Get The Most Out Of Free Stock Images For Websites

[Guide for Beginners to Earning Money Online – Part 5]

Banner: Get The Most Out Of Free Stock Images For Websites. Background:  stock image of a winter landscape.

The imagery on your website is one of the key factors in attracting attention and retaining your visitors’ interest in your content. Creating an amazing visual presentation of your blog posts may be costly. In this post, I’m going to show you how you can do it yourself using free or low-cost resources, including free image editors, free web image optimization tools, and free stock images for websites. 

I’m also going to tell you about a single platform that is free and offers everything you need to quickly create a beautiful and efficient design for your posts without leaping from one site to another.

If you don’t have a website yet,
follow this link to find out how to create it for free within seconds.

The Philosophy Of Free Website Images

Your beautiful content looks even prettier with the accompanying pictures. Believe it or not, pictures serve not only as decoration. They make it easier to read your content. That is if you use them in the right way. Otherwise, they can make reading more difficult and even drive your visitors away. You don’t want that to happen! Please continue reading to find out what the “right way” of using the images is.

For every 1,000 words of your content, you would use on average somewhere between 1 and 3 images. Even low-cost royalty-free stock images may empty your pocket if you post several times per week and have to buy all the pictures.

There are also some free royalty-free images. 
Let me explain the two “free” words in this statement…

Public Domain banner, free graphics and stock illustrations

Royalty-free images are those with the open license which allows everyone to use the image under a predetermined set of rights. Most commonly, photographers and designers release their images and copyright to a stock company – so that everyone could easily find and use such images in multiple ways for a flat one-time fee. The authors receive part of your pay and the company takes the rest. However, some companies offer a large collection of royalty-free images free of charge

Images licensed under CC0 – Creative Commons Public Domain are free of copyrights: 
“You can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.”

When I say “free stock images for websites”, I mean that you can use them on your websites whether your site is commercial or not.

There are advantages and disadvantages of using free stock images for websites. 

Pros:

  • They are FREE!
  • The images are of high quality and often available in multiple sizes.

Cons:

The same stock image of a running dog on 5 different websites
  • Lots of websites will have the same pictures as yours.
  • Stock images (free or not) are not specific to your content, even when relevant.
  • Chances are that you won’t be able to find an image closely relevant to your content. 
  • You’ll need to read and understand the license. While a picture is free for you to use, there can be different limitations and requirements (such as to credit the author) 
  • Many websites advertising themselves as “free stock images” for websites, would offer a large collection of royalty-free images for a fee and only a small subset for free. You’d have to search many sites like that before you actually find an image that is relevant to your search and yet is free of charge.

Considering the “Cons” section (besides the first point which is unavoidable), I’m going to offer you only a few resources I ended up using after spending lots of time jumping from one site to another just to find nothing that matches my interests.

4 Simple Tips To Get Ahead Your Competition Using Free Stock Images For Websites.

  1. Don’t overuse free stock images for websites, mix them with some purchased pictures and other types of imagery discussed later in this post.

  2. Use only pictures that are highly relevant to your content.

  3. Choose images emotionally corresponding to your text.
    Images often speak more than words. If you are applying to your readers’ feelings in your text, the accompanying picture can either empower the effect multiple times or create wrong emotions and completely ruin the mood of your story.

Mark, a graphic designer and one of the experts in the Wealthy Affiliate community, recently published a post in which he shared his moods and feelings in certain circumstances through Photoshopped images. It’s a fun post that very well illustrates the point I am trying to articulate here. Check it out: “Multiple personality”

  1. Technicalities: use stock images to visually break down large chunks of text. 
SEO check-mark
  • Make images relatively small size.
    Why? Because even the most relevant stock images are rarely used to explain and visually show the details of your content. In other words, they are more decorative than explanatory. Therefore, they don’t require a large detailed view, and can easily serve the need in a small size. Big images usually require bigger file sizes, which slows down the load speed of your page. That is not good for SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

    If you optimize your image to the small file size and then stretch it to a big view, it will significantly lose quality. If you place an image in the center of the page and make it occupy the entire width of the page, the quality may still seem okay to you on an average-size computer screen. However, it may look awful on big computer monitors.

