Stop Paying for Royalty Free Real Estate Images

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15 Nov 2017

We all should have quality photo imagery to help with lead generation on our real estate websites.  Of course, don’t you normally take many of your own photos?  Even so, when you want just the right image to illustrate a point in a blog post or an article or on a web page, you often have to go find one.

Step #1: Understand Image Law and Locations

If you follow copyright law, you realize that you can’t just use photos you find on the Internet unless you get the written permission of the owner, not fun, easy or even possible most of the time.  The law-abiding real estate professional or their Web designer usually end up at one of the stock photo websites that offer royalty free images for a fee.

Wait, if they’re royalty-free, what’s the fee for?  Royalty free means that you can use a photo over and over again without paying royalties to the owner each time it appears.  However, it doesn’t mean the photo is free for you to use.  Costs for these images vary widely based on the site and the size and resolution of the images.  They can be as inexpensive as under a dollar to hundreds of dollars each.

Rule #1: First, Know What You Want

Just any old photo, colorful and pretty or not, isn’t what you want.  You want an image that is relevant to the topic of the text in the article or post.  It can be a photo or a drawing, but it should add some value or help to explain what you’re talking about.

Recent studies also show that people in images have more appeal.  So, if you are writing an article about the closing process, it would be better to show people at the table signing or reviewing documents rather than a photo of a contract.

Step #2: Know How the Fee Sites Work?

How can some sites exist by giving away what others are selling?  The most widely used stock image sites that charge for images share that income with the owners of the images.  So, the incentive is strong to list only with sites that pay.  Some of the most popular of these sites are:

Rule #2: Set up Accounts

It’s free to set up accounts at those fee sites, and you should choose a couple of them that seem to have more of what you want.  The free resources coming next will not always have the best image for your needs, as their inventory is far smaller than the fee sites.

Step #3: Know How the Free Sites Work

Now that you have a fee resource, it’s time to set up some totally free sources for royalty free images.  They will not have the depth of inventory, but when they have an image you like, it’s always better to get it free than to pay for it.  Generally, these sites will take almost any image, so there can be some low quality work there.  These sites generally make money by placing ads on the site pages and sharing the ad click income with the image owners.  It costs the site visitors nothing.

Rule #3: Set up Accounts

Set up accounts at the free sites and learn how to use them.  some will be all free images, so you just need to download them, but you may need to give attribution to the owner, so check their rules.  Others may need a special search to find what will work for you and be legal.

  • Flickr.com  is a huge site, and you will need to set up a search that only pulls images licensed for commercial use, so use their help to make that happen.
  • FreeRangeStock.com allows you to use the images for commercial use without attribution to the owner.  Rules:  You can use images for nearly any purpose, commercial or non-commercial, without attribution.  You cannot sell, redistribute, or relicense the images, and you cannot sell products which derive their primary value from the image.
  • Stockvault.net is another all free images site.  Though the images are free, there are different license levels, some not allowing commercial use.  Be sure to read the licensing available for the photos you want.
  • Pexels.com says their license says:  It’s hard to understand complex licenses that is why all photos on Pexels are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. This means the pictures are completely free to be used for any legal purpose.

When you need an image, check the free sites first, then the fee sites.  Never settle for an inferior image, but if you can get a good one free, do it.