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.

Stock Images

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.

Stock Images

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:

Legal

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.

Crediting

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.

Branding

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.

So as you can see, I’m a fan of stock images. I don’t think there’s ANYTHING wrong with using them and a blogger will know if it’s a good idea or not for their blog. I love them. Do you? Do you use them on your blog? What are your reasons for doing so / not doing so?

99 Comments

  1. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with stock photos at all (as long as they’re legal of course!) and I’m always confused by the snobbery that seems to exist around them in the blogging world. I’ve used them a couple of times before. I absolutely HATE taking photos, they never look good and I just dread doing it, so in the future I would definitely use stock images again!

    1. Oh my god but your photography is literally one of my favourites! Funny how we have such a warped view of our own work isn’t it. Although you can still be good at photography and not enjoy it at the same time, so fair enough!

  2. Iโ€™ll admit that you actually converted me to use these kinds of images in some of my posts! My mental health prevents me being able to take photos so stock images really help!

  3. I hate taking photos. Literally dread it. Constantly have things written and a list of posts 90% finished but need photos. I basically only post recipes and product reviews so I don’t really have much choice other than to pick my camera up. If my content was different I think I’d be tempted to use them though, I don’t think my photos are ever that great and I’d love to be able to spend the extra time working on the writing x

    Sophie
    http://www.glowsteady.co.uk

  4. I often use stock images from Unsplash if it’s not a product review where I will have taken my own photos. My own photos aren’t bad but being housebound I am very limited if I want to have a photo of outdoors for something etc. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Sarah ๐ŸŒบ || Boxnip || Latest Post

  5. When I fist started blogging, I used to use stock images a lot but found that my own content powered lots of the images and vise versa. I also struggled to find good quality stock images – I am going to take a look into the sites you’ve advised so that I can help tp bulk out the right posts with the right images!
    Rosie

  6. You know, I didn’t realise you can access stock photos for free! I thought you had to pay for them all, oops. I’m the opposite of you in that I absolutely love taking photos for the blog, but my problem is I don’t have a professional camera so they don’t always look as good as I envisage, so I guess that’s where stock photos can come in! I think I’d like to use them so I’ll try some of your suggestions.

  7. I love this look at the using of stock images, especially free ones. It never seems worth it to me to pay for stock images, especially since I can often find nicer ones for free on the sites here mentioned.

    I am not much of a photographer either, and taking photos does take more time than one might think. If I ever had the time, I think I might take some of my own photos but mix them with stock ones.

    I love writing. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Even though I’m not a pro, I love taking photos and have a lot of them. So their quality is not the best, but thats what I’ve been using. I never want a plastic and perfect blog. As I get better equipment, my photos will improve too.

  9. I absolutely love this post! When I first started blogging, I had no idea that the pictures used in a blog post could be just as important as the writing. At the end of the day, I started blogging so I could write, not become a part time photographer! I do put pressure on myself to create banging pictures, which I shouldn’t cause I know there are stock image websites I could use to take the pressure off myself! x

    Lucy | http://www.lucymary.co.uk

  10. I will never understand the hate for stock images that you see creep up every now and then in the blogging community… if I’m doing a review of a place or a product I’ll take my own, or if I feel inspired, but I don’t like forcing myself to do photography when I’m not feeling it – then my overall final product shows, I believe. Instead, I’d rather put my time and effort into better written content and carefully curating the right stock image.

  11. I love stock images and do use them from time to time. My photography isn’t my strength, but it is something I’m working on. My older posts have some terrible photos(!) that I need to update. Especially as some receive good Google traffic. I will credit the photographer if I can.

  12. I personally prefer using stock images because I am terrible at photography. Depending on where they are from I’ll credit them in some way. If they’re from Canva I usually leave it, but anywhere else and they usually get a shout out.

    Once again, a very useful blog post Jenny! ๐Ÿ˜€

  13. Big yay for stock images! Not having to worry about my photography is giving me so much more time to focus on my writing which for me is the most important part! x
    londonsnewgirl.blog

  14. Great post! I will definitely check these out. I’ve used Pixabay for my full-time job in the past, and have had hit or miss experiences. For blogging, I have really only tried the free WordPress option, which sometimes has great images. Most of the time I prefer to use my own photography, but honestly it can get pretty labor intensive! Thanks for sharing all of your tips.

  15. So interesting, i’ve never thought about using stock images. Personally one of my favourite parts of blogging is taking the photos, but I can see why people would use stock images. It’s a great way of saving time and concentrating on content writing x

    Steph

  16. I completely agree! I love doing photography and editing on photoshop in my spare time but if it’s just for a generic post then I’ll concentrate on perfecting my writing. It’s great that you cleared up the ethics behind using stock photos as I know when I first started out I wasn’t entirely sure! x

  17. I use a mix of stock images and my own if I’m reviewing a product or writing about my garden, for example. When I use stock images, I try to tweak them slightly, either adding to them or re-colourising them, but that’s just a personal thing. And I don’t see anything wrong at all with using stock images. My skill, like yours, is writing, not photography. If someone is going to take a much better picture than me then why not? I use Unsplash all the time too, Pixabay less so, but I’ll have to take a look at IvoryMix, they’re new to me, thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

    Lisa | http://www.lisasnotebook.com

  18. I love to take my own pictures, I have to with my food blog. Love to be behind the camera and catch that moment. However I did use a couple of stock pictures for couple of blogs for GiangiTownsend.com and love it. The feel was different but still well received.
    Great article, thank you. xoxo

  19. I use them all the time. Taking photos isnโ€™t my skill either. Just for fun, I like to use photos of me and my puppy. Especially on personal posts. I donโ€™t take the time to credit the stock photos I use because of the time it takes to add the links.

    Unsplash and pixababy are sites that I use all the time. My first posts are copyrighted photos because I didnโ€™t know then about the rules and thought that all online content was free to use.

  20. Love the post! I’ll use stock photos of they fit best with a post sometimes stock photos fit better then any photo I’ve takem, but I love taking photos so I always try to use my own if possible.

  21. I’ve found that I don’t take the best pictures (but I guess that comes with practice!) so if there’s a relevant and nice enough stock photo, I’ll use it. However if I’m talking about a place I’ve visited or I happen to have a half decent photo, I’ll use my own. I’ve been using Pexels but I find their selection can be quite limited at times so I’m going to take a look at Unsplash next time! Xx

  22. I just started my blog, so my imput is based solely on little experience. I use both stock and photos I take, however, the photos I take and post are for travel, reviews and personal matters that really require my own photos. I use stock photos for basically anything else. I know my limitations and photography creativity is certainly not my strong suit! Besides, stock photos are there for a reason and if we’re being honest, I don’t know stock photos from another persons photo most of the time.

  23. I’ve actually never thought of using stock images for my blog and at the same time, I don’t take the best pictures. And I briefly looked through Unsplash, it is really good! So thanks for sharing this!