When I first started a website, one of the biggest problems I had was not knowing where to get free images. It’s tough because when you’re first starting a business, you can’t spend all your money on images; there are other expenses and other places you’d rather be spending your money.
In this post, I’m going to give you a list of nine different places where you can get bonafide, free website images to put directly onto your website. I will also mention a 10th resource, which I think is important.
You need to read to the end, because there are different rules and stipulations across some of these websites. I want to help you avoid copyright infringement, because that’s probably why you’re here—you want to make sure you’re doing this illegally and without causing any problems.
For example, if you’re looking for images of dogs, do not go to Google Images, type in “dogs,” and say, “Okay, I like this one. I’m going to copy this and put it on my website.” That is illegal and it will get you in trouble.
You may think, “How are they ever going to catch me?” I thought that, too, but they have systems and machines that comb the internet looking for images. Once they find out that you’re using one of their images, they will actually threaten you with a lawsuit for unlawful use of that image. You could technically go to court and lose a lot of money.
Instead, you could go to Google, select “labeled for reuse,” and then search for images. This will give you a better chance of finding images that you can use, but sometimes they aren’t really free. To fix this problem, I have a few websites that I use, so let’s jump on in.
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If you type in “dogs” on Pixabay, you’ll get some good results. However, Pixabay makes money from the top row of results—if you click on one to use it, you’re going to be sent over to Shutterstock where they’ll try to make you pay for it. So, make sure you use the images below the first row.
Also, I found that if you’re trying to find really specific pictures, you may not be lucky with that. For example, if you search “dog with two people,” there aren’t too many images for that. If you’re looking for blog post images, sometimes you can’t find exactly what you need, but Pixabay is still a great resource.
Next is StockSnap. This one is similar to Pixabay, but they have mostly images rather than videos. Again, if you search for “dogs” you’ll get a lot of really great pictures.
It’s important to note that the top row of results will actually be sponsored images. You can’t use those, but you can use all the other images below that.
Then, if you try typing in “dog with two people,” you’ll get some mixed results, but if you scroll through, you’ll eventually find a dog with one person, a dog with two people, a dog with four people, etc. So, there are a few more options here.
Again, this is another resource that is completely attribution free. You can use their images with no problem. Just copy them and put them directly on your website.
Next is Pexels. Like the other ones, Pexels has some really good, original images. That’s what I like about Pexels. If you search for “dogs,” they have some good images of different dogs to choose from. They also have some videos, which is pretty cool.
They have stock images that you can use too, which is pretty neat. I like that kind of stuff as well. But again, if you type in “dog with two people,” there aren’t really many options at all; it’s not specific enough.
This platform provides images completely attribution-free. You can go ahead and put these images right onto your website and you’re fine. You don’t have anyone to answer to anyone. However, when you download them, they appreciate it when you tip the artist or the photographer, but you don’t technically have to.
The next resource is Unsplash. If you type in “dogs,” again, you’ll get some pretty unique ones. Then, when you try searching for “dog with two people,” you’ll see that they have some images that maybe you didn’t see before, which is great. However, you may not find any that actually have a single dog and two people.
Again, Unsplash is another option that is attribution-free. You don’t have to answer to anybody; you just take the image and put it right onto your website.
Then we have Burst, which is actually run by Shopify. It’s just like the others; it’s attribution-free, so you can use any of their images. I find that they have some decent images, but a lot of them just aren’t as good as the other resources we’re talking about here.
For instance, if you search “dog with two people,” there is really nothing at all. When I tried it, I did technically find one photo with two people and a dog, but overall, this platform is not as good as the others on the list.
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6.) Wikimedia Commons
The next resource is Wikimedia Commons. A lot of people don’t talk about this one because frankly, the results aren’t as good. However, it is attribution-free. While you don’t have to tell anyone where you got the images, the images will often be amateur, but they might still work.
Maybe this just isn’t the greatest example, but I have found images here that I’ve used before. If you type in “dog with two people,” you won’t find many great images, but there are some interesting ones.
