In my post about creating an SEO strategy for 2014 I discussed the evil Panda update that is making content marketers take a hard look at their content. One of the key on page factors is considered to be the amount of images that you put on your site. Paying for up to seven images a post however can get a bit expensive. Here are some great resources you can use to get free images for commercial use until you can afford to pay for the stock ones.
I wanted to take a break from the SEO posts for a bit, especially since I have some epic pieces coming out in the next few posts.
Plus you can not deny that the topic does tend to get a little beat up in the content marketing space. I mean really how many ways can you write about link building before you are repeating yourself.
But there is one topic that a lot of people are missing, images for your website.
The best, and preferred, method to get images is to purchase them from the photographers that are creating them. After all you would want to be rewarded for your hard work, and they are no different.
But unfortunately a lot of the sites that are hosting the types of images you may need are actually quite expensive. Of course you get what you pay for, so the selection is usually quite extensive.
What do you do if your running short on cash though?
Well you could always take the risk of going to Google or Bing and searching through their images listings.
There are quite a few people who do this and use those they they find all over their site. The risk in this strategy is actually pretty low, regardless of what people tell you.
The price of actually getting caught though could cost you your business if you anger someone who really cares however. If the images are copyrighted you are putting your whole business in the sights of lawyers who will be happy to sue for using their clients content without permission. And if successful the suits could ending up costing you way more than it would have cost to pay for the images in the first place.
Best bet is to not be the image scraper and just get them legally.
Get Free Images That Only Require Attribution
One of the coolest things about all the sites that I am going to show you is that all you have to do is indicate where you got it from in order to use it. As long as you do that, under their terms of service guidelines, you will never run into any sort of issues.
As you go through remember that most, if not all, of these sites are affiliates of the major stock photo resources. So you definitely need to make sure you’re paying attention and only choosing the freely available ones.
Enough of me rambling, how about we get to the sites already!
I have set the links up to open in a new window, so as you open them create a bookmark folder on your browser titled “Pictures” and you’ll have them forever. Or at least until your browser crashes lol.
FreeDigitalPhotos.net – http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/
This site is where I always start looking first. There are some great photographers who allow their works to be used for anything you little heart desires. And most importantly, you can get free images for commercial use. This is especially important if you making money off your websites.
They have their photo’s separated by category and their search function works great.
One other cool thing about this site is that new images are added all the time.
PhotoPin.com – http://photopin.com/
This is my next stop for free images for my blogs. But you really have to be careful when using it.
First when you do a search there you will get offered up tons of awesome photo’s. The first two or three rows however all all the paid images however, which is horrible when you find just the perfect one and realize you can’t buy it.
Then there are the free images that it finds on Flikr, which all in all are not bad. Except for one little detail.
As a member of Flikr you can set your images up to be freely available, just not for commercial use. Well if you have a blog about some topic that your not making a dime off of, then that’s fine. But most bloggers are making money off their sites so you need to switch it to “commercial use” inside the search results.
You will find that the available free images gets a lot less after doing that. Don’t let that discourage you though, you just have to play around with the keywords a bit in your search to find some great stuff.
Stock.XCHNG – http://www.sxc.hu/
This is a site with a crazy name and forget about trying to make sense of the URL. Just know that this was one of the first websites I was able to find that provided free website images.
The selection is ok, but here you really have to play around with the words you use in your search to find something just right. Which can be a bit of a time consuming process.
You will find that most of your results will end up showing you paid images with a little bit of free one’s thrown in the middle. You can tell those because a lot of them look like someone shot them with a Kodak disposable camera.
I’m not saying you can’t find good pictures here, it just takes a bit of patience.
FreeRangeStock.com – http://freerangestock.com/
This site is AWESOME at returning photo’s for your keywords, if you want to pay for them. But the free photo’s are a whole other story.
You can find thousands of free images for commercial use here, but don’t expect the search function to pinpoint them for you. I did a search for “cat eyes” and the return on the search consisted of over 18 pages of free images. Not bad, if you don’t mind having to go through about eight of them before you actually even see a picture of a cat.
That being said though, the images are pretty good.
In order to use the site you have to register. Just make sure you opt out of any mailings they may do if you don’t want to be bother by them.
Pixabay.com – http://pixabay.com/
This is pretty awesome.
I was actually directed to this site by another blogger who swears by it.
You can find some really great photos on there and most of them are all “public domain” which means you can pretty much do anything you want to do with them.
Since I started using it I have never not found something relevant to put on my websites.
On thing that stands out with this site that photographers actually give up their rights to the photo’s if they put them on there. Meaning you don’t have to put any attribution if you don’t want to.
A cool idea would be to find the author on social media and let them know you featured their work on your website and ask if they would like you to link somewhere for them. I think its the least we can do if we start using a lot of their photo’s.
Wellcome Images – http://wellcomeimages.org/
If you are into art or interior design then this is the image site for you. Every image on here is public domain, meaning free to use.
The hard part is actually searching the site. Its not like the other where you search by keyword. Your much better off finding a piece of art on the search engines first.
Then taking the name of that piece to this site and seeing if they have it available.
