I’ve seen a lot of talk about bloggers using stock images on social media and how if you’re a blogger, you should 100% avoid using them. Stock images are images taken from stock websites, such as Pixaby, which are free for anyone to use. Some require you to attribute credit to the source, some don’t, but regardless of their own individual terms and conditions, stock images are seen as a big no-no in the blogosphere. In the past few months, I’ve used more stock images than my own images (for reasons I’ll get into later). Neither my stats, views, DA or followers have decreased and in fact, a few of my most popular posts from the past few months have contained stock images. So why are they seen as such a crime in the blogging world?
I completely understand from the point of view of bigger bloggers, particularly those that make money – substantial money – from their blog that they’re probably not the best idea. As you’re being paid for your own work – not someone else’s. But I’m not talking about big bloggers here – I’m talking about bloggers like myself and like most of my readers. One of the reasons I believe that stock images are seen as bad is because they’re so easily accessible and free to use, bloggers similar in themes and topics can use them. And will use them. Therefore, resulting in more than 1 blogger using the same photo on a post.
At the time of writing, just yesterday I saw a post from a blogger I follow on Twitter, who follows me too, which had exactly the same image I used in a post a couple of months ago. Chances are, she got it from the same site as I did but I didn’t care because 1) the post topics were very different and 2) if I asked my followers what image I used in my ’15 reasons I hate summer’ post in May (I think), I highly doubt any of you would know (without looking). Posts and images get lost in a sea of posts and images – if you scroll down my ‘older posts’ far enough, you’ll seen the image I’m talking about but chances are nobody will and nobody (at least nobody that I know) will care that me and this blogger used the same image.
I hate my blog photography. No matter how hard I try, I can never get high quality photos like many, many, many bloggers out there who’s photos are absolutely stunning. I can’t edit for shit and my camera is good but it’s not that good. I don’t have the luxury to buy a new one, specifically for blogging or to buy the latest editing software. I try my best but no matter what I do to my photos there’s a 95% chance I will look back and hate it. And that’s a horrible feeling to have, when you work so hard on your blog – even if other people say they like them, if you don’t like them then it’s a real issue.
Stock images saved me over the past few months. I managed to whack out a post every other day for the whole of June and I’m on track to do the same with July, too. Stock images play a huge part in that because it majorly cuts down photo taking, uploading and editing time. You might call me lazy or not a proper blogger for that statement but my writing has always been more important than my photos. And it always will be. Even the most aesthetically pleasing photos can’t brighten up a dull as shit blog post, can they?
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t use stock images all the time. I will always take my own photos of products for my product reviews and I often have a lot of fun doing this and trying to showcase the amazing products I’m so lucky to receive in a nice way. Stock images make my other posts – my discussions etc. – look better. I won’t lie, they do. I don’t have the money to pay out for marble slates and loads of cute little trinkets and props for blog photo purposes. I wish I did, but I don’t. I have exhausted all means of ‘decoration’ in my house for blog photos that I’m literally scratching the barrel for things I could use to make a photo look nice.
The stock images I have used for these reasons have solved that problem for me. They’ve completed my post, made it look nicer and allowed me to continue writing and producing content without having to worry where the hell my next image is going to come from because all that’s left for me to take a photo of is the garden wall. I am so envious of other bloggers and their photography and I don’t think it matters what stage of blogging you’re in, there’s always going to be someone better than you. But I’m proud of what I’ve achieved and the fact that I received one of my highest ever amounts of monthly views during the month I used more stock images than ever before. My followers and readers don’t seem to mind and neither do I.
[…] things so I know exactly where to go and what I’m looking for. These include, “Useful stock photos“, “Book covers“, “Documents“, “Useful graphics” and a […]
[…] wrote an entire post about this here when I used to use a lot of stock photos so most of my opinions on this one are in that post. I […]
I used to dislike stock photos as I felt they were too robotic, more for the use of business blogs and other information blogs. Gradually, I’m warming up to them, but I want a situation where at least 80% of the photos on my blog are mine, because I enjoy the process of taking blog photos, even if I don’t have a camera! Each to their own, we’re all figuring out what works best for us
That’s a really good ratio to have I think. I think I’m more 50/50 at the moment but unlike you, I hate taking my own photos haha!
[…] I’m not shy in telling you that I use stock photos (I wrote a blog post about it here) occasionally but obviously when reviewing products, I’ll take my own photos. Again, […]
It all depends on the stock photo imo. I think this day in age when it’s so easy to get pics of everything and anything with a smartphone it’s kinda lazy using a stock photo to convey a feeling and impersonal. Readers can see right through it. It’s a bit like going to 5 of your friends’ houses and they all have the same ikea furniture – doesn’t bother me too much but i get bored after a while and would be nice to see something original / more personal.
