Are Free Graphics Really Free?
Teacher: Bob McElwain
Well, maybe. But let's define free. Finding anything on the Web takes time. Often it takes a lot of time. So free must somehow be related to how you value your time.
It can take hours to find a good graphics site, then many more to shuffle through files often poorly organized in search of something useful. And generally what you find is free only for non-commercial use. There can be some pretty hefty requirements if used on a business site. One such site requires a full size banner ad at the top of your index page. This "price" is much too steep for most.
Now suppose you do stumble upon something really neat, something that will add real zip to your site. The chances are others also liked it and are already using it on their site. If you use art your visitors commonly see, it will downgrade your site.
More important, unless you cost your time at zero dollars per hour, this neat graphic you found was not really free after all.
Alternatively, go to ArtToday. They have a public section you can explore. But the private section is the strength of this site. It is loaded with quality work. It costs $29/year, but you can use all you need. They require only a link on your site back to them. You need to sign in to use even the free section. They will not flood you with email, but they do send out some interesting offers in hopes you will begin paying. You might find one of these deals very attractive.
It is the search engine on this site that is most important to busy site builders. Use it to save many hours looking at graphics you don't need. Type in "happy kid" and you will likely find something you like.
Since it costs $29 to access the complete library, what you find is not as likely to be as widely distributed as what you might find at a free site. And the search engine will save you time worth much more than the cost.
However, the better approach is to go to an artist. This costs you zero hours, and the few dollars involved are well spent, for you will have original work that adds spice and sparkle to your site because it was specifically designed to do so.
While the focus here was on obtaining good graphics, this argument holds true for all the needs of a webmaster. Hire an expert to do anything you can not easily do yourself. Save your time for important tasks, such as generating leads and closing sales.
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