If you’re doing social media marketing on a budget—or marketing in general—every penny counts! Plus, posts with visuals get 94% more views than those without. However, often people spend hours searching for high quality images and videos to find out they’re licensed and expensive. Or worse, you post a picture or video without permission and get sued in the process. Fortunately, you can avoid this headache by browsing top free stock photo sites and downloading great assets there.

If you can’t plan a quarterly photoshoot for your business’s social media account, email marketing campaigns, or other projects—the best best thing is using stock. There are awesome sites that provide royalty-free photography for commercial use without attribution. It’s known as Creative Commons licensing. When a photo has this type of license, the creator gives you permission to share, use, and modify the image, even for commercial purposes. Here are our favorites!

7 Free Stock Photo Sites You’ll Love For Social Media Image Sourcing, Website Content, and More

1. Unsplash

Getty Images owns Unsplash. It launched in 2021 and has more than 3.48 million available photos, taken by a global community of contributing photographers. All images are free to use any way you’d like, and there are new ones uploaded every day. With a free Unsplash account, you can access photos from any of your devices. Plus, you can download original large format images or smaller. This is particularly helpful depending on whether you need to print images, use them on your site without slowing down page load speed, or upload photos to social media. 

Unsplash free stock photo site for social media image sourcing

2. Pixabay

Pixabay launched in 2010, and Canva purchased it in 2019. This top free stock photo site boasts of more than 2.2 million free stock images, videos, and music clips for you to download without spending a dime. You can use the site’s royalty-free photos without permission or attribution. You’re allowed to manipulate them however you’d like.

The stock images on Pixabay are for similar use as those under Create Commons licensing. They’re released under the Pixabay license, so you probably want to check out the details to make sure you use them correctly. Also, you may want to throw a small contribution to the photographer. It’s an honor system that keeps artists afloat and great, affordable content coming your way.

Pixabay free stock photo site for free image sourcing

3. Canva

Speaking of Canva… it’s one of our absolute favorite marketing tools. From social media scheduling to Instagram Reels templates, social media post templates, and free stock photos, it really has it all for a low monthly fee. Canva has millions of paid and free stock photos available for download, customization, and use in graphics. You can use a free account or broaden your image search horizons with a paid account. 

Canva top social media marketing tool

4. Shutterstock

Shutterstock has some of the best stock images on the web, with more than 300 million options submitted by customers around the world. It also has vectors, illustrations, and music. You can start with ten free downloads, but then images will cost you. Choose your ten wisely if you’re on a tight budget. Otherwise, enjoy the breadth of choice that comes with a fee.

Shutterstock free stock photo site for free social media content

5. Pexels

Pexels, which launched in 2014, has 3.2 million royalty-free photos and videos to choose from. Canva also owns this site. You can download, copy, and modify images under the Pexels license, which also is similar to the Creative Commons. 

Pexels free stock photo sourcing

6. Cupcake

Cupcake offers more than 50 million high-resolution photos taken by a single photographer. They’re licensed via Creative Commons and you can use assets however you want. Jonas Wimmerstrom, the artist, asks that you link back to the site if you use one of his images, but this isn’t mandatory.

How to find free stock photos for social media on Cupcake

7. KaboomPics

KaboomPics is a whole vibe. It offers almost 25,000 images, all with a minimalist, modern look that’s popular today. If you want your photos to be crisp, clean, and trendy, it’s a fabulous option. The site’s owner and photographer asks that you link back if you use a photo, but it’s not required. 

Source free stock photos on KaboomPics

Why You Need High Quality Images and Video for Your Small Business’s Marketing

How many social media accounts do you follow that post boring, low quality, and/or obviously stock photos? None! You should never post something to your social media accounts, email blast, website, or blog posts that you’re not proud of—or that doesn’t echo your business’s branding. The images you use for your marketing help you…

  • Get Noticed. We’ve focused on this a lot, but it’s because it’s essential. You need to give people a reason to stop scrolling. Seeing something visual makes them pause to at least consider the picture. It’s much more effective than words alone. Use Canva’s free video clips to make a video for your social posts or email campaigns. They’ll stop scrollers better that static images alone!
  • Be Remembered. People are more likely to remember what they saw than what they read. It’s science. Pairing the two together makes your content more memorable overall.
  • Get Opens. Readers are more likely to open marketing materials when they see images, whether it’s a press release, email, or a blog post.
  • Spark Emotion. People have an emotional response to images and video. They make us feel something. That means you can communicate a lot about your message with a strong visual.

Finding quality images to enhance your content can be tough, time consuming, and expensive. That is, if you don’t know where to look or which free stock photo sites to peruse! Now that you do, go ahead and use these seven free stock photo sites for professional, high-resolution images and video that cost you nothing.

Don’t want to spend time searching out photos for your marketing efforts? We get that too! We’re happy to help with your marketing. Contact us today to learn how we can help you produce high caliber content.