    Besides, people come to your website for the content in the first place. Large images take them away from reading and make them scroll too much to reach the next paragraph. They won’t like all this extra scrolling.
Barley stems running from right to left; the image is aligned to the right - correct.
  • Align pictures to the right more often, but sometimes to the left to make the design of your page look pretty. That is if you are writing in languages that are read from left to right.

Barley stems running from left to right; the image is aligned to the left - correct.


Do the opposite if your site is written in languages that run from right to left. The verbal content should still maintain the main focus of your readers.

Barley stems running from left to right; the image is aligned to the right - incorrect.

Make sure that the direction of the image itself is visually leading towards your content and not away from it. For example, if there are people in the image looking to the right, it’s better to align such an image to the left of your text, and vice versa. It’s easier to see the direction of the picture when people or animals are present. Therefore, I used an image with barley to illustrate that its composition also defines a direction.

Where Can I Get Free Stock Images For Websites From?

I’m glad you asked! 😊

I have exciting news for you: as of February 25, 2020, Smithsonian opened up free access to 2.8 million of 2D and 3D digital images from their collection. You can now download, remix, reuse and share Smithsonian Open Access content for any purpose!!!

Other largest collections of free stock images under CC0 license are offered by:

Pixabay.com royalty-free photo of an owl for free and sponsored Shutterstock images advertised below.

Websites offering royalty-free images for free usually advertise other stock image websites, which are commercial and their images are for sale. So, please be sure that you are aware of where and what type of image you are choosing. 

If you found a picture that is a perfect match for your story, but it requires a fee to pay – purchase it! 

Never download the images that require payments without purchasing them. Yes, there is a way to save a picture to your computer skipping the check out process, but this would be considered as stealing intellectual property. Besides, these images will have watermarks that make it obvious to others that the picture was stolen. 

Make sure that you read and understood the license before buying an image. Once you purchased a license, your downloaded copy will be free of watermarks.

Most often, I don’t even search the sites I’ve listed above separately. I use the Wealthy Affiliate SiteContent platform to get access to 1,000,000+ free royalty-free images and many other very useful features specifically designed for bloggers. 

Join Wealthy Affiliate for free today button

In the last section of this post, I’ll go into more detail on what you can get for free from the Wealthy Affiliate in regard to free image selection and image optimization.

Other Sources Of Free Images To Use On Websites.

As I explained above, stock images, especially the free ones will be used on many other websites and they can’t be distinct to your content. Their purpose is to enhance your verbal images, magnify readers’ feelings, create a certain atmosphere, rather than explain the details and give precise illustrations of your content.

Then, what do you do if you’re giving some instructions in your article and want to illustrate them? 

  • Take screenshots.
    Screenshots are your own images; you are the copyright owner. They are good quality and very easy to deal with. I do a lot of training on my blog, and screenshots are my best helpers. I use Snagit software that allows me to edit the screenshots I take, such as add pointers, highlight something, combine and crop images, etc. Sangit is inexpensive, but not free.
    However, simple screen capture software comes with any computer and mobile device, and if you need to edit your screenshot, you can use free tools, such as Canva.com or Pixlr.com 
A hand with a smartphone taking a photo of objects on the grass.
  • Take your own photos
    We all have smartphones nowadays. There is no excuse not to use your own photos on your website. If you are writing a review of a place you’ve visited or a product you’ve used – take your own pictures. The quality of the images on your website must be good, but it doesn’t mean that you need a professional camera. All web images are of low resolution. In fact, when I take high-resolution photos with my Canon camera, I then need to optimize each image for the web to reduce its resolution and file size.

    High-quality images for the web means that
    • They’ve been taken in good lighting
    • They are in focus and not blurry

Images that are custom taken in order to provide further detail and explanation to your content, may often require a larger size and central alignment. In such a case, you’d need to compromise between the file size and the dimensions of the image and find the optimal correlation.

On some occasions, you may want to place an image on the page in a smaller size and link it to its larger media file, which will open in a separate page. Then, prompt the visitors to click on the image to enlarge it.

