What is the most common job amongst spiders? Web designer.
Whether you are a budding web designer. Or you’re someone who spends a lot of time on social media for business. And you would like to know how to use free stock photos for your business.
Maybe you’re only starting to use social media. Or alternatively, you remember a time when Tom was your first Facebook friend. Regardless, this article has something for you.
We aim to give you a firm grounding in how to use free stock photos for your business. Including where to get free-to-use images for your blog, website or social media profile.
And to avoid getting sued or gaining a reputation for riding roughshod over other people’s intellectual property.
We’ll have a look at some of the more permissive licences available for you to use for your business. Along with some image sharing sites where you can find images you can distribute, modify and use commercially free of charge. And without attribution.
We’ll also look at how you can optimize your images to reduce file size and download time. As well as go through recommended width, height and aspect ratios for the 4 main social media platforms.
First though, let’s look at some facts and figures.
Why should you use images on your social media posts?
Maybe because on Twitter -tweets with visual content are 3 times more likely to get engagement (ie. like, shares, comments). Ditto for posts on Facebook.
People only remember 10% of what they hear after 72 hours. But pairing a relevant image with your message. Means people can remember 65% of the information over the same time period.
So choosing the right image matters.
Which Licence Is Right For Me?
With so many licences out there it’s difficult to know when it’s OK to use an image and when it’s not. You don’t want to be hit by a bill from a photographer or image hoarding website after using one of their images without consent.
And yes, it does happen.
Let’s run through the main form of free-to-use image licences here so you don’t get caught out.
Keep an eye out for these licences when you’re searching for images for your business.
- Public Domain Licence – images under the public domain licence are outside of copyright law and are free to use, modify and distribute with no attribution required.
- Copyright Free – image released without any copyright by the owner. Free to use in any way you wish.
- Creative Commons Zero – no rights reserved licence by the owner. Free to use commercially. Not to be confused with Creative Commons licence with which attribution is legally required.
Where Should I Source My Images?
Sourcing images on the web can be tricky. On one hand, you want a great image, professionally shot. Preferably one that your visitors haven’t seen before to avoid ad fatigue.
While at the same time paying for single-use images from stock photo sites can get expensive after a while.
These are my top 3 websites for downloading high-resolution images that are free to use or modify for commercial purposes on the web.
- unsplash.com: Unsplash grants you an irrevocable, nonexclusive, worldwide copyright licence to download, copy, modify, distribute, perform, and use photos from Unsplash for free, including for commercial purposes, without permission from or attributing the photographer or Unsplash.
- pixabay.com: On Pixabay, users can find and contribute images and video clips. For uploading files and downloading full-sized images, registration is required. By uploading files, the contributors waive their copyright and related image rights.
- picjumbo.com: All photos are free to use
Which Image Editing Software Should I Be Using?
Let’s break image editing software users into 3 distinct but overlapping groups. For three different kind of web users.
Have Time, No Money: Go with GIMP.org. Completely free to download and use. My personal choice. Especially good for scaling, optimizing and cropping images. Bit of a learning curve initially. But so worth it in the end. Especially if you work on the web often.
Have Money, No Time: Canva.com – also the choice if you want to post to multiple social media sites and have images automatically resized. Or you want to produce info graphics. Canva costs €11.99 per month but also comes with a free plan.
Have Money, Have Time: Adobe Photoshop. Used by a lot of professional graphic designers. Unless you’re a pro. GIMP and Canva should be fine for most purposes.
Which Social Media Image Sizes Should I Use In 2020?
Unlike your website or blog. When it comes to social media images. You generally want to upload as high an image quality as possible.
You might also want to check how the image appears on your social media profiles on your computer or laptop and on your phone. Just to be sure. Often social media platforms will stretch or squeeze images to make them fit the required aspect ratio.
Even if you don’t get the width and height of the image exactly right. Try to get the aspect ratio correct for social media. The easiest way to do this is to use the crop tool on your image editing software.
Generally you want to upload images to social media in JPG or PNG format. For intricate or detailed images choose PNG format. PNG image file sizes are larger and so take longer to download, so use sparingly on your blog or website.
Social media platforms have their own optimizing (scaling and compression) processes so you don’t have to worry about file type.
How do you know what type of image you are working with? The clue is in the filename eg. myblogimage.jpg or mysocialmediaimage.png.
