Whether it’s for a start-up ecommerce store or a multinational corporation, having high-quality images is essential to any modern content marketing strategy.
In an ideal world, you’d have an in-house photography and graphic design team who are able to create unique, memorable images that tell your brand’s story better than any other visual materials. Until you’ve reached this milestone though, you’ll need a way to source quality images for websites and other marketing materials for your campaigns to reach their full potential.
There are many stock image sites and services on the market today, and when you’re first setting out to source good images, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed by all the options on offer.
In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the importance of imagery in marketing, and list off some of our favourite sites for sourcing stock imagery.
Common imagery terms defined
If you’re new to the subject of sourcing images for websites, you may have come across terms that have left you scratching your head. Before we move on, here are a few key terms and definitions to make image sourcing easier to navigate…
Creative Commons: Creative Commons is a non-profit organisation that photographers, designers, and other creatives use to release their images into the public domain. It can also be used to refer to the Google image search filter “Creative Commons licences” which allows searchers to find images that can be used without paying for permissions.
Royalty Free Imagery: Royalty free imagery is any image that can be used commercially for a one-time fee, without having to pay royalties (recurring fees for each instance when you use the image). This does not transfer the copyright over to the buyer, and the image remains the intellectual property of the original owner. Royalty free imagery can be a tough concept to grasp for some people, so for more information, be sure to check out this detailed overview by Stock Photo Secrets.
Public Domain: Public Domain can be used to refer to any piece of media with a copyright that has either expired, or never existed at all. Because they don’t carry copyright protection, public domain images can be used by anyone, for any commercial or public purpose.
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How good imagery enhances your content
Quality images have always been considered effective tools in web design and online advertising. Here’s some of the core reasons why having access to great visuals will set your marketing up for success.
They can help your organic visibility
One major reason why good images for websites are so sought-after is that they can have a hand in improving your site’s organic visibility.
When many people hear “SEO” they mainly think about on-page keyword optimisation and link building. While these things are certainly important, marketers should bear in mind that Google has become steadily more visually-oriented in its recent algorithm updates, and modern searchers are increasingly searching for content through visual mediums.
When rich snippets and Google image results have high-quality, compelling visuals, they’re far more likely to be clicked on, sending positive user engagement signals that will tell crawlers your content is resolving peoples’ queries.
They’re more memorable than text and non-visual content
Aside from being more engaging at the first point of contact, people also find visuals easier to remember. This is why flashcards with pictures are such a useful tool for getting children and language learners to retain information, and why the well-known “picture superiority effect” gets plenty of attention in all areas of marketing and education.
We all know that modern consumers are bombarded by countless pieces of content from countless different brands on a daily basis. With all those different entities competing for their attention, it can be easy for people to forget a certain brand name or slogan they were interested in, but far easier for them to recall a certain image or graphic.
When you’re equipped with high-quality images for websites, you’ll make it much easier for your target audience to separate your brand from all the other noise that comes up when browsing.
They can be used to repurpose content for efficient marketing
One of the biggest time-drainers that small business marketers face is the constant need to produce fresh content, while avoiding recurring overhead work like photoshoots and editing.
Having access to plenty of high-quality visual assets can help you overcome this challenge by making it easier to repurpose existing content, adjusting the core value of your content for delivery on different platforms, in ways that target different audience segments.
Using the right visual elements, a single piece of content can be recycled and repurposed for several different channels or stages in your funnel, allowing you to effectively spread one piece of content across multiple touchpoints, and reaching every segment in your audience without having to go back to the drawing board each time.
The best websites for sourcing images
Now that we’ve gone over why high-quality images for websites are so important, here’s a round-up of some of our favourite sites for sourcing images for your marketing content. Each of these selections has its own distinct strengths and specialisms, so we’re sure you’ll find an image site that suits your needs!
unDraw has been providing quality open-source images for websites since 2017, when it was founded by accomplished illustrator Katerina Limpitsouni.
One of the most attractive features of unDraw is that it gives users the freedom to download copyright-free SVG images, a CMS – friendly vector format which can be scaled up easily, and edited with industry-standard tools like the Adobe Creative Suite. This allows you to acquire multiple illustration files, combine them, and edit the finished result to your heart’s content, making absolutely sure that your public-facing assets are unique.
Drawkit was designed specifically for small businesses and solo entrepreneurs looking to tackle design projects quickly and easily. There are two core bundles for both 2D and 3D graphics, with each plan giving you access to more than 200 unique images for websites.
If your budget is tight and there’s a certain specific type of imagery you’re looking for, the site also offers a number of cheaper, limited bundles, alongside some bundles that are absolutely free!
Blush is another highly popular stock imagery site, run by a small team dedicated to making quality illustrations accessible to small, cash-strapped businesses.
Individuals can try out using Blush for free, downloading graphics in a small PNG form and trying out up to 5 design templates. With their pro plan, which starts at just $12 per month, users can access their full bank of illustrations (10,000+), high-resolution PNG files and designs, and Blush’s great suite of design tools, among other features.
Icons8 was originally set up to specialise in icons (as the name suggests), but today, they use their “Ouch!” vector and illustrations platform to offer a wide range of 2D and 3D images for websites in a range of unique styles.
Users can start using this service for free, though because the resolution will be limited and the assets will require an attribution backlink, it should really be thought of more as a product tour. From there, there are three different subscription plans giving you different degrees of access to file types, download limits, and design plugins.
Storyset is another highly accessible source of quality images for websites, offering another great library of quality, customisable illustrations for use in your content. Though the total selection is a little smaller than some of the alternatives, this site offers fantastic value with its high level of customisation and the professionalism of the graphics.
Most of the Storyset illustrations can be used for free in a non-editable format provided that you always add an attribution backlink. The premium plan, which allows 2000 daily downloads, unlimited use of Storyset’s editor, and multiple file types, starts at the very affordable price of €7.50 per month.
IconScout… Last but not least, is an imagery site that offers millions of assets that have been used by major international brands such as DuoLingo and Uber. With countless assets sorted into a diverse range of collections and themes, for many businesses, this is the only source of quality imagery they’ll ever need.
IronScout offers a very limited range of assets that can be used for free with attribution, while being able to browse all their SVGs, icons, animations, and plugins will cost users $14.99 per month. This places the pricing a cut above some of the more entry-level libraries in our list, but the huge selection and great array of features makes it well worth the price!
Need support with your content and outreach?
As you begin working to get your content and outreach up to scratch, we hope this guide to sourcing images for websites makes your job that much easier.
If you need further support for your marketing, Hive19 specialises in creating rich media content for link building strategies and on-site content marketing, taking the strain off your in-house resources and ensuring that your marketing initiatives are as successful as possible.
Talk to our creative link building experts to find out how we can help you today!