I'm proud of the internet. I'm proud of what great software developers and user experience designers have accomplished together. A round of applause for everyone who has hunched over their computers for weeks to make resources available for the small businesses out there! Thank you.
And now it's time to showcase the fruit of their labor. Here are 9 Free Creative Resources for Businesses.
Simply search the keywords of the type of image you’d want to find, and make sure to refine the search by selecting Creative Commons > Commercial Use Allowed. Always, always, and…. ALWAYS read what the license allows, and what the photographer wrote in the description box.
This site acts like a mini-browser featuring popular cc0 photography sites and blogs. Each of the selected resources usually have a theme (i.e. Unsplash has a sort of neutral, quiet theme; Gratisography has a brighter, funnier feel; and New Old Stock is mostly formerly copyrighted photos in black and white). Do be careful about what your chosen image and its associations mean to your audience. Again, make sure to read about which CC license the contributor allows (not all of TheStocks.im-featured blogs are 100% attribution-free).
I am probably on this website every day. I think of it as a place to find pictures in the public domain. I love that it is easy to get around — all of the search functions seem intuitive and it is designed with familiarity in mind. Note, sometimes you’ll notice that some of the photographers on Pixabay are also on the websites that TheStocks.im features.
Freepik’s tagline is “Find free vectors, PSD, icons and photos” and that sums it up very well. I look at it and see a Pixabay, but for different file types and for more uses. I don’t use this often but it’s been handy in a pinch.
I almost didn’t put this one on the list, because almost all of the site’s contributors do require you to buy the resources. However, I love Creative Market because so many great-quality elements are only a few bucks, and many times I’ve found a free download featured at the top.
Making magic happen (AKA editing photos)
Canva might be able to help you replace your need for an image in the first place. But most of the time, I use it as a supplement or baby-step to get the easy parts of creating a graphic out of the way before I dive into Photoshop. Canva’s pre-made options are great inspiration for those who know nothing about designing from scratch, but know good stuff when they see it. Sometimes all that the graphic calls for is replacing the text, altering a background’s color or transparency, and then you’re done. No biggie.
Pixlr might as well change their domain to dabomb.com. Currently they offer three free web-only tools:
- Pixlr Editor: I liken it to one of the recent Photoshop CS versions (but for free!).
- Pixlr O-Matic: I think of it as an online instagram-filter-like tool.
- Pixlr Express: A simplified editor that takes the most commonly used functions of the other two products. This is the one I use most often.
They also offer the ability to download the Pixlr Editor to your desktop, but that isn’t free.
Fotor is pretty powerful, despite the gorgeously simple interface. You can make collages, edit photos, and make simple slideshows. They even have apps for iOS and Android, something I can't say about the other apps featured here.
I was but a young lass when I first used Gimp. To me, it's a free Photoshop alternative. I haven't used this in at least five years but I've also read that it's been updated to do more, and it works well on Macs. If you can't get on the internet and use Pixlr's tools or Fotor, use Gimp.
Tips for searching for the best images:
- Don’t limit your search terms to the literal keyword. If you’re searching for images for material that is discussing budgeting, don’t just search “budgeting.” You could search with keywords like gold, wallet, credit card, calculator…the list goes on.
- Download the largest size (and appropriate file type) of the image so that when you crop or resize it, your image doesn’t lose quality.
Brownie points if you:
- Tip the image contributor. I noticed that Pexels and Pixabay encourage this practice.
- Pay it forward by taking some of your own photos or creating your own art, and submit them to one of the sites listed above.
Do you have any creative resources you recommend? Comment below!