Time to ditch those boring stock photos
You can’t have failed to notice the rise in visual content marketing across all social media platforms, from photos and infographics to video. The value that visual marketing can bring is vast and by not using visual content you could be giving your competitors the advantage.
Still not convinced? Then how about an actual stat? We are becoming lazier. The average person gets distracted within 8 seconds so you only have a short window of opportunity to get your message across. Articles that contain images get 93% more views than articles that don't.
The easiest place to start is by using photos. But you can’t just use any picture you see on the internet. Many pictures have usage guidelines and copyright protection which prevent you from using them. It’s also a myth to think you can use a picture and attach a credit to it. Sorry, but using that cute kitten picture you saw on Facebook yesterday in your personal or business blog could contravene Copyright.
The easiest way to avoid copyright issues is to use pictures that have a Creative Commons Zero licence. The law states that “CC0 enables scientists, educators, artists and other creators and owners of copyright, or database-protected content, to waive those interests in their works and thereby place them as completely as possible in the public domain, so that others may freely build upon, enhance and reuse the works for any purposes without restriction under copyright or database law.” This means that photos found with a CCO licence can be used without any copyright issues.
Below is a list of decent, high resolution and most importantly free stock photo websites I have researched and use on a regular basis. There are of course others on the internet but I find the ones below are easy to use and have distinctive and stylish photos. Many of these sites also offer short video clips which could be used in social media, your website and promotional materials.
A word of advice, check each site's terms and conditions just in case.
Splitshire - There are some really unusual and abstract pictures on this site as well as video. The site was started by a photographer, Daniel Nanescu, who wanted to share his work at a time when he felt good stock photos were non-existent.
Gratisography - If you’re looking for something unusual and a bit quirky you will find it on this site - "Truly unique. Usually whimsy". You won’t find desks and typewriters here, but you will find cats with ties...
Kaboompics - Lovely photos with some useful additions including the ability to search by colour. Each photo provides you with the corresponding HEX colours and you can also download the palette. I also like the "Photoshoot" option which provides a selection of photos based on various themes. The pic of the candles and flowers is from Kaboompics.
Stocksnap - The picture of the macaroons came from Stocksnap. Lots of high-resolution pictures available. This site has a handy search feature that offers you the options of sorting by category, what’s trending, download numbers and favourites.
Life of Pix - The picture below of the banana is from Life of Pix, they also do some beautiful landscape pics as well as the slightly obscure. This site is packed full of great high-resolution images, and I do mean high resolution as some can be 7 or 8MB. Video is also available.
The Main Sites
The two sites below are the main free stock photo sites on the internet and Pexels photos are now included within Canva.
Pexels is a really great website that has a variety of good pictures that can be used for infographics, blogs, websites and social media. A great feature is that pictures can be downloaded in four standard sizes and a custom format is also available. You can join, free of charge, and upload your own photos and create collections of favourite pics found on the site which is a really useful feature if you use stock photography a lot. I actually have my own account on there with some of my pics, click here to view.
Unsplash - a collection of free high-resolution photos. The standard of photography is excellent and like Pexels you can also submit your own photos to be featured. They also have a great feature, located in the taskbar, where you can upload an image and Unsplash will find similar images. Useful if you have something a bit different and you can't quite find the search words.
Unsplash also has various apps available including integrations for WordPress and Google.
It's worth remembering that some of these sites use hi-res imagery. These are photos that have large file sizes 5mg for example. Using file sizes that are this big might not be appropriate for your blog or website. A solution is to resize your pictures and of course, there are numerous websites and apps available so don't panic you don't have to use Photoshop. Imagine resizing sites include TinyPNG, ResizeImage, and WebsitePlanet.
Stock Photo Membership Sites
If you use stock photos on a regular basis and want to avoid the time it can take to find the perfect pic you can subscribe to stock photo membership sites. These sites tend to be marketed towards women, offering styled stock photography that have different membership plans and rates; some are monthly, yearly or you can pay for bulk and individual downloads. If you would like to know more info I have also written a blog post which you will find here.
Stats from www.inc.com