Stock photos are everywhere online. We’ve all seen the girl holding the sparkler. Are they ideal for milspouse-owned businesses, though?
Different marketing pros have different views on the value of these images. Some are proponents of organic visuals over stock ones. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.
Team “Never Use Stock Photos”
First, we’ll take a look at the hardliners. These folks are adamant: avoid stock photography like the plague.
One reason is the ubiquity of stock images. It’s hard to stand out as a unique brand if you’re using a picture everyone’s seen a million times.
A funny example is the “Everywhere Girl” of the early 00s. When Jen Kind posed for a stock photoshoot in 1996 (the only one she ever did), she had no idea she was about to blow up. For a cool $3,000, Kind posed as a smiling college student, then resumed her life.
Now in her 40s, her face still appears frequently – from a large image in her hometown, to the school textbooks of her nephew and niece.
While Kind’s story may be an illustrative guide for procuring immortality and a few thousand bucks in one go, it complicates the case that stock photography is good for businesses.
Custom Photography and Opportunity Cost
Now, you may protest that hiring a photographer is expensive. That’s certainly true! On the other hand, stock photos carry their own hidden costs.
For example, you can spend quite a bit of time trying to find just the right image. Additionally, licensing fees for stock images aren’t necessarily cheap, either.
With custom photography, you can authentically capture what makes your brand what it is. You also then own the images, and can reuse them however you like, as often as you like.
Conversely, some other pros argue, stock photos have their time and place. It’s hard to argue with readily-available, high-quality photos at your beck and call.
After all, 67 percent of online shoppers say that when it comes to images, quality influences their purchasing decisions. High-quality visuals on a website may have more of an impact on their decision even than product descriptions or reviews and ratings!
The fact is, you won’t always have that perfect organic, high-quality custom image for your blog post or newsletter. Moreover, you may not have the time to produce one.
In these instances, it may well be to your advantage to license some stock images that match your content.
Use Stock Photos Wisely
If you’ve determined that stock images are appropriate for your business, there are ways to get the most out of them.
Once you find a picture you want to use, do a reverse image search. Find out who else is using the image, and in which context. If an image is popping up everywhere, or a site with a large following uses it, maybe find another one.
Another option at your disposal is editing. Don’t simply throw up a stock image and call it a day. Add text, filters, or other effects to customize the image and make it more suitable to your needs. Canva Pro, for example, gives you a lot of options when it comes to customizing stock photos. Check to see whether the site you are licensing from allows editing or customization.
When you customize images, research what photography and editing methods are currently trending. This can help your post attract more eyeballs and ultimately, customers.
If you are lucky enough to find the perfect stock image that hasn’t appeared everywhere, you may be able to secure a Rights Managed image. In some cases, this means you have exclusive rights to an image for a specified period of time.
Stock Photos and the Military Spouse-Owned Business
Milspouse-owned businesses are spoiled for choice when it comes to military-themed stock images. It can almost feel like drinking from a firehose.
For this reason, if your status as a military spouse is key to your brand, you need to have a discriminating eye when it comes to choosing visuals for your website, newsletters, and social media.
This may seem obvious, but make sure the images depict the right branch of service (and the right country’s military!). Try to avoid depictions of service members in which subjects are blatantly wearing their uniforms incorrectly. Similarly, avoid subjects with obviously inauthentic grooming (non-regulation haircuts, or long, full, lustrous Grizzly Adams beards).
With stock photos, as with most things in life, moderation seems to be key. Determine whether your brand is best served by primarily organic, custom images, stock images, or some combination of the above. Above all, keep your focus on high-quality images that authentically fit your product and your business.