Choosing the right stock photos for your website or blog can make or break the popularity, viewing stats, or reader sign up of your blog or website. But many bloggers or website designers find it challenging to locate and use stock photography. Finding the right stock photo is a skill and goes beyond just looking for a stock photo.
For this very reason, many people do not want to use stock photo agencies. The thought of having to look through thousands of photos, understand the buying options of stock photos, and find just the right photo makes stock photography an overwhelming experience. But taking a bit of time to understand and demystify stock photography agencies and how they work can be to your advantage. If you understand how to use stock photos, make them work for you instead of thinking of them as a time waster, you will have an avenue to increase your readership, engage your readers and spend more time on other aspects of your blog and website. And that's just the beginning, as stock photos make some of the best images for marketing and visual content.
Stock photo agency searches can inspire
I have done this many times. I have a vision in my head (and heart) of the stock photo I think I need to convey an idea. Through various keyword searches, I come up with nothing that matches my idea of the perfect stock photo for my blog. My frustration builds and my ability to review the images is disabled. I feel defeated.
For a Google search, your keywords are important when you are conducting research. Stock photography searches are the same. You will be able to weed your way through stock photos and find stock photos that are useful for you, stock photos that inspire you, and stock photos that are not even close to what you originally had in mind but end up being used for your blog.
Narrowing your search is a good idea and can elevate time-consuming reviews of 50,000 photos. If you put in the search term dog, you will get a search result of 100,000 stock photos. If you enter white dog playing (adjective, noun, verb) then you may have only 500 to review. When I look at the stock photo options, I am inspired by the concepts that are shown in the stock photos and have been known to add valuable text or call to action messages that came from the viewing of the photos. Though I had a vision of ‘a white sheepdog with a purple dog collar with a bone in its mouth’, I actually ended up with a small dog with a big toy in its mouth and used this photo to show customers that bigger is not better…or something along those lines. My stock photo search of 500 photos inspired additional valuable content.
Use theme based stock photos on you about us, organization or client pages
Themed stock photos in areas on your website and blog that normally are personal photos can create a theme for your blog or website.
On these pages, it can be helpful to show activity, a concept or belief and use stock photos to represent your values, your mantra, or your viewpoint. Many people have used stock photos of people and the reader knows or can see that this ‘person’ is not you. If you do not want to use a true photo of you, use a model-free photo, and represent yourself through a theme. Readers cannot identify with a model on your customer or about your pages. The result will be that they will not be able to identify with your blog or website if you choose a stock photo model as your profile photo.
Using human stock photos to your advantage.
If you want to use human photos on your website or blog, use human faces to point or guide the reader to a section of the text or headline. The gaze of the person in the photo will encourage the readers to look exactly where you want them to look. It is similar to the theory where a person walking on the street looks up and the rest of the pedestrians also look up to see what this person is looking at. It is suggestive and human stock photos can be used to promote this suggestive looking.
Stock photos can attract readers and define a thought
People glean the web. They do it quickly and stop when something catches their eye. A stock photo can capture the attention of a reader and draw them from photo to headline to content. If you are trying to explain a difficult concept or make light of a difficult topic, a stock photo can draw a reader into your digital media.
If you do use this strategy make sure the photo enhances your subject, is relevant, and has a purpose in your digital media. If you show a stock photo of a cute puppy to attract readership but your article is about cleaning kitchen sinks, the disconnect will have a reader distrust your ability to provide useful and newsworthy information.
To buy and how to buy… that is the question!
When people are asked about using stock photos for their website or blog, the response is, ‘too expensive’, or ‘I don’t understand the stock agency sites’, or in some cases ‘what is stock photography?’
The confusion is not the stock agency websites, the confusion is what people define as the public domain. I know many new bloggers who did not take graphic design, or journalism courses and are not aware of copyright laws that protect images on the internet. Their time saving and cost saving idea is to conduct a Google image search and use a ‘free photo’ online to enhance their blog. They think that the internet is public domain and that all images are for free. This, unfortunately, is not correct. All images found on the web are copyright protected unless it clearly states that the image is in the public domain.
When comparing the cost of a breach of copyright versus the cost of a stock photo, (or just the sheer embarrassment of being accused of using a photo that you do not have rights to) hands down, a $3 stock photo is the best way to go.
The buying options on stock photo agency websites for the first time user can be overwhelming. Use this guide as your rule of thumb. If you buy one photo a week, purchase credit options from any of the various stock photo agency websites. Start with their basic credit package and add to it as you get comfortable with their credit buying options. Subscriptions, corporate accounts, or any bulk purchasing options do not need to be a buying option for the first 6 months. iStockphoto, Dreamstime, or Crestock all have affordable credit buying options for the beginner.
Make sense out of Stock Photography
Taking a few minutes to demystify stock photography and the stock photography agencies that sell photos will, in the long run, save time and money. Stock photography can inspire you as a writer and increase your readership on your blog or website. Try it. Start a free membership today on iStockphoto and slowly work through the mystery of stock photography and become a stock photo user.