It seems that everywhere you look on the internet these days, you're bombarded with visual content. You log onto Facebook and see pictures. You browse through Twitter and notice that tweets with images are becoming more popular. People respond to comments with reaction gifs and use emojis to convey their feelings in a succinct, simple manner. In fact, visual content has become so widespread that it's almost impossible to log onto any website, let alone a social media network, and not see some kind of video or image. But what if you're interested in finding pictures to use for your own purposes? How can a small business owner find photos that are appealing and affordable? Running a website might not be your forte, and you certainly don't have the budget to purchase a ton of stock photos or hire a photographer to take them for you. While you're committed to marketing your website, it seems like compelling visual content could be a problem. What can you do to address this?
The Answer: Free Stock Photos
Most of us roll our eyes at the cliché stock photo. However, having some images on your site to break up large blocks of text or to direct the reader to key areas (such as customer support or a membership signup page, for example) is important. As we mentioned above, it's imperative that you use visual media on your website and in your social media posts. But the last thing you want to do is download some free stock photos that are about as appealing as wet paint!
Well, you might be surprised to find that modern stock photography isn't all sterile and overdone; in fact, there are some pretty good sites out there with access to free images. You can download images for free and use them in your projects, as long as you're not trying to make money off the image itself. Sometimes a stock photo site will request attribution, but not always. Below is a list of free image resources for small business owners to take advantage of. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: While we've done our best to provide accurate information regarding the usage of these stock photos, it is always in your best interest to check the terms and conditions yourself. These rules can change over time and may not necessarily reflect what we know at the time of this publication.
Morguefile.com Don't let the name throw you off—this site, while admittedly a bit morbidly named, has tons of free, high-quality stock photos for you to choose from. While there isn't a clean sorting system, you can search the site by keyword to find photos that match what you're looking for, and new pictures are added frequently.
StockSnap.io StockSnap is a popular resource for business owners who want high-quality, creative stock photos to use on their sites. Whether you're looking for outdoorsy photos or something a little more corporate, you'll be able to find it in StockSnap's large database. Everything on the site falls under the Creative Commons CC0 license, meaning you can copy, modify, and distribute any photo on the site for free—even for commercial purposes.
Picjumbo.com Every photo on the site is from one photographer, Viktor Hanacek. Every day, new photos are added to a wide range of different categories, or you can sign up to receive them via email. Viktor lets bloggers, designers, business owners, and marketers from all over the world use his images in their projects. There are so many photos to choose from, you'll be sure to find something that suits your needs.
FreeStocks.org FreeStocks lets you use photos in personal and commercial projects. There are a few categories you can search, or you can simply look for subjects based on keywords or tags. Giving credit is not necessary, but appreciated nonetheless. Several new photos are added daily.
Unsplash.com Unsplash adds 10 new photos every day, so the database is growing rapidly. The photos are completely free to use in your projects. You can sort by collections and search by keywords to find the themes you want. You do not need to provide attributions, as everything on the site falls under the Creative Commons CC0 license.
Use Your Resources
Now that you know that there are a few great stock photography sites out there, you can take a deep breath—you're not going to have to spend a lot of time and money on a professional photographer! For the best results, do your own research and make sure that you feel comfortable with these sites and their terms of usage before you really dig into your project. Then feel free to use these images to update social media, add text to them to use them as inspirational photos, or use them in your newsletter to add visual appeal. Find ways of working beautiful, compelling stock photos in your marketing plan and you'll see it pay off—readers love high-quality images. Not only does it help them read through text more easily, it also gives an impression of professionalism. When you take the time to present yourself in a professional manner, visitors and readers pick up on that. And what small business owner wouldn't love that?
So if you're ready to get started, we hope these sites are of use to you. For more tips and tricks, subscribe to the Zoek blog!