Beyond the Stock Photo: Stand Out on the Visual Web |
Beyond the Stock Photo: Stand Out on the Visual Web |

How many times have you seen this:  A stock image of a bird on an article about Twitter.  Or smiling happy business people on nearly any article destined for a business audience?  You probably read an article or two like that today.  Stock images can be a great resource.  Before you add one more stock photos to your latest blog post take a step back and ask yourself one thing:

Does that stock photo really add anything to your post or article?

Does a stock photo of birds really add to your Twitter post?  Yes, birds do tweet, but beyond that it's not new or original, and has little bearing to what you are writing about.  The internet today is a competitive visual space. To stand out in that space your visuals must be something unique.

Social media is visual.

Pinterest is the perfect example of a visual social network. Pinterest can drive tremendous traffic to your site, if you can catch viewers’ eyes with a catchy visual.  The image of birds for that Twitter article isn’t going to cut it.  It's time to rethink the blog stock image.  Facebook, and Twitter also have made changes to how their images are displayed which now place more emphasis on the visuals. No matter the social networks you prefer, a great visual will help your content gain attention.

Stock images are bases.

Stock images are designed to be bases or parts of other designs.  Using them as standalone designs won't give your visuals the impact a custom design would have.  Small details matter, even a optimizing the size of the image for social media and adding the title of your article will stand out more than a generic stock image with no text.  Online image editors like Picmonkey and Canva make it easy for anyone to create unique images sure to stand out.  You also might want to consider combining stock images or graphics in new ways to create entirely new creations.  Even a minor alteration such as switching out that blank cell phone screen to a screenshot of your own website will help your images to stand out from their blank stock bases.

Use original visuals.

Stock images may not always be the right solution.  At their core stock images are made to appeal to the widest array of people possible and so are very generic.  Your audience isn't generic is it? No, it's a specific demographic that you are targeting.  Is a stock the best way to get their attention? Perhaps not.  Instead try an original design that appeals to your target demographic and showcases your own brand.

An in house designer or external designer might not be in your budget. However, that's okay. There are many resources online that can help you learn the basics of design, and simple image editors to help you along the way.

Stock photos like any tool have their place.  Like any tool it's all about how you use them. Used correctly and sparingly they can be a great asset. Used with reckless abandon and they can relegate your content to mediocrity.  Improve your blogs & articles; go beyond the stock photo to the custom visual.