Finding the perfect picture for your latest blog post can be hard. The good news is we've rounded up 9 of the best free stock image websites (2018) here on the blog. Check them out below and let us know which one is your favourite in the comments!
Busy bloggers don't always have the time to go out and snap (and edit) new photos for every single blog post. It's time consuming, inconvenient and you might not have the resources to capture the shot needed for your post.
This is where stock images come into play.
You've probably heard of Shutterstock, the leading stock photography provider on the web. Memberships can start as low as $29 per month, which isn't a bad deal for access to quality images. If you find yourself needing to source a number of high-quality pictures on a regular basis, you might want to consider signing up with Shutterstock.
But we also understand there are a number of people blogging on a budget. Not everyone can afford to splash out on their blog
The good news is there are some excellent, free stock images websites out there on the Internet that anyone can use (without creating an account or handing over credit card details). We've got a list of 8 of our favourites below.
But before we get into it, we want to stress one very important thing. As tempting as it can be . . . never, ever save and reuse photos found on Google (or other blogs)!!!
Why You Should Never “Borrow” Photos From Google
We've written before about why you should never copy photos from Google. Often those photos are protected by copyright law, and while cases that go beyond a cease and desist demand letter are rare, it only takes one incident to cost you a year's worth of blog revenue.
A super-shady incident that manipulated copyright law in a scam that cost one blogger $7,500 strengthens that argument even more.
In February 2014 Christie at Living for Nap Time was blogging about a green pepper coupon (at the time she ran a blog about coupons), so she did a Google image search for a photo of green peppers. She found the perfect one—weirdly, on a travel site—and uploaded it to the post.
Several months later she received an email from a lawyer saying that photo will cost you $750, please. Christie was like, wtf, it's a green pepper photo you can find on a stock photo site for a few dollars. The lawyer's response? The law is on my side and come to think of it, my client and I would like $7,500 for damages. Also by the way you better hire a copyright lawyer, missy.
Christie did some digging and found that these folks owned many domains where they seemed to be planting clearly-tagged photos to boost the photos' SEO in hopes that bloggers like Christie might happen upon them.
That's right: they optimized the photo to encourage copyright infringement and then sued for it.
The lawyer had been called out on several sites for being unethical and predatory.
So Christie hired her own lawyer who advised her to settle the $7,500 claim. If the small possibility of the claim going to court happened, she could be liable for the claim plus all of the court costs, which could reach $100,000 or more. Because, regardless of how comfortable we've become with copying photos from the web, copyright law protects many of the images that turn up in a Google image search – yes, even if you link back to the original source.
Don't let this happen to you! Try out stock photo sites like Unsplash or Pexels for beautiful (and free!) images, scan Flickr—or you can search Google using “Usage Rights” under “Search Tools”—for Creative Commons licensed photos, or take your own.
Either way, don't be tempted to simply steal an image from Google or another blog. Especially when there are so many free options on hand.
Now, enter . . .
The 9 Best Free Stock Image Sources For Bloggers (2018)
Let us know if we've missed your favourite (or your idea of the “best”) free stock image in the comments below.
Editor's note: This post was originally published on January 12, 2016 and written by Kristen Philipkoski. It was updated on May 5th, 2018 by Laura Kell