Compelling visual content is mandatory in digital marketing. Web design has tended toward the prominent use of huge, high-resolution images for awhile now, and pretty much every major social media platform is putting more emphasis on visuals as well. Snapchat, Instagram and Pinterest are primarily visual spaces, and users have shown they’re more likely to engage with Facebook posts and tweets that include images. Whether you’re consuming or creating written content, there’s an expectation that text must be supported by a relevant and appropriately-sized high-res picture.
The art you choose has a major impact on the way readers perceive your written piece, or whether they choose to read it at all. No one wants to read a stark block of unbroken text against a dizzying backdrop of banner ads. Where are the quick-grabbing emotions and the eye-catching colors that make readers want to stay and learn more? Readers need visuals to set the tone, mood and scene before they dive into the written argument.
So when you’re putting together a blog post, sharing a Facebook status or composing a tweet, where do you find your supporting art? If you don’t have time (or, let’s be honest, aren’t talented enough) to shoot your own photos and make original graphics, stock photos are an easy go-to. But they can also be terrible, as you can see from our hilariously chosen example.
Fortunately, there are several places to find decent stock photos that can elevate your written content, without making you question why those stock photos exist in the first place. These sources are mostly free, so all you need are a few minutes to browse.
Free photos can have a tendency to look amateur, but most of these images would look right at home in a magazine spread. It’s a solid site to find images for blogs, marketing emails and social content, and you can also purchase premium photo packs. Subscribe to their emails and receive dozens of free pictures, photo packs and monthly “best of” round ups.
Most of these photos could pass for Mac OSX desktop wallpapers, but the variety of subjects is impressive. If you need a massive, high resolution background or hero image, try this site. Sign up for their emails to receive a weekly compilation of unexpected pictures you’ll actually want to use.
An expansive reserve of glossy pics that look just a little too tired to have been ripped from Instagram recently. Check here if you need generic, contrived and anonymous-looking photos for a piece along the lines of, “Pesky Whipper-Snappers are pesky whipper-snappers” or “kids these days text too much.” The upside is all the photos are completely free.
A mixture of free and premium photos that would easily suit lifestyle content. Think introspective articles about “confidence in the workplace” and quippy blog pieces about “living your best life” – whatever generic, brightly-filtered image came to mind just now, you can probably find here. The keyword searching is a little limited, but the pictures have delightful file names, like “cute-yorkshire-puppy-in-the-garden.”
A huge selection of generic photos that are slightly less hokey and aggravating than what you’d pay for from iStockPhoto. Unfortunately it’s not the easiest site to navigate, and not all of the photos are actually free. But it’s still easier than trolling through Google Images.
Decent keyword search, and plenty of copy-paste generic pretty pictures for lifestyle blogs.
Ahh, the kitchen sink of free photos, with some real gems mixed in (like more musical animals!). A basic search will give you a random mix of decent photos, amateur photos, clip art, vector stuff and weird garbage, so you might have to hunt around to find something useable. During this lengthy search, you’ll probably recognize a lot of familiar images that are so free they’ve been stocked everywhere.
Now that we’ve armed you with this bounty of resources, go bless the internet with your epic imagery. The alternative is unacceptable.