Finding and Using Stock and Royalty Free Images in Your Marketing (with some handy search tips too)

Images “speak” a different language than words and convey their meaning faster, too. That’s why one of the most important things you can do to put a finishing touch on any piece of content is to add an image.

One of your goals is to create content that gets noticed and read, and great images make people stop and look.

But images don’t just draw viewers — they boost understanding (and retention), too. Not everyone can is a photographer or has an unlimited image library at your fingertips and that is where stock and royalty free images come in.

Stock, Royalty Free and a Public Domain Images:

There are three types of images online – stock images, royalty-free and public domain images. Most of the time all 3 of the images are referred to as a Stock Image, but there are a few differences between the three.

Stock images have limited usage rights; you need to specify how you plan to use the stock image and use it only for that purpose. For example, if you purchased a stock image for an advertisement, you can’t repurpose and use it on any of your pages.
Royalty free images are less expensive and you can use them several times on different projects without needing to shell out more money. Royalty free images are also high-quality, but they don’t have the same resale restrictions that stock photos do. This means you will probably find your same image elsewhere on the web.
Public Domain Photos:  Photos that you, or a photographer you hired took Public domain photos have no rights reserved and no usage conditions. You can change them, reuse them and place them anywhere without any extra cost or required attribution. They can be found under the creative commons license on sites like Pixabay etc.

Great Images start with a goal

When creating images for our marketing just like the words we need to look at the goal for the message the image will share will it:

  • Entertain: these images provoke smiles and spread goodwill
  • Educate: these images share information and build authority
  • Provoke: these images surprise and prompt an action
  • Inspire: these images evoke emotion, encourage, or uplift

By knowing your image goal your image creation and search journey will be easier. 

Freemium Image Sites:

Many of these photographs are free from copyright restrictions or licensed under creative commons public domain dedication. This means that you can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission. However, some photos may require attribution. 
We’ve done our best to identify which license(s) they fall under, but we still advise you to do your own research and determine how these images can be used.
Pixabay:  Pixabay offers a large collection of free stock photos, vectors and art illustrations. All photos are released under Creative Commons CC0.
Picjumbo Picjumbo is a collection of totally free photos for your commercial & personal works. New photos are added daily from a wide variety of categories including abstract, fashion, nature, technology and much more.
FoodiesFeed: FoodiesFeed offers thousands of beautiful realistic free food pictures in high resolution. It’s the perfect stock photo site for food bloggers.
IM FREE: A curated collection of free web design resources, all for commercial use.
Pexels: Pexels provides high quality and completely free stock photos licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. All photos are nicely tagged, searchable and also easy to discover through the ‘discover’ pages.
Stock Free Images: Stock Free Images is the largest web collection of FREE images, with 1,633,205 images, royalty-free stock photos and illustrations.
Stocksnap: Beautiful free stock photos. Hundreds of high resolution images added weekly. Free from copyright restrictions.
Unpsplash:  Free (do whatever you want) high-resolution photos. You can even subscribe to get the best of Unsplash directly to your inbox.
Negative Space: Beautiful, Free High-Resolution Photos with No Restrictions
For personal or commercial projects, all of the CC0 licensed images are completely free to use.
Shotstash: ShotStash offers a broad range of photos. New images are added every day, under a free for commercial and personal use license.

StyledStock: StyledStock offers free feminine stock photography for every woman entrepreneur. The collection is totally free for your commercial and personal work

Premium Image Sites:

Premium stock photo collections offer images that go beyond the typical stock photo. Images that are more artistic, that have a higher production value, and a different, more unique aesthetics. They also tend to represent niche topics, or to portray popular themes in an innovative way. This added value makes them a bit more expensive than regular stock photos, but still affordable in most cases.
Adobe Stock: Adobe Stock is powered by a world-class community of creative professionals.
Their artist contributors are adding new assets daily, giving you access to a large collection of unique and diverse content.
Dreamstime: 65 million stock images to choose from.  Dreamstime is the worlds largest stock community, with stock photos and royalty free images.  Reasonable pricing too.
Bigstock: Bigstock is your fast, easy-to-use marketplace for quality stock images. We offer over 56 million royalty-free photographs and illustrations from talented photographers and artists around the globe, available for almost any purpose.
iStock: Founded in 2000, iStock created the crowd-sourced stock industry and became the original source for user-generated stock photos, vectors and illustrations, and video clips.

For more than 15 years, iStock have given their artists a platform to make money with their passions by licensing their stock content to businesses and individuals around the world for use in a wide variety of projects.
123RF:  Over 86 Million Stock Images, Vectors, Footage and Audio Clips at reasonable prices. From new emerging startups to renowned Fortune 500 companies, 123RF are committed to help local and international brands stay relevant and thrive in today’s highly innovative and competitive creative environment.

Search for Images like a Pro:

Start searching for one word, then narrow your results by adding words or subtracting. Searching a single word usually leads to an overwhelming number of results. Bring up the results from a single-word search, and see what you want more or less of. Most sites will allow you to add a minus sign before terms you don’t want to appear.

Step back and see what jumps out. When looking at a page of thumbnail images, ask yourself, “Which one stands out?”
When an image holds its own in a flood of others, that’s a good sign that you’ve found the right one!
Consider your text. If you plan to add text to your image, look carefully to ensure there’s an open area on the photo that doesn’t have a lot of busy text underneath it, so your text will be readable.

Consider where the image “points.” Many images look like they “point” a certain way. Sometimes a person in the image is looking off to the right, left, above, or below. 
Viewers will tend to follow their gaze and you want that gaze to lead to your call to action!

Some of the links in this post are to our affiliate partners and we like the product so much we partnered with them. It does not affect my recommendation of the tool all views in the post are my own and genuine.

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