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As marketers, we use a lot of stock photos. Most stock photos are either:

Free for noncommercial use
What it means: you aren’t going to make money from using the image.
Example: You print off the image and hang it up in your room by your Hot Guys and Cats calendar.


Free for commercial use
What it means: you can make money from your use of the image.
Example: You use the image in an ad for your product.

*Images that allow commercial use can be used non-commercially, but not vice versa.

Below I list off my favorite sites for finding royalty-free imagery.

What you CANNOT do with an image from these sites:

🖼 Sell the image without altering it significantly
🥊 Use their images to create a competing business to the usable image sites

What you CAN do with an image from one of these sites:
I’m giving examples because a comprehensive list is practically infinite.

🪧Use it on a billboard accompanied by your company’s slogan
🖥 Upload it as the hero image of your Contact Us page
📰 Make digital and physical flyers featuring it
🛠 Use editing software to add to and/or edit the image before using it as the cover of an ebook
🖊 Use a photographer’s picture without saying the photo is the artist’s


Pexels is my favorite

So much of their imagery is modern and 👌🏼. Plus, free stuff takes center stage on their site.

  • They offer photos AND videos
  • You can sign up for free to organize photos, but it’s simple to use without logging in
  • There are ads, but they’re small and appear infrequently

Unsplash takes second

They have good volume and little of it feels contrived. They take second place because they feature ads for paid images more frequently.

Burst is by Shopify and it’s good

Burst was made with Shopify site managers in mind, but anyone can download their images. They have a good supply, but the images aren’t quite as modern.

StockSnap does the job

When looking for imagery, it helps to have lots of sources. You can add StockSnap to that list.

(Watch out though, they sneakily list Shutterstock ads into their feed. A small star layered on top of the image is the only difference between those ads and royalty-free images in the feed. Clicking the ad isn’t an automatic purchase though; so it’s not the end of the world. But it isn’t my favorite thing.)

Pixabay has some unique finds

Pixabay has a much smaller inventory than my favorites. But they have some unique options that make them worth using.

Like many of these sites, they populate paid images when they have a low supply of imagery matching your search. Since they have a smaller inventory, that will happen on their site more than others.

Canva gets a mention.

Canva doesn’t have the same purpose as the other sites we’ve mentioned. But they offer free stock photos, vectors, stickers, etc. If you only want a photo, you might as well use one of the sites above. But if your end-goal is to create a social post (or design something else), then you could do all that in Canva.