Instagram is the perfect platform for growing your business and online presence if you know what you’re doing.
There’s no secret to the fundamentals that work best. Lots of eye-catching, quality content that’s visually pleasing.
Only then can you work on optimizing keywords, testing hashtags, call-to-actions, etc. But without the constant flow of quality content, the other elements aren’t going to make a difference.
If you’re struggling to take great pictures, don’t have the time to work on producing awesome images, you just don’t enjoy that aspect of your online marketing strategy – have you considered using stock photos?
Stock photos are photos that have been taken by someone else, usually by a professional or at least someone who can take a great picture, and are available for purchase and use online.
For example, sites like Shutterstock and Big Stock Photo have hundreds of thousands of stock photos, images, and videos for sale.
When you buy an image from sites like those, you can typically use it however you want on your blog.
Sometimes there are some small stipulations, however, such as linking back to the source, or not making certain changes, but this should be clear when downloading the image.
I’ve read some pretty scary stories about individuals and businesses finding a law-suit in their email box after using an image on their blog that they either assumed were royalty-free, or didn’t know they had to check.
If you use an image someone else has taken without either seeking written permission or knowing the image has been classified as royalty-free, you’re effectively ‘stealing’ their content and can be sued.
There are some sites that have a mix of royalty-free and private images, such as Flickr, where you to check the permission for each image before using it. And other sites like Pixabay, where all the images are royalty-free and available for anyone to use.
The rule of thumb is to always check before using an image. Make sure it’s royalty-free and available for use. You may even have to link back to the source or credit the photographer, so read the small print if you want to avoid an email from the owner’s lawyer.
So, now you know where and how to buy stock images, here are some of the reasons why you should consider including stock images into your overall Instagram content strategy:
1. It’s Fast – and Time Is Money
I don’t know what your current process is for taking photos and uploading them to Instagram, but I doubt it’s as fast as downloading some stock images, making the necessary edits, and uploading those.
Maybe you have a smooth process down, but you still need to go out and take the photos. With stock images, you can just browse a huge library of thousands of images and pick the exact ones you want.
I’m always trying to find ways to automate and speed up processes in my business, and using stock photos made a huge difference to the amount of time I was spending working on Instagram content.
And if you’re saving time, you’re saving money.
2. You Can Find the Exact Type of Content Your Audience Wants
Even if you’re generating content based on your own industry, it can still be challenging at times to find that perfect picture. Or, as I pointed out in the last point, it might be taking up too much of your time.
You’re pretty much guaranteed to find the exact picture you want from a stock photo library. If you’ve never browsed a stock library, I recommend taking a look, you’ll find everything and anything you can think of.
3. Quality Over Quantity
Instagram is a visual platform. With a few exceptions, the higher quality your content, the more likely it is to be liked, shared, and engaged with.
We can’t all take images the same quality of that being posted by Starbucks, Ford, or the other large brands.
Maybe you’re not skilled in photography, not interested in learning how to take better pictures, or you don’t have the right equipment. Whatever the reason, it’s better to buy quality images than post something lacklustre.
No, not at all. For the most part, most people cannot tell when they are looking at a stock image, or one that you or a member of your team has taken themselves.
After all, someone took the picture. I would only use stock images to help with your overall content strategy however, viewers do prefer to see personal images in general.
Stock images are great for use as backgrounds, promotions, backdrops when you’re using a lot of text, and things like that.
If you post only stock images there is a risk your account will look too ‘polished’ and viewers will find it hard to relate to you and your business.
Another tip is to look at how many times an image has been bought before you download it too if this information is available. Stay away from the most popular images, while they might be the best-looking photos, it not ideal if the same image is popping up on other business’s pages.