Affiliate Products Images – Play By The Rules!

When you join affiliate programs, you need images of the products that you promote. Where can you get them from?

Carefully read the Affiliate Agreement. Most manufacturers have images available to you as an affiliate. 

Retailers like Amazon.com do not allow downloads of images from their online store to use on your website. This is because these photos are copyrighted to the individual sellers.

Screenshot of the rules for sourcing images for the Amazon Associates
Click image to enlarge

In such cases, you’d be able to embed images using the code provided by the program. Oftentimes, the embed code is not very flexible and does not match the size and feel that best fits your page’s design. You’d have to live with it and arrange other elements on your page to make the page look more or less pretty. Do not use 3rd-party images found elsewhere online. 

Play by the rules! 

If you purchased and used the product you are promoting, by all means, take good-quality pictures of it and use them on your site as you wish with your affiliate links.

Tune Free Website Images for SEO

Everything discussed above is directly or indirectly affecting your ranking in search engines. 

SEO check-mark

In addition, there are 2 major steps you should take when tuning your website imagery for Search Engine Optimization:

  1. Optimize file size for every image.

    Page load speed is a crucial factor for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Oftentimes, the reason for a slow loading website is the imagery used without optimization.

    If there is no specific need for .png or other file types, use JPG/JPEG image format. Keep the file size of an image you upload to your website under 50KB.

    My recommendations for image dimensions:
    Image resolution: 72 ppi (pixels per inch)
    Width: try to stay under 600 pixels but don’t go over 1024 pixels
    Height: under 600 pixels

    You can reduce your image dimensions and file size using free image editor Pixlr.com 

    There are also image optimization plugins for WordPress that can be used to automatically optimize images on your website. These plugins don’t change the type or dimensions of your image. They use a special algorithm to compress the data and thus reduce the file size. Some of them are free: Optimole or free version of the EWWW Image Optimizer. The best ones, such as Kraken Image Optimizer, are available for a fee.

    If you are a member of Wealthy Affiliate and hosting your website there, Kraken Image Optimizer plugin is installed for you at no cost. The linked article about the plugin is written by Wealthy Affiliate co-founder, Carson Lim.
  1. Set the Alt Text (Alternative Text) property for every image.
    Enter a text that shorty describes the image. Providing Alt Text is a requirement by Accessibility laws to improve the online experience for people with disabilities. This property is used by the screen readers that blind and visually impaired people use when working on a computer. Filling in this field is an essential role-player in SEO. 

    This text will also be displayed in place of an image if for some reason the image itself can’t be loaded.

    Do not confuse Alt Text and Title Attribute! It’s Alt Text that describes the image and is used by the screen readers.

    Title Attribute is generally unnecessary. Its purpose is to describe the role of the image on the page. If you do set a Title Attribute, the tooltip with the text you entered will be displayed when a user brings a mouse over the image.

    Another point of confusion is Title property versus Title Attribute tag. The Title is being used by WordPress internally for storage and navigation purposes. By default, it is set to the image file name. You don’t need to worry much about either Title or Title Attribute.

Fast-Track Your Designs On Wealthy Affiliate SiteContent Platform. It’s Free!

There are many things to consider when creating a visual presentation of your blog post. As I showed you throughout this article, there are numerous free resources that you can utilize. However, looking for free images relevant to your post on several websites, editing chosen pictures, changing the file type to JPG if the original image came in a different file format, optimizing your pictures for the web – all in different places – may take a lot of your time.

Wealthy Affiliate offers everything you need in one place – The SiteContent platform. In Winning Tactics In Writing for a Blog article, I explained the knowledge base, advanced tools, and other resources that this writing environment offers for content creation. It also offers you access to over a million free stock images for websites. With the use of technology, Wealthy Affiliate opened up a gate to several free collections I listed above – now you can access them all from one page. 

