Content creation is time-consuming. Photography is too. Worst, you may spend an entire afternoon taking photos and still not get anything of your liking. Waste of time? Maybe. Discouraging? Probably. Irremediable? Absolutely not. That is where stock images come into play. For when you do need images to illustrate blog posts or tweets but do not have anything readily available.
And even if you had a huge bank of branded original content, you may want to use stock images. Now, the use of stock images in the creative community is quite controversial. First, they are quite generic so maybe not the best tool for a strong branding. Second, the quality. If they are high-quality, you need to pay for them. If they are free, are they high quality? Conundrum.
Why should you use stock photos?
When considering whether to use stock images for your business, ask yourself if you really need to? You can get images for free but to ensure they are high quality, you will have to pay for them and most likely invest in a monthly membership. They also are photos over which you have no control. Thus, if you have a specific idea in mind, you may not be able to find what you are looking for.
If you do not have an in-house photographer nor content creator, or yourself do not know how to take pictures, then stock images are a solution. Plus, if your content is mostly informative, educational and written, they will do the work just fine. If you do not have time to create original content, they will work like a charm.
Stock images have the advantage to give you more time to dedicate to other projects and relieve of the stress of having to continuously create new content. So why should you use stock photos? Because you do not have time nor the capabilities to do otherwise.
Should you use stock images for your business?
Now, that is another question. The answer completely depends on you, your business and your content creation capabilities of course. As said above, stock images may be a great way to start if you do not have yet a content creator or photographer working for your business. With thousands of stock photos available, chances are you will find something that will fit your business.
Because that is what matters most. Should you be using stock images for your business, they need to fit your brand. That is why you need to know what types of photos you will need and how you will use them. While they would work rather fine for blog posts, we do not encourage businesses to use stock photos for social media channels such as Instagram.
If you do not have enough of your own content for Instagram, you can always use UGCs and minimize as much as possible the use of stock images. However, as mentioned earlier, for websites and blogs, they will work fine for a time. Just make sure the quality if high enough and the image fulfilling its purpose.
Where can you find them?
We recommend that you search and pick carefully through the photos offered to find the ones that will work best for you. In order to avoid hurting your brand, make sure that the photos are of the highest quality and matching your brand. If you have used a certain color palette on all your content, stick to that even as you use images that are not yours.
There are plenty of places where you can find stock images, some free some other paid for. We will through a couple of websites down there:
- Depositephotos: a large choice of photos for all industries and covering all topics. Membership starts at $29 per month. You can also find mockups and vectors.
- Hautestock: a large choice photos of feminine photos for bloggers, brands and content creators. The database is updated with new photos each month. Photos are sorted in themes, i.e. workspace, food, interior, etc. You can also find tech mockups and templates. Membership is $29/month.
- Ivory Mix: a large choice of photos and flatlay that are blogging, marketing and tech related. The creator also offers free e-books, Canva templates and other marketing resources. Membership is $137/year.
There are plenty of other online website for stock images. They are great for small businesses that are just starting out. However, original branded content is always better to strengthen brand identity, looks more unique and is more engaging.
How to use stock images?
Stock images can be very convenient and a quick solution when lacking original content. However, whether you use free photos or pay for a membership, remember to be careful when using them.
- Legal: Since the photos are not yours, and even when you pay for them, using them incorrectly comes with implications. Make sure you buy the correct licence for commercial use. Commercial use means you can use them on any marketing support you like.
- Crediting: If you pay for a membership, you will not need to credit the photo. However, if you are using free stock photos make sure you give credit where credit is due.
- Branding: we brushed on this early. It is important that all the images you use on your website, blog or social media stay on brand. Otherwise, you may just hurt your brand.
- Don’t be misleading: Do not pass off an image as yours nor a product within an image as yours. Even if you’re using the image legally, you won’t be staying true to your visitors and you’ll be misleading them.
- Use your judgment: Stock images will not be suitable for every page, every blog post, every topic, every piece of content. Comes a time where you will need to create your own original content because stock images will not do anymore.
Stock images can be a great solution for small businesses that do not have in-house content creators nor the time or capability to take photos. They work wonder on websites and blog. However, instead of using stock photos on Instagram, we recommend that you repurpose UGCs, which are often more personal and engaging.
Even if stock images are very convenient to use, they are not always suitable for all types of content. For example, product promotion will always require original content creation. Thus, stock images are more of a temporary solution.