Tuesday 26 May 2015

Why you NEED your own stock photos NOW

I've been sitting on this post for months. In light of Bec from The Plumbette confessing her mistake at the start of the month, I decided it was finally time to publish it.

One of the things I didn't write about during October was photos. Mostly because, as a personal/lifestyle blogger, I tend to use my own photos. But last week I heard a story that I wanted to share.

Imagine you've decided that you want to stay home with your baby when he's born, and to make that happen you start an online business. You're savvy enough to know that images have always been important to readers (although your business started before pinterest), but as a small startup, you can't afford to buy stock photos, and while you're great with words, you take pretty awful photos.

One day, as you're pondering this dilemma, you stumble on a website with free stock photos. Bonus! Hours later, you find the right image for your post, finish and publish and head off on your merry way to build a business.

Four years later you get a letter in the mail from a big law firm, demanding payment of $600 for the use of a photo on your blog. There's also a link to the original source of the photo - Getty Images. You go and check the post, and the place you got the photo from, and the Getty Images link, and it's all the same photo. What do you do?

Well, if you're my friend, you quietly meltdown to your friends on facebook, ask a lawyer friend if it's real (it was), and pay the fine.

Visual Images are Gold

Visual content is HUGE at the moment. Videos are everywhere on facebook; we pin and repin for hours on end on pinterest because the photos look great; and blogs rely on images to tell the story and get their posts pinned. Pinterest is littered with posts from bloggers with lists of free (or almost free) stock photo websites, and people are using them

But here's where I see a problem occurring

*everyone* is using the same images/canva templates/picmonkey fonts/wordswag backgrounds. Sure, these tools have seen visual marketing come a long way in a short amount of time, but... And it's a big but... The people that are standing out in this new visual marketing world are the ones who aren't using the same images/templates/fonts as *everyone else*

{the irony of this post is that I used a wordswag image when I started writing it, then changed to my own image before publishing, when I realised my mistake}

You need to stand out in the crowd

Have you read By Regina yet? If you're like me, you probably stumbled over her graphics on pinterest before you had ever heard of the actual blog. Because, at the time, no one else was creating such stark, eye catching graphics. {I've seen many imitations in recent months, though} And once you stumbled on her blog, you hung around, because her words meant something to you. But those images captured your attention first. That's what you need to be doing with your images.

How do you achieve an individual look?

  • look at your keywords - are there topics that you post about again and again? If you've mentioned in a post that the beach makes you happy, when you're writing about happy things, can you  use a beach photo?
  • If you have certain fonts you use in your header, keep using them on your images. PicMonkey makes it easy to do that these days.
  • learn how to take clear photos. Any camera can take "good" photos, but the user makes the photos awesome.
  • keep your stock images separate from regular photos. This is something I haven't set up for myself yet, so I'm constantly hunting for images, save yourself my heartache, and set up a file from the beginning.
Do you have a photo look you could use as a stock image?
Linking up with Essentially Jess


  1. That's why I brought my logo into my header image to make it recognisable as me.

  2. Great post. I do have some of my own pics in a folder ready in case I need a photo but have not yet created a big library of my own stock photos- on the list. When in need at the last minute these days I hand letter a quote or use some of my art pics in blog posts.

  3. I have it on my to do list to go back through my images and double check them all. I just hope I get to do it in time before I get any nasty expensive letter.

  4. I've been creating my own images where I can but sometimes resort to the free stock images and overlay them with words for pinterest.

  5. I mix it up with a bit of both but I am very careful about making sure the source is good before I use them as I am super paranoid about this!

  6. Bec's story hit home with me too. I did a complete audit of my media library on the spot, and culled anything dubious! Thank god for Pixabay!

  7. One of the things I want to do this summer is build up that folder of stock images. I just haven't had time. I have only used a free image site once or twice - everything else has come from either free images via canva or paying the $1 fee for an image on canva. I definitely want to get away from that, though.

  8. I did today's prompt didn't know if there was a linky for today but my story is now available. Have a great day


  9. I generally use my own images, I like taking a range of random landscape and nature photos so it is generally easy enough to get something to fit. However there is one free image site that I use when I can't find my own. Great tips and thanks for sharing

    Leaving some fairy wishes and butterfly kisses from #teamIBOT

  10. Thank you for sharing my post. It's awful to be sent a letter of demand isn't it? I've heard of some bloggers getting a six figure bill. That is scary!

  11. Interesting information & something for me to ponder as I'm researching what I might do with my blog in the coming months!

  12. Interesting ideas. I have a lot of stock image websites in my bookmarks and i am using it all the time. For example, http://www.cannypic.com/ is perfect if you are looking for vector graphic.


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