How To: Stylize your site with Free-Use Images

man working on website

An engaging website or blog thrives through a balancing act between text and visuals.  Gorgeous imagery, infographics or vectors all give your site the extra “oomph” that creates a layout appealing to the sites visitors.

Having high-quality images is part of the design puzzle to create the attractive site you need. Luckily, there is no need to stress about having to find images that fit those requirements. There are resources available, for free, that can supply you with captivating images suitable for a blog or website.

Before getting into which sites are best used for occasions such as cover photos, etc., it is important to know how to successfully use free images online. For example, Public Domain and Creative Commons are two terms that may be unknown to most, but nonetheless crucial details to be noted in the process of choosing images.

For those of us who appreciate a good definition, here is the underlying difference between Public Domain and Creative Commons:

Public Domain:

“The person who associated a work with this deed has dedicated the work to the public domain by waiving all of his or her rights to the work worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law. You can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.”

Creative Commons:

“CC0 gives those who want to give up those [copyright laws] a way to do so, to the fullest extent allowed by law. Anyone can then use the work in any way and for any purpose, including commercial purposes, subject to other laws and the rights others may have in the work or how the work is used. Think of CC0 as the “no rights reserved” option.”

In essence, on these terms you do not need to link each image to its original source, however you should always give credit where credit is due. This is a huge deal for small business owners at it depletes the liability for copyright and posting images as your own.

Online imagery may be tricky, therefore navigating the roots behind the rules and regulations of using said images is vital. Ensure you use Public Domain or Creative Commons images to successfully navigate and use the correct images for your sites.

Photographs, Vectors, and Illustrations

All with image counts in the hundreds of thousands, these sites have photos, vectors, videos, and illustrations perfect for many different areas of use.

  1. Pixabay​
  2. Unsplash​
  3. Creative Commons
  4. Public Domain Archive
  5. Flickr: Creative Commons
  6. SplitShire
  7. Gratisography
  8. pdpics
  10. Magdeleine
  11. Good Free Photos
  12. Free Range Stock
  13. Pickup Image
  14. Photogen
  15. Skitterphoto​
  16. Life of Pix
  17. Pexels​
  18. Morgue Files
  19. 1 Million Free Pictures
  20. Negative Space
  21. Pic Jumbo
  22. Free Stocks
  23. Free (I)mage Bank

Stylized Images

If your business is tailored more towards a specific niche and theme, these sites are the best bet for complementing your brand’s standards.

  1. New Old Stock
  2. Free Refe Real Life Photos
  3. Jay Mantri
  4. Foodie’s Feed
  5. Shutteroo  

These websites are great for populating your page with images that won’t cut into your budget.


Written by: Tacy Cresson

Developing a Company Mission – What Makes You Different

Company Mission Picture

We understand the process in both building a business and balancing projects for clients. The beginning stages of business development are tricky, but there is little room for error. As a mission-driven startup making moves in an online world, the level of importance regarding goal setting increases astronomically.

It takes time to figure out what differentiates you as a business compared to all the others. It is a critical problem to solve when becoming successful. If you become stagnant and blend into other businesses, you won’t be remembered.

Once you have this figured out, you can approach all aspects of your business from the perspective of why you do business the way you do it, not just what you are doing.

So how do you create an authentic, purpose-driven company – and the marketing that comes with it? Start with these areas.

Unite behind one vision

Belief in the business and what its values are should stay rooted at the top. Successful businesses have strong visionary leaders whose confidence and values are instilled within it.

Great leaders express their enthusiasm to their employees, have a gift for embedding their confidence and passion for the business, and they have the ability to be a motivator for everyone to inherently strive to do more.

If your market notices that you are among those few businesses who recognize their goals and implement them in each thing you do, you have already succeeded. It is important for your demographic to notice how loyal, dedicated, and trusted you are as you make your way to being the best business you can be. The more who understand they are participating in a competitive, and reliable crusade, the more growth you will see.


Get your story together

Adopting your mission and understanding what makes you unique is the first step for any startup. If you’re not sure what exactly you are representing, craft it out. Marketing for your company isn’t just about what you do, it’s about who you are and what makes you different.

Think about crafting a mission statement. The idea is to come up with a long term vision for the business, and to understand who you are and where you are going. This ensures the whole team is on board with the idea and can stay on track, always knowing the inside goals.

Here’s part of what they believe at Apple:

“We believe that we are on the face of the earth to make great products and that’s not changing. We are constantly focusing on innovating. We believe in the simple not the complex.”