It sounds like a bit of extra work, but like I said, if your audience loves art pieces then you would be doing yourself a great favor to take a look at this site.
MorgueFile – http://www.morguefile.com/
This site is more than just free images for commercial use on blogs, this site is for that creative side of you.
Lets say you want to do a PowerPoint presentation for a video, well you can populate the presentation with these.
Or you can find 30 of them, add your favorite quotes to them, and upload that to your Facebook page or Google+ account.
Searching the site is pretty easy and you can get a lot of inspiration just from playing around with it. You might even find a cool vector image for your Twitter account background.
Pixel Perfect Digital – http://pixelperfectdigital.com/
Here is another site that actually allows you to pretty much do anything you want with the pictures on the site. The only thing they require is that once your done you acknowledge them as the source of your original photo.
Again, I like use these types of sites for my social media accounts. But your more than welcome to use them as is on your websites as well.
CreativeCommons.org – http://search.creativecommons.org/
This site is much much more than simple free images, it comes with music and video as well.
Especially the music if you plan on trying to use it in your video’s. YouTube will delete your video, or your whole channel, if something thinks you stole their work.
Play it safe and do your research on this site.
They also have a public domain section available to you to browse.
deviantART.com – http://www.deviantart.com/resources/stockart/
This is the last site I want to highlight for you.
I was actually turned on to this site when I was in the Army serving in Iraq.
One of my Soldier’s was really heavy into the art scene and he was teaching me how to use Photoshop to create my own original works. (he taught me enough to be dangerous).
This site offers all types of art work that you can use and the attribution is really inside the website itself. With most creators just wanting you to acknowledge their work within the community itself.
Knowing a few of them I would encourage you to go that extra step though and link to their galleries from your websites.
I have yet to run into one person on there who didn’t deserve a lot more credit then they are getting now!
You’ve Found Free Website Images, Now What?
I have shown you ten places to find free images for your website.
Now I am going to tell you not to use them!
What are you crazy?
Maybe a little bit, but that is another story lol.
What I mean to say is that you should not use them as they are.
Well I did it because for two reasons.
First, you and I are not the only people who know about these sites. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of people from all around the world who are going to the exact same places and taking images off of them. And I would venture to say that 99% of them don’t alter them in any way.
This brings me to point number two
Google knows your using a free stock image.
Now if you don’t care one little bit about some free traffic from Google or Bing then this will be mean nothing to you. And if that’s the case, I say go ahead and just throw them up.
But more than likely you don’t mind a few extra visits thrown your way that you didn’t have to pay for. After all you wrote a great post and found awesome images so the more people that see your work the better right?
Google is actually pretty smart in this regard though so your images will get lost in the crowd unless you alter them a bit.
Let me show you.
I went to a random website I found searching Google for “make money online”. I found this photo on one of the interior pages.
You probably know this blogger if I mentioned his name, John Chow.
The image he has up is actually unique to his blog, and I’m sure it was only posted on his site right? Wrong!
You can do this with pretty much any picture you find on the net by the way.
Just right click like so and select “copy image location”
When you do that your copying the URL where the image is hosted at.
Then you pop over to Google and do a search for that link.
When you do it the original photo will pop up, and so will every single copy of the photo that Google knows about.
As you can see, sure John made the image himself, but it was used somewhere else.
Now image you are using a free stock image on your site. How many other people are using that same image?
That is why your going to be different and edit.
Now your editing can be as simple as adding some words to your photo so don’t think I want to you go out and buy Photoshop or anything. But I do have a couple free image tools that you can use to make them special.
PicMonkey.com – https://www.picmonkey.com/
There is a bit of a learning curve with this site.
It nowhere near as complicated as Photoshop though so you’re going to love it.
With both free and paid options available you can also take advantage of their free tips and training to really make your photo’s pop.
Use this is if you have a lot of time and really do want to stand out in a crowd.
Free Online Picture Resizer – http://picresize.com/
Picresize.com does exactly what it says it does. It resizes images.
Its a bit more than that too. This online tool will allow you to crop images (comes in handy when cutting old girlfriends/boyfriends out of photos) and can add some pretty cool special effects to your free images as well.
It doesn’t take that long to go through the step by step interface and with a bit of imagination you can really have some fun with it.
Google+ – http://plus.google.com/
Did you know that Google+ has a built in photo editor?
Yeah I didn’t either until I was playing around with the buttons one day and found it.
All you need to do is go to your home feed like you want to enter a status update:
Then you upload load any photo you want:
Then once its uploaded you will see some editing options under your photo:
Click on those to add text and do some other stuff. I use is to make meme’s with quotes like so:
It really doesn’t matter the purpose of your website, you are going to need quality images.
These days your readers are expecting them, and they help make your content look a bit less imposing when they are deciding if they want to read it or not.
Finding the images to use however can become quite a chore, and very expensive if you use a lot of them.
Hopefully you will find as much value in the free images for commercial use websites that I have listed above as I did. Just make sure you thank the photographers and artist’s that took the time to create the pieces that you use. Without them free images wouldn’t be possible.