Images grab attention, aid learning and influence our decision making process…
…but finding fresh, relevant and eye-catching images to use in your marketing campaigns isn’t always straightforward.
The ever-evolving digital world has created an environment where your audience are chronically overfed with low-quality content. It’s crucial that you cut through the noise by providing content that deserves shares, follows and conversions.
In this article I’m going to share 8 websites that offer FREE high-quality images (as well as a host of other super-valuable stock content), so you can truly engage and nurture your audience on social and within your content marketing campaigns.
But before we get into all that fun stuff, you need to understand that these content resources should be used to compliment your posting strategy, not dominate it.
Content created by you will provide your audience with a much clearer vision of your brand and more importantly, they’ll be unique to you.
If you’re struggling for visuals, looking for images to embed within your content or paying for stock images (the thought makes me feel sick), stick around because these websites are tried and tested (and not just by me!).
BTW: These resources all do different things, so whatever your needs, you’ll find the answer here!
Free Stock Image Websites for Content, Social and Marketing
Let’s kick this list off with my most frequently used website for high-quality stock photographs, Unsplash.
This amazing resource has over 850,000 high-resolution photographs, uploaded by some of the world’s most talented photographers. These images cover a wide range of subjects and categories and no-matter what your needs are, you’ll be able to find a suitable image on Unsplash.
Simply head over to their website and search for your keyword. All their images are tagged with keywords to match your search, meaning you’ll (almost) never end a search empty-handed.
Their images are free for both commercial and non-commercial use, untainted by watermarks and are regularly updated by their community of photographers.
I’ve used Unsplash countless times to improve my blog posts. Get over there and try it out!
Coming in the second slot of my free stock images collection is Pixabay, another website that I’ve used countless times.
I love this resource for its versatility. Pixabay offers visitors the free use of photos, illustrations, vectors and videos.
Whilst their collection of photos are certainly not as deep or as high-quality as those on Unsplash, they can occasionally fill a void (on the rare occasion that Unsplash doesn’t fulfil your needs).
However, one of the reasons I use Pixabay so often is their collection of downloadable illustrations. They have regularly come to my rescue, especially when searching last-minute for something to add to an existing design (look for the ‘color’ tab and choose ‘transparent’ for images with a no fill background).
If you are on a budget or need to throw something together to explain a point (within your content), the free illustrations on Pixabay can easily be downloaded and then uploaded to any design tool (e.g. Canva).
In addition to this, their videos can also be very useful in your marketing campaigns. They have a ‘stock’ feel about them (they aren’t going to set the world alight), but if they’re edited and layered with text, they can make a powerful addition to your campaigns.
If you’re paying for stock videos or a designer who isn’t returning enough quality illustrations, Pixabay might just be your solution.
The next resource on our list offers something completely different. Icons8 has a range of stock content files that are super valuable for Social, UX and marketing content.
Included in their stock content are icon designs (packages), stock music, a photo editing tool and even a graphic design tool.
Small details can make a massive difference to the branding, UX and design of your website. The icon packages offered by Icons8 have a variety of functions from simple ‘magnifying glasses’ (used in search toolbars) to animals, drinks, military and many more. These icons can be added to your website or used in designs to improve UX.
On top of this, Icons8 have an amazing ‘Photo Creator’ tool that allows you to pick a model, props and appropriate background. This offers you the opportunity to create your own unique images that are appropriate to your niche or brand message. (When you first discover this, you’ll spend ages playing around with it, trust me!). These can be very effective in your social marketing content, as people in images tend to catch the eye.
If all that wasn’t enough, Icons8 also have some really unique and UX friendly vector images that can be used in a variety of ways, e.g. 404 error pages, logged out, payment processing.
New Old Stock
If awe-inspiring photos for social media are what you’re looking for, you need to head over to New Old Stock.
This amazing website shares free-for-use iconic photos from the past that are sure to grab attention. These include astronauts in training, black and white photos of historic monuments and war time posters. When you start your search on New Old Stock, you’ll understand why it’s loved by so many (and why I’ve recommended it!).
The photos are all available for personal and non-commercial use, making them the perfect accompaniment to blog posts, hero images and articles. Many of them are also available for commercial use, but before using them you should click the link (under each photo) and scan the page for copyright restrictions.
Simplicity is timeless, versatile and easy to understand, and it’s for those reasons that I love the illustrations on unDraw.
This resource offers tons of icons and illustrations that are perfect for website functions, social media, content marketing and communications.
They all come in a very distinctive style and are customisable to match your brand colours. Simply click on the colour icon at the top of the page and select your brand’s colours.
These illustrations are all free-for-use and can be downloaded in an SVG file (meaning they can be scaled up to any size without pixellating), or standard PNG for social media and blog posts.
The 5 resources listed above are my top recommendations for their categories, but there are plenty of other options available to you.
Here are a few stock image websites that are definitely worth a mention:
This is one of the most popular stock photo resources on the net and there’s good reason for it. They have tons of high quality photos (similar to Unsplash), as well as a Trending tab, displaying their most popular photos of the day.
All the images on StockSnap are available for both personal and commercial use.
If you’re in the food, drink or catering industry, Foodiesfeed has tons of free-to-use images that are perfect for social media, websites and content marketing.
These photos look good enough to eat, but seriously, make sure you are using photos of your own products as well!
This resource offers stock photos and videos, making it a great alternative to Pixabay (without the illustrations).
Similar to many of the other resources, Pexels license allows users the rights to their photos and videos for both personal and commercial use.
There are tons of resources online, but I consider these the cream of the crop. Over the years I have used them all extensively and can safely say that they have had engaging effects on our marketing campaigns.
Just remember that the most important part of your marketing visuals should be created by you. The recommendations in this list should be used to boost your UX and bulk out your social and content marketing campaigns.
So what are you waiting for? Go and get lost in one of these amazing tools!