Thomas McCallum

12 August 2015

10 free stock image sites every copywriter should know about

Digital cameraCopywriters used to just be responsible for writing. Although writing is as important as ever – and don’t let any graphic designer tell you differently – the modern copywriter has to be able to do a lot more than write well in order to succeed.

In marketing, ‘copy’ is increasingly being lumped in with ‘content’, which entails a lot more than just words.

Content creators (which, if we’re being honest, most of us are now) require skills in on-page SEO, social media, content promotion, strategy and, most importantly, image sourcing.

Finding the right images to complement your copy can be just as much of a nightmare as creating the copy itself, especially if you’re forced by budget constraints to use free images. After finding a half-decent image, checking it’s OK to use, resizing, checking you’ve credited the creator, then going back to find three more, you might well begin to feel more like a second-rate image editor than a writer.

However, there is a solution – a few solutions, actually.

Realising the pain many ‘content creators’ go through on a daily basis, many free stock image libraries have begun to spring up and some of them offer great quality images for free that will not only save you time but enhance your copy.

I recently tweeted a request for recommendations for free stock image libraries and have compiled this list of my favourite sources. I hope this list will help you to find good images quickly, so that you can spend more time writing and less time making the page look pretty.

1. Pixabay

Pixabay has been established as the go-to place for bloggers looking for images. With a selection of over 430,000 available for free, you’re likely to find an image that fits your topic well. There are paid for options from Shutterstock available here too which are better quality, but, for most blogs, the free section will be enough.

2. Morgue File

Similarly, Morgue File has a great selection of high-resolution free-to-use images to choose from.

3. Death to the Stock Photo

If you’re sick of seeing the same old stock photos used, a bit overused, Death to the Stock Photo will be right up your street. Sign up for a free monthly subscription and you’ll receive a selection of high quality photographs from professional photographers. A refreshing twist on the familiar model.

4. Canva

Canva is a great resource for creating free images to use in your social media campaigns. While the free-to-use content is somewhat limited, the free templates are worth trying out and can be edited and reused.

5. Flickr Commons

Not all images on Flickr can be used as you desire, but if you select the ‘free for commercial use’ option from the drop down menu at the top right, you should find a few good options. Make sure you credit people where appropriate and be warned that you might have to try a few different search terms to find a decent quality image.

The British Library’s Flickr page is another image goldmine, with over a million public domain images to choose from.

6. Picjumbo 

Picjumbo is a great resource for royalty-free images. All images are guaranteed to be free for commercial use, so you don’t have to worry about crediting the original creator.

7. Stockvault

As it sounds, stockvault is a giant online vault of free stock images. It’s home to a popular collection which offers some styles of photography you won’t find on other stock photo sites.

8. PD Photo

PD Photo is a useful repository for public domain photography, however, it’s probably best to avoid if you’re using the images for commercial use. If you’re just using them for your personal blog then the creators are happy for you to use them to your heart’s content.

9. Wikimedia Commons

I add Wikimedia Commons grudgingly as there are so many useless images on here that it can take an age to discover something that fits with your content. While Wikimedia Commons might not make your job much easier, at least you can be sure that your images are free to use with clearly marked creative commons codes. Always make sure you credit the author where appropriate to guarantee your blog won’t run into copyright issues.

10. Behance

This might seem like a strange one but Behance is my new favourite place to find great images. While the images are not free to use, simply asking one of the artists on there if you can showcase their work will usually yield positive results. Not only will you have an original piece of work to include in your post, the artist will be likely to promote the piece to their followers too. Too few copywriters go out of their way to ask for permission, which is silly as it can lead to working relationships with talented photographers, illustrators, and graphic designers. Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone else worrying about images for your articles for a change?


If I’ve missed any of your favourite sources for free stock images, please do tell me about them in the comments below.

  • Death to the Stock Photo Screenshot
  • PicJumbo sreenshot
  • Pixabay screenshot

What do you think?

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Jackie Barrie

August 13, 2015 at 2:52pm

5. I use PhotoPin.com which is a compilation of Flickr Commons images, just copy/paste the link they provide to credit the photographer

Mike Howell

August 13, 2015 at 8:48pm

Thanks Thomas, looks like a far better selection than the one the web search I did last week returned.

Thomas McCallum

August 14, 2015 at 6:36am

Thanks Mike, I know your pain. PhotoPin looks good too, thanks for that Jackie!

Team Free Stock Photo

November 28, 2015 at 12:10pm

Hi, we are the Team of http://free-stock.photo we have created that site for share free stock photos with public domain license. Maybe you can try it and add to your list? Thanks

Bob

March 2, 2016 at 3:17am

Hi,
Nice informative Article, Please also check out http://www.goodfreephotos.com for thousands of unique public domain photos, especially travel photos. Appreciate it if you
could add it to your list. Thanks.

Anna Nicole

October 12, 2016 at 6:27am

Howdy,
I have been using Canva.com and couple of graphics are edited from the free ones, since I have a budget constraint but found them really wonderful after the engagement. I will look forward to using rest of the free stock websites too.
http://www.fortunereuters.com/

Yen

October 13, 2016 at 9:23am

I use Raydar.com. I think it’s worth a try.