If you’re looking for quality images, to use for your own and client use, stock images are a great resource. Not only do they save you time and effort, but they’re also a cost-effective way to further build on your brand and raise your visibility.

But where do you find suitable stock images to use and how can you use them?

The one thing you MUST NOT do, is get images from an online search result or social media. Just because images come up in the results, doesn’t mean they’re available for you to use! A quick images screen grab is NOT the way to legally or ethically build your business.

Free and paid stock image sites

There are many stock image sites, varying from free sites to paid memberships. Several of the free stock image sites will simply send over a monthly email, with a new batch of free images for you to use. Others let you search directly on their site and use as many as you like.

For many of the paid sites, you can buy subscriptions of different sizes, to match your needs. Alternatively, you could go for a pay-as-you go type membership – although this is usually the most expensive way of getting stock images. Many will have a searchable option, where you can narrow down your search by keyword, orientation and even overall image colour.

To find a broad selection of stock image sites, simply search for ‘free stock image sites’ and ‘paid stock images.’ Alternatively, ask colleagues for recommendations.

Stick to the rules for each stock image site

It’s important that you check the rules and requirements for each site you use. Some may allow free use without any kind of recompense. Others though, may require a photo credit to be added beneath the image or at the bottom of your page – especially if you’re using the images for client work or websites etc.

Another couple of things to watch out for are the type of permitted use and the number of times you can use an image. Some sites don’t allow commercial use of their images, without upgrading to a commercial use license. Some may let you use it commercially, but only for a set number of downloads – so watch this, if you’re using stock images as covers for eBooks or lead magnets!

Both free and paid stock image sites can also put restrictions on the amount of times you use an image. For some, you can download and use as often as you like – even after you’ve cancelled your subscription. Others though, require you to download the image again, if you want to use it more than once.  If in doubt, always check the usage rights granted and the requirements of use, or email their customer support team, to clarify your unique requirements.

Want to stand out from the crowd?

Not everyone wants to buy and use stock images that other businesses are using. This then leads you to the final two options – go with a niche-specific stock image site or opt for custom made stock images.

Niche-specific stock image sites are usually more expensive but, if you’re looking for quality and on-target graphics, they’re a great option. Custom made stock images, where you get someone to take images specifically and only for your use, is the most expensive way of getting images for your use and I’d recommend using this only for your professional headshot and for when you’re in a financial position to justify the cost.

No matter what type of stock image you use, you can easily and quickly customise it to match your brand and help you stand out from the crowd, simply by using Canva or some other editing software. Simply adding a colour filter, text or a banner can turn a stock image into something unique to you – and will ensure you’re utilising these great business resources in the most effective way for you and your business.

Read our blog: “How to use stock photos effectively in your marketing” – https://www.vact.co.uk/how-to-use-stock-photos-effectively-in-your-marketing/

What are your thoughts around stock images? Do you use them in your business, or do you avoid them, as you’re worried about the usage rights? Why not share your thoughts, options and even stock image library resources in the comments box below!