I like your blog, keep up the good work.
Author of the Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock Photography
I see what you mean but if the blog is focused more on writing than photos, it’s not a problem as the writing is where the bloggers creativities lie, not the photos. And if you’re taking it from a proper website and not doing anything wrong copyright wise, it’s obviously okay. I just don’t like the thought of bloggers getting noticeably stressed and feeling down about their blog photography, especially when that’s not their main focus. It doesn’t make them any less creative, it doesn’t make them lazy either I don’t think x
Good points there. Always best to stay away from the cliche and overdone. If images are crucial for the text to stand out I think there’s something wrong with the text. In my case, I feel i’m a better photographer than writer so the text is only to support my images 😀
That makes sense, it very much depends on where your strengths lie, what your blog / posts are trying to get across and what’s the more vital part. Course it can be both and for example a product review NEEDS your own photos. So it’s quite subjective.
[…] you can use stock photography from websites such as pixaby (I wrote a more extensive post on this here) which there is absolutely nothing wrong with! If your strengths are your writing, there’s […]
I wasn’t even aware that this was an issue. Woups???
I don’t have a good quality camera, so I’m not going to use mediocre pictures to please someone else because then my blog wouldn’t look the way I want it to look ! I almost exclusively use Stock photos and I’ve never had any issues because at the end of the day what matters is what YOU do with said photos !
Great discussion 😀
[…] Jenny at Jenny in Neverland asks: does using stock images make you a bad blogger? […]
I did not know that this was a no, no for blogs. I use them frequently. I thought that’s what the word free meant.
You are not a bad blogger, I think some one is pulling your leg. :o)
I’m quite keen on photography so I try to use my own photos most of the time. Occasionally I’ll use pixabay too but I don’t mind what other bloggers do. I’m more interested in the content and if a pretty or eye catching photo adds more wow factor to the post so much better. The important thing in my opinion is to credit the source if required or the photographer if permission has been granted.
Use them as and when you need too…that’s what they’re there for…. 🙂
Well said 😌 x
I don’t ever take pictures (I even went on a two week vacation and didn’t take any pictures) and I don’t do graphic design, so stock images are my only option. I just make sure that I don’t accidentally steal one, but one use them appropriately.
My Most Recent Discussion: Love It or DNF It: Living with Chronic TBR Overflow Pt 3
Wow really? I LOVE taking photos when I’m away! But you’re right as long as you’re not doing anything wrong then what’s the problem? Photography just isn’t for everyone x
To be honest, I use stock photos almost exclusively on my blog. I am not a photographer; I am a writer. My passion is to share my words and spending hours a day feeling frustrated that I can’t make my images look as good as other bloggers just holds me back from that. If people don’t like my blog because I use stock photos, well, then, my blog isn’t for them. I just make sure to state that the photo isn’t mine, and I link back to the source. *shrug*
P.S. Unsplash is my favorite source 🙂
Yes you’ve literally just summed up this entire post in your comment that’s exactly how I feel too! I’ll check Unsplash out for sure x
Great discussion ! I’m one of those who didn’t know about that problem but I don’t mind. I don’t even see what the big deal is, some of us suck at taking pictures (like me) and that can be a real help. Also, I think as a book reviewer, the review should be more important.
Oh definitely if you’re solely a book reviewer then it’s 100% the review that matters! x
I don’t really care if someone uses a stock image, to be honest. I don’t use them regularly on my blog; I prefer to take my own photos where possible, but I do use them on posts I’ve either not had time to get a photo for, or posts where I can’t really think of a photo I could take to fit in with the theme. I don’t see any harm. For me, like you, it’s more about the writing, anyway! x
Yes I use them a lot on posts where I’m like what the heck kinda photo am I going to take for this haha some topics are difficult and I don’t just wanna take a photo of anything for the sake of it and it be a bad photo! x
I use them whenever I can. In fact, I find inspiration to write a post by looking at those images, and have made 5 or 6 drafts already. And, also as you said, it helps to save lot of time. I’m grateful for those free stock images. Pixabay, Picjumbo and Unsplash are my favourite sources. And yes, I do read your every single post, wonder how you get ideas for each post, and compare it with how I handle things. But, always reluctant to write a reply using phone. Today I did that as well. Happy Blogging, Jenny!
