Using Free Licensed Images on Social Media

With millions of perfectly made illustrations, images, and stock videos just a click away, we’re living in a modern age of visuals. You can find almost any kind of compelling and unique image or video, to fit nearly any concept or vibe. Every image or video that is created by someone else comes with certain restrictions more commonly known as ‘copyrights’. However, there are certain creators, who make their content free for any kind of use. Terms like ‘copyright-free’, ‘royalty-free’, and ‘free-licensed’ are used to describe such images. Such creators are called stock photographers.

What Does “Free-Licensed” Mean?

Royalty-free or free-licensed means that you have the right to use copyrighted images/material without having to pay for royalties or license fees. However, this does not mean that the image is absolutely free to use. Many of the free-licensed images come with a one-time fee that you must pay to download the image, which means that you won’t have to pay every time you use it. It’s a one-time subscription.

Where to Find Free-Licensed Images?


Now, coming to the main point, there are a number of different websites where you can find captivating images that are free to use. We have collected our top 5 stock image or free photo websites that can help you get the perfect images for social media posting. Have a look at these.

  • Unsplash – Equipped with 850,000 free high-resolution images, Unsplash is one of the best social media platforms for photographers and content creators. It is the best online platform for stock photos and a great option if you’re looking for unposed, authentic, and professional photos.
  • Pexels – Founded in 2014, Pexels provides a number of high-resolution and free stock photos, to empower creators. The website also allows you to search for a keyword and provides related searches as well.
  • Reshot – Reshot takes its pride in providing ‘uniquely free photos’ and ‘tons of non-stocky images’ for creators all around the world. All of the images on Reshot are free for both commercial and non-commercial purposes. 
  • Burst – Images on Burst are available under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license and a nonexclusive license, both of which allow you to download the photos for free. You can further modify, distribute, and display for commercial and non-commercial use.
  • Pixabay – All of the images on Pixabay are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license, which means you can use these images anywhere, without asking for permission or giving credit to the owner. The website also provides a gentle reminder that the content depicted in the images doesn’t infringe any rights.

Where to Use Free Licensed Images on Social Media


We’ve all been taught to not judge a book by its cover, but the saying does not really hold its worth in the social media world. The research shows that people typically form their first impression of anything in mere 50 milliseconds. For a small business owner or a person who earns through social media, this statistic can be daunting. Nowadays, there’s too much pressure to use the perfect images on social media for a strong online presence.

Whether you’re just a person who likes to post his/her important life moments online or earn through different social media platforms, using the perfect image to captivate the audience can be quite a task. Nowadays, images are of utmost importance in social media posting, and here is how and where you can use free licensed images on social media!

1. Social Media Ads


Nowadays, companies try to promote their products/services through social media advertisements, long before advertising them in physical stores. That is because strong and mind-blowing visuals of different products/services can get people to click and share. Using the appropriate and striking images also counts as one of the most important visual content marketing ideas and effectively improves site traffic. 

2. Blog Posts


Thinking of starting your blog this summer? Say no more! Sometimes it can be quite exhausting to find the right images that fit the tone of your blog posts. In such cases, you can use the free licensed photos from different stock image websites, to enhance the blog post. Eye-catching imagery makes web pages more actionable and readable for people. A text-heavy blog post with the right and engaging images will also help your webpage rank higher and make people read for a longer time. To have a blog with a strong online presence and engagement, learn more about best practices for including images in blog posts.

3. Articles


Now and then, we click on an article, even before reading the title. That’s because the picture looked catchy to us. It is as simple as that. Sometimes, people tend to give in to the striking visuals and read the content later. In case you don’t have the images or videos to suit the tone of the article, stock websites can save the day AND your article! Whether it’s an informative article or surrounds the entertainment/fashion industry, you can find free photos that can match almost all types of niches and will provide an additional visual impact to your content.

4. Instagram Promotional Posts


Whether you’re an Instagram influencer or working as a social media manager of some company/organization, there’ll always be a need for some striking pictures that’ll make your product/service shine among others’ content. Nowadays, a lot of fashion and skincare products use royalty-free images to promote their products, that’ll make people click faster on their posts. This way, they can also make their content appealing to international audiences.

5. Developing Personal/Commercial Portfolio


Whether you’re an aspiring photographer or working in any other field and need some pictures to make your portfolio more visually appealing, stock websites can be of great help in such cases. You can use free licensed images to build your personal or commercial portfolio that’ll help you land the job or stand out among the others. It is even better if you’re working to become a photographer, you can use some free images and edit them further to showcase your skills for a starting level position. 

Pros and Cons of Using Free Licensed Images on Social Media

While free images can be of great help and nothing beats a freebie but there are some underlying cons that you might not notice. Have a look at some of its pros and cons and decide for yourself!


  • They are free
  • The images are of high quality and there are thousands of options to choose from
  • Easy to navigate and search through
  • There are also a number of business-friendly images on many stock image websites


  • Many of the free images on different websites are created by amateurs and therefore, the quality of those pictures might not be the best. In marketing and design, professionalism equates to legitimacy, and that might be affected because of the low-quality images.
  • Because most free photos are mediocre, the best ones often get overused, and resultantly, the effectiveness and power of such photos get diluted the more often you see them. These are the stock images that everyone should steer clear of.
  • A model release is a signed form that allows the photographer to use a person’s likeness in advertising, marketing, and artwork. This form is required every time you make use of an image that contains an identifiable person. Even for photos that are open to public use, a person’s right to privacy is protected by law. A model release is not required only when a photograph is directly related to a famous/newsworthy event, which is known as Editorial Use.

Free Licensed Images – Free Aesthetics


While there are equal pros and cons of royalty-free images, I’d still say that the pros outweigh the cons and if you know your way around pictures and social media, it might get a little bit easier. If you’re passionate about having a nice and strong online presence, you need to master the art of patience, which will be needed when scrolling through thousands of photos and selecting the ‘right one’. After picking the right stock photos, you can also edit them according to your preferences and build your aesthetic!