Well written content marketing is incredibly important. But supplementing that blog post you’ve written with a picture or two makes more appealing for your readers. But sadly it isn’t simple finding free images. You can’t just hop onto Google Image Search and upload the first thing you like (unless you want to wake up to a bill in the mail from Getty Images). The ideal solution is to hire a photographer and a graphic designer, and set them to work, but not many companies have the time, or budget to do that. So what can you do to brighten up your content?
Finding Free Images Online
Don’t despair, while you can’t borrow from Google Images, there are places you can find images. And many of those images are royalty free (with attribution). Sites like Flickr, 500PX, Unsplash, and Pixabay let you use their image content as creative commons. Creative Commons is the yin to copyright’s yang. It basically means that the owner of the content is willing to let other people use it as long as certain conditions are met (typically, attribution or some reference). If you want to read a bit more about creative commons and levels of attribution, here’s an article that will help.
Both Flickr and Pixabay have large libraries of images; and while you may not find what you want
during your first search, you can usually find something that will work after some creative searching. If the image isn’t the perfect size or you want to crop it to make it more dramatic (after checking that the image allows for commercial use and modifications), then check out Pixlr. Pixlr is a free, online, photo editing tool. While it lacks many of the functions from it’s more sophisticated cousins like Photoshop, it does the job if you want to make small edits or size adjustments to an image.
One word of warning. If you search for images on the Web, be aware that copyright information may not always be accurate. Read this tale of woe: a small business webmaster who searched diligently for free images and mistakenly used Getty copyrighted material.
Willing to Pay for the Perfect Picture?
Sometimes the perfect picture requires paying for it, especially if it is an image that is featured or tied closely to your brand. There are many paid sources for images. I’m sure you’ve heard of Getty Images and iStockphoto; there are some less-known sites like Corbis and Fotolia which also have excellent (and similar) catalogues of stock images that can be used for a fee. The main drawback of stock images – in my opinion — is that they are often overused on the web. They may even be used by your competition in their marketing materials. In my opinion, use of stock images makes it that much harder for your brand to stand out.
If you are willing to spend money, I recommend that clients to hire a local photographer for a 1/2 day to create your own library of images. If that’s not in your budget and you want to save the time and effort of finding free images, consider paying for an individual photo or subscribe to a service.
After 500+ blog posts on our own website, most if not all are creative commons images. We’ve found that with a bit of work you can a quality image that shows your brand’s personality and doesn’t break the bank.
Do you have a favorite free image sourcing site?
How can we help?
Is your content up to scratch? Finding free images is only a small part of it. Does your blog need polish?
We are Spectrum Group Online, and we offer strategic and tactical consulting so you can monetize your online presence. Call us for a complimentary 30-minute consultation to discuss your website’s user experience and translate that into sales.