Did you know that some images on Getty Images cost upwards of $1,400 or more just to use in a online marketing campaign? Not, $1.40…or $14.00…but $1400 for one image that you can only use on a online marketing campaign.
Most businesses (especially if you’re a startup) cannot afford to spend that kind of money on just one image, when the average successful fan page needs to post 3-10 times per week to build a solid community.
Even for services such as ShutterStock, it’ll cost up to $29.00 per 2 images or $249 per month to subscribe.
In today’s digital content landscape, your strategies cannot survive without visuals. Images are the fuel that drives your engagement. For example, Facebook photo updates receive 53% more likes and 104% more comments than text updates.
To help your marketing campaigns become more affordable, I accumulated an ultimate list of 73 quality, free image sites for you to use in your social media and blogging campaigns.
Broken down by category, you have all the tools you need to find great stock photos, as well as create infographics, quote graphics, or memes. The choice is yours, and the opportunities are endless.
What type of free image sources can you use for your business?
Before I dive into the images sources available, I just want to explain how you can use these photos for your business.
Creative commons – First, many of the images found in the sites below are termed creative commons images. This means that the photographer or artist who created the image gave permission for you to reuse the work for your own purposes.
Most of the sites have explicit instructions you need to read before using the photo.
Remember to check whether you can use the image for commercial purposes.
Additionally, many images require attribution. Essentially, you need to give the photographer credit for taking the photo. Each site has different rules, and you need to respect those rules.
Public domain – The second type of image are those that are in the public domain, and do not require any attribution… always polite if you can.
The vast majority of these images are so old they no longer receive copyright protection (e.g, Leonardo Da Vinci’s paintings), or are photos from a city, state, or federal government agency (e.g. NASA space shuttle.)
They are therefore, available for anyone to use, however they want to use them.
Dreamstime – One of the largest photo sharing sites in the world with over 29 million free and paid images. A great place to start your search for free photos. Keep in mind that they also have many paid images.
Free Digital Photos – This large photo sharing site allows users to share their photos via social media, forums, blogs, and other medium. Make sure to read their site agreement first, so you stay within their guidelines.
Free Images – 410,835 photos on Free Images as of this article. These images are from over 30,000 photographers around the world. They state on the website that you can use their images on your blog.
Free Range Stock – Are you looking for quality images to share? Then check out Free Range Stock. All of their images are a minimum of 2400×1600 pixels. That is good enough for most print campaigns, and you can even use them in your commercial projects.
Free Photos Bank – This free stock photo site is also an affiliate for Dreams Time. They cover traditional stock photo topics, and provide quality background images. You might have trouble finding specific, quality industry images.
Imagefree – This collection of free images was started in 2010 by a pair of Icelandic photographers. They are constantly taking photos, and encouraging contributors to put their photos on the site as well for creative commons usage. You must be part of the community to receive the images (free membership).
IM Creator – The selection on IM Creator is slim compared to some of the other databases. However, they do a nice job categorizing images so you can find images quick as a cat.
morgueFile– Who wants high resolution, quality images anyways for your web and print campaigns? Oh wait! You do…then check out morgueFile. This is the website for creatives.
Pixabay – This is a repository of 310,000 free public domain photos, vector images, and art illustrations. The best part about Pixabay is that you do not need to attribute your photos to the site or artist, which makes it an amazing source of social media images.
Public Domain Pictures – 93,346 free pictures from 5,207 users online. Sounds like the beginning of the song to Rent, but it is actually the number of photos at your disposal on Public Domain Pictures. Be very careful on this site with attribution. Some photos require a release before using.
Stock Vault – Over 52,000 images on Stock Vault. They even have a wide array of texture images you can use. Textures are great backgrounds for quotes and websites. You are required to sign up for free, but then you are part of a community on Stock Vault of over 80,000 members.
RGB Stock – An international group project for people who are not able to afford high quality photos. They are a newer company, and also rely upon are Dream Time for their paid photos section.
U.S. Government Photos and Images – The United States government is one of the largest producers of photos in the world. These photos are in the public domain, and waiting for you to use them. Check disclaimers before using, but most government images are fair game.
StockSnap.io – You can now get hundreds of high resolution photos every week in a snap. Yuck! Yuck! Yuck! In a snap…oh boy!
Splitshire – Daniel Nanescu created this is an Italian free stock photography site. He provides high quality photos from shoots he does in Italy. If you want a wider selection of photos, you can join his membership for a ridiculously low $5.50 per month.
Clker.Com – A free database of clip art. The standard example of clip art is the old Microsoft database of 1990’s…then think of Clker as 100x times better.
Stock Photos For Free – Since the site started in June, 2012, Stock Photos for Free users downloaded over 762,474 photos from their selection of 100,000+ photos. This site provides unlimited downloads for 100% free with a royalty free license.
BigFoto – Growing photo database from the royalty free photo agency. Photographers from around the world donate their images to the site.
