a handy time saver should you ever need to replace an image or other attachment in the WordPress media library on your site.
Instead of deleting a file, and then uploading a new version with the same file name to replace an image or other media library item, with this plugin installed you can simply upload the new file and let the plugin take care of the rest.
Having access to this feature is especially useful if you are running a large site that uses the same image multiple times and needs changing to a different version.
Automatically Grab Featured Images from Videos
Automatic Featured Images from Videos is a newly released plugin, and it’s one that those who are adding videos to their site from YouTube or Vimeo will appreciate.
Once installed and active on your website, the plugin will grab the thumbnail image of that video and set it as the featured image for the post containing the video. It’s a simple plugin but one that will save a lot of time for anyone who regularly posts videos on their site.
Save a Few Clicks When Setting Featured Images
Wouldn’t it be great if you could set the featured image for a post in WordPress at the same time as uploading an image for use in a post? Well now you can thanks to the free Instant Featured Image plugin.
Instead of clicking on the featured image options box on the post editor in order to choose one of the images you’ve already uploaded to be the featured image for that post, this plugin adds a button that lets you set the image as you are inserting it into a post.
While this plugin won’t change your life, it will save you a few clicks which could well add up over time.
Hands-off Image Optimization with Smush.it
WP Smush.it is a free plugin which has been taken over by the WPMU.Dev team connects your site up to the Smush.it service which exists to automatically optimize images. This is achieved by converting certain GIFs to PNGs, stripping unused colours from indexed images, and optimizing JPEG compression.
Every image you upload to your site will be run through the Smush.it service with no input from you necessary. The plugin can also apply its magic to any images you’ve previously uploaded and publishing on your site, allowing you to speed up your website and reduce page load times.
Automatically Resize Large Images
While the above WP Smush.it plugin will optimize images to reduce their file size, the free Imsanity plugin will optimize images by reducing their physical size – i.e. their width and height.
This not only makes your images download faster which you visitors will appreciate, but it also prevents them from overflowing out of the post content area due to their unnecessarily large width. You can set the maximum height and width and then the plugin will resize any larger images as they are uploaded to ensure none of them exceed those dimensions.
Imsanity works in the background and will resize each image as it is uploaded to your site. It also includes the ability to work on images that were added to your site prior to the plugin being installed.
Find and Remove Unused Images
Over time you will probably find that here are a number of images in your WordPress media library that are either no longer used in any of your posts or pages, or never made it that far in the first place.
The free Image Cleanup plugin is one tool which will scan all those files and give you the option of deleting them in one fell swoop. You can also move these unreferenced images to a temporary folder before deleting them permanently, giving you the option of restoring any images you still plan to use.
For a less cluttered uploads folder, running the Image Cleanup plugin comes highly recommended.
Free and Very Affordable Premium Stock Images
While you can end up paying large amounts for stock images to illustrate your content, there are a few very low cost options which come in very handy when it comes to finding a professional looking image for your latest post.
Although you can search the creative commons image archives, looking for free images, with a service like Compfight, if you value your time or are trying to increase your hourly equivalent rate, then paying a few dollars for a premium stock image not only makes your content look more professional, but also gets the job done a lot quicker.
Some free and affordable stock image and photography repositories to consider include:
PhotoDune is an Envato project, along with CodeCanyon and ThemeForest, and allows you to download high quality royalty free stock photography at affordable prices.
With such a large library, you should be able to quickly find a suitable image for most topics, and with prices starting from $1 for a 544 x 367 (0.2MP) image, rising to $7 for a 5284 x 3563 (18.8MP) version, it’s a great value option.
GraphicRiver, also from Envato, is a marketplace for design templates, logos, fonts, and more.
Dollar Photo Club
For a fee of $10 a month, Dollar Photo Club allow you to download 10 high quality royalty free photos or vectors from a library that is growing by 100,000+ new images a week.
The selection is pretty good, and if you do join make sure you grab your 10 images each month to get your money’s worth and start building a useful collection of images for future use.
Unsplash publish 10 new high quality images every 10 days that you can download for free and do what you like with. Although these aren’t stock images, they are instead high quality photos that have been taken by a range of contributors and are ideal for giving your posts a really classy look.
The file sizes are large so make sure you either use one of the plugins above to optimize them, or edit them before uploading them into WordPress.
Whether you are looking for high quality images available for free or at a low cost for use in your blog posts or populating your websites or theme demos, the above should help you find what you seek.
Create Your Own Professional Grade Images for Your Posts with Canva
WordPress still doesn’t have a good option for integrating an image editor into the software. Perhaps this is outside of the realms of possibility for a plugin, or maybe there isn’t much demand for such a tool.
However, if you want an easy yet powerful tool to enable you to create professional looking images with ease, for decorating your WordPress posts, or even when sharing them on social media, then the amazing free Canva online image editor is for you.
Although you do have to create an account, or sign in with Facebook to begin working with Canva, it is a free tool and one that is quickly growing in popularity.
Once you do gain access to Canva, the slick interface quickly makes it apparent why it’s been so popular with bloggers and online content creators that are seeking images to make their content stand out from the crowd.
The quick start templates on offer make it easy to see who the target audience for Canva is, and include:
- Twitter posts
- Facebook covers
- Blog graphics
- Kindle covers
- Plus a whole lot more
Once you’ve selected the image type, Canva kindly provides a vast selection of templates to choose from to use as the base for your own unique creation. A lot of these base images are free, or you can pay a dollar or two to use them in your work.
Then once you’ve chosen the template, you can edit it using the user friendly control panel.
You can easily share your creation with another user, allowing them to further edit it. However, if you are finished, you can then publish your image before downloading it for use on your site, social media post, or whatever other purpose you’ve created it for.
I highly recommended Canva and if you are looking for a way to create original and professional looking images for your WordPress blog posts or elsewhere, then it’s a great choice.
By installing some or all of these free plugins and getting acquainted with a tool like Canva or the free and affordable stock photo resources, you now have no excuse for not adding professional and eye-catching images to your WordPress posts.
If you know of any other great WordPress image resources then please share them in the comments below.