How Freelance Web Designers Find Royalty-free Images for Commercial Use

Are you struggling to find unique imagery for your freelance web design projects? Or you are worried about how you can utilise royalty-free images for commercial use.

Stop worrying!

In this guide, we will explain how freelance web designers find royalty-free images for commercial use.
Images have always been an integral part of web designing. Visuals make your design shine online and improve the overall user experience. However, using images can be tricky, especially from a legal point of view. You can’t just download photos from the internet and use them.

Every image you find online has some copyrights attached. It is your responsibility to determine whether or not you have legal rights to use it for commercial purposes.

What Does Commercial Use Mean?

We can define Commercial Use as use that is “primarily intended for commercial advantage or monetary compensation.”

If you’re using an image on your blog post or a web page that is not for commercial use, further simplify. But if you are using the same image to promote your brand or on a blog post affiliated with a for-profit company, the use is commercial.

As a professional web designer, you have to select an eye-catching and royalty-free image to avoid legal violations.

what does commercial use mean

What Are Royalty-Free Images?

Royalty-free doesn’t mean free to use. Instead, you are not required to pay a royalty fee each time you use the image. Such images comprise a category where the owners sell rights to the image at a flat rate against a one-time price.

Individuals and businesses can license a royalty-free image once and then use it as often as they like and as many times as they want. It is essential to mention that royalty-free images hold some usage restrictions, especially for commercial use. So, be sure to check the licensing terms carefully.

If you are not violating the terms of the royalty-free license, you can keep the image on your website for as long as you want, without fear of getting sued.

Image License Types

Before selecting an image for your design, it is crucial to know the license associated with the image you are using. This knowledge will ensure you do not violate copyrights, even accidentally.

Different images available online, on stock photo websites, and other image sites, are licensed differently.

Listed below are three main types of image licenses:

  • Rights-Managed (RM) – A Rights Managed License allows one-time use of an image for a specific period and a particular purpose only. If the user wants to utilize the photo for other purposes, he will be required to purchase an additional license.
  • Editorial Rights – Such images can be used for editorial purposes only, like bogs, articles, editorials, and newsletters. You cannot use these images for commercial purposes, such as advertising, branding, or product names.
  • Royalty-Free (RF) – as mentioned above, you can use royalty-free images freely after paying a one-time fee. These images do not require you to pay a royalty fee each time you use the photo.

Where Do Freelance Web Designers Find Royalty-Free Images?

There are hundreds of websites offering royalty-free images online. But not all of them provide value for money. We have compiled a list of the three best sites for royalty-free images to save you time and energy. You will find exactly what you are looking for on these sites – from striking scenery to cool office spaces.

1. Shutterstock (paid)

Shutterstock is one of the pioneer stock photo agencies for fantastic high-quality, premium stock images. Their Royalty Free images are legally suitable to use in web designs for most kinds of commercial projects. You can even get a 15% discount on Shutterstock images using a coupon code.

The company offers:

  • 360+ million images
  • Pricing starts at £19 per month for ten images per month (first month free)
  • Licenses: Standard (unlimited web distribution) and Enhanced (allowed in merchandise)

2. Canva (free and paid)

Canva stock photos offer both free and paid images for your everyday design needs. With over 89 million high-quality images in its library, Canva gives you the option to create unique graphics for your clients.

  • 89 million+ photos (free and paid)
  • Use images to create your designs
  • License: Free Media License Agreement – you can use Canva’s images for commercial and non-commercial use

Most of the photos on Canva are free to use. However, some images are reserved for Pro users. So, you may want to upgrade to a paid plan.

3. Stock Photo Secrets (paid)

The StockPhotoSecrets Shop is a great place to get images for websites, especially if you are a web designer working on a limited budget. With over 4 million high-quality images, the agency offers Royalty Free stock photo solutions that fit everyone’s budget.

The agency offers several cheap subscription packages for royalty-free images that you can use to make your web designs stand out.

With annual subscriptions like the 99 club offer, you get access to over 5 million premium stock images for £79 per year with NO additional fees! By subscribing, you get:

  • High-Res Photos, Vectors & Fonts (no Videos)
  • 200 XXL downloads each year
  • Royalty-Free License
  • Use the images FOREVER.