Screenshot of Wealthy Affiliate SiteContent platform showing access to over 1 million free stock images for websites.
Click image to enlarge…

You can search for the image using a keyword, select the most relevant and appealing one, crop it right there in a rectangular or circular shape. At the time you insert the image you selected in your document, it’s size is automatically adjusted for the web. When you publish your document from the SiteContent to your WordPress website, the images are compressed by Kraken Image Optimizer, which Wealthy Affiliate purchased and pre-installed on all members’ websites.

SiteContent platform at Wealthy Affiliate is offered to all Starter (Free) and Premium members.

As you can see, by joining Wealthy Affiliate for free (if you haven’t done so yet), you’ll get:

  • The most convenient writing environment equipped with templates, duplicate content and advanced grammar checkers, autosave of your work every minute feature, version tracking, ability to publish directly to your website, and more.
  • Access to more than 1,000,000 CC0-licensed free stock images for websites.
  • Image adjustment tool
  • Kraken Image Optimization, free of charge to you.
  • A wealth of knowledge and intensive support from the owners and community experts.

What are you waiting for? Sign up now!

Join Wealthy Affiliate for free today button

When you sign up using the button above, I’ll welcome you inside of Wealthy Affiliate. Make sure that you remind me that I promised you a SECRET BONUS. I’ll give you a hint: some very cool animated imagery features to use on your website and make it even more impressive without slowing down its loading speed.

In Conclusion…

You don’t need to be a professional designer to make your website look professional and stunning. There are plenty of free resources to help you make your blog posts look captivating. 

I found some very interesting statistics on websites and blogs in particular: there are around 1.7 billion websites in the world today and over 600 million of them are blogs. Over 2 billion blog posts are being published each year worldwide.

“54% of bloggers include more than one image in their average article, 49% include a list, and 19% include video. (2018, Orbit Media)”

To make your blog visible in such a huge web production, you need education and the ability to apply your comprehensive knowledge to all aspects of your work. Many bloggers are aware of the importance of keyword-targeted quality content but are less attentive to the quality of illustration.

You made your first step in the right direction – you found my post, which means that you understand the important role of multimedia on your site. Most bloggers use free stock images for websites, but you want to use them in the most effective way.

Finding, customizing, and assembling beautiful and relevant imagery requires a lot of time, and even more so if you need to go from one site to another, and another, and yet another one to find and put the pieces together. 

I encourage you to take the next step toward your success by joining Wealthy Affiliate (WA) for free.  WA is a platform that educates members on all points of successful online business, including SEO and the role of multimedia as part of it. WA also equips its members with all the necessary tools and resources required for running a successful online business and saves them a lot of time and money. In this article, I referenced a couple of posts published by the WA co-founders and community experts in the internal WA blog. Tens of such posts and training modules are created daily by the community members – we are being updated in real-time on all the news in the industry, and learn from each other’s best practices and mistakes.

Take the next step to success in your online business today!

Join Wealthy Affiliate for free today button

… and don’t forget to ask me about the BONUS that I promised you.

In the Comments area below this post, please ask any questions you may have, leave your feedback and tell me what other subjects related to improving your online experience and ranking of your blog posts you are interested in. Thank you!

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30 thoughts on “Get The Most Out Of Free Stock Images For Websites”

  1. Hi, Julia,

    You explained the use of images wonderfully. When I first started out, I had so many questions and images were a recurring topic. 

    As you said, we have to learn how to use images appropriately. Looking for royalty-free images can be hard. They can be repeated on different sites or not relevant altogether. It’s not about just uploading images for the hack of it.

    My niche is travel. I try to use my own photos when possible but also use stock images. I don’t like to align them to the left. I always do either center or right.

    Now, regarding optimization, I always add Alt text. Do you recommend adding Image Title Attributes as well? I’ve been wondering whether I should or not.

    I have never paid for photos. What’s a good website you recommend? It could come in handy in the future.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Enrique,

      It sounds like you are doing all the right things – good for you! I wonder where you’ve acquired your knowledge. I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve learned at the place I recommend to my readers, which is Wealthy Affiliate.

      The travel niche is very visual! It does require some large centered images. You may even want to link some of your images to the original media file – so, that your visitors could open them up in a full-screen view. Your niche requires very careful image optimization.

