Designing an inviting website and crafting an engaging blog is about the delicate balance between text and visuals. Gorgeous imagery, infographics, or vectors all give websites and blogs the extra “oomph” needed to turn a basic site into a stellar representation of your brand. Having high quality, good resolution images is part of this design puzzle. Luckily, there are several free image resources available to minimize the time you spend looking for the perfect picture.
Before we get into the list of reputable free image services, there are some points of differentiation for images that every small business owner needs to know. Public Domain and Creative Commons are two terms that many haven’t heard of, but should be familiar with before downloading images and putting them on a website or blog.
For those of us who love a good definition, below are official descriptions of the two types of images:
Public Domain: “The person who associated a work with this deed has dedicated the work to the public domain by waiving all of his or her rights to the work worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law. You can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.”
Creative Commons (CC0): “CC0 gives those who want to give up those [copyright laws] a way to do so, to the fullest extent allowed by law. Anyone can then use the work in any way and for any purpose, including commercial purposes, subject to other laws and the rights others may have in the work or how the work is used. Think of CC0 as the “no rights reserved” option.”
In essence, these terms mean you do not need to cite, or link, to the image’s owner on your website. This is a huge advantage for small business websites and blogs, as it removes any liability for posting the image on your web pages.
Online imagery can be tricky, and knowing how to correctly navigate photo licensing is incredibly important. Ensure you use images from Public Domain and Creative Commons sites only to maintain a reputable online presence.
Resources for photographs, vectors, and illustrations
These sites are great catchalls for image research. They have photos, vectors, videos, and illustrations, all with image counts in the hundreds of thousands. Use them as a starting point when you’re looking for a specific subject.
- Creative Commons
- Public Domain Archive
- Flickr: Creative Commons
- Good Free Photos
- Free Range Stock
- Pickup Image
- Life of Pix
- Morgue Files
- 1 Million Free Pictures
- Negative Space
- Pic Jumbo
- Free Stocks
- Free (I)mage Bank
Stylized images and niche topics
Whether you’re an Instagram aficionado or just love a vintage image, these sites are your best bets for complementing your brand standards. If your business is in a niche industry, such as food service, these sites are tailored to specific industries. Cut your image research time in half by starting with these websites.
These free image resources are great for populating your blog and website without spending your budget on buying photos.
Vistaprint Digital offers thousands of images and icons within the website builder! There are industry-specific image galleries and icon lists, so you can quickly navigate to the most relevant images for your small business. It’s another fantastic tool for designing web pages that pull your visitors in and keep them coming back time and time again.