Spruce up your website and add color to social pages with free images that speak to your brand.
If you keep a blog or post to social media regularly, chances are good that you quickly exhausted all of the image options generated from searching “house” or “real estate” on your favorite stock image website. Maybe you’ve checked out a paid image database and just couldn’t justify working that subscription fee into your budget.
Have no fear! There are plenty of sites with beautiful, downloadable photos that won’t cost you a dime. Keep your luxury real estate website fresh and unique with images from these sites.
Before we get into the specifics of stock image platforms, it’s important to understand the basics of licensing. Using images for your business website or social media pages falls under commercial use since you’re using these platforms to promote your business, so it’s important to ensure the images you’re including are licensed for that.
The majority of sites on this list offer photos under the Creative Commons 0 (CC0) license (or a very similar license specific to that site), which allows anyone to download, edit, and use photos for both personal and commercial projects. With this license, everything’s on the table, except that you can’t imply that the image creator or the subject in an image is endorsing you, and you can’t sue the creator. You also are not obligated to attribute images under CC0, but it’s always nice to give artists credit wherever you can!
For broad selection and high-quality images, head to Unsplash. These photos come directly from professional or budding photographers, so the variety is tough to beat. It’ll take quite a while to work through all the options here!
Unsplash operates with their own licensing, not CC0, but it’s essentially the same: you can download, change, and use the images however you’d like as long as you’re not selling them. Squarespace, Trello, and lots of other platforms incorporate the Unsplash API, so it’s easy to access and integrate their photos in your projects and sites.
In addition to photos, you can find illustrations, vectors, and even videos or music on Pixabay. There are over 1.9 million free assets on Pixabay to help level up your site and social media. The quality there is top-notch, and you’ll find something for every project, regardless of the tone or subject matter you’re looking to communicate about.
Like Unsplash, Pixabay uses its own licensing, which allows for commercial use and modifications. There are a few sneaky ads that will redirect you to iStock (which is not free), so double-check your URL before you download.
Find hundreds of thousands of searchable, high-resolution photos on Pexels. The Pexels license is just like CC0, so any photo you find on their site is fair game and worry-free! Search for inspiration on their Discover boards and even browse by color to keep your website flowing beautifully. Looking for something a bit more dynamic? Pexels also offers free stock videos!
Burst offers a great selection and even features a tab to take you directly to their newly added photos, in case you’ve exhausted existing content in a certain category. Many photos on this site take on a more rustic and soft feel, especially their photos of homes. Licensing on Burst is virtually identical to CC0, so anyone can download and alter them for commercial or personal use.
Turn to Reshot for sound effects, video, and music, as well as lovely photos! With another CC0-equivalent license, Reshot allows for editing and commercial use of all of their photos, with or without attribution. There aren’t a ton of stock photos of houses on Reshot yet, but there are plenty of business and lifestyle pictures to choose from.
With CC0 licensing and a nice collection of abstract, aesthetically-pleasing shots, Freestocks is a great option if you’ve exhausted your go-tos or are looking for a less cookie-cutter shot. There aren’t quite as many available photos here as there are on other sites, but there are nice options for series since many of their photos show up in groupings of similar images. The site isn’t quite as sleek as others, and you might get a pop-up ad here or there, but the photos available are worth checking out.
Similar to Freestocks, Picography’s selection is a bit small, but it does include some fresh options in the business and scenery categories. Rest easy knowing all the images you find on their site are free to use and modify under CC0, and enjoy smooth browsing by using their Categories tab.
Options on StockSnap.io are more limited than Pixabay and Unsplash, but they offer some excellent shots of nature, pets, and professionals that could all be useful on your real estate page. Their collection is also updated constantly, so it’s always worth checking back to see what’s been added! Photos are tagged well, so browsing and searching are seamless.
All of the photos on StockSnap.io fall under CC0, so licensing is fairly straightforward. However, some “Sponsored” photos will redirect you to Shutterstock, which is not free! Be on the lookout for their sneaky ads to be sure you’re sticking to free content.
There is a way to use Google Images to find photos licensed for commercial purposes, but oftentimes it’s easier to find high-quality photos on the image sites we’ve named so far. Google can come in handy if you’d like a photo of a particular city or town, or anything more specific than what you generally see in stock libraries.
In order to narrow your Google search to only include photos labeled for commercial use:
1. Navigate to Google Images.
2. Type your keywords into the search bar.
3. At the top of the screen near the center (beneath the search bar), click “Tools” to make another set of dropdown menus appear below.
4. Click the “Usage Rights” dropdown and select your desired license.
Although you can filter for photos under Creative Commons licenses, not all of them are under CC0, so you may be responsible for attribution or face other restrictions if you decide to use the image. When you filter for Commercial and Other licenses, many of the image options might direct you back to a paid site. Overall, Google is only your best bet if you’re looking for something very specific that stock sites truly can’t offer.
No matter which sites you adopt as your regulars and where your photo needs take you, be sure to stay current on licensing changes and follow guidelines in order to avoid any legal follow-up for image use. Credit photographers wherever you can on your site to pay it forward (without spending any money)!
Get creative, change it up, and enjoy!