The best travel blogs are known for sharing authentic, artful imagery woven together with thoughtfully written stories to accompany them. In reality, it isn’t easy to produce original content day in and day out, and quite often, travel bloggers will fill gaps in their adventure with stock photos.
Not being able to travel all the time is slow death for a travel blogger, which is why it is important to have authentic images that draw the attention of new readers and prospective sponsors while you’re in content stasis.
As I write this, we’re currently based in a beach-less part of the Philippines with our heads down, working on new content. While we can’t wait to get back on the road and start taking photos again, there’s little adventure to boast of here. And it’s probably a good thing –we’ve got a long list of things we’d like to accomplish before we slow down our progress a little bit to travel again.
The idea is to work real hard now –to work like few want to—to live how others only dream about, later. During our recent website redesign, we’ve decided to leverage many of these Pinterest SEO-friendly stock photo websites in order to put out fresh content while we’re off the grid. If even just as a placeholder until we can go back and replace them with our own photos, these websites have been incredibly helpful.
The Importance of Photos for Travel Blogs
Aside from keeping readers captivated and coming back for more, there is another important reason that authentic imagery is a must for your average travel blogger; search optimization. And no, we’re not talking about Google.
A travel blogger could wait nine months or more to make a dent on Google search results pages –and yet, in as little of a month, they could be starting to dominate the niche on other search engines like Pinterest and Instagram.
For all intents and purposes, I suggest travel blogger beginners recite this mantra; f*ck Google. When it comes to putting yourself in front of new eyes via search, Pinterest is the clear winner, hands down.
What you do with Pinterest today will;
- Teach you how search engines work
- Teach you how to do keyword research
- Fill the time before you rank on Google with purposeful action
Benefits of Pinterest for Travel Bloggers
Pinterest search results are eye candy, pure and simple. This is why it’s important to make the most of your photo usage, both in your pins and on your website. And it is both easier, and more productive to gain visibility one search engine at a time.
Mike had put Hobo with a Laptop on Pinterest back in 2015 and he never took it seriously (he thought it was just for girls, shame on him).
Only when I took it over and gutted his existing pins a few weeks ago in late March 2017, did we begin to generate any serious traffic with it. In just 2 weeks we acquired hundreds of new followers, and now 4 weeks later our click-through rate is doubling, week after week.
When you start with Pinterest, you’re going to want to ensure that you leave something to the imagination with your pins –something to make users click-through to your website. That means posting a preview of an infographic, not the whole thing –and using unexpected juxtapositions between headlines and images.
From Create and Go; an example of good and bad pins –if your information is too obvious, no one will click through –right when you thought yogurt was a health food!
These are just a handful of tips we got from fellow digital nomads Alex and Lauren, our friends at Create and Go. They’ve got a great Pinterest course called Pinterest Traffic Avalanche, and we learned a lot with them.
They’ve released a few free videos that lead up to their paid offering, and these videos pack a lot of actionable information into them in a short time.
1. Laying the Foundations – SEO
2. Creating Viral Pins Step-by-Step for Massive Traffic
3. Pinterest Worthy Content
4. Websites Fail, Traffic Cures
If you find these videos as useful as we did, you can learn about the rest of their Pinterest e-course here.
Free Stock Photos vs Paid Stock Photos
The most recent generation of free stock photo sites ideal for travel bloggers are full to the brim with really amazing photos. The quality photos on these free stock photo sites rival their paid counterparts.
However, the problem with free stock photo websites is their lack of authenticity. Everyone and their grandmother is using them. Sometimes it pays to join a paid stock photo website.
With this in mind, we’ve selected our best free stock photo site picks first, and presented them alongside our favorite paid stock photo sites.
Free Stock Photo Sites
They upload two new photos every day to keep the gallery fresh with content for bloggers like you to use. They also have photo packs which lets you to download photos in bulk so you save time looking for similar photos.
You can also search for photos directly from the site, copy the embed code and insert it to your blog. This helps you save time as the code will have all the necessary attribution to the image’s creator.
GoodFreePhotos is a free photo site run by photographer Yinan Chen. There are over thousands of unique photos on the site of landmarks and scenic views. Photos can viewed by location and if you need a photo from a specific location, simply email them and they might just have something in their gallery for you.
ISO Republic features images from photographer Tom Eversley. The site currently has 1,000 images published and is continuously growing with more images being added daily by its contributors and Tom himself. All images on the site are high-resolution and they can be used for both personal and commercial purposes.
All images are for free while premium photo packs are available at $15 each. More information on premium photo packs here.
Magdeleine is named after the curator of the site. What makes it unique from other free stock photo sites is that it allows you to search free images by color, category, or license. Each photo is accompanied by a simple description indicating whether the image can be used freely or it requires attribution.