      Thank you for asking about the Title Attribute – that’s a great question!

      I want to clarify for other readers that Title Attribute is not the same as Title property. By default, WordPress sets Title to the filename of an image and uses it for storage and navigation purposes.

      Title Attributes can be set by webmasters. It is generally unnecessary. It was meant to describe the role of the image on the page. If you do set a Title Attribute, the tooltip with the text you entered will be displayed when a user brings a mouse over the image.

      The new WordPress Gutenberg editor did not have Title Attribute property at all until version 6.9, which was released in November 2019. In this new version, the Title Attribute is back, but it is “hidden” under the Advanced tab. That’s because many web owners misused this property to describe the image, while it’s the job of the “Alt Text” field.

      I hope this answers your question. Please let me know if I can be of more help.

      Wishing you all the best,

      ~ Julia

      Reply
  2. Thank you so much Julia for this information on free stock images for my website. Though I have used Pixabay, Pexels and Unsplash before, I am happy to learn about FreeImages and ABSFreePic. I am even more happy to learn about Pixlr Photo Editor because I was just looking for a way to better edit my downloaded images. I am going to dig into that website as soon as I post this comment. Thank you again for these free image resources and editor.

    Reply
  3. I believe you’ve just about covered everything there is to know about free stock images for websites. I learned a lot that I didn’t know about free stock images and even 2 websites where I can find such images.

    You say that Wealthy Affiliate is free to join, right? But how will we find you on that sit when we get on the inside. Will you come and make contact, or is there a user name or something that we should look for?

    Reply
    • Hello Donald,

      Thank you for your kind words. I’m glad this information was of help to you and you learned something new.

      If you click on the blue button, you’ll get to my Welcome page with my photo on it. I will also be notified that you signed up for WA using my link. I will find you inside and personally greet you. How does that sound? 😉

      Wealthy Affiliate has a Free membership option, and SiteContent is accessible through the free Starter membership. However, there is so much more value offered to the Premium members, that I highly recommend using the free membership for looking around, getting familiar with the environment and resources, getting to know our awesome community and plan to upgrade to Premium. Personal communication with the community members is only available within the first 7 days of free membership.

      I look forward to greeting you inside the WA. All the best,

      ~ Julia

      Reply
  4. I really enjoy reading your posts as I learn something new every time I am here. I use Pixabay, and Unsplash pretty regularly but also find the same images on many other sites. I’ve been doing a bunch in Canva of late and using some of their stock imagery as well. I learned early on about alt image text and if you have a good SEO plugin it should alert you of that. I’ve always heard it is best to use your own images when you can. Great information.

    Reply
    • He Scott,

      Welcome back and thank you for your kind feedback.
      Canva offers a selection of free stock images, but most of them are “Premium”. I use Canva for creating logos and some other designs, but rarely find free images relevant to my niche.
      What SEO plugin are you using that alerts you of alt text?

      Warm regards,

      ~ Julia

      Reply
  5. Terrific post explaining the ins and outs of using images in blog posts. The intricacies of figuring out which images you are free to use in which you are not can be a real stumbling block. I also highly recommend Canva.com, a graphic design site with both free and paid plans — also contains some great photos.

    Reply
    • Hi Lene,

      Thank you very much for the comment. I find Canva more useful as a graphic design tool. There are some free stock images available, but most of them are Premium. That’s why I only listed Canva as a free image editor. But of course, if you find it useful as a source of stock images, go for it. Checking Canva for images is a good tip for all, thank you.

      Warm regards,

      ~ Julia

      Reply
  6. This was a very informative post! I have never used stock images before, I take my own photos for my blog, but I thought this information was wonderful. I learned a lot from this, and you explained it all so well. -Very detailed, and I will definitely share this information with those that I know use stock images for their blogs. Thank you for sharing this information.

