The power of images and visuals in content marketing cannot be overstated. I’m sure you’ve heard the stats before, still, here’s a quick refresher from Jeff Bullas.
Including the right images can make your post more readable and consequently more shareable. Finding the right images for your blog, though, which are also free, can be quite a challenging task. So we did the legwork for you.
Here are eight of the best websites for sourcing free images. Some of the websites will charge you for some images, but all have a selection of free images that you can use with very few restrictions.
1. Google Images
The easiest and quickest way to get free images is to go to Google images and type in the keywords that most suit your blog or website topic.
Use the license options at the top of the screen and select, “Labeled for reuse.” These are the images you can use yourself without fear of copyright restrictions.
Don’t forget that Google has started active scripting, which means your Internet Explorer web browser may not show the images, so you may have to switch to another web browser to search for images.
When you find your image, click on the “View image” button, which brings up the image at its full resolution, at which point you may copy and save the image. Before you do that, click the image size, usually shown as a number such as 400×600. Click that and it will bring up any size options that are available.
The images on this website are curated, so you’re not getting a series of Facebook pictures that are of a poor quality. Many of them are free to use and re-use. They have their own terms and conditions, but they are not very restrictive. You are better off using their search engine to find the images because the categories on the homepage are a little limited. That is not to say that the categories are not well chosen, it is just easier to use the search engine.
One caveat: Only click the link that says “SEARCH” in capital letters. They often run deceptive adverts that look like they are part of the website. The chances are that if you click the search bar advert that you will be taken to a premium site. For example, in the screenshot, you can see the ad for DepositPhotos that looks like part of the website but it isn’t. Click the search link and use the “Search for free photos” search bar.
They have almost 400,000 images you can use for your blog or website. Go to the website and you are met with a series of categories you can choose from. You are better off scrolling down to find the “Free photo categories.” Click the area that suits your purpose and you are shown a selection of free images you can use. The licensing agreement is rather complex, but in the end, you are given free images if you agree.
The free and premium photos differ in a number of ways. The biggest difference is that the premium images are less common around the Internet because people have to pay for them instead of getting them for free. The premium categories also have more options. For example, at the time of writing the “Celebrity” category has only 36 free images, but there are 8296 premium images in that category.
Free images available on this website are of a lower resolution and, therefore, may be suited for blogs. If you want higher resolutions so you may place them on static pages of your website, then you will have to pay for them.
If you use the free images, you will also have to credit the photographer/creator wherever you put the image. That is what the “Attribution required” means. You cannot simply click and download the images. You have to sign up for an account and download the raw image. If you try to copy it from the website itself, then it comes with their web address and watermark on it. If you download the image correctly, then it comes out clean. Their smaller sizes are around 266 x 400px as you can see on the screenshot, which is quite suitable for blog posts.
The Stockvault.net website has some of the most high-resolution images of all the websites on this article. The only downsides are that they have a limited number of images compared to the other websites on this article, plus their images are only free for non-commercial uses. Their interpretation of commercial is a little liberal, so think of it this way. If the image is going to be used as a primary image on your home page for your eCommerce website or money making website, then it is not allowed. If you are using it on one of your other pages, then it may be okay so long as the image only affects the aesthetic and doesn’t lead people to spend money.
Commercial use also means you cannot use the images for your adverts and as image links that lead to commercial and/or eCommerce websites. Otherwise, you may use their high-resolution images for whatever you wish. This website is also good for backgrounds though its biggest flaw is the fact it takes so long to load. You will have to sign up in order to use the images for free, but it is no real hardship.
This is a very curious website because it appears to be not-for-profit. There are very few (if any) adverts littering up the screen, and they allow you free use of their images with very few restrictions. Most of the restrictions are legal things, such as not using the images to incite terror or part of some similar terror campaign. The website itself is pretty ugly, but they are offering free images and you don’t even need to sign up to get them. The only way you may need to sign up is if you use their online photo portfolio.
You may also contribute photos too if you want your images given away for free. However, they will not insist that users credit your name, so you will have to contribute images out of kindness, or because you really want the image to be seen by as many people as possible. You can use the search bar to find your images, but the limited number of images may make this a tiresome endeavor. You are better off picking one of the colors at the top and seeing what they have to offer. The idea is that the images will have those colors in them so that they match the background of your website (which is a rather good idea if you are using the images as part of your web design).
They do a great range of background images you can use for your website or blog. Their website looks a little primitive, but they are giving away free images and they haven’t loaded their website with adverts, so one can hardly complain. They also do not appear to be very popular, which is a shame because some of their images are fantastic. They are the sort of thing you may see as screensavers or backgrounds on a PC or laptop.
They have a color search, which makes it easier to search out a background that may suit the other colors on your website. They have a very large and detailed category selection and a great range of different types of texture categories to choose from. Try the search bar after setting the image type and textures type near the top of the screen. It will help you narrow down your search dramatically since they do have over 28,000 images for you to choose from.
One of the good things about Morguefile is that they offer very few restrictions to the use of their images. They are happy with you using their images for whatever you wish. You may find your images by their size or rating, but it is easier to either run through their categories or use a few keywords to find what you are looking for. Like a few of the others on this list, they also allow you to search for images based on their colors so that you may match the color of your images to the color theme of your website/blog.
Remember to stay on the Morguefile website because they advertise other paid photo websites on the Morguefile website. Click on their “free photos” link to find what they have to offer.
If you’ve ever used Creative Commons to source free-to-use images for your blog or website, you’re going to love Compfight.
It’s basically an image search tool that uses the Flickr API to display the most popular images for any given keyword. You can use the Creative Commons filter to get images that are are free to use and download them in any size you want.
Compfight even gives you an embed that you can just copy and paste in your markdown, therefore not needing to upload the image on your server; also, correct attribution is automatically added.
Stock photos can be expensive, thankfully, there are alternatives such as Unsplash. The website provides high-resolution photographs under the Creative Commons Zero license, which means you can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free, including commercial purposes, without asking permission from or providing attribution to the photographer or Unsplash.
The featured photos (10 every 10 days) are chosen by notable creatives. Since the curators are from varied backgrounds, it brings a wide range of photographs and different styles to the featured photos.
Stock photos can be expensive, and for a blogger operating on a limited budget, the cost of purchase may not justify the marginal benefit you get from them in terms of the visual uplift. Thankfully, there are other options.
Pixabay provides free images, illustrations, vector graphics, and videos that you can use anywhere. All images and videos on Pixabay are released free of copyrights under Creative Commons CC0. You may download, modify, distribute, and use them royalty-free for anything you like, even in commercial applications. Attribution is not required.
You may notice after some time of use that the choice and variety is not anywhere close to a regular stock photo website, but hey, it’s free, right? How about that?