When it comes to adding images to your web content, your best bet, for a number of reasons, is something unique and original. If you can afford it, have a graphic designer or photographer create exactly what you need. Not only will this ensure your images are as relevant as possible to the content they accompany, but it also frees you of worry about proper licensing and attribution of images you find on the web.
Sadly, original graphics get expensive quickly — especially if you’re pumping out multiple blog posts per week.
Fortunately, there are a number of sites that offer free images online that you can use as needed. You’ll still have to be careful, though, as some require attribution and limit the ways you can use the images. You should always check to make sure you’re using an image in the ways it was intended before publishing.
unDraw: an Open Source Repository
I recently stumbled across unDraw.co, which bills itself as being an open source project for graphic design. They don’t offer photos, per se, but there is a deep selection of illustrations that fit well with many professional topics, especially related to B2B, eCommerce, and technology.
What I like best about unDraw is that they give you all the legal wording on using their graphics, preceded by this paragraph that puts your mind at ease:
Read below for the actual license but the gist is that you can use the illustrations in any project, commercial or personal without attribution or any costs. Just don’t try to replicate unDraw, redistribute in packs the illustrations or create integrations for it. https://undraw.co/license
What really tells you they’re for real is that they don’t even have a “premium” option that you would pay for. The site is purely a repository for free illustrations.
(Note: The image at the top of this post is from unDraw.)
Pixabay, Pexels, and Unsplash
These three websites are among the most popular for free photos and illustrations to use in your web content. They each offer search functionality and a fairly extensive selection of free images. Check them out here:
Not to be redundant, but be sure to check on licensing on each of these sites to make sure you’re using images appropriately. For example, here’s what Unsplash’s licensing page says:
One other word of caution on these free image sites…
People can recognize stock images. You’re not going to fool anyone with the first thing that comes up when you search “confused” or “excited” on these sites. Some people won’t care what you use, but some find it tacky to use the same photo that lives on thousands of other websites.
My suggestion is to take some time and try to find something a little deeper in the search results, or search some words and phrases that are not directly related to your content, just to see if anything interesting comes up.
It’s easy to go down a rabbit hole with these sites. Don’t spend hours, but at least spend minutes, not seconds!
Free Stock Video Sites
Free video to use on your website is harder to come by, especially in terms of finding anything relevant.
Some free image sites are offering video as well. For example, Pexels has a separate video search page on their site.
Videvo.net is another good resource for stock video footage. On this site, you’ll find licensing information for each video clip alongside the specific clip. This is the example provided on their licensing page:
Videvo provides licensing info for each clip individually.
Paid Services for Stock Images
There are a ton of paid services for stock images (and video). While it is certainly worth it to pay for an image of higher quality and that hasn’t been used a million times before, subscriptions to these sites can get expensive.
Adobe Stock, for example, has a massive collection of great images to use, but a monthly subscription to their service may not be worth it if you’re not producing a lot of new content.
Fortunately, many sites provide single-purchase and credit-based options, where you’ll only pay for what you need. If you’re having trouble find the perfect images for your blog posts, before you give in and go with something you don’t love, consider investing a few dollars into something more relevant and unique.