    Reply
    • Hi Stephanie,

      Thank you for stopping by. Using your own photos is the best! Not always and not in every niche personal shots are possible…
      Do you protect your photos somehow from being stolen? If you do, then how?
      Did you know that you could check whether someone else is using your images by using a free tool TinEye?
      Best,
      ~ Julia

      Reply
  7. Great post as I do use some of these sites. Something I just learned that is free photos is not always good is that some free photos sites take members photos and sometimes copyrighted works get past the processing. This really stinks because you could get sued. Thank you for these photo resources!

    Reply
    • Hello,

      Thank you for your comment and for expressing your concern. The sources of free stock images that I offered in my article are reputable companies, which will not bypass any laws; it’s safe to use free pictures from their sites. These companies will not intentionally slip in copyrighted works into their CC0 selection. Mistakes are theoretically possible (though, I’ve never heard of them in relation to the listed sites). For your peace of mind, you may want to keep a record with a screenshot of where each of your images is downloaded from. If you keep your documentation and mistake happens, then the company will responsible for the mistake – not you.

      Wishing you all the best,

      ~ Julia

      Reply
  8. What a very comprehensive post about free stock images. I use both, my own photos and free stock images. Thanks to your post, I know more about using free stock images.

    Reply
    • Hello,

      I’m so glad that you’ve learned about Alt Text from my post! It’s one of the easy-to-do and yet very important factors for SEO. If not set, it takes away points from your overall ranking. Thus, it affects your traffic not “sometimes” but most of the time. The higher your posts are ranked, the more traffic your site gets. I sincerely recommend taking training at Wealthy Affiliate for further understanding of SEO and learning how to get ranked on page #1 in Google.

      Best regards,

      ~ Julia

      Reply
  9. Thanks for this comprehensive guide on free stock images Julia. I often use Pixabay and Unsplash but I didn’t know about the other sites. Good stock photos can make your articles look so much more professional.

    Reply
    • You are welcome, Kelly. I’m glad I could be of help. Thank you for visiting and for your comment.

      Stock photos are useful but don’t rely on them solely. Make your website unique with your own precise illustrations.

      Warm regards,

      ~ Julia

      Reply
  10. Oh wow, so much fab and wonderful information here for sure. Many people will find this useful. Thank you so much for taking the time to share.

    Reply
  11. Images are so important when creating content. I like when long posts are broken up with images, it makes me more likely to read the whole thing. Thanks for sharing these resources for free stock images! I like to use only original photos but sometimes you need something specific and this is a good way to find something that works.

    Reply
    • Hi LuLu,

      Exactly! Images can complement written content or take away from it… Stock images are helpful when you can’t take your own photos. That’s wonderful that you are able to use the original photos.

      Thank you for your comment.

      ~ Julia

      Reply
  12. Unsplash is where I get a majority of my stock photos for my blog, I make it a point to try to use a lot of my own photos as well. I liked the tip about strategically placing the images to make them more aesthetically pleasing

    Reply
    • Hello Thuy,

      That’s good if you can find all you need on Unsplash – it’s a safe place to get free stock images for websites.
      Proper placing of the images certainly adds to the aesthetics of the page, but more importantly, they should help the readers to stay focused on the written content. The correct size and positioning of illustrations would help accomplish that. In contrast, incorrect placing would cause a disturbance.

      Thank you for your comment.

      Best regards,
      ~ Julia

      Reply
  13. Great advice! Have you seen ODan.net? It’s a website that takes the time to search through a large number of free stock photo sites all in one place, cutting down on the time necessary to find a picture that really fits.

    Reply
    • Hi Britt,

      Thank you very much for pointing out another great place to search for free stock images for websites. I agree that it’s convenient to have the ability to stay in one place while looking for pictures.
      The downside is that you’d still need to read the license agreement for each source website and often each image. I can see that the gateway sites to the 3rd-party sources may cause a concern that Dreams Abroad expressed in their comment below. Also, as I mentioned in the article, even free stock images may have certain requirements such as crediting the author when using the image.

      I’m inviting my readers to join Wealthy Affiliate because I know with full certainty that this platform searches only pictures under CC0 license without any additional requirements and provides plenty of other benefits to its members, including the fast and secure web hosting.

      Thank you for your contribution to this article.

      All the best,

      ~ Julia

      Reply

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