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Free Images to Use Commercially – An Extensive Guide

Free Images to Use Commercially – An Extensive Guide

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There are many, many sites that offer free images to use how we please, but not all of them have the best quality available. Why should you care about free images or their quality as a social media marketer? It’s simple, really. There is no marketing without good quality images.

Human communication is more than 90% visual – much of the stimuli that reach your brain is visual. The brain is able to process images much faster than text, so it only makes sense that marketers need to focus on images. 

People’s attention spans are growing ever shorter, it seems It is believed that people have less than nine seconds of attention to spare these days, making images the best way to keep them interested. The brain can recognise familiar objects in about 100 milliseconds, so images really are the best way to communicate with the world.

As social media marketers, it’s very important to have the right pictures accompanying your content to make an impact.

With that said, finding images can be tricky – you can’t just use any image you found in a Google result. Copyright makes it important to ensure that you’re not using someone’s pictures without their permission. That’s where free image sources come in. They can provide you with great images that cost nothing but have no copyrights attached to them.

Terms To Understand Before Finding Free Images To Use

There are a few things you need to know before jumping into the world of stock images. Several terms and conditions have to be met for some sources, and attribution could be required.

Public Domain

Content or images that are in the public domain used to have copyrights but it has expired or given up. However, these are not as freely found as you’d hope. You should check an image’s source out before you’ll be able to tell if it’s public domain.


This kind of content is really ‘free’ – you will have to pay a once-off fee in most cases. But once you’ve paid this fee, you can use the image however you like, as many times as you like. Royalty-free means you don’t have to pay the owner royalties for using his or her image.

Creative Commons

This is a non-profit organisation that makes the sharing and use of knowledge and creativity free. There are different kinds of Creative Commons licenses out there that vary in how an image can be used. Some of them allow only certain uses and no changes to be made to the image. When you find free images, be sure to check what you’re allowed to do with them.

Now that you know how free images work, let’s take a look at some of the really good sources out there. These sites offer free images (with a few requirements here and there) that are high quality. 

If you browse through their catalogues you’ll find images of just about anything you can imagine. You should be able to find something to make part of your social media marketing campaign. Some sources even offer high-quality videos and GIFs.


You will find very high-quality images at Pexels and even some GIFs that you can use. The site has its own license which indicates what you can’t and can do with images. For the most part, you can use the images for personal and commercial use without any attribution called for.


The images that you will find here are licensed under ‘Creative Commons Zero’. This means you can use any image you like without giving credit or asking for permission. However, photographers will appreciate any acknowledgement you will be kind enough to give them.


Free Images

With over 300,000 free stock images to choose from, Free Images is a great source. The images are all under the site’s own license. This license allows users to use the images for almost anything but there are some cases where use is restricted. Just make sure you are aware of what you can do with the image you like.


This is actually an online graphic design tool that has paid and free options. It also gives free stock photos that you can use as you like. You can even edit these photos on their site, making it a convenient tool.

Life of Pix

You will find many high-resolution photos at Life of Pix and the site partners with Adobe Stock. This gives you more options to work with although some of them are paid content. Life of Pix’s images are also under the Creative Commons Zero licence so most of them are royalty-free. New photos are released every week and even clips and videos are also available.


This site is a big player in the free image world and also operate under the Creative Commons Zero licence. Hundreds of high-quality images are available and royalty-free. There are many different categories to choose from and you’ll find it easy to get your hands on really good images. From food to nature and cityscapes, StockSnap is a great resource for quality photos.


You’ll find some very interesting and quirky photos here, all licensed under Creative Commons Zero. For now, the site doesn’t have a very extensive gallery, but is ever-growing.  The photos are all taken by the founder of Bells Design, Ryan McGuire and the quality is very high. All the photos are free, but Ryan does ask users to be kind enough to donate to his coffee fund. Coffee is what gives him the energy to keep producing the quality content that he offers.


Here you will find many very great quality photos in a number of categories. Unsplash even offers subscribers the option of receiving emails when new photos are uploaded. The photos are all free to use and can be modified as desired. You will also find projects created with their images. There is one condition though – you’re not allowed to use their images to create a competing website.


