Whether sharing stories about your life or selling a product, images have become essential to the modern website. If you think about your own experience on the web you will probably agree that websites with great images and design draw and keep your attention better than those comprised almost entirely of text. And, those images need to be high quality. Indeed, research by Skyword found that content containing “compelling” images averaged 94 percent more views than those with less eye-catching pictures.
So, you need great images, but how can you get them without violating someone else’s copyright? You could always purchase stock images from a number of sites around the web. In fact, in some situations, you may need to purchase stock images to get the best possible photo for your web page. You could also hire photographers, artists, videographers, and others to create visual content for you, but that costs even more than buying stock images. Before you start spending all of your company’s earnings on images, consider these 5 ways to find free photos and images that you can use on your website:
1. Government Images
Did you know that most images produced by the US government fall into a category of copyright law known as “public domain?” That means that anybody can use them freely, without crediting anybody, and without paying for them. Millions of pages of documents, photographs, videos, and other content exist on government sites and within easily accessible repositories. And, if you think these images might be boring, just remember these pictures include things like pictures of planets and nebulae (courtesy of NASA), photos of military personnel and hardware (any of the armed services), scenery from national parks and the wildlife that inhabit them (National Park Service and US Fish and Wildlife Service), historical photos, pictures of medical conditions and procedures, weather images, and much more. The University of Pennsylvania’s Library site has a fairly robust list of government agency photo repositories organized by topic.
Have some skill with a camera or an illustrator program? Then another option for free images could be as simple as making them yourself. Just be realistic about your level of ability. If your skill level does not compare to that of the photographers or graphic designers whose work you find on other sites, then this may not be the best path for you. But, if you have the eye and the right skill sets, then this could be a golden opportunity to showcase your talents while creating exactly the image you want to convey your message. Moreover, for those wishing to sell an original product, taking your own photos of the product for your online store might be a necessity!
3. Free-to-Use Images on Google
When most people think of finding images on Google, they know the vast majority of those pictures cannot be reused without permission. But, most do not know that a simple filter of the search results can produce hundreds of free-to-use images.
To do this, follow these steps:
- Go to Google and search for the topic of the image you want to find.
- Select “Images” just under the search bar. This will open a page where you will find the pictures matching your search term.
- Click the button that says “Tools” just under the search bar. A submenu appears with a number of filters.
- Click the drop-down for “Usage rights” and select “Labeled for reuse.” The resulting images have been labeled by their respective owners as okay for others to reuse.
Pay attention to the information on the right of the screen when you click on the image, though. These free-to-use rights vary, so some may only allow use if the image remains unchanged, some vary depending on if the image gets used commercially, and some allow any use you like.
Arguably the largest encyclopedia in the world, Wikipedia understandably also has an enormous collection of images. Technically, these images reside on Wikipedia’s sister site, Wikimedia Commons. As of July 2017, Wikimedia Commons hosted about 40.3 million media files. Comprised mostly of images, the collection also contains a few videos, sound files, animations, etc. Wikipedia users upload even more media every day, so the library will just continue to grow. As with Free-to-Use Images on Google, the media found on Wikipedia and in the Wikimedia Commons can have several different types of free content licenses. Make sure the use rights will allow you to use the image in the way you intended on your own site.
5. Free Stock Image Repositories
This one may seem obvious, but check out free stock image repositories. These invaluable resources make finding just the right photo, graphic, gif, or video quite easy. Many offer very sophisticated search tools to help you find just the right picture for your project. You will find dozens of different free stock image sites, like Pixabay, Unsplash, Pexels, and many more. When searching, just be sure to clearly differentiate between free stock images and the simply royalty-free ones. The former should be okay to use without paying for them. But, the latter may require you to pay a one-time fee. “Royalty-free” simply means you can use them more than once without having to pay a licensing fee each time.
While not technically a free image repository of its own, one of the favorite WordPress site-building plugins, BoldGrid, contains a number of free images. Contained in themes (called “Inspirations” in BoldGrid) the images come as part of a pre-built site template. BoldGrid organizes the Inspirations by industry so the images perfectly fit the businesses operating in that space. For those wanting to overhaul their site (or start from scratch), BoldGrid’s Inspirations can save time searching for images. Also, if you need more, BoldGrid’s built-in image repository offers a wide array of images at discounted prices.
BoldGrid works great with InMotion Hosting’s WordPress Hosting service. Visit our WordPress Hosting page to learn more.
What are a few of your favorite free image repositories or websites? Tell us about them in the comment section below. Remember, only FREE image repositories, please.