Lee Odden

Poll: Best Royalty Free Stock Photo Sites for Bloggers

As with many bloggers, we’ve been using royalty free images for many years.  Many bloggers make use of images from Flickr and we have too but you can’t always find the right image there. I’ve even made a point to take more photos of people, places and things while traveling for later use in blog posts like the one to the right.

The stock photo site we’ve been using for several years recently decided to essentially double their prices (no matter how they spin it, that’s what they did) and it prompted me to ask the excellent people I’m connected with on Twitter for their suggestions on royalty free photography and image web sites. Here is a collection of 9 such sites that were suggested via Twitter or researched by TopRank.  Which leads us to our poll for the most “blogger friendly” royalty free stock photo site:

What is your favorite stock photo site for blogging?

  • Shutterstock.com (38%, 83 Votes)
  • iStockphoto.com (31%, 68 Votes)
  • Other - Add to comments (9%, 19 Votes)
  • dreamstime.com (8%, 17 Votes)
  • fotolia.com (8%, 17 Votes)
  • morguefile.com (2%, 5 Votes)
  • stockvault.net (2%, 4 Votes)
  • freedigitalphotos.net (1%, 3 Votes)
  • everystockphoto.com (0%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 217

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. I don't use stock photo sites at all at present, though I may in the future. Generally I find it far more convenient to use Creative Commons imagies from Flickr and providing a link back to the photographer's profile as a means of acknowledgement. No complaints so far, and I've never been unable to find an image I wanted.

  2. Avatar jonathanmast says

    Another great site I've found is http://www.sxc.hu – lots of images and most are available for use on blogs at no cost. Simply find the image you want (and there are tons) and check to make sure the standard licensing agreement applies.

  3. I agree with jonathanmast – I've been using stock.xchng – sxc.hu for a few months now. The images are good, free and you can let the owner know where you used the image and get a dofollow (so far at least) link back to your post from the owner's page.

  4. I voted for Shutterstock – not just because they have such a large database of images (recently eclipsing 10 million), but because they are listening to what bloggers are saying about them and incorporating that feedback into their product and marketing. As a quick example, I provided a bit of feedback on my blog to their team – http://bit.ly/bBI4o – and they almost immediately implemented it. Full disclosure: they did give me a free “test drive” of their product, but that aside as a brand they are really embracing the social web as far more than a promotional vehicle, and that does a lot for me.

  5. Avatar pascalelane says
  6. Good idea to vote about the best Microstock Agency for blogger. I voted for Fotolia because we have them in our Microstock Photo Plugin for WordPress where you can add/buy/implement fotolia images within a second. Try it for your own, all new registrations through our plugin have 5 free credits at Fotolias Website.

  7. I like IStockPhoto, been using them for years. Excellent customer service if you ask me 🙂 they deserve the mention.

  8. Avatar aizakhan16 says

    Sir can you please guide me about a problem? The topic is not related to your post, but you have quite much knowlodge about these things so i guess you may help me. Can you tell me how can i prevent my google adsense from fake clicks by any visitor. If a visitor do many click on my adsense that may cause blockage of my adsense. So my question is ” Is there any way to monitor that nobody doing fake clicks on my adsense and everything is normal, Bec Any friend of me who is jaleous of my website traffic may do lot of clicks on my adsense and in result i lose my adsense account. So plz tell me what i need to do, bec last time 400 something clicks and 14 $ results. This is first time so many clicks resulting nothing……… i will wait for ur reply………

  9. When looking for images to use on my blog, I like to use iStockphoto as it has a wide selection of images and I can always find the image I want.

  10. I have been using iStock for years and I love that site!

  11. Avatar richardhadermann says

    Royalty-free photos are great. Do you know if there is a way to download royalty-free music? I would like to find artists that need help in promoting their work. Rich Hadermann

  12. Hi folks

    are these stocks also usable for germany?

    Gisbert Wegener

    • Gisbert, if you can buy them online, I suspect you can use them anywhere online. But you would need to check the terms of use for each site to be certain.

    • I don’t think that any of the well known microstock agency restrict the use by country. But there are many German stock agency like Zoonar or ClipDealer, and many more.

  13. I voted for iStockphoto and have used them successfully many times. But I was also intrigued by the link you provided to the virtualhosting.com site with the list of 100 free stock photo sites. It was a 2007 post and virtualhosting seems to have stopped blogging as of 2008….any idea what happened to them?

  14. Haha no more free stuff.

  15. I'm another who has found stock.xchng (http://www.sxc.hu/) to provide a great range of images for a free site. I also regularly search Flickr's Creative Commons images. In both cases, a link back to the photographer is a small price to pay for fresh original photos.

  16. Is there an advantage to using a paid service over a free service? I guess my question revolves around the fact that if there are all of these free stock photo sites (and after checking them out they have a really good amount of photos) why would you guys have paid for a non-free service? I only use around 2-3 stock photos a month, but am creating a blog soon so I figure I will be drastically increasing that number.

    • Bryan, for infrequent users like yourself, I can't imagine there would be anything but a free service to use. If you use 30 to 50 per month like we do, a paid service often has more selection of the kind of quality needed for marketing & promotions than say, a personal blog. Use whatever works for you.

  17. I use screenshots whenever I can. Seems to get attention, but just about any photo is better than none. Haven't worn out Flickr 🙂

  18. I can't see why Shutterstock is more liked for the average blogger – iStockphoto is a LOT less expensive – you can buy photos/graphics from just 2 bucks which are quite acceptable for web use. But even their higher res pics are less expensive.

  19. http://www.kosherstock.com offers weekly free photos you can use on your blog. KosherStock is a royalty-free microstock site (photos, illustrations and cliparts) focusing on the Jewish life, culture and religion.

  20. http://www.kosherstock.com offers weekly free photos you can use on your blog. KosherStock is a royalty-free microstock site (photos, illustrations and cliparts) focusing on the Jewish life, culture and religion.

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