Flickr is a popular and very well-know site that shares images that are available under different licenses. If you’re looking for free content, make sure to use the ‘any license’ option when searching through the images. Many photographers share their content on the site so make sure that what you use is allowed.



Shopify presents this free stock image platform best-suited to entrepreneurs. However, you will find many images that can be used for colourful and interesting social media campaigns as well. There are also tips and business ideas for users who need a helping hand in getting started. All images (the thousands of them) on this site are royalty-free. Finding what you are looking for is made easy with a convenient interface.


This site offers pictures of great quality under its own license, which is similar to the Creative Commons Zero license There is only one difference – you are not allowed to redistribute the photos that you use. A neat trick on this site is that you can search for images by colour, which is quite unique.

Death to Stock

This site works a little different than other free image sources. You don’t get a gallery full of images that you can browse. Instead, you sign up and receive 20 new and fresh photos every month. All the images sent to you are royalty-free and high quality. There is a premium option that gives you access to their library though. The aim of Death to Stock is to give users brand-new footage that can’t be found elsewhere. For some social media marketers, this will give them a nice edge over the competition.

Scatter Jar

This is another unique site and it’s ideal for food and cooking blogs. You will find free food (and drink) photography at high quality on this site. The photos are high-resolution and well-taken. Everything from photos of finished cakes to veggies and fruit is to be found in very aesthetic pictures. You can use all of the photos either commercially or privately, at no charge. They also offer professional services such as mockups, making Scatter Jar a great choice for professionals.

Getty Images

Many people will be surprised to know that you can actually make use of Getty Images without paying for them. Of course, there is a specific way this needs to be done. You can’t download the images and then use them – this is a big no-no. However, you can embed them in your posts. When used as an embed, Getty’s images still has its own frame, branding and share buttons. But for some marketers, this isn’t a problem and can be worked with. 


Free stock photos, footage, vectors and other editorial content is available at Depositphotos. There is also a paid plan that you can sign up for to have access to even more content. The photos are all very high-quality and there is quite a large number to choose from.



This is a site that offers really great quality creative and interesting photos. You will find anything from pictures of food to dogs and beautiful nature scenes. Picspree is backed by Getty Images and all images are royalty-free. Searching for what you want is effortless and you’ll be overwhelmed with the quality of what’s on offer.


On this site, you will find millions of great photos varying in themes which are ideal for any purposes you could think of. New free photos are released every week and you can sign up for free. From travel destination photos to images of people working out, you can find just about anything on iStock.

New Old Stock

This is a great source for beautiful vintage stock photos. All of the pictures are free of any known copyrights and are available for free use. You can find stunning historical photos that interesting and surprisingly high quality.


Picjumbo has on offer a great variety of free images that can be used however you like. You don’t need to register to get access to all the quality content available. In addition, you can get free images by subscribing to PicJumbo’s newsletter. Of course, there is a premium option and the photos there are amazing as well.


If you’re looking for abstract photography, this is a great source. The work is that of Folkert Gorter, a Dutch designer. He allows the use of his photos as long as you are willing to give him credit, which is a fair trade-off. He doesn’t have a massive catalogue but the photos available are definitely interesting.

Grallim Stock

Another great source for really good free images to use as you please is Grallim Stock. The site was created to give bloggers, writers and companies royalty-free images that look good. There are many photos in a variety of themes – food, people, nature and travel are just a few of them. However, the biggest focus is on workouts, making this a superb source for exercise blogs and companies. The images are completely free with no strings attached. You can even sign up for the free newsletter so you can be notified of new images.

Free Images To Use Bonus Tip

Although the sources we’ve provided you with are all great for finding free images to use for your social media marketing, there is another option.

You can easily embed Instagram and Facebook posts in your blogs. YouTube videos and tweets can also be embedded, giving your content colour and character. Even Pinterest can prove useful though embedding these boards are a little bit tricky. If you have the appropriate widget builder, it’s a lot easier.


With so many great sources for high-quality photos and media content for free, you will be able to find just what you need. Of course, any successful social media marketing campaign needs more than just pretty pictures. Be sure to check out SocialPlanner – it’s a great tool that will help you make the most of your social media accounts. If you want to add muscle to your marketing strategy, you’ll love SocialPlanner.

Join a growing family of happy customers who have switched to SocialPlanner

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