Gratisography – Free high-resolution photos added every week that can be used on commercial projects.
Death to the Stock Photo – As they say on their homepage, they want to be like coffee for the modern creative. A great place to get your creative juices flowing, you can use these photos for your blog posts, social media, and mockups.
FreeMediaGoo.Com – How can you go wrong with a site called Free Media Goo? Free stock photos and high quality texture backgrounds available royalty free. No subscription necessary to access the photos.
HubSpot – Marketing blog HubSpot provided 485 free stock photos to use for your marketing. These are free downloads that you can use in any marketing campaign you choose.
iStockPhoto Free – A division of Getty Images. This is a weekly free list of stock images from one of the premier photo services in the world.
Picjumbo – In a little over a year this new free stock photo site has over 1 million downloads of their trendy images. Discover their collection of commercial images for yourself.
Pick Up Image – They claim to have the largest collection of free photos…however they do not say how many images they have. Hm! That being said their images are quality.
Super Famous Studios – Dutch interaction designer Folkert Gorter shares his own free images and visual content. This is half portfolio, and half free creative commons images.
Image After – Another large collection of images. The images seem a bit dated like the website look…Hello 1996! The images can still be useful for the right topic, but prepare to go back to the future with this website design.
Dryicons – More than 6700 vectors and images to give you some cheerful graphics to add to the photos from other sites.
Graphic River – Part of the Envato series of online communities for internet marketers, developers, and designers. While most of the images are paid, they do provide 8 images every week for free on their site.
Life of Pix – Montreal Leroy Advertising Agency is another source of free high-resolution photos that are donated to the public domain.
Microsoft Office – For those with Microsoft Office licenses, the photos on Microsoft Clip Art are free, Creative Commons images that anyone can use. Plus, they updated their collection of 1990’s icons. Many of these images are quality, which is surprising if you remember the 1990’s Microsoft icons.
Unrestricted Stock – As the name shockingly indicates, this site gives you free and unrestricted access to photos, vector images, and hand-drawn graphics. Many of their images are great fillers on explanatory blog posts.
DeviantArt – A community for artists to connect and share information. This specific group on DeviantArt provides Creative Common images for those who need them for their site. One interesting note is that you can do a Google search for Creative Commons art on DA by typing in “This worked is licensed under a Creative Commons” site: deviantart.com.
Getty Images – As I mentioned earlier, Getty Images is an elite photo company. While traditionally, they have veered away from royalty free images, this section of the website is the first step in their acceptance of this type of image.
Photo sharing sites
Creative Commons– Part search engine, and part resource to all things creative commons. This is the original source of information to learn about how to use Creative Commons Images for your business.
Foter -Over 228,860,217 free stock photos from various creative common sources around the web. The coolest thing about this site is that they have a WordPress plugin that allows you to insert photos on your page from their catalog of images.
Search Engine Watch Free Images – Search Engine Watch is a great place to learn more about search engine optimization. Now they also have some free images for you to optimize on your blog posts as well. These are creative common images that are free from lawsuit happy copyright lawyers.
Every Stock Photo – Over 25 million free photos in this creative commons search engine. This is another site, where you need to look at the site images licenses before using.
Photo Pin – As the site says, free photos for bloggers and creatives. Did someone say blog? Note: A few of the images that I checked out on the site, say not for commercial usage.
Wylio – Most of the services I have discussed in this article are solely image services. However, Wylio not only provides you with free images, but also helps you find, resize, and embed these photos to use them as you want. They do have a premium program, but allow you to use 5 free images per month.
Lock and Stock – Photography agency that provides free stock photos through their blog. These are all creative commons images, and for use on your site.
Ancestry Images – Over 31,000 old and antique prints. A cool collection of antique images, maps, and other photo stock in the public domain.
New Old Stock – This is similar to Ancestry Images, but is a Tumblr blog with new images of old photo stock posted regularly.
Royalty Free Cartoon Characters – Amazing package of cartoon characters you can use for your and social media shares. If you like it, then check out the premium images as well for only $17. These are high quality cartoon characters.
Carpictures.cc – Great collection of…drum roll please…Cars! All different makes and models with different images that are creative commons pics.
Animal Photos – If you ever need that picture of a redheaded duck or a capuchin monkey this is your spot for royalty free images. Make sure to check the attributions required for your photo.
From Old Books Who doth goes there? My liege needeth images frometh ancient times. Enter and discover 3500 free images from rare and vintage old books.
PhotosEverywhere.co.uk – Travel site with over 3600 creative commons stock images of places around the world. I like the world maps, which in their words would make Copernicus green.
NASA -If the last site was photos for travel, then guess what a government agency named NASA takes photos of…hmmm…vegetables. Get some of the best images from the space race from the place that launched the first man on the moon among other amazing moments in history.
Photo by email
Unsplash – Receive 10 new photos every 10 days. These are high quality images that are great for social media and blogging.
