Content marketing is a powerful technique employed to attract attention to your brand or service. However, studies have found that visitors to a site only scan around 28% of the content, on average — which is actually estimated at 20% — so including images is critical to maintaining interest.
An eye-tracking study found that the zigzagging of images with tables or other visuals has become popular for absorbing more content on a page, but is there a way to find free images for your content?
We have put together a list of sites where you can find free images to add unique interest to your content. Before jumping ahead, take a quick look at potential licensing issues you may encounter when sourcing free images.
A Quick Note About Licenses
Most of the sites on this list allow you to use their visuals with few or no restrictions. However, it is always wise to double-check about licenses.
Below are three different licenses you can encounter when sourcing free images. If you don't understand these well, you could end up paying high fees for using an image you had no right to.
Creative Commons: Creative Commons share a variety of information on the internet, which can be used at no cost. Read these licensing terms so that you can continue to use their services freely or within the framework of their licenses. Learn to identify the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) sign, which provides a clear indication of free stock images for commercial and noncommercial purposes.
Public Domain: These images do not fall under any copyright law, which means anyone can use and adapt or distribute the images as they desire. Ideally, the image should state that it is in the public domain. When this is not clearly indicated, you should protect yourself by checking with the site owner if the image is available in the public domain. Alternatively, access sites that clearly state their images are free to use or have clear instructions about how they may be used. Also, check this link to see what the public domain mark looks like.
Royalty-Free: What are royalty-free images? You can use these visuals after paying a once-off fee. Because no royalties are payable after payment, you can use the image countless times because you have purchased this right. Most visuals on free image sites come with a CC0 license, which means you can use and adapt these to your heart’s content. Remember to read the fine print, and if you have doubts, contact the site owner to safeguard yourself from any potential backlash.
Continue reading for a list of selected sites containing free-to-use images to boost your content. And before choosing images, we recommend you use the SEMrush Content Marketing Toolkit to find trending topics and keywords that will help you choose images that will enhance and be releveant to your content.
1. Creative Commons Search
Choose whether you want images to add to content for commercial reasons or select the box for free images that can also be adapted or modified. In the screenshot below, you can see all the license and public domain options; it is important that you know the difference between each.
It really is that easy to navigate this site to get what you want. You don’t even need to register or login to access any free stock images. For a quick check, type in “dogs,” and you will have further options to choose from in the left-hand menu.
Image, file type, and licensed or public domain are some of the choices available. You can also select whether you want to use images, video, or audio related to the subject search.
Shutterstock offers a comprehensive collection of images across diverse categories. As soon as you begin a search and select enter, a menu appears on the screen’s left side to adapt the search parameters. Image type, orientation, colors, and people demographics are available to refine the search. You can also select a visual for editorial or noneditorial purposes from the same menu.
You can augment content with anything from music to videos, vectors, illustrations, photos, and editorials, making Shutterstock unique on this list. An array of helpful tools is also on offer, further increasing the appeal of this site. Unfortunately, you must sign up if you want to receive free images. The number of free images is also limited, so despite the wonderful attributes on this site, unlimited access to free stuff is not one of them.
Download thousands of photos from Unsplash for any purpose. With so many to choose from, this site is a smorgasbord of visuals that will easily increase your content’s value.
A simple menu at the top right of the screen allows you to filter for orientation, color, and relevance. Move the mouse over the image to reveal the download icon, and a quick click will quickly give you the visual that you want. You may use these beautiful photos for any purpose; no attribution is required (but is always welcomed), but read the license to remain within the law.
4. Burst by Shopify
Burst by Shopify has a large collection of high-quality visuals that can be downloaded as needed. Although Burst does not demand that you credit their contributors, they see this as the kind thing to do.
Even though attribution is not always possible, this gesture benefits photographers when applied. Photos can be edited, cropped, and otherwise manipulated to suit intentions. The site provides a link to free resources to achieve this goal. A list of helpful advice is visible at the bottom of the homepage to guide your use of the site.
Create a free account or conduct an image search without registration. Once you type in a search word, such as “owl,” check the drop-down “Any License” menu and select which category you want.
No special statements are made for image attribution, but the FAQ section requests users to use the image link address as a matter of courtesy. If you want advanced features from this site, you will need to sign up for editing and to save uploaded images.
Pikwizard caters to a variety of tastes. With over 1 million free images, you can even choose to add videos to your content. A strong category selection promotes finding images as a simple process. Pikwizard has recently added their DesignWizard, so modification of images can conveniently be done on-site.
All visual content is royalty-free. Not even attribution is required, making this a go-to site to enhance your content publishing techniques. If you want to grow your content skills, remember to utilize the Content Marketing Toolkit to research, analyze your competitors, and optimize your content.
Stockvault consists of an impressive “vault” of image categories. You can choose from loads of free images, with a menu that clearly guides your licensing choices. Again, no login is required, and only contributors will need to sign up if they want to share images, according to the FAQ section.
Otherwise, image downloading is simple, only in JPG format, and there are many tutorials to modify images according to preferences.
8. Getty Images
Getty Images offers visitors the choice of free or paid images and to use their site with or without registration (always convenient). Type your topic into the search bar on the homepage. After you select “enter,” you will see a menu on the left-hand side of the page.
A variety of options are available. Select a filter for the newest or oldest images. Choose a date range, license type, image orientation, resolution, style, and other filters. Getty Images is well-known for charging usage fees, so contact them for further information related to image rights if you are in doubt.
9. Free Images
Like many other free image sites, this one also provides a vast selection of visuals to increase your content appeal. Browse from a selection of free photos from the drop-down menu, select an appropriate category, and attribute the image by copying the link address when you use it in any form of content.
The license guidelines are clear and include instructions on how you may use site images.
“Completely free” is a welcome term when sourcing visuals to promote content. Reshot is on a mission to do just that by providing contributors with an inviting space to showcase their talent.
They also say,
Uniquely free photos. Handpicked, non-stocky images. Yours to use as you wish.
Access all visuals free of charge, but do the right thing by acknowledging where you sourced the work so that budding photographers can make a name for themselves.
11. Freerange Stock
Freerange Stock comprises a vast library of free photos and illustrations, which it confirms are available for commercial use, with no attribution necessary. Download a range of cool vintage stock photos from this site, or use their image finder to source relevant material from other sites.
While the free images can be implemented for commercial and noncommercial use, the site’s license includes an important provision. Any profits generated on products must not be primarily due to the image derived from the site.
Read this provision here for a better understanding of this restriction.
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Suggestion: No More Boring Stock Photos
A sound content marketing strategy involves planning your content, clearly defining what you want to achieve, and measuring end results. Attractive and impactful imagery is very important for your readers — they aid in building trust with your readers. They can also break up text, and they make remembering content easier. With free images to use, there is no reason no to use them to improve your content.