Should You Use Free Or Paid Stock Images?

Should you get your images, videos, etc. from a free stock image website or from a paid one?

We all care about money, and most of us would like to spend less, or nothing at all - if possible - to obtain 'things'. When it comes to adding media products to your website, to your blogpost, for your advertising campaign, etc., it is tempting to use free material, because that would enable you to keep your costs down.

However, a lot of people are already doing this. Meaning, several people are already using these free images, videos, etc. If you also use these free products, chances are that they already appear (or will appear) on several other websites, blogs, etc. In other words, your images, graphics, videos, etc., will most likely be far from unique. Combine that with the fact that the available free material is quite limited, and the result is that this limited free material is being used over and over again.

Media products from a paid stock image website will in most cases be used by far fewer people, as each license will normally be sold to a few (or only one) user. For instance, if you buy royalty-free or rights-managed licenses from any of the paid stock image websites (although you will not get an exclusive use of that image), the use of this image is likely to be much more restricted compared to a free image.

You can also buy an exclusive license that will ensure that only you have legal right to use the product. Or you can get an extended license that will ensure that the use of this product is either yours alone, or that other use is very limited. These licenses are quite expensive however, and mostly purchased by corporations or persons for whom cost is not a big issue.

Another reason why you may be careful with free material, is that there may be license restrictions on these products. Meaning, you may not have the legal right to use these products for commercial purposes, in a blog or on your website.

As a final note, many of the paid agencies have more than 100 million media products available, while free sites typically only have a few thousand products. In other words, the variety and selection of images, videos, audio files, etc. is much greater on paid stock image websites.