How to source free images for social media & marketing
Ideally, we’d all have large budgets to spend on stock photography, enabling us to go to the likes of Shutterstock. In fairness, stock libraries have such a broad selection of images, it can often be really cost effective to do so, especially when you take your time into account.
However, what if you have no budget? No social media post should be without image, graphic or video. It’s what draws the audience in. Posts with images are simply more successful.
Sourcing images on the web can be quite a scary experience, you’ve probably heard stories about photographers contacting website and blog owners and demanding money for their unknowingly ‘stolen’ work.
You should never, ever steal images. Someone has taken a lot of time and effort to capture the perfect shot before meticulously editing on Photoshop. Heaps of time, creativity and effort poured into each and every one. Not only that but it could be hugely detrimental to your own reputation.
So no budget, need images, what to do?
I love Unsplash. The images are breathtaking and free. It’s come a long way since its humble beginnings and now includes a handy search bar. All photos are available under a creative commons zero license. Free to do whatever you want with them, read more about that here.
You don’t have to attribute the image to the creator however it’s nice to show appreciation to the photographers. There are some really talented photographers and I love exploring their collections.
You do need to be a little creative to make sure each image matches with each post. Maybe add graphics and be imaginative, as there is a much smaller selection compared with the paid stock libraries. You can even upload your own images.
Pexels pull together free images from a number of sources. In fact, many of them are from Unsplash. I just like the website layout and the quality and quantity available. There’s a wider selection of images in comparison with Unsplash. The image licensing , however, is the same – free to use.
But Pexels isn’t all about images. There’s video there too.
Pixabay has a broader selection than Pexels, however the quality isn’t quite as high. It’s great if you’re searching for an image that’s a little bit more obscure.
Google Image Search
OK, so don’t just head on over here and whipping off images left right and centre, you’ll quickly get into trouble. With Google’s reverse image search it’s easy to find who’s been thieving images from across the web.
But if you search for an image, and then select ‘tools’ from the right hand side of the drop down menu, there’s an option for ‘usage rights’ click here and then beneath, select one of the options from the drop down menu to best reflect your intended use.
Be careful to read all the documentation to be sure you don’t need to accredit the creator and also check that the licensing is the same in your country.
You’ll find a lot of images appearing from Wikipedia. Ensure you read the documentation correctly but given the nature of Wikipedia there are some rather specific images you can use- . Good for brand names or places.
Geograph aims to represent each grid square of Britain and Ireland with a photograph. It uses an initiative based on crowd sourcing.
You’ll need to check the licensing terms. Many need an attribution to their photographer. The images tend to be more amateur in nature but if you’re wanting a specific place image – they’re perfect.
Don’t be boring with your photography. A picture of a businessman in a suit is unlikely to turn any heads.
Using your own images, even just taken with a smartphone is a more expressive use of imagery. Wherever possible use your own images. Stock photography often feels soulless. If possible hire a photographer. People want to know about your business, and if you have your own images it’s so much easier to connect with your audience.