Million Eyez is a community-driven photo gallery where media consumers and photographers can connect, curate, and rate photos. You can curate your own collection of photos from the site based on different topics like “layers and textures”, “food”, “mountains”, “people playing games on their phone”, and more. You can get as broad or as specific as you want. You can even rate photos based on the feelings it evoked from you. Wordz vary from beautiful, creative, artistic, to heartbreaking, impactful, and masterpiece.
Moveast is a free photo website by Portuguese photographer João Pacheco who specializes in taking photos from the Eastern world. Join his mailing list and you can be one of the first to view his newest free high quality photos.
Pexels is another great source of quality, high resolution photos. The gallery currently has over 30,000 free stock photos and every month, they update it with 3,000 new high-resolution photos. All photos from the site are handpicked to ensure that they look professional so you don’t have to sift through cheesy stock-like images. They are also properly tagged so you get the best results when searching for a photo.
PicJumbo is run by photographer Viktor Hanacek who at first took a shot at submitting his photos to stock photo sites. He was denied due to his photos “lacking quality”. Two years later, the images on his site have received more than two million downloads.
All the images on his site are free but you can also opt to be a premium member which gives you access to extra images that have never been published. Some of these belong to a thematic collection related to some of the existing images on the gallery.
All photos are for free while premium packages are available at $10. More information on premium packages here.
Pixabay is popular option for many people who want good free stock photos. They have a big collection of over 920,000 free stock photos, vectors, and illustrations. One of their strengths is their search tool which lets you filter results based on specific items such as size and color. This is very helpful especially if you’re trying to maintain a certain color theme for your blog’s images.
Unsplash originally started as Tumblr blog but then turned into a photography community delivering top-industry images to history-makers like Deepak Chopra and Apple. The images on the site can be used however you want without the need to sign up or attribute to the author. Subscribe to their mailing list and you will be sent 10 new photos every 10 days.
Paid stock photo sites
123RF is a place where 300,000 creative contributors deliver only the best quality photos, vectors, and videos. The site currently has 75 million creative works and every day, they update the gallery with 90,000 more content.
One cool feature of 123RF is their reverse image search function which lets you search for images using another image. Simply upload the image or submit the URL and the system will show you a list of images that match your image. This saves you time from having to describe what you’re looking for through keywords. They also have a free online photo editor which allows you to create your own customized photo right after you download the image.
123RF offers two types of plans: on demand and subscription. On demand plans start at $39 for 40 credits while subscription plans start at $59 per month for 150 images or 5 daily downloads. More information on their plans here.
Alamy has over 100 million stock images coming from more than 50,000 photographers and photo agencies. To keep the content fresh, the site regularly updates its gallery with 80,000 new stock images every day. Ultra-picky users can filter their image search based on license, age, number of people, ethnicity, viewpoint, image type, location, and file size.
The images can be purchased on an on-demand basis (sort of like Canva) meaning you don’t need to sign up for the site, buy credits, or subscribe to a monthly plan. The license costs are also very easy to understand so you know exactly what you’re allowed to do with their photos.
Alamy has no subscription or credit plans. License for images start at $19.99 and can increase depending on the license type, file size, and purpose for using the image. More information on their pricing here.
Crestock offers high-quality royalty-free stock images for an affordable price. Their submission standards are pretty high which ensures that you, the buyer, only get the best quality photos. You do not need to purchase bulk credits or packages but instead, only pay upon demand. Simply pick an individual image you want to purchase, bring it to check out and you’re ready to use the image however you want. Special discounts are also available for bulk packs. Crestock also has blogs and forums which serve as a valuable resource for buying stock photo images the smarter way.
Crestock offers two types of plans: credit and subscription. Credit plans start at $10 for 10 credits while subscription plans start at $199 per month for 600 images. More information on their plans and pricing here.
DepositPhotos has over 60 million high quality stock images provided by talented professionals who contribute to the platform. The best thing about DepositPhotos is their competitive pricing which allows you to choose between on demand downloads, monthly downloads, and daily downloads. This makes them a mass market favorite since they sell their images at flexible rates.
DepositPhotos offers three types of plans: flexible, subscription, and on demand. Flexible plans start at $29 per month for 30 high-resolution images, subscription plans start at $69 for 75 images, and on demand plans start at $49 for 10 images. More information on their plans and pricing here.
Dreamstime has over 57 million stock images and claims to have the world’s largest stock community with over 17 million users. They have everything including photos, editorial images, illustrations, videos, and audio. You can also purchase images individually.
One cool feature they have is their Photo Map which allows you to search for images by country. This is perfect if you’re blogging about a certain location and you only want images specific to that geographical location.
Dreamstime offers two types of plans: credit and subscription. Credit plans start at $14.99 for 11 credits while subscription plans start at $25 per month for 5 images. More information on their plans here.
Getty Images is one of the oldest stock image sites out there having been around since 1995. More than 250,000 creatives add to their huge catalog of high quality stock images. They are a partner to smaller stock agencies and big content providers which helps them expand their offer to users.
