Google is an amazing resource for finding the answers to just about anything you might wonder. It’s also a remarkably useful tool to find images that correlate to all subjects. However, just because you find something online, doesn’t mean that you can take it to use as if you created it yourself.
When creating your own unique content for use online (or anywhere else), it’s important to remember that most of what you find online is protected by copyright laws. That means that images, graphics, and other digital content simply cannot be used without explicit permission by the copyright owner.
Until a few years ago, finding great images to use in creating your own graphics required a healthy budget. Some of our favorite sources for high quality (not free) images include Shutterstock and iStockphoto.
Today, you can find great images online that are free or almost free in a variety of sources that give you explicit permission to use the images for personal and commercial use, some with and some without “attribution,” which means giving credit to the source and photographer.
Check out our favorites below. Be sure to double check their copyright restrictions before you use anything from these sites. Sometimes rules change, and some sites have various restrictions.
Pixababy has become one of our “go to” sources for images when we don’t have one in our library of images we’ve purchased previously. One of the things we love about this site is they have “sponsored” images right at the top after you search … so if you don’t find a suitable image on their site, you’re able to see options in Shutterstock (our favorite paid site). With a search for “team” on Pixababy, I found the image below of the soldier and his companion dog. That’s sure a team to me!
This great resource has hundreds of high quality, high resolution images added weekly. It’s owned by Snappa, one of our favorite graphic design tools. It’s easy to browse with a keyword. As of this post date, all images are free to use under a creative commons license. In a simple search for “waterfall” I found the cool image below.
This site will send you 10 new images every 10 days when you subscribe. You can browse the sites “collections” to find interesting images. I did a quick browse of a collection called, “the great indoors” and found the image below.
Looking for the perfect vintage photo to illustrate your point? This site pulls images from various public archives. They’re free of any “known” copyright restrictions, but they recommend you double check as each image is original to Flickr. (Flickr is another great resource for unique photography. If you use it just be sure to check out the licensing of any image you want to use. They are not all free to use in both personal and commercial use.) Check out the one below. It’s from the US National Archives. You download it from Flickr directly, and on that page you’re able to see any copyright restrictions, which this one doesn’t have.
Canva deserves an honorable mention here because it’s another one of our favorite tools for graphic design (meaning when you want to DIY your design … ). Built right into their platform is the ability to choose and use an image from their library for $1 per image or less for a bundle price. One dollar is as close to free as you can get. You can test out an image as you create a graphic, and you don’t have to pay until you download a final copy. You’re able to download a “watermarked” copy as part of the creative process to test out your images where ever you might want them to go. The sweet kitty picture below illustrates the quality of their images AND the watermark before you buy. And the beach in the title image was free from Canva.
As you begin to explore creating your own graphics and specialized content, take some time to find the right visual for the content to bring your vision, your story and your inspiration to life!
If you have a resource you like to use that I have not mentioned here … drop us a comment below. Happy graphic making!
This post is part of a series of posts included in the online course:
Within the course we include “detours” to explore technology tools, tips and techniques for use in marketing and business as a direct seller.