Nothing substitutes for quality content. That’s the rumor we’ve all heard so much that we’ve got blisters in our ears.
On the other hand, much of blogging and website popularity depends on aesthetics. There are exceptions to the rule—notably Leo Babauta’s tellingly simplistic ZenHabits—but it’s no secret that adding a high quality image to a blog post can change the entire game. Royalty fees and licenses are often enough to drive people away from stock photo sites, but the following five are the simplest (and free) options out there.
Arguably the source of the web’s best free stock images, Dreamstime is easy to use and pretty to look at. They won’t waste an opportunity to nag at you to sign up (read: pop-ups galore), but the process is worth it. To download the free stuff, simply click on the “Free Images” tab at the top.
Photos are for the most part high quality and usable especially compared to Sxc (see below). Although they don’t have as many photos, most of us don’t need five pages of images—we just need that special one. The nice thing about StockVault is that you don’t need to create an account. The sign ups and login processes don’t take long on any of these sites but for those of us leery of commitment, StockVault is worth a look.
Another commitment-free, no-sign-up site, FreeDigitalPhotos has plenty of high-quality photos in an easy to use format.
You’ll have to sign up to download large images, but the quality seems a bit more reliable than that of Sxc.
Quantity isn’t their problem, but some of their images are hit and miss. While that’s true of every free stock photo database, because searches can turn up unrelated results, that just means more pages of iffy photos to browse through before finding the one. You’ll need to start up a free account before downloading photos.
Bio: Alexis Bonari is a freelance writer and researcher for College Scholarships, where recently she’s been researching zoology scholarships as well as the Wal-Mart scholarship. Whenever she gets some free time, she enjoys watching a funny movie or curling up with a good book.