Flickr is interesting. When you search for a photo, you need to filter by license. You can select “commercial use allowed,” “modifications allowed,” or “no known copyright restrictions,” depending on what you want to do.
The thing that’s cool about Flickr is that it’s curated from people, so you can get some really specific and weird images that you wouldn’t find anywhere else. However, they’re not always the highest quality. Sometimes they’re good, but sometimes they’re not.
Unlike the other ones that I showed you, if you use an image from Flickr, you do have to give attribution. You can still download it and put it on your website for free, but if you look at the screenshot below, you can see in the bottom left it says “flickr.com/photos/smemon”—this is what you would use as a citation for the source of the image.
Flickr can be a great place to go if you’re looking and you’re not able to find specific images. For example, if you try “dog with two people,” you’re going to see some weird ones, but you may find a few that will work, so it’s worth looking.
Next, we’re going to go to Pinterest. Now, you’re probably thinking, “Whoa, you’re not allowed to steal images off of Pinterest!” This is true, but there is a workaround that you can do on both Pinterest and Instagram.
If you do a search and find an image where you’re like, “I have to have that picture on my website,” you can’t just download the image, because that is infringing on copyright. Pinterest is full of copyright infringements, but you can’t do that.
Here’s what you can do. You can click “embed,” change the pin size to “large,” and click “hide the description,” so when it’s on your website, it won’t have a description below it. Then, you copy and paste the code that you see in the image below into the HTML editor on your website.
As you can see in the image above, it says, “Don’t forget to include pinit.js once per page, right before the closing </BODY> tag.” I usually take that highlighted text right below that line and paste it in the header of the website. You could also paste it in the footer—anything that shows up on every page of the website.
That tag will fire it on every single page on your website, which allows you to embed all these images. If you don’t put that tag into your website, and you just copy and paste the code, it won’t work. You have to have the tag on your website.
Also, you have to have your own Pinterest account; you can’t use the data that you see in the image above. Once you have your own, and you paste that tag into the header or footer, then you can copy the code and paste it into your website wherever you want that image to show.
The problem with this method is that, if for some reason the original website deleted that image, then you no longer have an image on your website page. It’s happened to me before—it’s not common, but sometimes it happens. That’s something to be wary of if you’re doing this.
The same thing goes with Instagram. Let’s say that you’re on Instagram and you’re like, “I have to have this picture on my website,” because for whatever reason, it’s just perfect. Again, you can not just click to download, but you can embed it.
You can choose to include the caption or not, which is just like Pinterest. Personally, I don’t like to include captions. As you can see in the image below, all you need to do then is copy and paste the code into the HTML editor on your website wherever you want it to go.
As with Pinterest, if the owner of the image deletes it from Instagram, then it will no longer show up on your website. That’s why embedding the image is allowed, because you’re not copying and pasting it—you’re embedding the image from the original source.
Shutterstock does cost money, but hear me out. The problem you’re going to have with the other platforms is that when you search “dog with two people,” you’re not going to see the results that you want.
Now, when you search for the same thing on Shutterstock, you’re going to see images with a dog and two people. This particular website is going to have more results than all the others, and it will be much more specific to your search.
I also include this platform because it doesn’t have a super high cost and I actually use it myself. For $49.00 a month, you can do 10 images, or for $125.00 a month, you can do 50 images. This is actually the one that I subscribe to because I have a bunch of different websites. Or, if you only need a few images you can do on-demand packs, which is about five images for $50.00.
If you’re interested, you can use my affiliate link to subscribe to Shutterstock. Your blog posts are probably going to need additional images over time, so it’s nice to have a subscription, and this resource is especially useful if you need to get specific. Even after you cancel this, you’re okay because you used their images while you were on their platform.
So there it is you guys—that is everything I know about finding free website images. Hopefully this was useful for all you beginners out there and made it easy to understand; just make sure you follow the guidelines that I gave you for each of them.