Here are some recommended image sizes for LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Along with their aspect ratios.
LinkedIn Image Sizes:
|Profile Image||400(w) x 400(h) pixels AR 1:1|
|Cover Image||1584(w) x 396(h) pixels AR 4:1|
|Blog Post Link Image||1200(w) x 627(h) pixels AR 1.91:1|
|Stories Image||1080(w) x 1920(h) pixels AR 9:16|
|Article Image||744(w) x 400(h) pixels AR 1.86:1|
Facebook Image Sizes:
|Profile Image||170(w) x 170(h) pixels AR: 1:1|
|Cover Image||851(w) x 315(h) pixels AR: 1:1|
|Post Image||1200(w) x 630(h) pixels AR: 1.91:1|
|Stories Image||1080(w) x 1920(h) pixels AR: 9:16|
Twitter Image Sizes:
|Profile Image||400(w) x 400(h) pixels AR: 1:1|
|Header Image||1500(w) x 500(h) pixels AR: 3:1|
|Feed Image||1024(w) x 512(h) pixel AR: 16:9|
Instagram Image Sizes:
|Profile Image||320(w) x 320(h) pixels AR: 1:1|
|Feed Image||1080(w) x 566 to 1350(h) pixels|
|Stories Image||1080(w) x 1920(h) pixels AR: 9:16|
Tips For Using Images On Social Media
As previously stated, social media platforms have their own software to optimize images. So it’s best to upload high-quality images because low-quality images will get degraded.
- Avoid images with small text or details that won’t be legible on mobile phones.
- If you are creating text graphics on Canva, use at least 16px font size for mobile legibility.
- Use high-resolution images for Social Media.
- Use the recommended aspect ratio.
- Use highly contrasting colours.
- Mix it up. Use a variety of images such as stock photos, mobile phone shots and even a video or animated gif from time to time.
When in doubt about which image to use for social media. Choose a smiling female. Studies show that images of smiling females get the most engagement on social media. Next come images of children or pets.
LinkedIn Image Tips:
- Choose images of people in business attire.
- Single person photos work best.
Facebook Image Tips:
- Don’t use blues and whites on Facebook as they tend to blend with the Facebook brand colours.
- Avoid too much text or logos on images on Facebook.
- Friday posts get the highest engagement rate on FaceBook. Sunday the lowest.
Twitter Image Tips:
- Tag people in your photos for best results
- Upload multiple photos in one go using the Twitter mobile app.
Instagram Image Tips:
- Use single dominant colours in images.
- Blues often work best on Instagram.
- Choose images with whitespace.
Optimizing Images For Your Blog Or Website
Don’t forget, you’ll need to optimize your images before you upload them to your blog or website.
Fast web pages. By which I mean ones that download in 3 seconds or less. Usually have a file size of around 500KB. I’ve seen websites where the small testimonial image alone is nearly 10 times that size.
And people wonder why their website’s page speed is so slow. If you learn anything from this article. Learn this. Optimize your blog and website images.
To optimize your images. Simply follow this 3 step process.
1. Download, install and open GIMP on your computer.
GIMP image editing software is completely free and is compatible with Windows, Apple and Linux. You can download GIMP at gimp.org/downloads/
Follow the instructions to install GIMP on your system.
2. Open image in GIMP. Scale and/or crop image. Save.
Once you have GIMP installed and opened on your computer. Open the image file after downloading it from the web.
The follow these instructions to scale (resize) the image and/or crop (focus on a particular section of) the image.
Crop an image: docs.gimp.org/2.10/en/gimp-tutorial-quickie-crop.html
Scale an image: docs.gimp.org/2.10/en/gimp-image-scale.html
3. Upload image to tinypng.com
Tinypng.com is a great site for reducing the quality and size of images for websites and blog posts. It handles both jpg and png image formats. It also handles up to 20 images at the same time.
So assuming you’ve already scaled and cropped your images. You can just upload your entire image folder for your small website in one go. Then download the optimized images and have your website admin install them on your website.
In conclusion, we hope you enjoyed our brief overview of the world of image sourcing for your online business profile.
Don’t get caught out in the future using images to which you have no rights. Stick to permissive licences and websites and you won’t get caught out.
Where do you source your images? Do you have any tips that you wish to share with the community? Let us know.