Filed in Small Business Tips
This week, we are continuing along our brand-building journey. Choosing stock photos for your website is yet another piece of the puzzle that is your unique brand. Now, you most likely have already had personal brand photos taken with a brand photographer or maybe you DIY’ed them, which is great! But brand photos aren’t always enough to fill out your entire website. Like your fonts and color palette, your stock photos should be chosen with intention. Your website, marketing, and social media images have the power to help grow your business by attracting your ideal clients; clients who are exactly the type of people you’d prefer to work with, and who would prefer to work with you. Let’s get into it, shall we?
Stock photos are different from your personal brand photos, but they are used for the same purpose: to communicate your personality to your audience and showcase who you are and what you offer. Stock photos are images that can be licensed for creative use; some of them can be used for free, and others need to be purchased. They feature almost every subject under the sun; scenery, people, food, a steaming cup of coffee, you name it, it’s out there. They’re an easy, inexpensive (or free) way to add aesthetically pleasing visuals and variety to your content.
Stock photos can be used anywhere you would use your brand photos, like your website, your social media posts, and other marketing materials. As beautiful as your brand photos may be, websites with only headshots don’t have variety. Depending on what you’re offering, you’ll also want photos of scenery or objects that are associated with your business. For example, I often use stock photos for my blog articles. I choose a photo that is relevant to the article I’m posting but not necessarily literal, and they rarely include people, (or at least not their faces). For my article on adding systems to your small business, I chose an aesthetic work desk scene that includes a laptop, a phone, a beautiful golden spiral planner, and a frothy coffee. It communicates a busy small business vibe without being literal.
As I mentioned above, stock photos create variety. Unless you’ve booked an extended session with a brand photographer, they likely won’t have enough time to create all the types of photos you need. And that’s totally okay! Headshots just aren’t enough to properly fill your entire website.
Stock photos also work together with your brand color palette and your brand fonts to create consistency. Even though stock photos may not match your brand photos or color palette completely, as long as they communicate the same consistent vibe, you’ve chosen them correctly.
Speaking of vibe, we know that images can influence emotion and action, which is why carefully chosen stock photos can be beneficial for your business. The photos you choose should give off the same vibe as your other brand elements, whether that’s calm and steady or fun and bubbly, your audience should have the same emotional reaction across the board. Just like the rest of your brand elements, your stock images will attract or turn-off potential clients. Even though turning off potential clients sounds like a bad business decision, I promise it’s a good thing. Designing your brand around your unique personality attracts clients who align with you and who want to work with you.
As much as you love your brand photos, they still need stock photo support. Think of brand photos as your outfit and stock photos as your accessories. Or, if fashion isn’t your thing, your brand photos are the main ingredients, and your stock photos are the seasonings. Either way, they’re meant to complement each other and create an overall cohesive experience. Stock photos further communicate your personality and what it feels like to work with you.
Your photos, whether they’re your brand photos or stock photos, are an opportunity to connect with your audience. In my email marketing (shoutout to Flodesk) I use a mix of stock photos and brand photos. Recently, someone replied to my email asking me which Harry Potter book was my favorite because she spotted the books in one of the photos I used (FYI, it’s a tie between the Prisoner of Azkaban and the Goblet of Fire). It was so much fun to bond with her over our mutual love for Harry Potter and formed a strong connection. The book wasn’t the main focus of the image, but she still was able to notice it in the background.
I also tend to choose stock photos with plants or greenery. When I worked in the corporate world, I was lovingly known as the plant lady in the office. I must have had over a dozen plants in my office then, and even more in my home. Now, when potential clients hop on a discovery call with me, they see a minimum of 5 plants in my home office. So, it makes sense that I choose stock photos with plants because it represents me well. It also compliments my values of “living gently upon this earth” (my home studio is powered with 100% solar power afterall). I kind of have a thing for nature, and a lot of my favorite clients appreciate that.
These are perfect examples of how you can use your stock photos to showcase your personality and interests in a very elevated yet subtle way.
In my line of work, I commonly come across brands whose brand photos are stretched a little too thin. They try to use their brand photos for everything, which ends up being a little repetitive. In order to add a bit of variety and interest, it’s important to have a healthy library of stock photos. You should have a mix of headshots, action shots, and stock photos at your fingertips.
Eventually, you’ll find your favorite stock photo source, but for now here are a few of my favorites. I LOVE Pexels. If you spend some time searching, you’ll find everything you need on this site (and it’s free!). You won’t have to search hard, but you do need to spend some time in order to avoid the generic, corporate looking photos. They even offer short video clips that can be used for your website and socials. I source all of my website template photos from Pexels.com. Unsplash is another great site for stock photos. They have free and paid options depending on what you’re looking for. You can also pay for a subscription to Haute Stock or Elevate Visuals (formerly Social Squares), which allows you to filter out the cheesy corporate stock photos and skip right to the good stuff.
When you find a site you like, it’s time to search. Choose a relevant industry keyword and have at it. Choosing stock photos can actually be fun! Choose a subject or topic that suits your brand and look for photos that speak to you. Try to avoid choosing stock photos that are too matchy-matchy. They don’t need to be an exact match to your brand color palette, in fact, doing this will date you, the photos you choose just need to complement or match your brand’s overall personality. For example, light and airy brand photos should be matched with light and airy stock photos (see an example from my own brand below). If you mix light and airy with dark and moody, you’re going to create a disconnect, and subconsciously, your potential clients won’t trust you.
Of course, if you find a few photos that match your palette perfectly, go for it! Just don’t overdo it, or your content will look excessively color-coordinated and stale.
Stock photos also don’t need to be cheesy. I know it’s hard not to picture the typical corporate stock photos of a bunch of good-looking people in white sitting around a table and smiling, but not all stock photos are stale and boring. Again, just look for photos that are relevant, and that you’re naturally attracted to.
Like the other elements of your brand, stock photos play a role in your brand’s ability to attract aligned clients, which is why they should be chosen with intention. Stock photos help to create variety and consistency, and influence your audience’s mood while interacting with your brand. Your brand photographer will help you get started on your image library, but a lot of them tend to focus on headshots (unless you book an extensive package with them), so using stock photos to fill in the blanks is encouraged.
Stock photos are pretty easy to gather, BUT if you’d rather just have an expert take care of it for you, I’m always here to support you. If you’re ready to work together, let’s connect. I’d love to help you build a brand that feels like you, that attracts the type of clients you dream of working with so you can step into a new season of business growth.
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proudly designed in my 100% solar-powered design studio | ARTISAN KIND LLC © 2023
proudly designed in my 100% solar powered home studio
ARTISAN KIND LLC © 2023
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As a proud Showit Design Partner, I create strategic visual identities from my 100% solar-powered studio, helping you showcase your expertise, attract more aligned clients, and build a life you love! Based in Eau Claire, WI, serving clients worldwide.