Give It Away

The idea of free images makes the budget minded sing and some artists cringe. How can it be a good idea to give away what you are trying to sell? On the one hand is the sanctity of the copyright. On the other is the spirit of the Internet and an age-old marketing ploy: the free sample

Way back when in the dark ages of flight when planes were choked with cigarette smoke, everything was free…food, drinks and on every meal tray, a slim package of cigarettes provided for after meal enjoyment in case the passengers had sped through the terminal (good luck with that these days) without stopping to pick up a pack. Since research has shown that it only takes less than smoking a single pack of cigarettes to get hooked, the free pack accomplished several things. The brand was visible and the hapless non-smokers who lit up out of boredom were hooked by the end of a long flight.

© Nivi
© Orson

Book publishers now offer free sample chapters on book selling sites. Women can hardly escape through the first floor cosmetic departments of large stores without being sprayed with a free sample of something. The old saying, “There is no such thing as a free lunch” is true because the hope is that just like free lunches used to boost the alcohol purchases in bars, free images can bring users to your portfolio. Dreamstime showcases other not-for-free images on the same subject by the same artist along with the free one on the free image’s information page. Sometimes the user will click through to your entire portfolio and get hooked on other images for new projects or find something else that they can download. I often go to a portfolio once I find ann image to see what else a photographer or illustrator has to offer.

We decided this year to show you the most downloaded free images to add to the previous column on the top free images of 2008.

No surprise that one of the shots was of a lovely young lady. Flowers are universal and although it’s an overdone subject, simple (and free) photos of flowers find usefulness where ‘fresh’ and ‘spring’ are concepts. Sending a photo of a flower as a greeting card may not smell as nice as the real thing but the gesture is the same!

© Daemys

Speaking of nice smells: the coffee bean image is a great background that nearly gives off the smell of fresh coffee and the same goes for the delicious looking strawberries. These two images are perfect for menus or decor in small restaurants.

The illustrations are very colorful and optimistic, great for announcements or graphic elements in any number of placements.

The sun rising over the earth’s image shows the dawning of new day creating a feeling of optimism that is a concept that we will be seeing used a great deal this spring.

© Iofoto

An article about using free samples as marketing tools here and here

Prolific blogger Chase Jarvis writes about doing assignments for free here

Photo credits: Circotasu, Dmitry Maslov, Dip2000, Iofoto, Levent Kugu, Nivi, Petr Vaclavek, Serghei Starus.

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March 31, 2009


Thanks for the article but...I would NEVER give any of my work away. I disagree with the theory that it will help with sales in the long run. If you went to a show would you give your work away for free? No, nada, forget about it !!!

March 30, 2009


I must admit, my sales are good, TOUCHWOOD, but I have noticed that after submitting 6 images for free the download pattern of my commercial images has increased. If only DT gives us the referral links we can be sure if free users are coming to our portfolio. But all in all Im happy that I donated few of my images and planing to donate more in future, If one of my image is not downloaded in years there is no point to keep it in commercial section, when it is downloaded through free section it makes me happy. And 75 percent of my images in my portfolio was in other free stock image site (that site has only free images)

March 30, 2009


This feature is not intended to be primarily used by major buyers. It's focused on attracting new buyers, no matter their size. Usually they are either reluctant buyers, not thinking that the prices are real, considering it may be some kind of trick, OR users who can't purchase (either prices are too low for them or they don't have a credit card,etc.).

The free section aims to create future stock buyers. Its presence in the last years (and I stress years) showed NO impact at all on the commercial sales. There may be cases when a buyer will get his file from there and not from the commercial section. But these cases are very rare, as buyers are specific in what they want and the quality of the free images is not so good, compared to our main database. Its size is kept minimal.

While some buyers may notice commercial portfolios, this is a community feature. Your donations may favor other users and their donations may favor yours. It's also true that we had cases when buyers requested a file to be transferred to the commercial area for a RF or EL license. Remember that the free license is RF-LL, limited to 10,000 copies.

You should draw your own conclusion in regards whether the free section is good for you or not. Depends on your plans, on your portfolio' size and subjects as well as your willingness to share something with others. Just as microstock, this feature is not for everyone nor for every kind of image.

