**UPDATE* New Free Image sites listed here**UPDATE*
From the start, my role at Noisy Little Monkey has heavily relied around the visual. From content to social media, my solution to almost everything is ‘it needs more pictures’.
My reasoning for this is not just because they make blogs and websites prettier but because our culture is becoming much more visual and image centric. Think about Pinterest and Instagram, two newbies off the block have gained popularity very quickly and are just at their core, all about pictures. Even Facebook’s revamp with the timeline is much more image based. Research has also shown that articles with images get 94% more views and the same article notes that for ecommerce sites, 67% of consumers say that the quality of a product image is very important.
So hopefully now I have convinced you about the importance of using images (or if I haven't maybe the snazzy infographic by MDG Advertising will) but now the question is where can I find images to use? Besides using your own photographs, I often find it really difficult to find images that you can use freely. Often you’ll look through Google images and find something you really want to use but should you? The likelihood is, probably not. Not if you’re trying to be nice (and legal).
Why can't I use any old image I find on Google?
This is all to do with Copyright laws. Copyright in its simplest form is a law that protects the author’s original work. If the author has not given permission for the content to be shared it is illegal. (for more information about copyright, check out Social Media Examiner’s Copyright Fair Use and How it Works for Online Images)
So what images can I use for FREE?
Ahh the all important question. Well, from my experience the best place to start looking is Flickr.com. The online photo management site lets you search seemingly endlessly through the photos that other people have kindly taken and uploaded. One thing to be careful about with using images from Flickr is that not all of them are free to share or are commercially available
(some people just use Flickr as an online photo album and don’t want their holiday pictures on your site).
What you need to look for are pictures that come under the creative commons copyright licence.
The easiest way to filter through Flickr, to find pictures that you can use, is by adjusting the advanced search settings. At the bottom of the page in a section called Creative Commons, ticking all three boxes in this last section will make sure that all the results in your search have a Creative Commons licence and can be published on your site with just an accreditation to the photographer.
Even if you're searching with creative commons ticked, it's worth checking what the restrictions are under the licence section (within the right hand column, next to the image you've selected).
Tip: When publishing someone else’s work no matter where it’s from, be courteous and make sure you always credit them and link back to where you found it.
Tash's Tip Top Free Image Sites
Unsplash - Stunning photos completely free to use, you may just have to spend time trawling through the site to find what you want as there's no easy way to search the site.
- Google's creative common search
- Compfight / Photo Pin (These two sites I find really useful as an aid to searching Flickr. Sometimes I can never find something that quite fits the bill for what I'm looking for but these sites really help me delve deeper into the Flikr-Sphere and dig up some really interesting pictures. (just make sure to tick the commercial or creative commons box - depending on your use)
- Vecteezy! - Great if you need an illustration
Flaticon and Freepik are also great if you need icons / illustrations
- You'll also find that some sites like Shutterstock and iStock do a free image of the week that you could use.
The only downside I have found to using sites that provide free images is that it's often quite time intensive and if you're looking for something very specific, you may not always find what you're looking for.
Alternatively there are a number of places where you can buy images. Shutterstock, GettyImages and iStock to name but a few, will have a range of image types that you can buy.
Tip: try to steer clear of generic stock photos of smiling happy Americans. Nothing wrong with them per se but they are generic and all over the internet. Remember you’re trying to stand out from the crowd.
N.B I don't claim to be an expert on all things copyright but what I've written comes from personal experience. Please leave a comment if I'm doing anything wrong or if you know of any great sites to find free images, let me know and share the love.
Infographic by MDG Advertising