At the core of any successful blog is valuable content—helping readers solve a problem, increase their knowledge, work more effectively. But text alone isn’t enough; to really make a blog stand out, it needs to include compelling images as well.
As noted on the CyberChimps blog, “a picture is worth a thousand words. But a 1000-word blog post with a great picture to go with it? That’s worth gold.”
Interesting visuals add value beyond blog posts as well, of course: they’re useful in presentations, videos, e-books, and other types of content at the core of an effective web presence optimization strategy.
While there is no shortage of “free’ image sources on the web, not all are worth your time. Some are difficult to use, have very limited or poor-quality selections, or include “fine print” that limits what you can actually do with their images.
To help you be efficient and find great collections of free or low-cost images, here are links to six excellent image sources along with guides to and reviews of dozens more free image sites.
Reviews of Free Image Sites
20 Sites to Get Free Stock Images for Commercial Use by Social Media Today
Finding free, high-quality images for commercial use can be a pain, but in this post Giancarlo Massaro has “done the dirty work for you and compiled this resource of 20 different sites so you can get free stock images that fall under the Creative Commons Zero license or similar; meaning you can copy, modify, and use any photo you find, even for commercial purposes, without having to ask permission or provide attribution.” His recommendations include Realistic Shots, Free Nature Stock and Kaboompics.
20 Awesome Websites for Free, High Quality Stock Photos by To Make A Website
Matt Clark presents his list of “some of the better stock photo sites” he’s come across, which are also “completely free.” Among his favorites are several popular free images sites as well as lesser-known options like Picjumbo, Pexels, and Getrefe, a “tumblr blog that has free photos for personal or commercial purposes.”
53+ Free Image Sources For Your Blog and Social Media Posts by Buffer Social
Courtney Seiter helpfully reviews more than 50 sources for free blog images, from Buffer’s own Pablo tool to some of the popular tools mentioned below to unique sources like Dreamstime, IM Free, Public Domain Pictures, BigFoto and Foter.
14 Sites for Free Stock Photos by Practical Ecommerce
Sig Ueland shares “a list of resources to find free stock photos for commercial use. There are stock photo search engines, huge image collections from stock photography sites, smaller curated collections from design sites, and some additional sources for free high quality photographs” including some interesting lesser-known sites like RGBStock and New Old Stock (which “features vintage photos from the public archive, free of known copyright restrictions”).
How to Find Free Images With Google’s Advanced Image Search by Search Engine Watch
Noting that images “capture the attention of many more readers by giving your words a boost with a little visual appeal,” Matt Morgan provides step-by-step instructions for how to find and verify the status of freely usable images on Google, to avoid threatening or demanding letters from commercial image sources.
By Request – Good Alternatives to Google Image Search by Free Technology for Teachers
Richard Byrne responds to a teacher frustrated by “students are getting when they search on Google Images” with details of eight free-image alternatives, including the Morgue File, everystockphoto.com (“a search engine for public domain and Creative Commons licensed pictures. When you search on Every Stock Photo it pulls images from dozens of sources across the web”), and Wikimedia Commons.
Premium photography provider Getty Images got lots of attention last spring when they announced they were offering free images. But, Ginny Soskey cautions, read the fine print: you generally can’t use the images for any type of “commercial” purpose (defined quite broadly), and Getty’s plans for monetization are unclear: “They can make money through this…because the code is an iframe. An iframe is a type of code that takes a piece of content that lives on another website and puts it on your site, and the site that hosts the code has complete control over what displays on your site.”
Other Sources for Free Images
This was post #4 of Blogging for Business Week 2015 (#b4bweek) on Webbiquity.