• AMi Direct

AMiable Solution #377: Should You Use Free Images?


“Free” is a great motivator for all consumers, but does it work for your business, too? Is there harm in using free images in your marketing?

Your need for good images has probably grown tremendously over the last five or ten years. Once needed only for print marketing, high-quality images are now key to capturing attention and enhancing messages in electronic marketing, too. Websites, emails, and social media, in particular, all require increasing volumes of good photos.

Benchmark, an email marketing solutions provider, cites the following statistics:


· “Blog posts and articles with quality images see an average of 94% more total views than those without them”

· “Sending a press release with photos receives nearly 15% more online views than their text-only counterparts”

· “When it comes to web search, 60% of consumers prefer to contact a business whose listing includes an image”

· “Almost 70% of online shoppers say that the product image is of the utmost importance when making a purchase decision”


But does that mean you’re also required to pay a premium for them?

Ideally, the major of your photos feature your very own products and people. But when you need additional photos, photos that aren’t necessarily specifically identified to your company, you often need to look elsewhere to get them.

And while your department can pay a monthly or yearly subscription to access to a variety of high-quality, high-resolution photos, rates vary depending on the numbers of users who subscribe and the number of images those subscribers can use in a month. Depending on how many images your department needs, paying these rates can be downright impractical or impossible for some, especially when you factor in the number of images needed for social media posts, which could easily mean three or more a week.

So how do you keep up with the demand for photos without breaking the bank?

Free images.

Believe it or not, there are a number of websites that offer quality, high-res images for free. The catch? Make sure you read and understand the terms.

Creative Commons. This is a nonprofit organization that facilitates the sharing of creative materials through free legal tools. Licenses vary and include use with no attribution, use for certain purposes, and use with no changes. Make sure you read the terms for each photo carefully before using.

Public domain. These are images with expired, forfeited, or inapplicable copyrights. Alfred Lua, Product Marketer at Buffer, cautions that finding something on the internet doesn’t automatically imply public domain.

Royalty free. The “free” part of this isn’t in the access. It’s in the repeated use. In most cases, you pay for the rights to use an image the first time you use it but not each time after that.

Not all websites with free images are the same, and not all of them will be a good fit for your needs. We suggest searching for and checking out lists online to find some good leads and then visiting each site to find the one or ones that work for you.

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