Throughout the entire month of July, I used stock images on my blog. I didn’t advertise it, I kinda just did it as a mini-experiment to see if it would affect anything like views or followers *pssst, it didn’t*. And I’ll let you in to a secret. I hate taking blog photos. Loathe it. Despise it. My blog is much more information focused so unless I’m reviewing a product or have been gifted a hotel stay, I don’t reaaaaally need to take my own photos.
And last month, I just decided not to. Could it be down to laziness? Yes, absolutely. But it’s also down to the fact that my photography isn’t my skill, writing is. My main aim and goal is to create informative, useful, uplifting and relate-able content to my growing following. And I’m going to assume that’s why you’re here too?
So today I wanted to talk about stock images. And the use of them as a blogger. Should we be using them? How should we be using them? When shouldn’t we use them? Because I always see a bit of negative chat every now and again about bloggers using stock images. If they’re not your thing, cool bro.
But here’s why I personally loveeeee stock images and where you can find them yourself!
Where do I find free stock images?
There’s plenty of sites to use, a lot I’m probably going to miss out here but I’m just going to go through a couple of my favourites and ones I’ve used in the past to get you started!
Unsplash: Without a doubt, my favourite site for stock images. There’s such a huge library of amazing images by incredible photographers, that you’re bound to find something suitable in relatively little time. It also gives you a handy automatic copy and paste action so you can easily credit the photographer if you want to!
Ivory Mix: This is a great website, which you’ll have to sign up for to receive the images. But it’s totally free and then you’re able to download full sets of images and save / use the ones that are relevent to you!
Pixabay: Probably my least favourite of the bunch but it’s one I’ve used plenty of times in the past and is certainly a handy website to grab free stock images for your blog! I don’t usually find as much variety on here as the likes of Unsplash.
Why should I use them?
Right, now we’re into the nitty gritty. Why should you use them? Well, you don’t have to use them. If you’re good with a camera then crack on – there’s plenty of bloggers who’s photography I’d much rather stare at than a stock image. But my main reason for why you should use them is this…
It gives you more time and less stress to create what matters to you
Like I said, I hate taking blog photos. As much as I’ve tried to kid myself that I enjoy it, I just don’t. And that’s okay (it is perfectly OKAY to not like every element of blogging…) but I adore creating content. I’m constantly brimming with ideas for blog posts and thinking of things I want to share with my followers.
What I don’t adore is the stress of having to take blog photos which I don’t enjoy doing and I know I won’t like then having to edit them and stare at them for eternity. Knowing I can do a quick search and find a gorgeous stock image to use in my post instead takes away that negative element of blogging completely.
And as an added bonus, it also gives you the chance to support another creator! Win, win.
How should I use them?
Stock images are great but you can’t just use them willy-nilly (hehe). So if you’re diving into the world of stock images, here some things to remember:
Using someone else’s content can come with a lot of legal implications if done incorrectly. Thankfully, most free stock image sites, like the ones I’ve mentioned here give you commercial use for all of it’s images. Commercial use means you can use the images whenever and wherever you like – in your blog posts, on your products, social media, birthday invites, whatever.
As long as images are available for commercial use, then you’re all good to go.
Again, with commercial use images, you’re not legally required to credit the photographer. But if you want to, you can. It’s a nice gesture and will also help the photographer gain some exposure. I’ll admit, I don’t always credit the photographer because sometimes I download images in batches. But I do when I can.
If your blog has a theme or you’re knuckling down on your branding (which I’d highly recommend!) then even if you use stock images, you’ll still want to stay in theme with your own brand. Which can sometimes be difficult if the photos aren’t your own.
But there’s certainly ways around this. If your brand sticks to 1 or 2 specific colours, then try and find stock images predominantly with those colours. If you want a lot of flat lay images, then just typing in “flat lay” into the image sites will bring up a bunch of images relevant to you.
Don’t be misleading
By this I mean, don’t pass a stock image off as your own or any products featured within a stock image as your own. Even if you’re using the image legally, you won’t be staying true to your followers and you’ll be misleading them.
Use your judgement
Stock images won’t be suitable for every post, every topic and every blog. For posts like this one, a stock image will do just fine. Same for my post about DA last month. But if you’re working with a brand, have been gifted products to review or been invited to stay somewhere, stock images probably aren’t the way to go. Unless a previous agreement has been made between you and the brand and you’re both on the same page.