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6 ways to get free website content for your site legally and without fuss

Unsplash's homepage
(Image credit: Unsplash)

Building an online presence for your business can be time-consuming and, let’s face it, expensive. After buying a domain name, signing up for one of the best web hosting services, and designing your site, you still need to fill it with content. 

After all, high-quality, engaging content is ultimately what will keep visitors coming back to your website and become loyal customers. Paying to license or create images, videos, writing, and more can be prohibitively expensive for a lot of small businesses. But thankfully, there are plenty of resources you can use to fill out your site and keep it fresh.

Before we dive into how to get this free content, we need to point out a few important caveats. Generally speaking, you get what you pay for with online content—images, videos, and writing you get for free typically won’t be as nice as those you could pay for. 

It’s also critical to make sure that anything you use is legally allowed to be reused. Using content without permission can land your website and your company in hot water very quickly. With those points in mind, here are six ways that you can get free website content to build up your site.

1. Free articles

Want to add a blog to your website to boost your SEO (search engine optimization)? The good news is that you don’t necessarily have to create all your own content from scratch. There are plenty of free articles online that you can repurpose at no cost, written by people who simply want to get their work out into the world. 

There are a number of sites where anyone who wants to see their work published can go. EzineArticles is one of the largest databases of freely available articles, with more than half a million authors contributing work to the site. The topics covered vary widely—anyone can write about whatever niche subject interests them most—so you should have no problem finding content that fits your website’s theme.

EzineArticles' website

EZineArticles is one of the largest databases of free articles online (Image credit: EzineArticles)

If you need more content, check out these five sites where writers are frequently adding fresh, free-to-use content: 

  •  Amazines, which sports articles on a wide selection of topics
  •  Article Sphere, which you can use to create an RSS feed on your website
  •  ArticleCity, which offers particularly high-quality articles
  •  Articles Factory, which focuses on technical writing 

2. Free graphics

Images and graphics are key to making your site visually appealing to visitors. While you might not be able to get the photo you want to put on your homepage for free, you can turn to free images to cheaply add media to the rest of your website.

There are a handful of sites you can turn to for free photos, including Pixabay, Pexels, Unsplash, and Negative Space. Many of the images on these sites are impressively professional and can be downloaded in full resolution if needed. 

Pixabay's homepage

Pixabay is a great option for free stock imagery (Image credit: Pixabay)

You can also find free vector graphics online at sites like Vector Portal, Stockio, Vector4Free, and Vexels. Since these are vector images, they can easily be modified and customized using software like Adobe Illustrator. This is a good option for tailoring free content for your website without spending a ton of time and money on graphics. 

Just as you need to ensure your website has properly licensed text and images, you also need to make sure you’re using copyright-free music. More and more services are operating on the web to detect the unlicensed use of copyrighted music and audio files, so it’s easy to get caught if you’re lax about this. This is especially important if you’re creating your own video to add to your website. 

Thankfully, there are plenty of resources you can turn to for free or low-cost tracks. Some of our favorite databases are:

YouTube's audio library

There are many free music libraries available (Image credit: YouTube)

Make sure to check the fine print that comes with any audio files you decide to use. Some are not allowed to be modified with editing software, and others require that you credit the artist on your site. 

4. Free videos

Pexels' homepage

Pexels is just one of many free video libraries  (Image credit: Pexels)

Adding a video to your website is a great way to give it a more professional experience and capture your visitors’ attention. While you aren’t likely to find a free video that perfectly captures your brand or messaging, you will find plenty of free video clips that you can use to build your own video.

These stock clips can be extremely helpful if you’re working on a tight budget. Gather enough of them, and you may not need to shoot any new footage at all. Then it’s just a matter of splicing together frames on your computer and voila! You’ve got a new video for your website.

So, where can you go to find copyright-free video clips? Pixabay and Pexels Video are two of the most reliable sources for high-quality videos. If you don’t find what you need there, you can try out Stock Footage 4 Free, Videezy, Videvo, and Clipstill

5.  Just ask

One of the best ways to get free content for your website is to ask. Many writers and website owners are more than happy to have their articles, photos, and videos repurposed for another site. You get content to help build your site, and they get to have their work displayed to a wider audience than it would otherwise reach.

To go this route, find a blog post or a photo on another website, and then email the author to ask about repurposing it. You should always credit the original creator on your site, and make it clear in your email that you plan to do so. You can also give some background about your website and why you think their work is a good fit for your audience.

Of course, you do need to do some vetting when choosing who to email. A competitor in your industry probably isn’t going to allow you to reuse content, for example. It also helps to look for websites that don’t see a ton of traffic, since the owner stands to benefit more from having their content reappear on your site.

Remember, the worst thing that can happen is that the site owner you email denies your request. It only takes a few minutes to find content and send off an email—and one positive response can save you several hours of work.

6. Idea generators

SEOPressor's homepage

SEOPressor generates blog titles for websites (Image credit: SEOPressor)

If you’re a capable writer but just aren’t sure what to write about, an idea generator can help. These online tools, like SEOPressor, simply require you to input some keywords that relate to your website or business. From that, they will spit out some potential blog post titles that you can flesh out into complete articles. 

This is a little more time-consuming than other methods of generating free content since you still have to write the article itself. But, having a title can help you get started as well as keep you on track for hitting keywords that can boost your website’s SEO.

Michael Graw is a freelance journalist and photographer based in Bellingham, Washington. His interests span a wide range from business technology to finance to creative media, with a focus on new technology and emerging trends. Michael's work has been published in TechRadar, Tom's Guide, Business Insider, Fast Company, Salon, and Harvard Business Review.