By Mojca Zove
There are many moving parts to running a successful marketing campaign, especially if your end goal is for it to go viral - which, let’s face it, that’s pretty much always the end goal.
Choosing the right images is just one of the factors in setting up a viral campaign, but a lot of experts will argue that it’s the most important. This is because internet users are bombarded with so much content every single day, the only way to instantly grab their attention is through visual appeal. We all know the saying a picture is worth a thousand words, and in this situation, it’s more true than ever.
Unfortunately, many of the best photos are copyrighted, and using them without the owner’s permission can land you in some major trouble. Creating high-quality images from scratch can be difficult and time-consuming, so that’s not ideal either.
This means that finding the right visuals to make your product a success is close to impossible… or is it?
It’s actually not, thanks to royalty-free image libraries. Resources like the ones mentioned below allow users to access stock images for commercial use completely free of charge, and free from the risk of infringing on any copyrights.
Here are the top seven royalty-free image resources you should be using on your next campaign if you’re hoping for viral results.
Unsplash features over 1 million free high-res images from some of the best (and most generous) photographers out there. There are over 150,000 photographers in the Unsplash network who are more than willing to share their photos with the world.
The wide selection of photos from talented photography hobbyists and professionals isn’t even the thing we love most about the Unsplash free image library. The real draw is how easy it is to use this resource and find the exact photo you’re looking for.
You’ll see what we mean as soon as you visit the homepage. A user can either search for specific keywords to find the perfect photo or start browsing one of the many categories available - they have everything from travel over technology to spirituality.
Out of all the sites offering free stock images, we think Unsplash is the best of them. KickoffLabs loves this resource so much that we’ve integrated Unsplash’s image search in our product building pages to make selecting the perfect stock photo for your campaign easier than ever.
The slogan at Pexels is “Empowering Creators”, which is completely fitting since their main goal is to help creative individuals - writers, designers, artists, you name it - access stunning photos and empower them to create the best product possible.
Pexels has been providing free stock photos since 2014, but they also offer a decent selection of royalty-free videos. The video collection isn’t organized as well as the site’s selection of photos, but it’s still nice to have that option for an eye-catching campaign.
Everything you see on the site is uploaded by Pexels users themselves, but the team goes through everything to ensure that each photo and video published is sourced from free image sites only or submitted by photographers directly.
Pixabay has over 1.7 million stock photos on file, making it the most extensive option on this list. In addition to photos, this resource also offers illustrations that range from quirky to elegant.
Since all Pixabay content is licensed under Creative Commons 0, which basically means it’s free to use for commercial use without attribution, any image on here is up for grabs with no risk of violating copyright laws.
Similar to Pexels, Pixabay images and illustrations are submitted by community photographers and artists. Anyone can make a submission, but this doesn’t affect the quality of the visuals available. Before being published, everything is put under careful review by a Pixabay curator.
The only downside of choosing Pixabay as your main resource for royalty-free images is that it’s not always easy to find exactly what you’re looking for. This isn’t all that surprising from a site that has close to 2 million images, but the search functionality could still use some improvement.
Burst, powered by Shopify, is another free stock photo platform that has been recommended by small business owners all over the world. The Burst library isn’t nearly as extensive as the previous three mentioned, but they’ve still got thousands of high-resolution photos that might be worth perusing.
There’s a good chance you’ve come across Burst photos on online Shopify stores, but they’re also often featured on blogs, Instagram ads, Facebook posts, corporate presentations, and more.
The Burst photo selection is geared towards designers, developers, bloggers, and entrepreneurs who are looking for an easy-to-use resource for free-to-use photos. As previously mentioned, the only downside is the limited selection, but the high-quality collection makes up for this.
KaboomPics has a little bit of something for everyone, but it’s most popular among lifestyle bloggers and interior design sites. The platform has about 18k photos with an image database that’s constantly growing.
The most unique feature behind KaboomPics is that it allows you to filter photo results based on the color scheme of the image you’re looking for. You may not realize it, but creating a campaign that’s color cohesive has a lot to do with its success, so this is a handy feature.
To find the exact photo you’re searching for, just type in a few keywords in the search bar. Then select your ideal color scheme (if you have one in mind) from the color palette at the top right-hand corner of the search. You can also search by category, for example newest to oldest, or most downloaded.
If there’s one word to describe Gratisography, it would have to be “funky”. This site is all about providing people with free-to-use photos that stand out and are truly unique (they even have a category that’s dedicated solely to Whimsicalimages).
Aside from the Whimsical selection, you’ll also find image collections like Amusing Animals, Funky Food, Goofy Grownups, Mischievous Men… you get the gist. This royalty-free site definitely isn’t for everyone, but it’s perfect if you’re looking for out-of-the-norm photos for a campaign that’s different from any other.
Canva is a tool geared specifically towards graphic designers. In addition to free stock photos, Canva offers a variety of tools for designing the perfect images. This includes preset photo filters and the option to overlay text and icons directly onto a photo.
If you want to customize your image, this is the way to do it. When you visit the homepage, you’ll see a tab for “Pricing”,but don’t worry. Canva doesn’t cost a thing as long as you stick to the Free plan, which includes access to hundreds of thousands of free photos and graphics.
Using image resources like the ones we’ve mentioned here not only allows you to respect the creative rights of others. It also gives you the opportunity to make a campaign with visuals that pop, which will ultimately spur interest and let your campaign hit the ground running.
Creating copy that converts is still up to you, but now you also know you’ve got plenty of resources for visually appealing to your audience. And the best part of all is that they won’t cost you a penny.