Images are a big part of everything you do online. While your logo is the most important, you still have to worry about the images you’ll use for everything else; your website, ads, and blog posts are only a few examples of content that will need images to go along with it.
In a recent post we took a look at copyright infringement; plenty of people will unknowingly violate copyright infringement laws by taking images they find online or through Google and using them on their own site without permission.
Stock photos sites are the solution for those who need high quality images but don’t have the time, funds, ability, or equipment to create them themselves. There are a number of great stock photos sites out there; some you need to pay for, and some are even free. Being able to find royalty-free images and images you can purchase (often with a copyright license) has made my job much, much easier.
Whether you’re looking for a unique image for your Facebook Ads or graphics for your blog posts, these stock photos are all for you to use once you acquire them. Some of these are “do anything with them stock photos, as Unsplash advertises, but many come with licenses that tell you how you can use them (even if you purchase them, you don’t own them); make sure you check the licenses that come with the images you’re acquiring before you use them.
Here’s four of my favorite stock photo sites.
Shutterstock is the biggest collection of high quality images that I’ve seen. This is a site where you have to pay for images, but once you do, they’re available for commercial use (though you’ll want to check the license you purchase with these images).
Shutterstock has an enormous compilation of specific, unique high quality images that will likely fit almost every need. If, for example, you’re looking for an image of Christmas stockings, you may have a hard time finding exactly what you want on the free sites (I know this from experience), but you’ll find a large number of the images you’re looking for here.
At Shutterstock, you can choose from a variety of pricing options; you can purchase image packs (such as two images for $29), or buying a subscription pack with a certain number of downloads per month (starting at 750 images for $199 per month). The price can seem steep to many, but if you’re in a relevant position (like mine: self employed writer and content marketing manager) you can put them down as tax deductible business expense.
While I’ll personally take a look at the free sites to see if I can find what I need first, if I can’t find the right images there, I’ll come right to Shutterstock.
iStock is produced by Getty Images, and is a paid stock photo site that is more affordable than Shutterstock on an initial per-photo basis (but only when you’re buying a few). iStock also features images, vectors, and illustrations, all of which are high quality. Like Shutterstock and most other paid sites, they have an enormous collection of images that fit both generic and highly specific purposes.
Like Shutterstock, this is another valid option if you don’t just want a generic “wedding” image, but need images for “wedding cake” or “wedding budget.”
Pricing plans vary, as do optional licenses you can purchase for different images. You can purchase credits (regular images count as 1 credit, signature images count as 3), or subscribe to get a certain number of images per month (10 for $40 per month).
Pixabay has recently grown to be my new go-to for images that are applicable to a wide range of fields and niches—and it’s free. I write professionally in a large variety of niches, and being able to have a free resource where I can find images of wedding cakes and people hiking and coworkers out to lunch. They have diverse image categories, including photographs, illustrations, and infographics.
If you’re looking for relatively generic images to fit into a category (see the Christmas Stockings example above), Pixabay is a great place to start your search. The images are all copyright free—you don’t even have to credit them to use them. Just download from the site, upload it to yours, and you’re good to go.
Maybe not what you think of when you think of “stock photos,” Unsplash doesn’t have a huge compilation of random images in a ton of different categories and niches. It does, however, offer incredibly stunning, high quality photographs that can fit a variety of needs.
Unsplash is another free site, offering “do whatever you want” with them photographs that you can use for personal and commercial use. Subscribing is free, and gets you 10 photographs delivered to your e-mail every week.
Unsplash’s beautiful, gorgeous images make it my personal favorite, and when I can find an image here that fits the content I’m writing, I always jump at the opportunity.
Pictures really are worth a thousand words, and being able to find and utilize high quality, relevant images that elevate your content (whether you pay for them or not) can make a huge difference in your business—particularly when it comes to content marketing. All of these sites offer high quality, royalty-free images (so long as you pay where necessary and follow the licenses), and can elevate the success of the content marketing and ad campaigns you’re using them for.
How do you use stock photos for your business? Which stock photos site is your favorite? Leave us a comment and let us know!