Little Visuals – 7 Hi-Res Images zipped and emailed to you every week. You are free to use these creative commons images, however you want.
SnapWire Snaps – Wow! At this point, your inbox should be overflowing with weekly photo emails. So, here are 7 more each week from SnapWire Snaps.
Jay Mantri – Final one! Now you can get 7 additional weekly photos every Thursday. At this point, you have no excuses why you can not provide visually engaging social media and blog content.
Flickr – Photo sharing site Flickr has a tremendous creative commons section. To make it easy for users to find, use the advanced search features on Flickr to find commercially available creative commons images.
Compfight – An image search engine of Flickr that provides additional options for finding quality creative commons images fast.
Flickr CC – Another Flickr creative commons search engine. The website is called John Johnston after the found, and uses photo tags to help you find the best images.
Wikimedia – One of the largest creative commons directories on the internet with 24,494,843 free usable media files. This is the place where professionals go when they want commercial images without worrying about the copyright restrictions.
Can We Image – A Wikimedia search engine. Wikimedia is a great place to find images for your business, but can be a bit cumbersome to search. Can We Image improves this process.
Create your image tools
Canva – This is an graphic design tool for those looking to create their own images. Canva makes it easy for novice designers and small business owners to customize images to their specific needs.
Pic Monkey – For those who like to monkey around with their photos, here is another great photo editor with useful fonts and designs. You can edit, touch up, and your images. Also, Pic Monkey has a great collage feature to turn your photos into one, big collage.
Social Image Resizer – Great tool for optimizing images for social media. In this case, you import your image, and can then resize to the appropriate size for your social media post.
Timeline Slicer – Helps you create a custom Facebook images for your fan page and sponsored ads. They have templates for cover pages, profile photos, and sponsored ads.
Never add a photo on Facebook until you make sure the dimensions are right for your fan page. This is something that causes many Facebook marketers problems down the road.
PhotoVisi – Turn your photos into a collage. Great if you want to show off all of your happy customers with products from your ecommerce store.
Be Funky – A full photo editor and collage tool. Be Funky has a suite of photo editing tools that consumers can use to improve the look and feel of their images.
ToonDoo – Do you have some great jokes or ideas you want to share on your social media sites or through your blog. Then use ToonDoo to create your own cartoon strip.
Ease.ly – One of the best tools for creating your own infographics. Imagine creating an infographic of how customers can navigate through your ecommerce site, or use your products for their own benefit.
Visual.ly – Another useful tool for creating infographics. As an added bonus, this is also an infographic directory where users create and share infographics between them for additional traffic.
Piktochart – With over 100 free infographic templates this is another great infographic creator.
Image quotes (memes)
QuotesCover.Com – Turn quotes into beautiful typographic images that catch the eye as much as the quotes inspire your customers.
ReciteThis – Transform your quotes into quotable images with cool background images. Imagine putting your ecommerce motto into ReciteThis to come up with a variety of shareable images of your motto and vision.
Quozio – Another tool to turn your quotes into images. Great alternative if you do not find the images you want with ReciteThis and Quotes Cover.
PinWords – The previous tools helped your turn quotes into images. PinWords allows you to put words on your own images.
The final option I want to discuss with you today is to use embedded posts for images.
For example, Neil Patel wrote a blog post on QuickSprout about How To Leverage Black Friday for Your Business. The bulk of the post covered the infographic he shared on his site.
At the end of the infographic, he included code for you to share this information on your own blog.
<div style="clear:both"><a href="http://www.quicksprout.com/2013/11/22/how-to-leverage-black-friday-for-your-business/"><img src="http://quicksprout.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/blackfriday.jpg" title="How to Leverage Black Friday For Your Business" alt="How to Leverage Black Friday For Your Business" border="0" /></a></div><div>Courtesy of: <a href="http://www.quicksprout.com/2013/11/22/how-to-leverage-black-friday-for-your-business/">Quick Sprout</a></div>
This allows online marketers to share the code on their site without the cost of hosting the image.
With infographic search volume increasing over 800% from 2010 to 2012, Neil is not alone in using this information.
Because of the potential benefit of sharing your information via embed links, thousands of sites around the internet do this all the time. YouTube uses this principle almost exclusively to receive countless website views every month.
It is also a tremendous opportunity for you to add additional content to your site without clogging your servers with images. Whenever someone provides this code, they are also hosting the image for you.
Be on the lookout for these free image sources all over the web.
Why you need images?
So, I have covered an exhaustive list of free image sources for you to use on social media and your blog. Why does it matter? Why do you need images?
Well, to understand that I remind you that the first website on the internet looked like this.
The question you need to ask yourself is would you be interested in this site today?
Like most of us the answer is no. In a visually stunning internet, I need to up our game. One of the best ways to do that is by provide engaging content that hits home with our customers.
The sites above help you provide a visually stimulating content.
Let us know your favorite three sites from our list of 73 free eye popping images in the comment section below.