An indie magazine publication by Subsail

Unsplash is an amazing photo resource, where users upload their photos for anyone to download and use for free.

The amount of photos on Unsplash is incredible, and so is the level of quality on the platform. On top of this, Unsplash has huge potential for new people to see your photos: this month alone, the platform has seen 9.5 billion photo views 😱

Rucksack, a magazine about adventure and travel, has been posting photos on Unsplash for a few years. In fact, I first became aware of the magazine because of their Unsplash photos.

Rucksack's photos have given the magazine a decent amount of exposure on the platform, being shown to hundreds of thousands of people from around the world. The audience looking at photos on Unsplash no doubt contains people who read beautifully-crafted magazines: think graphic designers, web designers, writers, photographers. Just the people who may be interested in your independent magazine, too.

(By the way, Rucksack isn't the only magazine with a presence on Unsplash. Check Water Journal and Offscreen as other examples.)

Stats for one of Rucksack's photos, showing almost 2,900 downloads in just two months.

To help illustrate the power of Unsplash, the screenshot above shows the statistics for one of Rucksack's recent photos. Posted only 60-odd days ago, this photo alone has been viewed over half a million times.

However, the most important point is that it has been downloaded close to 2,900 times (that's nearly 50 times a day). People download photos (for free) from Unsplash to use in their websites, blog posts, online promotional graphics and presentations, but also offline for brochures, magazines, billboards, posters and album artwork.

And these uses don't just happen from downloads. Unsplash has integrations with a ton of platforms, like publishing platform Medium, image editors Over and Unfold, form service TypeForm, image editor Sketch and blog platform Ghost (which powers this blog). Your photo can be easily pulled into to any of these platforms by its users.

Searching for magazine images within a Ghost blog post

The key thing to consider here is that the potential to reach new readers through Unsplash doesn't stop when people looking at your magazine on Unsplash. When a photo is downloaded, it's going to be used and shown to countless more people on- and off-line.

How to get exposure on Unsplash

Before people see your photos in use out in the wild, designers, writers and content creators need to find and download your images. The main idea to get exposure through Unsplash is to make people want to use your photos in their work.

Here are four tips to do just that.

1. Use the magazine as a secondary object in the photo

The best or most useful photos on Unsplash convey a feeling or are more generic rather than focusing on specific objects, so that they can be used in a multitude of works or places. Put your magazine as a secondary object, or put it in the background. This will make sure the magazine is seen, but stops your images look like promotional material (which users are more likely to stay away from).

2. Edit beautifully

As you'll see from browsing Unplash, photos there are high quality. The Unsplash team curates the main homepage feeds and which images are found in their search results.

Make sure anything you upload has been thoughtfully edited. You can either keep your editing consistent, to make a coherent collection of images, or use a variety of editing styles, to make your images work for their theme or particular use cases. Either way, the get the most out of Unsplash, upload beautiful photos.

3. Put your magazine in a variety of locations

Try to take photos of your magazine in different places or environments, but make sure they make sense! Think of offices, on desks, at coffee shops, with computers, next to a book case. There are a ton of different locations that a magazine works well in, so take advantage and upload a wide selection of images.

4. Take photos for specific hashtags

Look for popular tags on Unsplash and take photos with these in mind. You can easily target certain groups of users by taking photos for specific tags or themes.

Tags are used in Unsplash's search (both on and their many integrations), so make them count. Unsplash also curates "topics" of certain groups of photos (you'll see these listed along the top of the homepage).

Unsplash is an incredible tool that many creatives don't realise is a great distribution and promotional platform. Hopefully this post prompts you to create some beautiful free images for others to use, which will also help you raise awareness for your magazine.

Make sure to check out Rucksack's Unsplash account at @rucksackmag.