Blogging Advice Reviews

Stock Images: Should Bloggers Be Using Them?

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?

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Jenny in Neverland

Twenty-something lifestyle blogger from Essex. Book lover, Slytherin, organisational wizard and enjoys Motorsport, Disney and Yoga.

97 Comments

  1. 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

    1. It sure is. If photography is your thing then I’d definitely encourage taking your own though! It’s great you love taking photos!

  2. Alexandra James says:

    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

    1. Awh thank you! I agree though, I’d rather people come to my post for the writing, not the photos. As that’s my strength ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Lisa's Notebook says:

    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

    1. Totally agree. I’d rather use someone else’s amazing photo than my rubbish one!

  4. I think that’s fine to use stock images as long as they are free of use and you credit the artist. I do use them rarely, when I don’t have photos but it does help to save time

    1. Although for commercial use it’s not legally required to credit the artist. It’s just a nice thing to do! Your photos are amazing though so if I was you I wouldn’t use stock images!

  5. I love stock photos. Because I have a travel blog I also use my own (even though I am no photographer), but stock photos are a great addition

    1. They sure are!

  6. 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

    1. If you enjoy taking the photos then I’d definitely encourage not using stock images! It shows when someone isn’t enjoying taking the photos.

  7. 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.

    1. On Unsplash it gives you a quick copy and paste option to credit the artist! When you first start, it’s definitely hard to know the legal requirements behind everything.

  8. Melixa says:

    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.

    1. Agree. Some posts I just don’t have anything relevant to take a photo of!

  9. 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

    1. Oh totally, if I’m talking about a place I’m going or a product I’m using I’ll definitely take my own too ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. I love to use stock images every so often. I’m just not that good at photography and I’d much rather spend my time writing posts and actually enjoying that side of it rather than stressing over photos! xx

    Tiffany x http://www.foodandotherloves.co.uk

    1. Totally the same as me!

  11. 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.

    1. Definitely agree! I don’t notice sometimes either – unless the same photo has been used on multiple blogs!

  12. I use stock images and I love them! I’m really too time poor to take my own images. Thanks for sharing some sites to try! xx

    1. You’re welcome!

  13. 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!

    1. It sure is! You’re welcome!

  14. Sarah says:

    I think they are handy to use as long as you credit the source xx

    1. Commercial use isn’t legally required to credit ๐Ÿ™‚ But it’s a nice thing to do.

  15. I find it so much easier to finish a post by using stock images! If it wasn’t for those banks of hundreds of images, I’d never share a post because I just don’t have the time/energy/motivation/set up to take relevant images for the majority of my posts. I don’t see an issue, as long as you’re sticking to the rules & being fair, why not? ๐Ÿ™‚

    Lucy-Kate | lucykateburton.co.uk

    1. Literally same haha! None of my posts would have any photos otherwise!

  16. I 100% agree with you! It’s not that I don’t enjoy the photography aspect of blogging, it’s just that I know my photography isn’t the best. It’s also much quicker to pull a blog post together when you don’t have to faff with picture taking and editing! I’ve used Kaboompics before but will definitely look into those other ones you’ve suggested, thanks! x

    1. Oooh I haven’t heard of that one – I’ll take a look!

  17. I’m not at a place where my photograpy is good enough to rely on, so general posts usually have stock images but if it’s something like travel my not-so-good pictures have to suffice

    1. Haha, they’ll improve with time!

  18. Stock images are a good resource for bloggers, you can find the best photos for your posts in a very short time. Thanks for sharing this post.

    1. They sure are!

  19. I only use stock photos for my blog. I pay for mine because I find that the free ones, although stunning, are used on many different blogs. Which is completely fine, but I just want to have different images since I hate taking photos myself and am bad at photography. When I started my blog, though, I totally used free ones and loved how much variety there is out there.

    1. There’s so many lovely free ones but I’d definitely look into paying for a few!

  20. I completely agree, Jenny. I recently used stock images on a post about ‘places I’d love to visit in my twenties’ as (obviously) I didn’t have any of my own images to use, and didn’t want my post to be just text-based.
    I definitely think posts that aren’t about my own experience, or aren’t gifted would be great with stock photos!

    1. Totally agree.

  21. I love this post! Makes me feel more at ease to use stock photos

    1. I’m glad ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. This is so informative! I love photography but itโ€™s not always easy to take photos that relate to every post โ€” Iโ€™m for sure going to use these sites in the future ๐Ÿ’›

    1. It definitely isn’t!

  23. I completely agree Jenny. If Iโ€™m blogging about somewhere I have visited or a favourite product, of course I will use my own photos. But if I am writing about imposter syndrome or a work situation, sometimes stock pictures are much more relevant than any photos I have taken, or could take.

    Thank you for sharing

    1. Totally agree!

  24. Nice Collection Jenny, I loved it.

  25. I do agree with you Jenny: for some posts there is close to no point in taking photos. The amount of time you spend in creating those random mood pictures can be better used in writing a piece of content, instead.

    Also, you made a point about the ethics rules we should all apply when it comes to stock pictures.

    Thank you for sharing.

    1. You’re welcome and I totally agree!

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