The Pros & Cons
We’ve all heard the saying, a picture is worth a thousand words. However, when writing for the Web, those thousand words — especially if they contain unique and interesting ideas — have great SEO value. Peppering images throughout your content makes it infinitely more friendly and enticing. In previous posts we’ve talked about free creative commons images and thought we’d follow-up with the pros and cons of using stock photos.
So what are the benefit of using stock photos?
1. Resources Abound. First using stock photos is fairly easy. There are a bunch of sites where you can peruse literally hundreds of thousands of images. Finding a high-quality image can be fast especially if you narrow your search and know exactly how it will be used.
2. Pay & Go. There are a couple of purchasing models: pay for each image or via a subscription. How much you pay depends upon the image itself. Subscriptions may offer flexibility and cost savings depending upon how many images you need and at what frequency.
3. No Attribution Needed. When you purchase a stock photo, you’re buying the right to use it without artist attribution. That means your image appears clean and without a watermark.
The Cons of Using Stock Photos
1. Costly Fine Print. If you lease an image (where the artist receives royalties from their work), understand the cost implications over time. Determine how you’ll use the image first. Sometimes the price depends if it’s a one-time use (like in a brochure or other printed collateral) or if it’s used on the Web.
2. Not Unique. Using stock photos means that same image can show up on a competitor’s website or other online property. Some photos are highly overused and usage can negatively rub off on your brand.
3. Doesn’t Represent Brand. While this is slightly related to #2, it deserves its own “con.” Your visual brand encompasses your logo as well as the images you use. Let’s say you use images of models in an office setting on your home page. Well, that looks a bit fake. You don’t see those models interacting with your product or service. Is that what you want to convey? Using stock photos doesn’t help define and explain your brand, in my opinion.
Alternatives to Stock Photos
By now you’ve probably guessed that we’re not fans of stock photos. We use creative commons images for our site. We choose images that have unique qualities. We don’t mind giving attribution to artists… as we want to say thanks to those who are making the Web a better place.
If you’re interested in using creative commons images, I suggest you read this post about the various licenses and the usage for each. You can find free images via Google, Flickr, and 500px. Until you get used to searching their website, be extra careful you don’t accidentally choose and use a copyrighted image.
Still want to use stock photos and on a tight budget? Hubspot has 75 photos you can download.
Another (better 😉 option is to invest in a commercial photography session. First, create a list of photo shots you need for your website, collateral, etc. Then, shop for a local photographer that has a versatile style. You want to match their creativity to your visual needs.
Are you using stock photos for your business? Have I convinced you to try some alternatives?
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