If you are a freelance web designer or run a small business with a restrictive budget, StockPhotoSecrets Shop is worth knowing and using.

FAQs about Royalty-Free Images:

Some frequently asked questions about Royalty-Free images are listed below:

1. Does Royalty-Free Mean Free for Commercial Use?

A royalty-free image is not necessarily free for commercial use. You have to pay a fee for a royalty-free image license that allows you to use the image for commercial purposes, as long as you follow the terms. Even with a license, some commercial uses are prohibited.

2. What Types of Projects May Be Prohibited?

Certain projects or uses may be considered a violation of a royalty-free image license. Using royalty-free imagery for Logos, Pornographic, Obscene, or Libelous Content is often prohibited.

3. What are the cons of using Royalty-Free Images?

The downside of using low-cost, royalty-free images is the risk of seeing the same picture in many places, thus losing uniqueness. However, a freelance designer does not have the marketing reach or budget of a well-settled company. So royalty-free images remain a cost-effective alternative.

Using safe royalty-free imagery is undoubtedly a better option than using images from random Google photos.

4. Where Can I Get Free Royalty-Free Images?

There are hundreds of websites offering royalty-free images online. Stock Photo Secrets, Shutterstock, Canva, iStock, Freepik, and Photocase are some of the stock photo sites offering royalty-free images at varying budgets.

Before We Conclude… Challenges Freelance Web Designers Face!

Before concluding the topic, let’s have a look at some of the challenges freelance web designers face. This knowledge will help you know what to expect as you prepare to dive into the freelancing world as a self-employed web designer.

Becoming a freelancer has a lot of perks, and there is no denying it. However, like any other business in the world, it carries its risks and challenges. Finding work and maintaining a stable income from it are probably the most significant challenges a freelance web designer faces.

There are several other challenges every freelance designer faces, including:

1. Finding the Right Clients

Finding freelance projects is no doubt a challenging task; finding the right clients is the toughest. With demanding and picky clients around, freelance web designers have to carefully decide which clients to retain and which ones to shrug off. An annoying client often wastes more time and energy than it pays for.

Also, single negative feedback can do a lot of damage to your reputation in the freelancing market. The better you are at selecting your clients, the higher your freelance web design career would soar.

2. Designing Unique Websites

Every client wants to stand out from the crowd and thus wishes to have a different website from other brands. Therefore they ask you to create unique websites completely different from billions of other websites on the World Wide Web.

Creating a unique design every time often becomes challenging for freelance web designers and often leads to a designer’s block as well.

3. Financial Issues

As a freelancer, you have more control over your work hours, but you lack stability in monthly cash inflows. There is an inherent uncertainty attached to a freelancer’s income, and web designing is no exception.

Over time, as your clientele grows, the web designing costs are likely to rise as well. If you are designing and developing the website, running expenses, including hosting and development costs, can surge pretty fast.

With growing clientele, your storage space also requires an upgrade. Even cloud services like DropBox and iCloud can become expensive quite quickly. Typically, these expenses are footed by employers. But as a freelance web designer, you will be footing these expenses.

Final words

As a freelance web designer, you need to be careful about using any royalty-free image for commercial use. It is your responsibility to determine if and how you can use these visuals without violating copyright. By being a little carefree about usage, you could expose yourself or your clients to legal action.

If you aren’t sure if you can use a royalty-free image for a particular design or activity, contact the company that provided the photo. Never assume since it is royalty-free, you are free to use it for any commercial project.

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Freelance Web Designer

By Tiago Lavis-Fernandes

Tiago is a Portuguese freelance web designer living and working in Manchester for over ten years. Fascinated by WordPress and the Divi Builder, he helps clients achieve success through UX/UI website design and search engine optimisation. If you're looking for someone to help with your online marketing, look no further.

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Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. This website is run by Tiago Lavis-Fernandes and not associated, or act on behalf of Elegant Themes. Divi is a registered trademark of Elegant Themes, inc.

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