Stock images have a mixed reputation in the marketing industry. While they are preferred by the smaller companies and firms, big industries have a strict no-usage policy against stock images. That being said, however, stock images do have their own advantages and disadvantages. And if used judiciously and craftily, they are an efficient resource that can be leveraged at nominal costs.
What are stock images?
Images are an important part of online media. Every kind of business, no matter what kind of service they provide, use images and photographs either in their websites, blog posts, email copies, landing pages, brochures and flyers. When you hire an on-premise photographing agency or individual, you get photographs tailored to your specific needs.
Stock Images are an easier, cheaper and faster alternative. Many photographers and agencies submit their own photography work on websites like Shutterstock and Getty images. These photographs are arranged categorically and tagged with keywords so that you can find them easily. Such photographs often come at a nominal price and anyone can purchase them to use.
Advantages of Stock Images:
- The process is faster than hiring an actual photographer or agency, communicating your idea and waiting for results.
- Also, the process is much cheaper. Stock images can start from as low as a dollar.
- Stock photos are a great resource when you are designing brochures and flyers because such resources are not meant to stay online as your website content or blog posts and are good to get your idea to the customers.
Disadvantages of Stock Images:
- With stock images, you rarely get a photograph that resonates well with your idea. Stock images are more like an ‘off-the-shelf’ approach and it’s difficult to get what exactly you have in mind.
- Stock images are overused, especially the royalty-free ones.
- Stock images are often cliche. There rarely are new ideas in stock photography. How often have we seen images of businessmen in a conference room or a table with a Macbook and a coffee mug?
How to properly use Stock Images?
Despite the disadvantages and the bad reputation that Stock Images carry, you can use them intelligently in your campaigns to substitute for expensive original images. There are a few practices you must abide by.
- Do not use stock images everywhere. Use photographs of your store, your team, your clients, etc. These days, a decent photograph taken with a smartphone, clubbed with filters from Instagram can do wonders for you. Also, make use of charts, infographics or other kinds of media to convey your idea.
- Editing stock images is always a good idea. You can either remove unnecessary backgrounds (like getting rid of the infamous coffee mug from the table) or include texts that go along with your web page or blog post. Crop images or make collages. Just be creative and you can turn stock images into a real asset.
- It is not wise to use stock images that don’t relate to your business. If you are dealing in hardware or a similar industry, what would you need a computer engineer’s photograph for? Search for photographs that actually make your audience relate to. Search for a welder or a plumber’s photograph.
Stock images are the best alternative to employing high-budget photographers or graphic designers, especially if you are a small business. There are many stock images websites as Getty, Shutterstock, istockphoto, Pixabay, etc. Do a proper research on all these websites before actually purchasing one. With a little bit of effort, you can use stock images in your marketing efforts and bring results.
Here’s a list of websites we’ve explored that have a good mix of images both free and paid:
https://unsplash.com/ – FREE
http://www.lifeofpix.com/ – FREE
https://pixabay.com/ – FREE
http://getrefe.com/ – FREE
https://stocksnap.io/ – FREE
http://gratisography.com/ – FREE
http://foter.com/ – FREE
https://picjumbo.com/ – FREE
http://www.freeimages.com/ – FREE
https://www.pexels.com/ – FREE
http://www.freepik.com/ – FREE
Remember if they are free you may still be obligated to reference where they came from.
Hope this list is helpful.