At Apple, they succeed because they all truly believe in what they’re doing.

Hire the right people

Finding those who are a great fit with your purpose and company mentality gets you to grow bigger. People who truly believe become ambassadors – without even trying. They’re word-of-mouth marketing for your company and its ideals and philosophies.

Hiring the wrong people is even harder, though. It can rock your staff and offset the company’s growth and development. If your mission is clear, during the hiring process develop a series of questions to see whether the candidates relate, and show interest in those same visions.

Brand ambassadors develop, and build, a culture that adopts success. It is essential to build a team of people working towards the same goals and driven by shared values.

Work it into your marketing campaigns

You won’t succeed if you don’t believe in what you’re doing. But rally around a message, vision, mission, and wrap that all together with your business goals, and you have powerful, purposeful marketing.

Now that you have this purpose and culture set up within your organization, what should you do when it comes to your actual marketing programs? You literally wrap it into every facet of your marketing strategy and tactics.

Doing this in a thoughtful fashion will help your business stand out – not only for what you know, but for what you truly believe in. And that capacity is crucial in making your marketing message stand out to relevant audiences.


Written by: Tacy Cresson

Key Hashtag Strategies: Market your business and content


With nearly everyone using social media, a hashtag should be a familiar area of use. But, using them to market a business is different than for personal use, and understanding which tags to use is vital for business growth.

Hashtags are unavoidable, they seem to be everywhere, attached to everyone’s posts. The hashtag has become a cultural phenomena that took social media by storm, practically to the point where we ask: What is a “pound sign” anymore?

Every big social media platform offers the use of hashtags to group similar ideas, topics, and conversations together.

As a marketer there is a need to be on social media, because that is where your potential clients are. It is vital to tag the business strategically to topics that people are looking for. Hashtags can expand markets, improve SEO, and show that the business is real and trusted.


What is a Hashtag?


For those who are just starting out and want to know why using hashtags have become such an adopted trend, here it is:

Hashtags began on Twitter to group conversations together, called “tweet chats”. It is essentially an open group discussion which is still used on Twitter to date. But the “hashtag” itself is a word attached to the pound sign- like, “#marketing” or “#selfiesunday”. Marketers take this as an opportunity to reach large audiences who are interested in a specific topic.



Businesses run off strategy. Managing social media should not be a hard assignment among the to-do list, but should be taken seriously and not overlooked as solely content posting.  


Brand hashtags:

If you have a tagline, make it a hashtag. Like, “#JustDoIt” by Nike or, “#ImLovinIt” by McDonald’s. People like catchy sayings, and if a business has a tagline, hashtag integration could make it appear within users posts and grow a bigger audience.

Keep the brand hashtag short and sweet, and easy to spell to avoid any errors. For example, “#PutACanOnIt” is a popular Red Bull hashtag.


Campaign hashtags:

Using the name of the marketing campaign as a hashtag is an essential technique for growing your business’s social media presence.

Same as branding, make the tag a word or phrase that is simple. But, do not use hashtags that are commonly used elsewhere, it should be unique and stick out when searched for.

If looking to promote the campaign, which is likely as a marketer, integrating the hashtag grows customer engagement. The hashtag is used as a way for customers to connect, share, or enter to win a contest.

Campaign hashtags can, and should be, creative. The best way to craft one is remembering you want to increase customer engagement, and give them a motive to really want to use the tag. If it’s not relevant and catchy, then it won’t thrive.


Trending Hashtags

A trending hashtag is exactly what it seems: “what’s trending now”. Trending hashtags have their own sidebar on Twitter’s timeline, so users never miss a beat. Topics change within minutes, though, which is both good and tricky for marketers trying to keep up with what is talked about most.


How to use trending tags:

Always check what is trending. The more posts connected to the tag, the more likely it will catch on and be used by other users.

To create a trending tag, target the business’s niche audience. Research will take time before constructing one to understand the audience, therefore reducing any problems in reaching them. If the target audience is sports players, start posting while big games are on, that way those sports fans looking for updates, are being reached.



Tips for using hashtags can be summed up as to:

  • Brand the business and marketing campaign
  • Catch real-time trending topics
  • Use hashtags that are easily identifiable

Large companies don’t grow out of thin air, they use every bit of help they can to make it big. Hashtags are a way to connect, a way to group topics and ideas together, and be an online community. Creating and utilizing hashtags sparks conversation, a larger potential-customer base, and tighter involvement with your target market.

Written by: Tacy Cresson