Great marketing doesn’t have to mean breaking the bank.
According to a recent study by DMN/PAN Communications, more than 10 percent of marketers rely of free tools to support their social media strategies. There’s a wealth of visual content out there graphic designers, web designers and social media marketers can use to bring their campaigns to life.
User-generated content can be a good way to find an curate images that speak to your audience. If you don’t have the budget (or the resources) to bring your efforts in-house, there are plenty of outlets to spark your creativity.
Here’s some of our top picks for free stock image resources, and opportunities for creators to upload and share their own creative commons content too.
Editor’s Note: Before you dive into downloading images – it’s important that you understand what you can — and can’t do — with Creative Commons and Royalty-Free images. Free images are largely crowdsourced from third-parties — make sure you vet your images before you use them to make sure they are compliant for editorial (blogs) or commercial use. For a more comprehensive look at copyright laws, click here.
Vecteezy offers a large collection of free stock photos, video clips, and vector graphics. In addition to the free resources, they also offer premium content that can be downloaded with credits or a recurring subscription. Vecteezy team members manually review every submission, so you can be sure that even the free resources will be of excellent quality. The free license allows for use on personal and commercial projects, but attribution is required.
Along with being a quick, go-to solution for free design templates, Canva hosts thousands of stock images to help with your graphic design needs. They also have a collection of affordable icons and images you can buy per use (some images can cost a dollar or two), as well as regular premium plans.
Flickr is a hosting service and community for user-generated media. Users can upload their own photos, connect with other photographers, and “like” images they enjoy. Not all the content on Flickr is creative commons, but a good search will help get you started (and connected) to the creators and content you’re looking for.
Pexels is home to a large collection of creative commons images, submitted by a collection of photographers. What we like about Pexels is that it’s gamified — the site hosts regular photo competitions, and has a “leaderboard” where the most popular photographers are ranked. These aren’t your typical stock photos either — expect a softer, more youthful vibe over stark white background images.
Take a trip around the world by browsing through a collection of more than 7,000 creative commons travel photos curated by photographer Pete Rojwongsuriya. Looking for images of a specific country? Just select it on their built-in map.
If you like Pexels, Unsplash offers a similar aesthetic, offering a collection of free images from their photographer community.
If you need a custom image size, Kaboom makes it easy. Just, choose the photo you want, and enter in your dimensions. Their search options also make it easy to narrow down specific image types, with filters for color, topics, and dimensions.
Free Nature Stock
Free Nature Stock is a collection of creative commons images taken by nature photographer Adrian Pelletier. A new photo is added every day, so this is one to check back on.
A collection of user-submitted creative commons images. You can freely browse their categories, or check out their curated list of trending images to see what other content creators are downloading most.
Pixabay boast a collection of more than 1.4 million free stock images, so you won’t be at a loss here. Categories range from nature, to medical, beauty, science, transportation, and more.
Thousands of free stock images spanning a variety of categories. Trending photos are ranked on their homepage, so you can see what’s hot right now.
IM Creator is a go-to resources for all things web design. Their free collection offers a selection of website templates, images, icons, and other media.
PicJumbo is a collection of stock images curated by photographer Viktor Hanacek, who launched the site back in 2013. The site offers a collection of free images, as well as low-cost premium plans.
If you’re looking for high-resolution images, look no further than Gratisography. While these photos are free, there are some restrictions you need to pay attention to.
Burst is a free stock image platform powered by Shopify. The site offers a collection of images organized by specific categories.
A free stock image collection started by New York-based designer and photographer Jeffrey Betts.
Photostock Editor offers a collection of simple, clean stock images for free download.
Photographer Jay Mantri’s work can be found on multiple free stock image sites (including Unsplash and Canva). But he also hosts a collection of creative commons nature and landscape images you can download off his personal Tumblr page.
Skitterphoto is a collection of user-generated stock images curated by Peter Heeling and Rudy van der Veen, two working photographers from the Netherlands.The duo started the site back in 2014 to showcase (and offer) their own work for public use. They have since opening up their community to accept submissions from photographers around the world.
Life of Pix
Another free stock photo site for those looking for collections of high-res images. If you’re looking for free stock videos, be sure to check out their sister site, Life of Vids, too.
A collection of free stock photo images for designers. Check out their licensing opportunities and restrictions here.
FreePhotos uses a combination of APIs from other stock photo websites to aggregate and curate collections of creative commons images from all over the Internet. Their offering includes a selection of both free and paid images, as well as a free photo editing tool.
Seven free photos, every seven days. That’s Snapwire’s motto, and that’s exactly what you’ll get if you sign up for their program. Snapwire also offers a suite of professional content creation and photography services, if you’re looking for something more in-depth.
A collection of free, high-resolution stock images for personal or commercial use. The site also offers photographers a chance to submit their photos.
Image credit: Vitaly Vlasov; Pexels