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Five Reasons to Use Free Images Instead of Paid

If you are in business of any kind – e-commerce, blogging, brick and mortar, etc – chances are you’re in need of some kind of photography. Whether it’s to insert inside a blog post, use for promotional materials, or just liven up your brand, it’s important to pick the right images to convey your tone appropriately.

But where do you find images?

You could hire a freelancer to take the exact shot you want, or you could head to a few of the more popular websites and buy some, but those won’t come cheap. Sure, the first few might, but if you use images on a regular basis, might you consider another option? Free. That’s right: Free.

I know what you’re thinking: “Free images are low quality and everyone uses them, so my brand won’t stand out.”

Rewind the clock a few years, and you probably would have been right. Most of the available sites had images that looked like they were created by a nine-year-old who just bought his first crayon set (no offense to nine-year-olds with crayon sets, of course).

These days, the game has completely changed, and you have a whole world of images available to choose from. Below are the top reasons to consider using free images, instead of paying the same billion companies for their overpriced shots.

1) They’re Free

This has to be at the top of the list, simply because if nothing else on this list appeals to you, the fact that you’re not paying for these pictures is amazing.

There’s literally no risk to trying these pictures. If you spend a half hour looking for the right picture and find it, great! If not, all you’re out are those thirty minutes. Much better than spending a fortune on a freelancer, only to have him come back with mediocre images. These would decrease the chance of dissatisfaction as you are the one who has shortlisted the images.

If you are just starting a business, you know how important capital is. You need to buy inventory, set up a website, subscribe to various software to help you run your business, and possibly, hire or outsource a few employees.

The absolute last thing you want to do? Pay for a hundred images at $20 a piece, half of which might not even work for your business.

Which brings me to my next point…

2) They Allow You to Split Test

Running a campaign and have three different contenders for the main advertisement? Instead of paying for all of them and then running the ads, plunk a couple free ones in there and see what turns out; use the money you would spend on images for advertising revenue.

You will discover so many things through this process, at a much cheaper price than you would have if you had just paid for a bunch of images right off the bat: genre, tone, people/no people, pets/no pets, etc. You can test every different factor out there today without ever paying a dime for images. Not bad, huh? 

3) They Help Future Artists

These days, everyone with a smartphone also fancies themselves a photographer; since nearly everyone has a smartphone, that means there are a lot of photographers out there.

But the freelance world is competitive, and it’s not always easy to get your work in front of the right audience, so photographers turn to free image websites to show their work, and hopefully land a contract with a professional company. As a result, you might be paying to the same photographer whose images you have rejected counting it as a free not worthy photograph.

That would be a dream come true for any photographer; wouldn’t you love to be a stepping stone in that process?

And just in case they don’t land a contract (which, to be honest, is probably most), many free websites allow you to pay them directly for their work if you thought an image was particularly awesome.

Moreover, many sites allow you to contact these photographers directly, helping you find a freelance photographer for much cheaper than you would at a big paid outlet, and also one that is more readily available. What’s better than having your own personal photographer who works primarily just for you?

The people who take pictures for the big websites already have contracts, mostly. They are already pursued by high profile clients. The ones who post to free websites generally do not, making them the perfect spot to find your next freelancer.

They Are (Mostly) Just as Good as Paid

The major knock against using free images is that they are low-quality shots produced by untrained barbarians that believe they’re the next Annie Lebovitz. In reality, the only difference is that one is paid and the other isn’t. Yes, you might not get many options to choose from the free images. However, the available options are good enough for accomplish the project and there are several sites that can provide high definition free images.

Websites that use free images these days have shots that look professional in every sense of the word. In fact, if you were to line them up side by side with the more “professional” shots, it would be hard to tell the difference in some cases.

Will there be some stinkers in the mix? Sure, but you get that with every lineup, not just with free images.

Some of this can be chalked up to better technology that exists to the everyday person. Gone are the days when you needed to invest at least $5,000 in camera equipment. Now more people are able to take high quality shots more often and upload them to websites on the fly.

And with more pictures, comes more options and opportunities for high quality work.

5) They Look Unique

Let’s face it: we all know where the big-time paid image sites are, and people will tell you that in order for your business to be professional, you need to buy your images from these locations.

What’s the problem with that? If everyone is running to the same websites to buy the same pictures, eventually your branding won’t be unique anymore. Joe’s Cupcake Barn will look exactly like Mary’s Pottery Kitchen, and both businesses will suffer.

You don’t have to look very far through free image websites until you start to see some amazing work, much of which will never be used by anyone for any purpose. Imagine having a picture that no one else has as the face of your brand, and not having to pay for it?

Free image websites allow you to do just that, and without all the fuss of paying for access to websites you don’t need in the first place.

6) How to Search for these Images?

Google and other search engines becomes the one stop destination to search these images. Simply add the query for what kind of images do you need? And there you are with several options of images to choose from.

You can also use the tool parameters given in the Google Image search. Where you can utilize the different filters provided to find the royalty free images. These are the filters which you can use to find the images.

  • Labeled for reuse with modifications.
  • Labeled for reuse.
  • Labeled for non-commercial reuse with modifications.
  • Labeled for non-commercial reuse.

There are many other options that you can use like Size, Color, Type, and Time.


It is your call to the approach you want to take to make your product, website or blog look more attractive. But when you have the options to use the free images then why to go for the cost effective options? Take your call and complete your motive. Success is waiting at your doorstep.