For many of us, finding images or photo site resources that we can use completely for free is a recurring nightmare.
While I wish I could say that I have the magic pill to completely solve this challenge, the reality is that it’s a necessary evil when you don’t have the means to hire a photographer or to pay for quality images.
However, I will offer some tips and resources in this article that will make the process a little less painful.
First off, be creative with your search terms. Searches will only produce image results based on the tags or keywords that the creators have applied to them, regardless of where you’re searching for them. So just because you’re thinking “cat” doesn’t mean it won’t show up under “kitten” or “feline” or “pet” or “cuddly critters” instead.
So be prepared to think outside of the box and to do multiple searches (possibly even dozens).
[Tweet “When searching for suitable images, be creative with your search terms.”]
Secondly, when you spot an image you love, even if it’s not what you’re looking for at that exact moment, save it to your computer (because you might not find it again) and catalog the details of where you got it and who you might need to credit. Being organized with this and having a good digital filing and record system can save you a lot of time in the future.
But where do you search?
Often people are told to not search Google because of potential copyright issues. Which makes sense, but it can still be a viable source with some due diligence. However, there are a few considerations to keep in mind.
- Google offers a search tool based on licensing. When looking at a page of image results, click on “Tools” and then in the submenu drop down “Usage Rights” to see 4 different licensing options, which in most cases will provide you with free images. When you find one you like, always spend a bit of extra time to investigate the proper licensing on the image and check the site for any attribution requirements.
- You can always contact the source of where you’re wanting to take an image from and ask for permission to use it. Just make sure to ask if they are the rightful owner of the image.
Other than Google, there are actually a number of websites offering images completely for free. Below is a current list of photo site resources as at the time of this post. But please note that these sites change frequently, with some becoming defunct and new ones turning up.
[Tweet “Extensive list of sites offering free images.”]
Free photo site resources
Images provided within Wikipedia are often available under the Creative Commons licensing. It’s up to you the user to check the image, which can typically be done by opening the full screen version and scrolling to the bottom to see what credit and licensing has been applied to it.
I also want to share a HubSpot article with you that takes a closer look at some of the above photo sites, plus they actually offer some downloads of their own of photos you can use for free. HubSpot is a reputable site and we actually use some of their tools, so I’m comfortable recommending this article, their advice and their downloads.
No matter where you get an image from, the onus is on you to verify that you are legally permitted to use it (even if they’re included in some of the sites above). Sometimes it can be a bit of extra work, but it’s better than inadvertently stealing someone’s work. Not only is it better morally, but using images that you shouldn’t be using (especially for commercial purposes) can result in some negative repercussions.
Then of course there is also the option to pay for images and in fact, there are some sites available with reasonable pricing. Typically the more long term plan you go on, the cheaper per image the price becomes. If you don’t want to risk your images being commonly used by others, this might be a better option.
The folks at We Rock Your Web have put together a nice comparison article on some of the paid stock image sites. You can read it here:
Paid photo site resources
Direct links to the sites they’re comparing in the article above are:
Finding good images for your articles and marketing needs is a necessary evil that goes with the turf. But the above tips and photo site resources can ease the process a bit.
Have you found any other photo site resources not mentioned in this article? Feel free to share them in the comments.
Disclaimer: Inclusion of the sites in this article does not warrant an endorsement for any of them by us. We have simply compiled the lists for your convenience. It’s up to you to test the sites for yourself to see if they meet your needs or expectations. If it comes to our attention that any of the sites referenced in this article have become defunct we will remove them from the list.
But I’m not a designer – what do I do with these photos?!
You’re in luck! Because it just so happens that there is an awesome, web-based tool available, that you can use completely for free, that will have you turning out image designs like a pro in no time at all!
This tool is called Canva and yes, even “you” can get the hang of it.
You can check out our article about it here: Design image posts like a PRO with Canva
You can also sign-up for our FREE beginners course, that will walk you through exactly how to use it, right from how to sign-up all the way through to completing some professional quality designs. This is a free course, unlike the vast majority of free courses you will have come across. Because this course is laid out with the detail and quality of a paid course. In fact, we really should be selling this course for at least $97, maybe more. But it is our gift to you, because getting a handle on creating some good quality images for your online presence is something that will make a world of difference for you. We also hope that you like it so much that you may consider some of our paid courses as they become available.
So go ahead and get started – completely for free (there aren’t even any upgrade options or messages saying that if you want this other piece you’ll have to pay). It’s a full version, paid level course for $0, zip, zilch!
About the Author
Tanya Jones (Thibodeau) is a YA/Fantasy author and the owner and publisher of the Gateway Gazette, a digital media news source. Tanya has 12 years of experience in publishing and marketing and 25 years of experience in various business sectors. While offering most “do-it-for-you” marketing services is not part of her business model, she has spent a great deal of time over the last 12 years researching and learning about the ins and outs of marketing, solely for the purpose of being able to pass that knowledge on to help clients. This passion has expanded into a new venture called Panoptic Foundations where they teach entrepreneurs & authorpreneurs how to create and maintain a thriving online presence, from scratch, with ease, even if you’re not techie.
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