Being in business means that you will no doubt have at least one website or social media account.
That means you will also need to have images because pictures do tell a story so effectively.
Whilst photos of you are really important if you are a personal brand (and honestly, if you are a small business too), more than likely you will be mixing it up with some stock images.
Now, you can’t just use any image on the internet, but where do you go to find stock photos you would actually love to use?
Finding the right images that you can legally use AND that haven’t been used in 100 places you have seen already can be a challenge. Starting out in business could mean that you are watching your budget closely, so anything you can get for free is a bonus.
Well, lucky for you stock images are one of those free things!
But be careful. Not all stock images are free, and not all can be used without breaching copyright law.
So it is important to source your images from the right places, and make sure you have permission to use them commercially.
Can You Use Pictures From the Internet Without Permission?
The short answer is no. Never use images or graphics from Google Images for commercial use, or from any other place online for that matter, unless they state otherwise.
There are two things you need to be aware of when diving into the world of stock images – Copyright and Creative Commons.
What is Copyright?
Although laws differ from country to country, what you need to know is that the law is there to protect the work of creators, and to make sure that they are able to generate revenue from their work. Unless express permission is given to use an image, my advice is to always assume that it is protected by copyright.
What is Creative Commons?
Creative Commons is a not for profit organisation that allows the public to use images under a special copyright license. There may be restrictions on what you can do with an image and these are set by the creator. Always check the licensing of the website you are sourcing images from to make sure that you are following the Creative Commons license correctly.Always check the licensing of the website you are sourcing images from to make sure that you are following the Creative Commons license correctly. Click To Tweet
So if you’re wondering how to find free stock images, then you’re in luck!
There are many places to get free images. Some require you to create an account, some that will send you images via a newsletter, and some are just readily available for you to download. When it comes to free stock images, it is good manners to accredit a creator for their work, but not all sites require this.
What are the Unwritten Rules for Using Stock Images?
While having access to some amazing images online, you don’t want to fill your social media with stock images. There are a number of factors to consider when using stock images and these will affect your brand.
Try not to use well-used images. Nothing will make people lose interest faster than seeing the same images they have seen on five other websites or social accounts. People are looking for inspiration and beauty so keep an eye out for images that are different, that pop, that grab your eye.
And stay on brand.
Hopefully, you have created a brand guide that will define the look and feel you want to create. Make sure that the images you select align with your brand.
Don’t use images that look too posed because nothing puts people off more than over stylised images that just don’t feel relatable. Most often, the market is looking for realistic images that are professionally shot. Nobody is perfect and the feedback from users of social media, in particular, is that they have had enough of the unattainable and the perfect.
And credit where credit is due – when you can and certainly if required, give credit to the creator.
Tips for Using Stock Images Your Way
- Get creative with the images you use – don’t go for stock standard images that people might expect.
- Make images “yours” with text in your brand font and colour.
- Use images that are in your brand colours.
- Try illustrations, not just photos.
- Crop and zoom to use a part of an image.
- Use tools such as canva to put your spin on an image, or even put yourself in the picture.
*Make sure you check the copyright before editing images in any way.
How to Find Free Stock Images
Now that I have you thinking about different ways you can use stock images, let’s look at where to go to download them – and how the site itself describes what they offer.
So here is my list of go-to websites for amazing free stock photography.
“Beautiful, free images and photos that you can download and use for any project. Better than any royalty free or stock photos.”
“Find your perfect free image or video to download and use for anything. Free for commercial use. No attribution required. High-quality images”
“Free stock photos and videos you can use everywhere. High-quality. 100% free. No attribution needed”
“Royalty-free CC0 nature stock photos and videos. Use them however you want.”
“Discover Canva’s beautiful photos and images for your everyday design needs. Choose from millions of highly curated free and premium stock photos.”
“Everything you need to create fabulous content. Free images of the highest quality, constantly growing image database, a powerful search engine.”
“Truly unique. Usually whimsy 😉 Always free.”
“Free stock photos (high resolution) for personal and commercial use. Seven new photos every week. Just make something creative!”
Stock Free Images by Dreamtimes
“Stock Free Images is the largest web collection of FREE images, with 2.5 Million images, royalty-free stock photos and illustrations. If you’re a designer, advertiser, webmaster or blogger, check us out! You can license our images free of charge or use our premium plans for enhanced access.”
“Browse over 300,000 free stock photos and find the perfect royalty-free image quickly. Download free, high-quality stock images, for everyday or commercial use. No purchase required.”
“Truly CC0 Free Stock Photos. Hundreds of high-resolution images added weekly. Free from copyright restrictions.”
“Beautiful FREE styles images for your projects – Feminine Stock Photography.”
Don’t forget that your phone camera could possibly take some amazing photos as well, photos that will be totally original.
And ideally, you will use be able to use a mix of your own photos and free stock images.
The availability of free stock photos and illustrations is growing. This is making it very easy for you to use amazing imagery to attract customers to your website and social media accounts.
Spend some time exploring these sites and start thinking outside the box when it comes to using stock photography.
Do you have any great stock photo sites that you love to use? Share them with us in the comments xx
If you’d like to work with Samantha or one of our other Fempire Coaches, click here to book a free 30 minutes discovery call!
Samantha is a Fempire Coach and business leader who is dedicated to helping women to succeed as fempreneurs. She is a process-driven strategist who has visionary problem-solving skills and managed to raise a family of five children while running a successful business.