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The ultimate cheat sheet: Sourcing free images for your site

Posted 5 years ago by Skimlinks

We’ve talked about the importance of imagery and why it should be a key component of your content strategy before. There is no shortage of content to read on the Internet, so making yours stand out with strong visuals will help capture a fickle audience’s attention.

But just because images should be front and center doesn’t mean you can use any picture you come across the Web at random. Using an image without written permission from the copyright owner can result in legal action, so knowing where to find images that you actually can legally use is critical.

Before we jump into resources, let’s go over some terms you should familiarize yourself with as you navigate the landscape of online imagery:

  • Public Domain Images – Defined as “images for which the copyright has expired or never existed in the first place.” These are the best kind of images because they’re free to be used by pretty much anyone for both personal and commercial purposes.
  • Royalty Free Images – These images are usually purchased for a one time fee, and purchasers are given permission to use the image for almost all purposes.
  • Rights Managed or Rights Protected Images – Images that are bought under a copyright license that allows one-time use of a photo for a specified period of time for a specific purpose. Rights to using images under this license are restricted to the terms of the license agreement.

For the purpose of this post, we’re going to focus on Public Domain Images, which are a great option when you don’t exactly have a budget for blog images.

We’ve rounded up our favorite places for sourcing (free!) public domain images to use for your site:

Pixabay

This is a searchable database that houses more than 410,000 photos, illustrations and vector art. And the best part it’s 100% legal to use any of these images in any of your content (even for commercial purposes!)

Stocksnap.io

Another great catalogue of searchable and beautiful, high quality photography. The website explicitly states that all photos are free from copyright restrictions and there is no attribution required, so feel free to use these photos in any way you need.

Unsplash

This is a favorite around here at Skimlinks. The perfect place to find inspiration, Unsplash provides stunning photographs covering a wide array of topics. You can search by keyword or filter by subject, and like the other two resources, all photos on Unsplash are licensed under Creative Commons Zero, so you can not only use them freely without attribution, you can also modify them even for commercial purposes. Subscribe to receive 10 new photos every 10 days.

Life of Pix

On Life of Pix you’ll find free, high-resolution photos and images that also have no copyright restrictions. New content is added weekly and you search through a variety of uniquely beautiful visuals that are sure to make your site stand out. You’ll also find Life of Vids, full of free footage videos, clips and loops (no copyright restrictions) to use for your next video project.

And last but not least.

All the Free Stock

Since listing out every single resource would make for quite a long blog post, visit All the Free Stock for a one-stop shop of fantastic free image resources. All the Free Stock brings together more than 50 resources for images, offering you a multitude of sites to choose from when searching for visuals.

You’ll also find resources for free stock videos, sounds and icons. Though the images are listed under the Creative Commons Zero license, videos, icons and sounds vary so check the terms of use on each site before you use them.

Final thoughts

Keep in mind, all the image resources above are licensed under Creative Commons Zero, which means you’re free to distribute, copy and modify the images without asking permission and/or attribution. Generally speaking, when it comes to using them on your website or blog, it’s fair game.

However, there are some exceptions, including making sure that “identifiable people may not appear in a bad light or in a way that they may find offensive, unless they give their consent.” And you also can’t “suggest endorsement of products, services, etc. by depicted people or organizations.”

We hope you find these resources as helpful as we have and have a place to turn the next time you’re in need of some compelling imagery to complement your content.

Happy searching!

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