I only use pixabay so far but I’ll definitely check out those other sites. You’re the second person to recommend Unsplash so that one must be good! I’m glad you did reply! Happy blogging to you to 🙂 xx
I’m so glad you wrote this post! It’s about time somebody spoke out about this. I totally agree with you, there’s nothing wrong with stock images. When used appropriately they can be just as good, even better in most cases than attempting to take your own image. I don’t think I took a photo for my blog until maybe 2 or 3 months in and that’s because I didn’t know where to start. I was still learning! Stock images are so easy to find and use that it seemed silly not to use them. I still use them now sometimes. I do try to take my own images when I can but if not then it’s no big deal. I don’t think anyone should look down on a blogger for using stock images, there’s nothing wrong with it at all!
Yayyyyy thank you! Exactly the point I was trying to make. I saw a post a good while ago now which actually said that using stock photos ruin your blog and I was like 😐 there’s nothing wrong with it, they’re there for a reason to use! x
Great post! I chose to read this post because I’m “interested in the controversy” over using stock photos. “Caring” that you used them didn’t even cross my mind. This is your blog and that one over there is my blog and we choose what we do to it. If readers want to cone along on our journeys (with or without stock photography) that is their choice. I applaud you for staying true to YOU.
Completely agree. I’ve seen opinions from ‘bigger bloggers’ that they ruin your blog and your posts and whilst for bloggers who have blogging as their job, it might not be a good idea, for everyone else I see absolutely no problem with it x
I have the same feelings as you. I care more about my content than pictures, but I’m constantly standing for hours trying to make my photography look top notch and I’m never fully 100% happy with it. Can you do a post on good stock images sites as this will really help me on like my discussion or lifestyle posts. Great post xx
Same I spend ages sometimes taking photos and I’m never happy with them and it’s SO disheartening!! I actually only know one site pixabay but if you look through the comments you’ll see some recommendations from other people! x
So many opinions, so little time. The stock images are free and when you use theme you promote the photographer or artist, provided they are credited. If the image is free and it helps make your point, there are no issues. Happy blogging.
Well said and good points! x
You are NOT a bad blogger for using stock images. It’s nonsense that bloggers think it’s a big no. The whole reason stock images exist, is to be used, so why wouldn’t you? I’ve seen so many bloggers use images from Tumblr, We Heart It and Pinterest, and that’s honestly much worse than using stock images! I mean, using images from those websites it’s usually stealing, because the original source can’t be found (most of the time). Like I said, stock images being a ‘big no’ is nonsense.
Exactly I don’t understand the notion either?! It’s such a complicated thing with images and sites like that and credit etc. You’ve gotta be so careful but if you use the right sites and aren’t doing anything wrong then what’s the problem? x
I don’t care about stock images or not, shouldn’t really matter as it’s the content of the post your’ll be reading not the actual image.
I use stock images and see no problem with them, that’s what they are there for and not all of us are creative geniuses who gave the time to make all our own images. 🙂
Exactly not everyone is good at photography or has the latest equipment or editing software unfortunately! x
Hmmm. I didn’t know stock photos had a bad rep until now. My newbie is showing. I agree with you though–I certainly don’t pay attention to whether or not a blogger uses a stock photo or an original photo. And I’d personally rather see a beautiful stock photo than a not-so-great original one, even though if the content is good, I don’t think it matters either way. I use a lot of original photos but that’s because I have a bookstagram which is what I focus on even more so than my blog. I do use stock photos too though, especially for my headers. They look better, very crisp and clean, and they’re higher quality.
Exactly I’d much rather see a great written post with a stock photo than an absolutely rubbish original photo! x
This whole image using is pretty confusing. So many sites selling images that you have to pay a small fortune for. Some are free.
The ones I use are free and there’s lots of fantastic free sites with amazing photos on x
I see nothing wrong with using Pixaby and the like, thought thats what they were for, in an energency. Life is too short to worry about the details, its the end result that counts.
Well said! x
I’ve had the exact same thoughts recently! I never used to use stock photos on my blog posts because of the bad rep they have but I am bad at photography, I’m not a photographer, I’m a blogger and I don’t see the point in pretending to be something in not. So I now use the odd stock image to bright up a blog post and when I work with brands I usually ask to use some of their images along with my own to properly showcase their products incase my photos don’t do them justice.
Ps. Great post! I completely agree with you! Xx
Yes! A while ago I would never have use a stock image cos I was literally scared of the rep they got! But then I used 1 and it looked great and the post did great and I realised how much of a time saver it was. My photography wasn’t getting any better because I don’t have the skills or the equipment for it. Thanks for your comment! I’m glad you agree 🙂 x
Not sure I’don’t even notice!
Haha good! 😉 x