…And what to think about before you purchase
Using stock images in your business—whether on your website, social media, or collateral—saves so. much. time. I used to try to create my own stock photos—but realized that it took so much time AND preparation (getting props, setting up, making sure everything looked balanced…) that it wasn’t worth it. While I use a lot of my own photos on Instagram, I use stock photos for practically everything else: my website, Pinterest, collateral, you name it.
All photos in this post are from Social Squares—I am an affiliate, but wrote this post before they had an affiliate program.
You can get custom stock images for your brand, but a lot of business owners aren’t there yet, and that’s okay! There are incredible stock image options to choose from!
The problem with stock imagery, though, is that there are so many options (which one do you choose?), and it’s so easy to make your stock photos look fake and impersonal.
Here are 3 things to think about before you purchase styled stock photos so you can have cohesive imagery that matches your brand AND saves you time!
1. Does it look all the same?
You want your images to have a cohesive look, but you need variety. This is especially the case if you’re using a lot of stock images for Instagram—you don’t want someone to think “they just posted this photo!” Stay away from variations of the same photo.
Instead of purchasing multiple images in one collection (i.e. the same or similar props but different angles), try purchasing a few images from 2 or 3 complimentary collections. This works even better when the images can be cropped and styled differently, allowing you to get several Instagram photos out of one image.
2. Does it compliment my brand?
The image might be pretty, but if it doesn’t compliment your brand, it’s a no-go. Think deeper than just the colors—although that’s important too. Just like I wouldn’t purchase purple stock images, I also wouldn’t purchase images that include wedding-type details or have a health-and-wellness vibe. Not that those aren’t lovely images—sometimes I’m tempted to get them. But they don’t fit my brand feel, and would send confusing messages to my target market.
These are lovely images (from Social Squares), but I most likely won’t be using them for my brand any time soon because I’m not in the wellness or wedding industry:
However, these images are also beautiful…and fit my brand!
3. Can I use them on multiple platforms?
Some photos work better on certain platforms than others. A photo with space for text is perfect for Pinterest or your website or blog, but might not look great on Instagram. Likewise, a super busy photo might look great on Instagram and in other collateral, but wouldn’t look good when text is overlayed.
Look for photos with variety in layout. It’s important to have photos with AND without whitespace. If you’re planning on ever using the photos for collateral, keep in mind that busy photos work better for narrow photo columns.
Here’s how I use stock photos in some of my collateral and marketing:
Now the question is…
Where do you find good stock images? While getting your own branded stock photos is ideal, that’s not always practical or doable for a lot of business owners. Here are a few places you can get high quality styled stock photos!
I use Social Squares most often when getting images for my website, blog, and other collateral. I love that the Social Squares catalogue has images from a variety of photographers, and includes both flatlay- and lifestyle-type imagery. Social Squares photos aren’t limited just to squares anymore, either—they recently started adding vertical images, making Pinterest graphics even easier to create! Social Squares works best for brands with a light and airy feel. (Bonus: a Social Squares Membership comes with focused, bite-sized business training. This quarter they’re talking all about email marketing!)
If you’re looking for images for your website, blog, or other collateral, SC Stockshop (the sister company of Social Squares) is a great place to get high-quality photos!
Another high quality stock membership. I’m not a member so can’t speak to all the images, but it looks like they’re bright and fun photos.
If your brand color palette is more muted, European-feeling, or dark and moody, MOYO studio might be your perfect fit!
Stocklane’s photos have a more editorial feel than Social Squares, and are perfect for a more moody or European brand.
This is the best free option out there that I’ve found—be careful, though, because it’s much harder to create a cohesive feel with Unsplash.
Do you use stock photos in your business? If not, what’s holding you back? Let’s talk about it!
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* = This is an affiliate link, but I would share about Social Squares even if I wasn’t an affiliate!