Top 10 Image Sources to Spice up Your Content

Content Marketing Trends 2014
A picture is worth a thousand words. I could write a long and elaborate description of this tantalizing strawberry cheesecake. Or I could give you an idea of how delicious it may be with one simple photograph. Sometimes, all you need is one powerful graph, chart or image to instantly convey the big picture. And studies are showing that compelling graphics drive more traffic and eyeballs to your content.

Most of us are not big corporations with massive budgets and in-house designers. All we need is a sizzling image to spice up our already great content. But finding high-quality images that you can use without attribution, without licensing troubles, and without having to purchase each time is a challenge. Also, there are several stock-photo sites that charge a high premium to buy photos. These sites are good for corporations with large budgets.

So what do you do if you need a quick photo to enhance your blog post, slide presentation or whitepaper? There are plenty or sources – some free and some that you can purchase at a small cost.

I like to either click my own photos or buy them relatively inexpensively from sites that have pay-as-you-go plans. That way, in my small way, I’ve contributed to the artist and I’m not stuck to one site. I have the option of trying several different sites.

Sites that have high resolution, low-cost Images

#1. Canstockphoto.com

You can buy pay-as-you-go plans for as low as $19. You get 20 credits and most small size images cost you 2 credits. So you end up paying about $1 per image.

#2. Istockphoto

Although this is a slightly pricier option than all the other sites here, I like to use it when I need high-resolution images.

#3. 123RF.com

I’ve often found some great, low-cost images on this site. I’ve paid as little as 40 cents for some images. They’re also a great option for slides and presentations.

#4. Bigstockphoto

A subsidiary of Shutterstock, Bigstock adds to its library every day as photographers and designers from around the world submit their work. Bigstock had more than 5.3 million royalty-free images available. Images cost from between 1 to 6 credits each, depending on size, with credits ranging from 90 cents to $3.

Sites for free images

When using free images there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Always be mindful of copyright issues. One rule is clear – if you didn’t produce it or click it with your camera then you don’t own it.
  • Always give attribution to the artist. No matter what your source, it’s a good practice to credit the artist when possible.
  • Read the license carefully to see if you can reproduce image, only use the image in it’s original form etc. This is escpecially true for Creative Commons licenses, where there are so many different ways for an artist to give permission.
  • Regardless of where you get your images, it’s best to follow these image optimization practices.

# 5. Freedigitalphotos.net

This is my favorite site for images. Small images are free and they have a great range of high-quality, low-cost images.

# 6. Google image search

Google’s Image search now has various choices that make it easy to find an image for reuse. You need to click on the option for Search tools and you will be able to search by size, color, type and usage rights. I’ve often found that most of these images are copyright images.
Content Marketing Trends 2014
You can find images on Google Search with different usage rights

#7. Morguefile.com

MorgueFile contains free high resolution digital stock photography for either corporate or public use. The term “morgueFile” is popular in the newspaper business to describe the file that holds past issues for reference. Through the years, the term has been used by illustrators, comic book artist, designers and teachers to mean post production materials or an inactive job file. The purpose of this site is to provide free image reference material for use in all creative pursuits.

#8. Stock.XCHNG

This site has a large gallery of over 395,000 stock photos. You can search by country, users, photos or browse through categories. They also have a nice collection of tutorials, various “how-tos” on stock photography and image editing.

#9. Free Range Stock

Once you sign up for free, you can use these images for commercial and non-commercial use. Photographers get paid when users click on the ads that appear next to their submissions. Images on the site are either shot by or contributed by a talented community of photographers. According to their website, “The images want to be seen and good photos should be available to everyone – so we give the collections away with the hope that they will be useful and be enjoyed.”

#10. Creativecommons.com

Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that lets artists share their creativity and knowledge through free legal tools. It provides artists with a simple, standardized way to allow the public to use their work. The artists can choose from sixteen different licenses ranging from giving full rights to some rights. I’ve often found the Creative Commons licenses to be confusing but some people swear by them and use them all the time.
Photo-sharing sites such as Flickr have the option to search by Creative Commons license.

Also, from time-to-time Hubspot gives away images that you can use without worrying about attribution and licensing.

Your turn

Which are your favorite sites for finding images? Please share them in the comments below. We’ll all benefit from the info. Thanks.

Comments

  1. says

    Wow, I did not know most of these tools – very useful post, Gazalla. I will bookmark this and try out some of the sites for when I shall write up future posts. I often struggle to find the “right” picture to go in texts, and I have often published without visual simply because I did not want to use a picture without proper rights, or could not find the good visual to go with the text.
    Thanks for this :-)
    Frederic
    Frederic Gonzalo recently posted..Facebook Turns 10! Ten Facts to ConsiderMy Profile

  2. says

    This list is very useful. I always struggle finding the right images for my blog posts. I often use my own original photos, but there are really articles that I cannot represent well with my original photos. That is why I have to find for other resources.
    Victorino Abrugar recently posted..33 Ways to be a Better BossMy Profile

    • says

      Thanks. Glad you found this list useful. Yes, a lot of bloggers have this problem. That’s what gave me the idea to come up with this post. Using your own photos is always the best option. If you’re doing that, you are already ahead of most bloggers.

  3. says

    Gazalla,

    I never knew how much images matter to your posts until I started using them recently. The especially get you a lot of clicks from Social media sites too. Great resource.

    Thanks.

    - Bryan

  4. says

    One site I recently discovered is stocksy.com. Very well shot images (IMHO), way superior to the standard libraries like istock and shutterstock. More expensive ($10 to $100 per image).

    Also for very well-shot images visit unsplash.com. You sign up and get emailed 10 new images every 10 days (or can search the archive). It’s new, so there’s not much choice yet, and they are mostly landscape-type images, but I love it and have used several. Totally free.

    Bigstock currently has an offer of 5 FREE images a day for seven days. They ask for your credit card details so that after seven days they can bill you (but you could cancel after your seven days if you don’t want to purchase from them). It’s easy to not accidentally download, as the price in credits appears if you have already used your quota.

    • says

      Thanks for all these sources. They are very helpful. Unsplash looks like an interesting site. I like and use Bigstock but I like to use their pay-as-you-go plans, so I’m not stuck. I try to avoid the expensive sites – they are good for companies with big budgets.

  5. says

    Another free source is:

    Flickr: The Commons : flickr.com/commons
    A feature on Flickr where institutes such as The Library Of Congress, Powerhouse Museum, Brooklyn Museum, Smithsonian Institution and various users can post and share images that have no known copyright restrictions.
    Jacqui recently posted..Sex therapy websites: let’s talk about itMy Profile

  6. says

    And another (sorry for the separate comments; your site won’t let me post a comment containing more than one URL):

    U.S. Government Graphics and Photos at firstgov.gov/Topics/Graphics.shtml
    Links to other U.S. government sites containing thousands of free and public domain images in categories such as Air Force, forests, animals, Army, birds, coast guard, crops, fish, fire, fruits, geology, Indians, lab research, mammals, money, mountains, NASA, Navy, parks, plants, Presidents, space, storms, veggies, volcano’s, war, wildlife, and more.
    Jacqui recently posted..Sex therapy websites: let’s talk about itMy Profile

  7. says

    Hi. How do I stop blogs from a site I work on being added to my comments? These are not my personal posts and I do not want them linked to my comments. (Especially the current link that is being created, as it is about sex therapy websites and makes me look like a spammer!)

    I’d prefer to post without having to enter a URL in your Website field but it was a required field.