Imagery is something that tends to have an immediate effect on your website visitors. Whether it’s good or bad will largely depend on the type and quality of the images you choose for your site.

If you’re just starting out as a small business owner and are working with a minimal budget to get your site up and running, I totally get that photography can be the LAST thing on your mind. Here are some tips for choosing great photos for your website, without the need for a big budget!

Make sure the photos are relevant to your message and brand.

Abstract images are sometimes fine to use, but more often than not, you’ll want to be pretty literal with your imagery, i.e. if you’re offering web design services, it usually makes more sense to feature images of your work (or maybe you at work) than it does to show off images of beautiful scenery—you want your visitors to know, at a quick glance at your images, what your site is all about.

Aim for the highest quality photos you can get your hands on.

The last thing you’d would want is for a featured image to be blurry or pixelated—you’ll have to keep in mind that users are visiting your site on a variety of devices and at different resolutions, so just because an image looks okay on a tiny monitor doesn’t mean that it will look so hot on a bigger retina display.

Avoid the cheesy cliches.

We all know the generic “business” handshake photo. While this does convey the concept of business in a very literal sense, it can be a little silly. Whenever possible, and as your budget allows, I highly recommend filling your website with authentic photos: real, professional photos of your product or service and your people. If you don’t have the budget for a professional shoot right now, I’d recommend using a user-submitted stock photo site like Unsplash or Death to the Stock Photo to find images that have a more natural feel.

Don’t feel bad about using freebies.

Especially when you’re just starting out, there’s a good chance you won’t want to fork over a lot of money for your own photography, and that’s totally fine! There’s been a nice movement in the design community in recent years to offer beautiful photography at a fair (and sometimes totally free!) price. Check out my roundup of freebie stock photo sites here for some inspiration!