You’ve written an incredible blog post, but maybe it feels lacking. You need to make some graphics for your social media, but you have no pictures for them. Stock photography… it’s the blogger’s best friend and it’s quickly becoming a popular way to add visuals to your content.
There are lots of ways to use stock photos. With stock photo subscriptions becoming more popular, it’s important that you find ways to use these often widely distributed images in different ways to make them your own. With a few simple tricks, you can customize your stock images in a way that fits your brand and makes it less obvious that you might be using a popular stock image.
Why use stock photos?
Let’s get real… visual content is important, but you don’t always have images to pair with the types of content you’re writing. Not every blogger or business owner is photography-savvy, and even if they were, few of us have an arsenal of knick-knacks laying around for all of the eye-catching images that you could get online for anywhere from free, to pennies.
You need images. It’s not just a matter of having them for blog posts – you need visual content to further your brand’s message, to attract people to your content, and ultimately to make it more memorable.
Did you know?
- If you include a relevant image with information, people are 65% more likely to be able to retain that information days later?
- Studies show that internet readers pay closer attention to images that contain information. And when they are relevant, readers spend more time looking at the images than the text on a web page.
- If you use a combination of text and images, people following directions will do 323% better than those who followed the same directions without the images.
- Tweets with images received 150% more retweets than those without.
- Facebook posts with images get 2.3x the engagement than posts without images.
Choose great images
I cannot stress this enough: Do not just randomly search for images on Google. Even images marked as being able to be redistributed commercially, probably aren’t. Do yourself a favor and instead seek out trustworthy stock photo websites where real photographers have contributed content to be used in this manner, or purchase a subscription from a known stock photographer.
When choosing stock photos for your blog, it’s important to use images that fit the style of your blog and your post’s message. This means that you shouldn’t use images that look out of place on your blog. You can even create an image style guide and use the same type of image on every post.
Also, do not settle for those really creepy or generic stock photos. There are many great places where you can find quality images and there are even photographers that offer free photo packs.
Here are some of my favorites:
Make the images “yours”
The downside to utilizing stock images is that it’s likely that other bloggers are as well. The good news is that there are lots of ways that you can use the same image, put your twist on it, and make it feel much more like it’s yours (within the parameters of whatever the terms and conditions are of your stock photo membership, of course).
Use one image to make many
I love this trick, because it can really stretch your stock photo subscription even further, by offering you more images for the price of one. Zooming in on certain aspects of an image and cropping will totally become your best friend.
Check out these images from Haute Stock and all of the ways I used it to make totally new images…
Change the orientation
You can flip some images to make them fit your space better, and to almost make them seem like all new images. It’s a nice way to make them more unique to you. You could even combine this trick with the one above to make the image really different.
Check out these images from Ivory Mix that I used for this trick…
Adjust the colors
I’m obsessed with Lightroom, and so thankful that you can buy it as part of a package with Photoshop for only $10/mo – because seriously, it’s worth every penny. I like to use stock images paired with my own photography (terrible as it may be) on my Instagram account. The best way I know how to make your account cohesive so that all of the images seem to belong together is to use a preset in Lightroom on your images.
Check out this video tutorial I did to show you how…
Make them part of your brand
Using the same images in different ways can really make that image synonymous with your brand – and the more often people see it, the more likely they are to associate it with you.
I fell in love with a particular collection of images from Haute Stock, and I use them quite a lot as part of my brand – to the point that people often think someone stole “my” image when they see them using it too – how funny.
Here are some other ways I’ve used this collection…
To create a brand
When I re-branded my business, I pulled colors directly from this Haute Stock image (which, by the way, I edited to have my name on… another fun way to really make stock images “yours”).
On my website
If you click around my website, you’ll see that I’m using the same collection again and again – for things like small visuals like on my home page, to my Parallax areas for my footer opt in, and often as stock images for my blog posts.
Across social media
To further my brand, I utilize this collection in my Facebook group, Hexagon Connection – both as part of the header, welcome & group rules, and various post prompts.
To keep my branding cohesive and so that people never forget who I am when they open my emails, I created an email template header featuring one of the images from the collection – featuring my own headshot.
Sure, the information in ebook is the most important thing, but the right visual can make it not only beautiful, but memorable… and easier to sell. Take my ebook Declutter Your E-Clutter for example…
Let’s face it… the material is kind of boring. There’s only so many ways to spice up a tutorial for organizing your inbox and correctly ridding yourself of junk mail. Adding images was important to help break up the monotony and make it look like something worth buying (because it is!). Without the images, it’s really just a bunch of text on some paper… and it doesn’t look like anything.
As Pin Images
When I’m blogging about marketing and design, there’s often not any sort of images that are appropriate for my content. Even if I were to take pictures myself… what would they be of? Probably the same types of images I can just get from a stock photo subscription. I may as well save myself the hassle.
Here’s some stock photo based pins that I have made…
Notice the stock images aren’t really all that random – they fit the subject matter of the blog post. This is how we emphasize our content with visuals.
Be aware of Terms & Conditions
Be sure before using stock photos that you read the usage rules for the site you’ve purchased from. For the most part, commercial use it allowed in an almost limitless capacity. Some sites prohibit you from creating promotional materials for others (in other words, you can’t buy the license for yourself and transfer it to someone else in the form of a Pin image – they would need their own subscription with that stock photography site). Just make sure you abide by their rules and when in doubt… ask!
There are many ways that beautiful styles stock photos can further your brand message. Which ones are you going to try?