The most popular blogs usually all have one thing in common – great visual content. Whether it’s charts, graphs, gifs, landscapes, portraits, or cat pictures, people love to look at images. Though great written content is what keeps people coming back to hear what you have to say, visuals are often what catches their eye in the first place. But where are you supposed to find all of these great pictures?
There’s millions and millions of images floating around the web. Most aren’t good quality or relevant, but most importantly they are_ not_ all free for the taking. To avoid any angry photographers knocking on your door, stay away from simply Googling an image and putting it in your blog. When you need an image, check out these sources. All of these sites are full of photos that are free for you to use on your blog or social media accounts. A few clicks through these 7 sites, and you’re bound to find exactly what you’re looking for.
These are the best sites to use when you know exactly what you’re looking for, as they have a search function. I’ve found that the quality isn’t always as consistent on these larger sites, but there’s still a lot of gems in the mix.
Pixabay – No registration or attribution required to use any of these 260,000 free images. There are quite a few ads on this site, but if you like to take pictures you’re in luck. Uploading 10 images of your own to Pixabay will get rid of all the ads for you.
Dreamstime – This site has free and paid images, but requires an account to download any of them. Once you sign up, just click “Free Images” in the green bar at the top of the home page to make sure you’re only searching for free images.
Subscription and free-form sites
These sites don’t allow you to easily search for exactly what you’re looking for, however the quality on these can’t be beat. In some cases, it’s worth the browsing to find the perfect picture (and it’s fun to aimlessly wander through all of these beautiful pictures, too!)
Death to the Stock Photo – This site was created by two self-taught photographers that saw a need for free, high-quality images for people to use on the web. They started by sending their photos to friends and bloggers, and then their business grew. Now, you can subscribe to Death to the Stock Photo and receive monthly e-mails of high-resolution landscape, abstract, and portrait pictures in zip file format for easy downloading.
Unsplash – For those times when you need an image that simply takes your breath away (think rolling hills or city views from the tops of buildings) look no further than Unsplash. When you subscribe to their site, you’ll get 10 free high-res photos sent to you every 10 days. These images are also posted on their site for browsing.
Little Visuals – This model is very similar to Unsplash, but you’ll get 7 pictures every 7 days instead. These images range from industrial to nature scenes, but they’re all high quality, and wonderful to look at.
Gratisography – All of the images on this site were taken by one photographer, Ryan McGuire of Bells Design. There is no real theme to the images, and they range from animals and architecture to people wearing funny mustaches. All images are high-quality, no copyright restrictions. There’s also no sign-up required.
Pexels – Pexels is a German photography site that collects free images from all around the web and catalogs them using searchable tags. They currently only have 1,300 images, but promise to add at least 30 each week. This site pulls images from many of the sites we previously mentioned, but it’s searchability makes it more user-friendly.
One more tip…
Adding text to images like the ones above is a great way to create a shareable title image for a blog post. We used Canva to create the title image for this post. This tool allows you to use any of Canva’s pre-made graphics and fonts to make unique images. Best of all, it’s completely free. You’re only charged if you wish to use any of Canva’s stock photography, and even then they’re only $1 a piece.
Using these free photography sites will add visual appeal to your blog posts and social media updates. High quality, unique visual elements will help keep readers interested in what you have to say. Bookmark these pages and you’ll never have to write another plain, image-less blog post again.