Blog > Social Media > How to Find Free Images to Use on Social Media

How to Find Free Images to Use on Social Media

James Parsons • Updated on October 22, 2023
Written by

Free Images for Social Media

Social media is a tricky realm when it comes to using images.

On one hand, it’s a world of sharing and curating content, so rarely does anyone expect everything you post to be completely original.

On the other hand, it’s more crucial than ever, in a potentially viral arena, to make sure the content you create isn’t stolen. The absolute last thing you want is to create a post with a compelling image and share it, have it go viral, only to find out that the image you used was stolen and the original artist is now suing you.

One thing to remember is that just because you can, or because you can get away with it, doesn’t mean you should. Yes, images are easy to find online. Yes, it’s easy to just save and edit them with no regard for the original creator of the image. And, for that matter, the chances that an artist will successfully sue you are slim; most artists just don’t have the resources. The problem is, you become the villain in the story, and it is becoming increasingly common for artists to rally social support against companies.

If the image was just used as part of a blog post, that’s one thing. You might be able to get away with adding attribution or just removing the image and replacing it with a different one. On the other hand, what if you used that image in part of your marketing, particularly print marketing? What if you invested in using the image as part of a decal on a product, which has been manufactured? This causes much larger issues, and you’re going to be out that money.

So, you know. Don’t steal images. There are plenty of resources to find free images you can use, so you really have no excuse.

About Content Rights

There are a few different kinds of “free” images you can come up with for your site.

  • Truly free images. These are posted explicitly under licenses that allow them to be used, re-used, distributed, edited and generally adapted in every possible way.
  • Creative Commons images. CC is a set of different licenses, each of which have different restrictions on use and attribution.
  • Attributed images. These are images you’re free to use, in exchange for an attribution of the original creator.
  • Public Domain images. These are images that were previously covered under a license, but that license has since expired and not been renewed. Typically this applies to images over a few decades old.

There are, of course, also images that you pay for. You can do this in two ways.

  • Paying for a license to use images that already exist. This might be exclusive, or it might be a use license that others can buy as well.
  • Paying for an artist to create the images for you.

Since we’re not talking about paid images, you can disregard those.

Source: Creative Commons Search

The number one piece of advice to follow when you’re looking for images online is to never, ever go to Google’s Image search and just grab something from the results to use.

The number two rule is to go ahead and do exactly that, with one caveat. When you put in a search term and view the results, click the “search tools” button. This expands a menu, one of the options of which is “usage rights.” Click that and choose the appropriate set of rights. For example, if you’re posting the image as part of a blog post, you can click any of the reuse options. If you’re using it on a product you’re selling, like the cover of an e-book, you will want to specify reuse rather than noncommercial reuse.

Source: Flickr

If you’re looking specifically for photography, Flickr is going to be a great resource for you. Flickr has long been one of the more friendly sites for professional photographers to share their work under a creative commons license, and it’s incredibly helpful for businesses particularly because of their creative commons search.

Take your keyword research and plug it into the Flickr Creative Commons Explore portal, under on of the various forms of attribution. At current count, they have over 58 million images under a simple attribution license, and over 80 million for attribution with no derivatives and no commercial uses.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons is a compilation site for all sorts of creative commons and free use images from throughout the web, many of which were used in Wikipedia articles for various topics. They have over 24 million images completely free to use, and that number is always growing, because anyone can contribute to the database.

Source: In-House Creation

Creating your own images can be just as viable as adapting or finding images online. All it takes is a talented graphic artist or a person with a decent camera. If you think you can’t take images as high quality as those your competitors use, well, you’re probably right. They can’t take images of that quality level either. The secret is lies; lies and photoshop. Edit the heck out of your images to make them look much better, and turn boring photos into high-class illustrations.

Source: Stock Photo Sites

There are dozens of websites out there filled with stock images you can use freely, some with attribution, some without. Some sites have themes, others compile as many images as possible. Some are low quality, others are high. You’ll have to explore to find one that works for you. Here are a few to start.

Source: Hubspot Media Packs

Hubspot is a powerhouse in Internet marketing, and they offer zip files full of free stock images you can use, focused on various themes. All you need to do to acquire these image packs is sign up for their mailing list.

With so many options for stock images, you’ll never need to steal an image again.


  1. Mark H.


    very handy. its a bummer most free images aren’t very good but i guess beggars cant be choosers

  2. PLiXS says:

    Hi, Thanks for sharing this sources. I’m the founder of PLiXS. It’s a Database and Community for free public domain images. Maybe you can add my site to your list of free images sources?

Leave a Reply