What Are Stock Images?: 8 Effective Tips to Make Use of Stock Images

Ever wondered what are stock images? How can you use them to your advantage?

Businesses big and small alike can benefit from stock photos. However, you have to practice caution to use them right. With the right guide, you can turn a stock image into a powerful marketing tool.

Don’t worry, we won’t leave you in the dark. Continue reading our list below and learn how to use stock photos to your advantage:

1. Avoid Legal Concerns

The first thing to determine is the legality of the images you want to use. Not all stock photos are the same. Each one has a different type of license, which can restrict how you use them.

Some photos have managed licenses, which means you have to pay the original owner for the right to use those images. They also dictate how you can use the photos and how to credit them. This is the most restrictive license.

Other licenses include royalty-free, Creative Commons, and extended licenses. These are all often free-to-use licenses but you do have to follow specific guidelines as per the supplier to properly credit the source. You also have to check the guidelines for any restrictions, such as not using a photo for a logo or sales.

2. What Are Stock Images?

Now you know what to avoid, it’s important to identify what counts as a stock image and what doesn’t. A stock image is a picture already taken by a professional but with no specific purpose. The photographer then sells the license for this image, giving the buyer the right to use those photos for marketing or other purposes. 

You don’t have to buy stock images from a photographer, however. There are sources out there that already provide tons of free stock images. Some might require you to pay a subscription for further access or creative freedom. 

3. Find Unique Shots

Don’t use any generic stock image that you find. Look for something unique and not too popular. After all, you don’t want people to realize you use stock photos for all your marketing materials.

Using a unique stock image will also help set you apart from your competitors. People will quickly catch on if you all use the same stock photo. You’ll lose your brand’s identity simply because you’re following the trends set by other businesses. 

Fortunately, there are tons of great unique stock images available online. It might take a while to find one that specifically fits your needs. Look for that one special photo that stands out and is also relevant to your needs.

4. Emotions Matter

The emotions displayed in the stock photos you use can make or break your whole marketing effort. Focus on stock photos that give off genuine emotions instead of a cold, blank atmosphere. Photos with strong emotions can help build a connection with your audience and form a sentimental attachment. 

For example, a generic shot of a burger might not look like much to restaurant consumers. However, a stock photo of someone enjoying their meal while biting into a burger could get viewers hungry and wanting to take a bite as well. This type of stock photo could entice people to click on an ad or a link to the restaurant’s online menu. 

5. Check All Available Sources

Remember that there are tons of libraries filled with stock photos.

Don’t hesitate to go through them all to find the right photo for your marketing needs. Don’t simply look for the one photo you need right now. Make sure to highlight and save dozens of photos that might become useful in the future.

Some are free to use. Others require a paid subscription. The latter option is often the better course of action because it also guarantees payment for the original photographer. 

Found a site with a bunch of stock images you could use? Don’t subscribe yet. Make sure to read their rules regarding licenses and usage first!

6. Stay Up to Date

Always make sure that the stock images you get don’t look outdated. For example, you don’t want a stock image that showcases a smartphone from 2011 or 2012. It’ll look out of place and people will point it out as soon as they spot it.

The best stock images are the ones that remain relevant for years. These are evergreen content, meaning they won’t show their age even after a long time. Photos of people laughing, for example, will always be great since there’s nothing in the photo except their fashion to suggest the time of release.

7. Stick With Your Brand Image

Always make sure that the images you use don’t steer away from your brand’s established identity. If your brand focuses on a rigid, formal tone then don’t use stock images that are too visually loud and distracting. If your brand prioritizes a family-friendly environment, don’t use stock photos that are too adult-oriented and violent.

One good way to determine whether or not a stock image fits your brand is to compare it to your logo and then to your company’s vision/mission. The stock image has to complement those two things instead of veering far from them.

8. A/B Split Test Everything

Before you launch anything, make sure to run an A/B split test. Present the same marketing material to different control groups. Get their feedback and ask for their opinions.

Use different stock images for each group. Now you can determine which image makes the most impact and why it achieved those results. If none of the groups approved any of the images, you’ll know it’s time to go back to the drawing board and start from scratch. 

Did they strongly approve of one of the tested samples? Did their decisions have anything to do with the choice of stock image? Make sure to ask these questions so you can find similarly impactful stock photos for future marketing pushes.

Use Stock Images to Boost Your Business Now

What are stock images and how do you use them well? This guide should provide all the answers you seek and more. Don’t hesitate to revisit this list any time you plan on using stock photos for your marketing needs.

Of course, using a stock image is only one great step when it comes to advertising and marketing. If you liked this guide and want more like it, we’ve got a whole library of posts for you to dig through. We cover everything from technology to business advice so feel free to check them out for more tips and tricks!