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Before You Stock Up on Stock Images: 7 Tips for Bloggers

Images bring our blog content to life, serving as a visual aid or complement to help communicate our ideas to our readers. There is myriad research and advice out there regarding the SEO benefits that images can bring, but proceed with caution. Sites like iStock, Shutterstock, 123RF, and others offer a gold mine of images, illustrations, photographs and video that you can easily purchase and embed in a blog or other piece of content. But with excessive options come a need to be vigilant and careful about the specific images you select.

Here are some quick tips to keep in mind the next time you go on a stock image purchasing binge:

  1. Think "experience" over "show." Instead of using an image of the product you sell, select an image that shows your product or service being experienced in a positive way.

  2. Embrace uniformity to avoid distraction. If you are using multiple images in a blog post, your post will look more polished if, for example, you stick to photos exclusively over a mix of cartoon illustrations, icons and photos. Don't let the images distract your readers from your message.

  3. Size matters. Endeavor to maintain some consistency in the size of the images for a cleaner look (and quicker download times).

  4. Buy in bulk. Many stock image websites offer discounts on credit bundles. Register for their emails and buy in bulk when the deals are available, and check sites like RetailMeNot for coupon codes.

  5. Make your own! Nothing communicates the authenticity of the experience your customers will have working with you than images of your team at work -- and play. Take your own photographs, play around on InDesign, and create your own proprietary artwork.

  6. Recycle. Strengthen your brand and save money by using a carefully selected library of images consistently across all of your marketing communications.

  7. Think before you click "purchase" on new stock images. You put effort and intellectual capital into creating content; make sure the images reflect the quality of your work.

There are also several options out there for free stock images (including these gems from Vince Vaughn), but be sure to read and abide by any usage agreements that come with the privilege to use "free" art in order to avoid any intellectual property mishaps.

Happy writing!

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