March 29, 2009


After reading this blog, I thought I would try it with a few of my older images. I must admit I was very surprised at the number of downloads almost instantly, as well as a few sales of other images all around the same time as pushing that donate button. What is very apparent is the increase in my portfolio exposure. For that, thank you!

February 25, 2009


Okay, I'm totally amazed! Finally remembered to click the donate button, after reading this, and was shocked at the number of free downloads I got in no time. On one of them I expected to get some, but so fast??

February 12, 2009


Pretty good pictures, enjoy learning, greetings

February 05, 2009


Hi there,
this is addressed to newbies with images less than one year old.
I thought I would donate one photo from each page of my portfolio.
But it's not possible, seems DT is quite aware of the risk and it doesn't allow the operation.
The image must be online for longer than 1 year and must have 0 downloads.
I think that's wise.
For us, the newbies, there's still the option of ticking 'Add to free photos in case of reject' at initial uploading time.
I'm sure a lot of us do it and sometimes it works.
In any case, best of wishes everyone,

February 03, 2009


Litifeta: Never donate a best selling image to the free section-again! Promise?

February 03, 2009


If I heard proof from those that donate that their downloads had increased I would do it as well. BUT I was talked into offering my best seller on another site for free. It ended up being downloaded over 1000 times and has not been downloaded since.

February 03, 2009


I finally decided to donate a pic based on this blog article. To my surprise there are already 40 downloads of it and I just donated it yesterday!

Hopefully this will send a few more folks my way.


February 02, 2009


How is giving our work away for completely free helping us, or fair? Artists work hard, are still starving, lets stimulate are economy it needs it, just my opinion? Lets make people wont to use our site, we can all challenge ourselves to inprove our portfolios, get more of what sells and less of what does not, and become the best site ever for 2009, quality sells!

February 02, 2009


In all honesty, i am not convinced offering free content increases sales. Have donated free images on other sites and it didn't result in more exposure or sales for me. Only thing i noticed was about 3500 downloads on about 40 free images in about a month time. Needless to say i removed the free images.
Patrick H.

February 02, 2009


I have clicked the button that says that if my photo is not accepted I would like to donate it button on a couple of rejected shots but none have ever been put in the free area. is there something else I need to do?

February 02, 2009


Hell will freeze over before I offer any image for free. Free chapters of a book entice the reader to buy the entire book. Free images are a complete product in their own right. With all due respect to Ellen, don't go there.

February 02, 2009


Thank you Yhca!
For some reason I missed that link. Now it's clear, I've got it!
I'll donate a few today, thank you!

February 01, 2009


Under Designer Area tab, click on free photos, then you can see the box to submit free photos. Key in your image id if it's already accepted by DT, if not upload an image and wait for DT confirmation.

February 01, 2009


Hi there,
I think this is a good idea and I would love to do it. Not to increase my sales, but just because it makes me feel good. It's a good thing to do, even more so when it's done for DT.
My problem is I can't find that link!
Where is that button you can press and donate one of your already approved photos? Is there one?
Many thanks for your help...

February 01, 2009


@Perrush: Donating 1,000 images may hurt your portfolio if the proportion is high. No one wants you to donate more than what you have in commercial area (it wouldn't be possible anyway, there are some filters to avoid that); in regards to your idea, we prefer to sell content and not pixels, this is why the file size has no relevance for this section. Its impact on the commercial database is 0, there are only a few thousands of files there, compared to millions in the main one. This is not just a remark, but something we research from time to time.

January 31, 2009


I noticed an agency actually pays photographers for putting their photos in the free section. They pay through the advertising fees they earn/save. As the photos in the free section increases the traffic for people to go to the website, the agency actually saves on advertising fees. So they average out the earnings and pay the photographers.

January 30, 2009


@ Ellen : Can you give me the opinion of DT about giving away images for free. On the one hand the free section will draw designers to DT which could be costumers in the future. But on the other hand if the free section becomes to good there is a possibility designers don't need to buy images anymore.

Wouldn't it be better to offer web resolution images for free, but not the full res ? Or something like that. Just wondering. Let's say I make my entire portfolio of 1000 images free. Wouldn't that hurt sales more than it draws new costumers ?

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