Whether you sell products, services, or ERP systems – effective marketing relies on visual appeal. It’s no surprise that blogs and websites using eye-catching images attract more visitors and potential customers.
But finding high-quality images without having to break out your credit card can be a challenge. So here are a few tools for finding free stock images on the web.
Pixabay is probably our FAVORITE and most frequently-used free image resource because they tend to have a really nice variety and deep collection of quality images including drawings, photos, and vector files.
In general, it’s true that you get what you pay for. There are literally hundreds (probably thousands) of free image sites out there. But many of them are not worth the time you spend searching for and scanning through pages and pages of cheesy photos that you’d probably never use on your website.
But Pixabay is a pretty decent exception to that rule. Sure, you’ll find a lot of low-quality “amateur” photos and you probably wouldn’t call most of the images you find “great” – but there’s also a lot of really good stuff on the site.
Note: the search results page almost always shows a row of image candidates at the top (from Shutterstock) that you have to pay for. So you can just ignore the first row – everything below that first row is typically free.
FreeDigitalPhotos.net is a community of stock photographers and digital artists that allow their work to be downloaded free of charge for personal, business, and educational use.
In general, you’ll find decent-quality photos that can be downloaded without registration. The smallest, low resolution files can be downloaded for free while larger, higher resolution files are available for a small fee (but still pretty cheap).
The Cost of Free: The only thing that FreeDigitalPhotos.net asks is for you to publish a credit acknowledging the artist and source of the photo. Take a look at the stock image just to the right for an example of an appropriate image credit and artist acknowledgement ==>
Canva is another great free image resource, but it’s a little different than a typical free photo site. You don’t actually download a ready-made image. Instead, Canva provides the tools for you to create your own graphic images.
Canva is a design tool for non-designers. Far less complex and intimidating than something like Photoshop, Canva provides a really nice drag and drop interface, pre-made templates that you can modify, and other tools that make it really simple to create cool graphics.
Canva requires a bit more time and creativity than just downloading a photo. But you also get more flexibility to add custom colors, images, and even your logo to the finished product.
For example, here’s an image we created in Canva as part of a blog post about LinkedIn Groups:
Canva provides templates to create a wide range of graphic images for brochures, business cards, flyers, social media profile backgrounds, infographics, and much more.
The Cost of Free – there’s a pretty wide range of really cool graphics that you can create for free on Canva. But some of the premium background images or design elements can cost money depending on what you choose. Even then, they tend to be just $1.
4. Creative Commons
Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that fosters the sharing and creative use of various media including photos, videos, written content, and more. It provides a framework for you to use the creative work of others for commercial purposes.
Like a search engine for creative content, Creative Commons searches Google, Flickr, and more for images that have been tagged with a Creative Commons license and are available to use on your blog and website.
Word of Caution: There are a number of different license options that authors can choose on Creative Commons. So while many photos can be used without worry, be sure to review the licensing requirements of each photo and give proper attribution where required. Not every image on the site comes with the same rules and requirements.
Unsplash is another great resource for “freely-useable images” which, according to the website, means the following:
- All photos can be downloaded and used for free
- Commercial and non-commercial purposes
- No permission needed (though attribution is appreciated!)
While Pixabay is our favorite free image site, Unsplash is a great backup in cases where you can’t find what you need at other free sites (and don’t want to take time to make one yourself at Canva) because of a similarly deep and diverse collection of images from business and technology to animals and nature.