Finding images for your course description, tag group heading and thumbnails can be a challenge. Especially when you have little budget or experience in design.

I often put myself in the position of my client when I do my research for the blog, and when I created the course description the How to create a Course Description, I challenged myself to get a quality image for the description at an affordable price. And by affordable I mean free :D

Here are some tips I learned along the way.

Have something specific in mind

I found the best starting point to be the course description. The draft aspirational section of my course description was

“Do you dream of strolling down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris…”

so I began with an Image Search for Avenue des Champs-Élysées.

I found a pretty good one quickly , on istockphoto. While the images was royalty free , it had a download fee..

I found this image and this one had the same problem. The pricing is reasonable and definitely cheaper than hiring a professional photographer. It just wasn’t in my budget.

While I wasn’t able to use these three images, it gave me a good starting point. I’ve never been to Paris, so looking at these sites gave me a better sense of what the Avenue des Champs-Élysées looked like, and from there, I was able to use that to find something similar but without the fee.

It’s easier to find a free image if you have a general idea rather than a specific thing in mind

These ‘free’ images are often great quality, but they tend to be more generalised.

I found a fantastic blog with great resource for ‘free’ stock images. I searched a few for Avenue des Champs-Élysées, but there wasn’t a matched.

Negative space had a beautiful Black and White image of the Effiel Tower and Paris. I considered it but felt it was a bit cliche for a course description. It seemed more like a postcard or tourist image than the experience of wandering through Paris on walking tour.

I decided needed something more generalised, so I searched for coffee and cafe rather than Avenue des Champs-Élysées. It was a lot more successful because there are more stock photos of coffee/cafes that aren’t ‘tourist’-y.

I found something that looked European but not tourist-y on Stokpic, which is free to download site that has categories you can search through.

Be flexible if you have a limited (or no) budget

‘Free’ means you’ll need to work with what is available and be flexible with your image and course description.

It can be pretty easy to do this if you are prepared to update your copy to work with the image you end up with, rather than the picture you had in mind when you wrote your copy.

You could search for the images before writing the description, but this can end up the end as more work. There are so many images, it can be like finding a needle in a haystack. Unless you see something that’s “perfect”, your time is best spent on the copy.

If you’ve already read the How to create a Course Description blog, you may have noticed that the ‘aspirational’ statement in the final post was different to the one I started with.

I changed

“Do you dream of strolling down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris…”

to

“Do you dream of strolling down an avenue in Paris, pausing to order a coffee before a trip to the galleries?”

It was a better fit for the image and was able to evoke the same feeling.