Getty Images subscribers also get access to their large collection of editorial stock which covers relevant news and content in music, film, TV, sports, and other events. They also have a historic photo archive which features high-valued retro images.
Getty Images has a more streamlined approach to selling their photos which come in the form Ultrapacks. This allows you to purchase a number of images upfront for a one-time fee. The larger the pack us, the greater discount you receive.
Getty Images doesn’t explicitly state the prices and plans of their images on their website except for their UltraPacks plans which start at $75 for 5 packs. More information on their Ultrapacks plans here. They provide custom plans to meet different needs so you would have to call them to find out how much it costs to buy images that meet your preferences. Generally, the more images you require, the cheaper the price will be.
iStock is a part of the Getty Images family offering high-quality stock photos, vectors, and illustrations for creative business professionals. The site’s gallery is updated every day by its 160,000 contributors who deliver high quality impactful images. The people at iStock are very particular of the images they allow on their site. You can be assured that when you get your credits, you have with you a selection of the best images in the industry.
iStock offers two types of plans: credit and subscription. Credit plans start at $33 for 3 credits while subscription plans start at $40 per month for 10 images. More information on their plans here.
Photodune is part of Envato’s network of sites offering all kinds of stock photos contributed by over 35,000 creatives. They also offer tutorials on Photoshop, graphic design, and photography to help you create better images for your blog.
Photodune doesn’t have plans but they sell their images for as low as $2.
Pond5 has over 11 million royalty-free stock media which is perfect for travel bloggers who want to give their site a more professional feel. They are more focused on stock videos but they also have a rich collection of stock images that you can choose from as well as illustrations, music, 3D models, and after effects. They have partnered with Pixmac and 123RF to further expand their existing stock photo collection.
Pond5 offers monthly membership plans starting at $99 per month for 10 downloads. More information on their plans and pricing here.
Purestock has over 3 million handpicked images taken by the best creative professionals in the industry. Their content is not crowdsourced which ensures delivery of only the highest quality, usable images. When you purchase an image from Purestock, you have full rights to it unlike other stock photo sites which have convoluted licensing terms that could get you into trouble with the law.
Purestock offers two types of plans: credit and subscription. Credit plans start at $99 for 10 downloads while subscription plans start at $199 per month for 250 downloads per week. More information on their plans and pricing here.
Shutterstock currently has 80 million images with over 50,000 images are added every day. This makes it one of the biggest stock photo sites out there. You can also sift through their collection of videos which is updated with 3,000 videos everyday. Running a podcast with your blog? Shutterstock has a collection of high-quality tracks categorized by different moods and genres.
Shutterstock offers two types of plans: on demand and subscription. On demand plans start at $49 for 5 images while subscription plans start at $29 per month for 10 images. More information on their plans and pricing here.
Stockfresh is a small stock photo agency focused on only bringing high-quality photos so you don’t have to sift through pages and pages of mediocre images. The site is very easy to navigate making the whole process of image selection and purchasing, much, much easier. The best thing about Stockfresh is their flexible credit and subscription plans. Whether you’re a lone travel blogger or a group of vagabonds running travel community site, you are bound to find a subscription plan at Stockfresh that will fit your needs.
Stockfresh offers two types of plans: credit and subscription. Credit plans start at $18.99 for 20 credits while subscription plans start at $32 per month for 10 images. More information on their plans and pricing here.
StockPhotoSecrets is home to millions of images, vectors, and fonts which you can download at any time and use however you want. If you subscribe to one of their plans, you get the privilege of choosing among their 4 million curated images and download them at any size. They also have a video gallery where you can download royalty-free high-definition videos with your subscription.
StockPhotoSecrets offers two types of plans: image packs and subscription. Image pack costs start at $39 for 5 images while subscription plans start at $35 per month for 25 downloads. More information on their plans and pricing here.
StockUnlimited offers beautiful images, icons, backgrounds, vectors, and audio at an affordable price. This is great for bloggers who are just starting out but don’t have enough capital to invest in more expensive premium plans.
StockUnlimited’s ultra-simple license model allows you to download as many images as you want within the month that you are subscribed to the service. You can use the image however you want to and you are not bound by any long-term contract so you have the option to cancel your subscription anytime you wish to.
StockUnlimited offers subscription plans which start at $9 per month for unlimited access to all premium vectors and photos. More information on their plans and pricing here.
It really depends where you are with your blog; if you’re not cash positive just yet, the free options will likely be your desired option. Most of the free stock image sites above also come without the requirement for attribution if not used commercially –which is pretty generous of them.
If you’ve been at it for a while, or want to avoid having to go back to your website later on and swap out your images, we suggest you go with a paid photo site, right off the bat.
Do you have any stock photo websites you love? We’d love to hear from you in the comment section.
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