As an online marketer, I always need good photos to include in my content.
Yesterday I wrote a blog for a client recommending some of the best attractions to visit in Cornwall, and I needed a photo of each to enhance the post.
That’s a photo of St Michael’s Mount, the Eden Project, the Lost Gardens of Heligan, Tintagel Castle….
I live in Cornwall and have been lucky enough to visit most of these places so I was able to dig through the folders on my computer and find some relevant photos of my own to include.
But many of them featured the smiling faces of my husband and son, or they weren’t good enough quality to include on a client’s blog.
Time to search for a stock photo instead.
Stock photo libraries are big business – any content creator, whether they’re a journalist, blogger or copywriter needs good quality images, but they can cost thousands of pounds.
Prices vary, but as an example, one of the biggest stock photo sites, Shutterstock, charges £32 for five images up to £299 a month for up to 750 image downloads. Not something your average blogger has kicking around in spare change.
Enter the free stock photo sites – a library of images where you can search, find and download a wide range of pictures to use on your website.
This means they can be modified and used for any application – anyone can upload images to Pixabay, but they must agree that their images have ‘model release’ which means permission has been granted by anyone featured. See Pixabay’s terms of service for full details.
I love it because it’s easy to use, free and always available.
Let’s take a closer look with a more detailed review of Pixabay:
It’s easy to download the images from Pixabay without having to register or create an account. The only slight inconvenience is you’ll need to enter a captcha code every time you download an image:
(Alternatively you could simply sign-up for a free account using your Facebook or Google+ login for ease, and you can skip the step which asks you to enter the captcha).
I use Pixabay a lot. And I’ve never received a message telling me I’ve reached my download limit.
I’ve done a bit of research and it looks like the servers can allow up to 5,000 requests per hour, but I don’t think you’ll ever get anywhere near this!
You’re busy – I’m busy – we haven’t got time to scroll endlessly through page after page of potential photos in the hope that the perfect one will soon appear. Instead, you can use the criteria at the top of the page within Pixabay to narrow your search.
The ones I use most often are the ‘All images’ dropdown, where I select ‘Photos’, and the ‘Orientation’ dropdown, where I select ‘Horizontal’.
I rarely use illustrations or vectors in my blog posts – I’m normally looking for a photo, and landscape orientation works better in my blog layout than portrait.
Using these variables I’m able to search more easily and find the best image in less time.
You don’t need to be at the same computer to access all those juicy stock photos – as Pixabay is online 24/7, you can search the image library and download wherever and whenever you like.
One of the frustrations of Pixabay is the lack of images – although there are over 700,000, there are still searches that return zero results.
This is understandable – it’s a free service, reliant upon its users to upload content, so there will always be gaps in provision. Compare this to Shutterstock, with over 7 million images… you get what you pay for.
Over the last few years, stock photos have become a bit of a joke. Those staged images of tanned office workers ‘laughing’ jovially over a laptop during a meeting make me cringe.
Pixabay has its fair share of ‘cheesy’ photos, but there are some beautiful gems if you can wade through the rubbish.
Because Pixabay is one of the most popular free stock photo sites, the photos are downloaded thousands of times. I’ve seen this one of three different blogs in the past few months:
I’ve used it myself – it’s a nice image – but if you want your blog to be unique in every way, Pixabay isn’t going to give you the cutting edge that makes you stand out visually.
Pixabay isn’t for everyone. If you don’t have the budget to hire your own photographer, and you’re not confident taking your own photos, stock photo sites offer a simple and convenient alternative.
I hope you found this review of Pixabay useful. Stock photo sites have their limitations, even the expensive ones, but for blog posts and editorial content, Pixabay is one of the best tools out there. What other photo sites do you use most? Share in the comments below.