In a world where we can easily tap into free stock image libraries like unsplash.com and pixelbay, and many people are creating their website and social media images through tools like Canva which also have free stock image libraries, it is worth taking a minute to think about the pictures you are choosing.
Make them work hard for you
Every image you choose, paid or unpaid, needs to earn it’s place in your content, whether it is social media posts, website pages or blogs.
Below is our list of things to be aware of when you are choosing your images:
- Be original
Whenever possible, aim to choose images that are NOT being used by your competitors. The last thing you want to be is a copycat. That might mean putting some budget aside to have original images taken that you can build up as a resource library for work going forward.
- Focus on what you are communicating
Be conscious of what you want to get across with your piece of content and make sure the image you choose not only accurately aligns with and illustrates your content, but if possible, also communicates even more to your audiences.
- Don’t just be literal
If you are running a post about working from home for example, you don’t need to have an image of someone looking dishevelled sitting on their couch. It is easy enough to find far better images that won’t cause your readers to cringe when they see it.
- Think local/national
Unfortunately down here in New Zealand, we don’t have as large a resource of stock images as businesses based in the US or Europe, so make doubly sure to try and make your images look authentically NZ – or representative of your team and target audiences. The majority of stock imagery tends to be white, or when you look for any kind of diversity it is often very specific to the US, which is usually not reflective of New Zealand audiences.
- Be prepared to invest
If you set up a paid account with iStock, Shutterstock or 123rf, you will have more options to choose from that fit with your brief. And there are some paid options in New Zealand as well – Photo New Zealand and My Chillybin as a starting point. Normally it is more cost effective to set up an account and buy credits, plus make sure you have a hunt online for discount codes – iStock normally have some available.
- Take your own
If you are keen to follow our advice and ensure your images are unique and local, invest some time in taking your own photos in the locations where you live or travel – simply using your phone to take pics is fine. Getting images at different seasons is great, and at iconic locations if you want a local focus. And take pics of your team (with their permission) as well, to build a collection of very specific images. When it is time to build a new website, invest in a professional photographer and make the most of their time to also take some other relevant images around your business. Keep in mind that you won’t just be using those images for your website, but also for social posts and possibly for display advertising.
- Keep the application in mind
If you are choosing images for a website or Facebook banner for example, make sure you choose a horizontal image that has space to the left or right so text can sit on top.
- Set a style
If your brand is important to your business, invest in some design/branding advice to set up a style you can use for your social posts and image selection. That might include creating a preset filter so your images have a consistent look and feel.