If you’re creating content for your website or social media accounts, you need licensed images. While it’s tempting to just do a quick Google search to find an image that suits your needs, that’s an easy way to get your business in a lot of trouble!
Be sure to check the license information on any image you use, usually, they are completely free, but in some cases, you will need to give credit to the photographer or designer.
I’ve created a handy Pinterest Board of all the free stock image websites I can find.
Why you can’t just do a Google Image search:
Image licensing can be complicated. Some images are completely free – and you can usually tell because they have a Free to Use CCO (CCO License).
Other images are free but require attribution. This allows the original artist to get credit for the work and can help them build their business.
There are paid stock photos, which require you to pay to use the image. And even those can vary in how much you “own” the photo you purchased. Some photos require a license if they’re going to be used in print. Some require a special license if you’re going to use it on the web. And some require you to renew your license each year.
The bottom line is, if you’re going to use an image on your site, you need to make sure you understand the license.
Keep a record of where you got your images
Keep a record of where you get your images. There have been cases where stock image sites sue users for photographs that were licensed on another site.
One of my clients got a nasty letter from a photographer who did realize his photo had been uploaded to a free stock image site and demanded payment for the image we were using on his site. The image was no longer on that site, but we did have proof that we had downloaded from a legitimate source.
For the images I use, I make sure I keep a folder with the original file extension on my computer. For example, this image, downloaded from Unsplash has the word Unsplash in the file name: johannes-hofmann-723989-unsplash.jpg
You can also keep a spreadsheet in Google docs if you don’t have the room for all your photos.
Where to find free images
I’ve created a Pinterest board of all the free stock image sites I can find. I’ve broken them down by license, so you know if you need to provide credit, or if there are any restrictions.
If I’ve missed a site, or if you see a mistake, let me know in the comments below. I’ll make sure I keep this board up-to-date.