Free & Paid Stock Photo Sites for Epic Online Ads

Find your top free stock photos in 2022 and use them to full effect when running your next online campaign. Tailor your search, subcategorize with different dropdowns and ace your campaign color match, background, and CI. And don’t forget to steer clear of branded images. 

Check out the below list of leading free stock photo sites in 2022, including a few best practices for mastering your stock photo selection.

Best Practices when using Stock Photos in Ads 

Stock photos get a bad reputation for being cookie-cutter, generic, and run of the mill. But who has time to take original pictures when their campaigns are to be made, metrics are to be tracked and money is to be made? 

If your attention’s fully fixed on conversions and optimization, with campaign creatives coming in second, we don’t blame you (and tbh, same, same). That’s why these stock photo sites are perfect for busy affiliates. The image banks are easy to navigate, quick to download and come with as little red tape as possible. 

There are millions of royalty-free photos when promoting your affiliate links. The trick is knowing where to look. 

What To Look For When Choosing Stock Photos

Here are a few things to keep in mind when downloading and using free and paid images from stock photo sites. Use these best practices and find original, eye-catching shots.  

Site Credibility 🔍

Check the credibility of the site before downloading your images. Research the site owners and founders and make sure that the photos have a licensing agreement attached to them and no hidden fees or usage restrictions. 

Also, check where the images come from. Make sure the site always owns the rights to the photos they’re curating. Spend a little time researching the copyright consent and any restrictions that may come from using images that aren’t fully vetted. 

Check Your Licensing Credentials ✏️

Depending on what you’re looking for, you can use stock images that are public domain (i.e., free to use) or royalty-free, where you’ll pay once-off to use the image with no further costs. 

These are the most common licensing models, but sites can impose other restrictions on usage in some cases.

Avoid Brand-Centric Images 

Avoid famous faces, brands, logos, landmarks, or trademarks. More often than not, these images carry additional usage rights and come at a higher cost. They may even carry legal restrictions. 

Tie the Image to the Campaign

Use well-lit photos that drive home your brand and complement the offer you’re running. Always use relevant, up-to-date, and high-resolution images that aren’t too cluttered. You never want your image to distract from the offer itself, but rather, complement it. 

Here’s our pick for the best Stock Photo Sites moving into 2022. Try them out and let us know what you think? Did we miss any? 

And, if you’re looking for more all star-tips to take your Affiliate Game to the next level, then check out the 2022 Beginners Guide to Affiliate Marketing and start running world-class campaigns in quick time. 

Sites for the Best Free Stock Photos 

The best stock photo sites will comb through 100,000+ daily submissions and curate the best picks into different onsite categories. If you’re looking to craft killer landing pages, onsite campaigns, or social drives, then check out these sites for free stock photos. 

1. PixaBay 

Pixabay homepage

This German-born stock image empire has been running since 2010. Home to over 2.4 million high res stock images, videos, and music clips, Pixabay has some of the most varied, visually appealing, and often quirky image content that you’ll find online.  

The platform’s images fall under the Creative Commons Zero license, which allows free distribution of otherwise copyrighted images, meaning you can access free stock photos for commercial use. All they ask is that you give a shout-out to the image owner on social media. 

The site has a prominent search bar at the top of the screen where you can type in keywords and browse an endless array of sub-categories.

Hit the scroll down menu, and you’ll find a few additional categories split including video, vector, graphics, illustrations, music, sound effects, and more.

2. Pexels

Pexels homepage

Home to 1M+ royalty-free images and 200,000 video files, Pexels is the leading provider of free stock photos. They curate and house crowd-sourced photos across any topic imaginable. 

Like Pixabay, their platform is regulated under the Creative Commons Zero license, meaning all images that belong to Pexles are entirely free to use. 

However, the company does monetize the site by hosting sponsored images from other sites, (which will redirect you off the page if you click on them). So keep this in mind and read the fine print when selecting your stock images. 

The site’s intuitive search function gives the option to share photos with your community or donate to the photographer. You can also localize your searches according to region

3. Unsplash

Unsplash - homepage

Unsplash is a free-to-download stock image site and every online advertiser, blogger, or website owner’s best friend. 

What started as a Tumblr blog morphed into a massive community with 2M+ images. The platform’s free stock photos are modern, creative, and sophisticated, with a strong emphasis on people and landscapes. 

You can also select filters at the top of the screen to find your ideal topic. At its heart, Unsplash is still a networking platform where you can reach out to the photographer directly or help boost their brand on social media. 

Sites for the Best Paid Stock Photos 

If you’re looking to establish consistent branding across the board, you may want to invest in a paid stock photo subscription. Here’s our pick for three paid stock photo sites that deliver.

4. iStock

iStock homepage

iStock is the ultimate home of microstock images, videos, photos, vectors, music, and more. The site has 88M+ Royalty Free images that can be downloaded at affordable rates and with no expiration on licensing. 

You’ll find a premium selection of ultra high-res, billboard-ready images used by agencies and websites worldwide, and depending on your requirements, you can get an iStock subscription that lets you download 10, 25, 50, or 750 images per month.

Subscriptions start at $29 per month for ten downloads. The site is intuitive, easy to use, and robust, with every topic, theme, and category accessible with the right keyword or filter. 

5. Shutterstock

Shutterstock homepage

One of the most well-known and longest-standing stock photo sites, Shutterstock dominates in terms of sheer volume and navigation capacity. The site is home to a staggering 190M+ images, subcategorized across videos, vectors, social, 3D models, editorials, and more. 

The drop-down menu curates the most frequently searched categories, trends, and promoted posts, and their range of add-on tools, like photo editors and mobile integrators, make the experience well worth it. 

As with iStock, you can download anywhere from 10 up to 750 photos and media files a month, with subscriptions starting at $49 per month. If you’re still on the fence, you can also get a 30-day free trial which comes with ten photos.

6. Adobe Stock

Adobe Stock homepage

Adobe Stock is a powerhouse platform in its own right. Home to around 60M+ curated images and multimedia files, subcategorized into photos, illustrations, vectors, videos, audio files, templates, glossy editorials, and more. 

The platform itself is fully integrated with the Creative Cloud platform, where you can sync and move between Adobe suite design apps and edit your visuals to perfection.

An Adobe subscription starts at $29 for a batch of 10 images. All Adobe Stock images are unique and taken by some of the world’s leading photographers. You can also get a free 30-day subscription for 10 photos.

All the best find pad and free stock photos. Please feel free to reach out to us anytime right here, and our team of online advertising gurus will guide you through the different tools you can use to make your campaigns all the more effective. 

Find out how you can use CPA Target Bidding on the Adcash Platform to drive your campaign costs down and maximize your conversions. Or register your Advertiser Account and start earning converting on the best offers with high-visibility site placements. 

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