10 Truly Awesome Royalty-Free Icon and Image Sites

It doesn’t matter whether you are working as a graphic designer, web designer or marketer, it can always be difficult sourcing high-quality icons and images that are royalty-free. There has been a lot of proven evidence to support just how crucial it is to use eye-catching and appealing visuals when designing for commercial work. When you consider that the brain processes visual information around 60,000 times quicker than printed and written words, there really is no reason why you shouldn’t be making use of images and graphics.



Possible Use for Royalty-Free Images:



  • Graphic Design


  • Video Marketing


  • Designing Landing Pages


  • Designing Web Pages


  • Email Marketing


  • Designing Infographics


  • Designs for Display Stands


  • Social Media Marketing


  • Content Marketing




Regardless of whether you need some high-impact visuals for a pop-up display stand or just want a cool background graphic for a post on social media, you’ll find this list is a comprehensive guide to where you can get the best icons and images that are free of the restrictions of copyright law.







Gratisography

Are you looking for images that are completely free and sure to get a point across? If that’s the case, you should check out Gratisography. Although it must be said that their offerings are unusual to say the least, this means that they are more likely to stand out from the crowd.

The site is updated on a weekly basis with new additions and one of its best features is the Magic Auto Search. This allows you to browse available options as you type out search terms. There are also a wide variety of different categories to explore including urban, people, nature and animals to name a few.





Perfect for use in: Designing Display Stands, Designing Landing Pages, Designing Web Pages, Email Marketing, Content Marketing and Social Media Marketing

Information About Licensing: Creative Commons Zero Licence (this means that you can freely copy, modify and even distribute images without giving attribution or gaining permission. Although attribution would obviously be appreciated)



Metrize Icons

Metrize Icons specialises in metro-style and completely free icons aimed at marketers, developers and designers. The site includes around 300 of these awesome little icons. Each of them has been created by the extremely generous and maverick designer Alessio Atzeni and he promises that more are on the way.

Predominately, these icons are used for web projects and app development and design. Due to their eye-catching and multi-purpose designs, they can be utilised effectively in most kinds of marketing. There are many businesses out there who are using vector-style imagery like these icons when they are designing display stands.

Downloadable formats of the icons on this site include Web Font, PDF, AI, EPS, SVG and PSD.





Perfect for use in: Social Media Marketing, Video Marketing, Designing Web Pages, Designing Display Stands, Designing Infographics and Designing Web Pages.

Information About Licensing: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (You can freely modify the shape, colour and size and you can use it for personal and commercial projects, without permission or needing to give attribution, although that would be appreciated).



New Old Stock

Although not everyone will find the images available at New Old Stock useful, it is still one of the best sources online for vintage images that are completely free. Who doesn’t enjoy looking at images of a by-gone age and reminiscing? All the photos on the site are complete free and taken from public-access archives. There’s lots of great ones just waiting to be found! Though, it’s important to note that not all the pictures are suitable for marketing.

The best thing about New Old Stock is that they provide the date and location for their images, which can be helpful if you have a specific place or time you need a photo of.





Perfect for use in: Email Marketing, Content Marketing and Social Media Marketing.

Information About Licensing: Creative Commons Zero Licence (this means that you can freely copy, modify and even distribute images without giving attribution or gaining permission. Although attribution would obviously be appreciated).



Smashing Magazine

Smashing Magazine is more than just a resource for royalty-free icons. One of the things that make them stand out is the fact that they have money-saving giveaways aimed at helping their loyal audience of users made up of web developers and designers. From the site you can access and download 500 completely-free vector-style icons that come in four editable variations – flat, webby, solid and outlined and are suitable for commercial purposes. You can download them as .Sketch, .PS and .AI formats.





Perfect for use in: Social Media Marketing, Video Marketing, Designing Landing Pages, Designing Display Stands, Designing Infographics and Designing Websites.

Information About Licensing: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (You can freely modify the shape, colour and size and you can use it for personal and commercial projects, without permission or needing to give attribution, although that would be appreciated).



Pixabay

Pixabay is one of the best-known and best-loved go-to resources for designers and marketers when they need images are completely free. All photos are available in the public domain, which means they are available for download in various forms. The search feature on Pixabay is one of the best out there and allows you to fine tune your results using minimum dimensions, colours, orientation and type of media. Because of this, the site is easy to navigate around and use, so you’ll not have too difficult a job finding what you need.

One of features we especially love about Pixabay is there are free videos that are downloadable. Although they’re short, the addition of movement will switch your marketing up.





Perfect for use in: Designing Web Pages, Email Marketing, Video Marketing, Designing Display Stands, Content Marketing and Social Media Marketing.

Information About Licensing: Creative Commons Zero Licence (this means that you can freely copy, modify and even distribute images without giving attribution or gaining permission. Although attribution would obviously be appreciated).



