When an online business owner is just getting started, there may not be much of a marketing budget for necessities like stock images, videos, and content creation. While outsourcing may help with video and content creation, you’ll still need quality, high-resolution photos for much of your website, articles and other media. Well, luckily, there are many free sources for high-res images, some of which even include vectors, animation, and illustrations.
The skinny on free stock images sites.
Many photos that are pulled up in a Google images search are not actually free. In fact, a majority of them may still be covered by photographer’s copyrights and you can hurt your online business reputation by trying to use them without proper license or permissions. If a photo is labeled Creative Commons zero, you may use them in any way you’d like, without asking permission. Creative Commons with attribution means that if you give the photographer credit, you may use them. Some free sites require attribution, so be sure about what you’re downloading in advance, so you can do the right thing for you, the photographer and your website. In general, attribution is just polite. It’s a nice way to thank the photographer for their intellectual property, whether the still have the original rights, or not. For more information on Creative Commons with attribution, please visit the StockPhotos.io FAQ page.
Most free stock image sites are clear about attributions and whether they are required or not. Some free sites will tell you in the text while others will make you consent to the attribution before they allow the download. Some sites will let you search by attribution and the photo topic you need. These types of searchable free stock image sites are the easiest to use.
If you aren’t ready to put down the cash for a monthly membership site (some of them can get pricey, we know), you may want to consider these awesome free stock image sites for your content marketing.
Here are our favorite free stock photo sites that are searchable –
morgueFile – Don’t be put off by the name, morgueFile is just a free photo archive for about 360,000 images. A commonly used term in newspaper, illustrations, designers and more, morgueFile is simply a place to keep post production materials for use or reference. This perfectly sums up the thousands of photos on file at this beautiful photo archive site. Cool features of morgueFile include a photo classroom instructions on photography, a community forum, and a #quest that will send you a daily photo, based on the topic you choose. So… what will it be for you #happiness #farmlife #food or #animals?
Kaboompics – This cute, free stock pic site is stocked with high quality images that are searchable by their 6 categories or by clicking the hashtags on an individual picture. Though Kaboompics favors food and architecture, they have a healthy selection in many other areas, as well. You simply have to subscribe to their newsletter to receive an extra photopack. Those who subscribe, however, get access to special hi-res images.
Picjumbo – Are you a startup or struggling SMB that’s looking for a FREE, searchable stock image site with high-resolution photos with nearly no attribution requirements? Then Picjumbo may be for you! Though the photo base is newer and smaller than others out there, Picjumbo has great pics and offers a ‘name your price’ deal that allows you the amazing option of downloading all 600+ of their photos. The site seems to focus on food and animals but has 15 total categories to choose from, including business, technology, fashion and abstract. When you find an image you like, you’ll get the option to download, test it, or go premium to download all pics from that photo shoot and receive monthly premium packs (only $6 a month).
Pixabay – With over 430,000 free pics, vectors and illustrations, it’s easy to see why Pixabay is a leader in free stock images. The mission of this company was to create a repository for stunning public domain pics and well, they have more than succeeded. They allow any Pixabay image to be used for any application, even commercial, without attribution. You don’t even have to register to their site to enjoy free downloads, though if you do, they’ll take away the captcha that is presented before every download starts. Registration is a breeze, as they offer Facebook, Google or Microsoft logins. Another great bonus is that if you upload 10 images to Pixabay, you can get rid of all the pesky advertisements! Let’s all go find our cameras…
StockPhotos.io – If you’re into sharing community platforms like Pinterest, you may want to check-out StockPhotos.io. Their layout is very similar to Pinterest’s and anyone can contribute photos, or take photos for their own use. However, since StockPhotos.io is made up of 27,000 photos from many different photographers, you’ll need to check each photo you download for copyright and attribution requirements… if you are unsure or using the photo for commercial use, assume it will require attribution. Downloading is not as straight forward with StockPhotos.io as it is with the standard free stock photo sites but with a few clicks, you should be able to find the download option and photo credits. Other cool features about this site include a central bookmarking system that allows you to manage your favorite images. They also offer resources such as free fonts, icons, wallpapers, and more.
Free stock photo sites don’t have to be searchable to have amazing, quality photos. The search feature just allows you to quickly find the specific photo you’re looking for. For those who like to browse for inspiration, however, you may want to consider these non-searchable free stock photos options –
- Public domain archive (from vintage to modern)
- Getrefe (architectural and landscape)
- Jay Mantri (updated every Thur)
- New Old Stock (antique pics)
- Little Visuals (unique and handpicked pics)
Finding excellent photos for use in your content marketing doesn’t have to cost a ton. With these 5 sites, you should be able to cover most topics you’re looking for, and them some!
Did we miss some? What are your favorite free stock photo sites?
Inspired by her love of travel, Susan is a passionate supporter of eCommerce software and the idea that people should own their own internet business (so they can work from anywhere in the world). Though she currently resides in California, she is often found blogging from random beaches and teaching her kindergartner the delightful difference between ‘hola’ and ‘ciao’.
With a strong past in product evaluation, educational content, and eCommerce sales, Susan is serious about helping online merchants succeed in their goals. She loves meeting other independent business owners on the road and hopes to run into you one day… maybe in the hammock next to her!