Icon Finder

There are a wide variety of vector-style icons available for free on Icon Finder and although there are some that are not completely free, there are a wealth there to suit different applications. One application would be in infographic design, which many consider to be one of the best and most effective kinds of B2B content marketing now. Therefore, if you don’t design infographics right now, the content on offer at Icon finder might encourage you to start.

They have made the site so that it’s incredibly easy to use and it doesn’t take much time at all to find the kinds of icons you are looking for. Part of what makes the site so successful in this department is the filters that you can apply when searching for items, including icon size, type of license, price and format.

There are also various styles to choose from such as Badge, Hand-drawn and 3D icons that mean you can tweak your search results even more. If that wasn’t enough, there is even the option of having icons with a rainbow of different coloured backgrounds or with no backgrounds at all. This makes the free icons they offer incredibly flexible.





Perfect for use in: Video Marketing, Content Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Designing Landing Pages, Designing Web Pages, Designing Display Stands and Designing Infographics.

Information About Licensing: Basic License (This means that although you can download and modify the icons, you can’t redistribute or sell them. Still, although you do not need to give attribution, it is always greatly appreciated).



Startup Stock Photos

Although start-up, tech and business-related images is something of a niche area, if you are involved in B2B marketing, it can be hard to find professional, high-quality commerce-based images that are completely free. Startup Stock Photos, though, is not only focused on the business services industry, as there are images available that can be used for a variety of different sectors.

While it could be considered something of a downside that there is no search functionality on Startup Stock Photos, it does have a scrollbar that continues and continues and continues.





Perfect for use in: Designing Web Pages, Email Marketing, Designing Landing Pages, Social Medial Marketing and Content Marketing.

Information About Licensing: Creative Commons Zero Licence (this means that you can freely copy, modify and even distribute images without giving attribution or gaining permission. Although attribution would obviously be appreciated).



Pexels

Another popular and large resource of images free from copyright, Pexels has around 100 images added daily. The photos on this site are from the photographers and designers in the Pexels community and freebies from other image sites.

The site has been designed with the user firmly in mind and there’s various amazing features including Browse that enables you to look at popular searches and photos, and will also show you images you may not have seen the last time you visited it.

A part of this site that’s especially unique is what’s known as Photographer Leaderboard. This lists the users who have uploaded the most popular images in terms of the number of downloads. As well as keeping people using the site’s services, it also helps to save time, so you are just able to go to the profile of your favourite uploader to get images you know you’ll like.





Perfect for use in: Designing Display Stands, Designing Web Pages, Email Marketing, Content Marketing and Social Media Marketing.

Information About Licensing: Creative Commons Zero Licence (this means that you can freely copy, modify and even distribute images without giving attribution or gaining permission. Although attribution would obviously be appreciated).



Kaboompics

Yet another awesome resource for images that are completely free to use is Kaboompics. The photos on this site are extremely adaptable and can be used for a versatile range of applications. One of the striking things about this site is the search feature that enables you to use multiple filters to search results including least downloaded, most downloaded, oldest and newest for sorting them.

A specific function that sets this site apart from other sites is its feature for displaying the range of colours included in the photos. This kind of information can be essential for times when you need to stick to precise guidelines for branding.





Perfect for use in: Designing Web Pages, Designing Display Stands, Email Marketing, Content Marketing and Social Media Marketing..

Information About Licensing: Creative Commons Zero Licence (this means that you can freely copy, modify and even distribute images without giving attribution or gaining permission. Although attribution would obviously be appreciated).



Unsplash

It’s likely that you’ve heard of Unsplash, even if you haven’t used, but we reckon you probably have. This site is the most generous group of photographers in the world, due to the fact they give some truly subline photos at no cost at all.

In terms of how it is to use and look at, the site is beautiful and the comprehensive stockpile of high-resolution, unique and completely free photos that are perfect for a full array of marketing applications. It’s especially good if you need a background to frame the message in your marketing campaign.

With the search functionality and a unique feature known as Explore the most popularly downloaded images are displayed, while the images that are brand-new and trending are displayed on the homepage.





Perfect for use in: Designing Web Pages, Designing Display Stands, Email Marketing, Content Marketing and Social Media Marketing..

Information About Licensing: Creative Commons Zero Licence (this means that you can freely copy, modify and even distribute images without giving attribution or gaining permission. Although attribution would obviously be appreciated).



In Summary

Although having all those amazing images and icons free-of-charge at your fingertips is a grand thing indeed, you need to make sure you read through the terms and conditions for all the sites listed above if you plan on using them for marketing purposes.

No-one is going to argue with you that terms and conditions are dull as dishwater but taking the time to read through this information will help avoid difficulties later.

Although attribution, in most cases, is not necessary, but it’s appreciated by the people who create the images and icons. Even if you just include a social share, a small donation or image could help a designer or photographer get the exposure they need, enabling them to benefit and expand as a result.





As more people support them, the more royalty-free images and icons they will be able to continue offering.







Read more: A Beginner’s Look at Vector Artwork









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