How to Use Free Stock Photos on Your Website Without Hurting Your Conversions
I'm sure you'll agree that the internet is 99% a visual medium.
Photos have always been an integral part of web design and recently popular social networks such as Instagram and Pinterest raised the bar for all of us.
But what if you're not a photographer and you don't have a designer at your disposal?
You've guessed it, you can use stock photos but I should immediately warn you... Using stock images the wrong way can seriously damage your conversion rates!
How Stock Photos Can Seriously Damage Your Conversion Rates
That is because stock photos have one big problem, they are irritatingly perfect.
In stock photo world, nobody sweats at the gym, everybody shakes hands in front of huge skyscrapers under a bright blue sky and dentists make fortunes on teeth whitening.
These pictures scream NOT CREDIBLE and this feeling is automatically associated with the page and the website we find them on.
The Story of the Everywhere Girl
In 1996 Jennifer participates in a photo shoot for stock photos at Reed college, little did she imagine that for years her pictures would be used on book covers and websites all around the world!
From suicide to mind maps, she's the face on the cover. On her Facebook page she even collects screenshots and photos from websites, journals, books, etc. that have used her photo over the years. Crazy, right?
Now you might be thinking that this is an old story (from before the internet), but let me show you just how topical this is...
This is a (gorgeous) photo that you can download today on one of the free stock photo websites that you'll find in the list I'll share with you in just a moment.
The photo has been downloaded 3166 times and a quick Google image search for this photo (something you can easily do yourself: copy the URL of the photo, go to google images, click on the camera and past the URL) returns no less than 8660 (!) pages with this EXACT image...
Clearly this is not a good way of using (free) stock photos on your website!
Even though this photo doesn't have the yukky stock photo feeling about it, it can still damage your business to use it on your website because it shows no personality and you'll just be one of the other 8659 websites that are using this photo!
Now that we agree on this, let's take a look at how you should use free stock photos on your blog and website.
2 Golden Rules for Using Free Stock Photos on Your Blog the Right Way
Rule 1: Only Use Photos That Are Free to Modify
You've seen that it is a really bad idea to use stock photos as such, without modifying them but you have to make sure that you have the right to modify the images!
Photos under the Creative Commons CC0 licence give you the right to copy, modify, distribute any photo, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission. This is exactly what you're looking for.
Here's a list of my favorite websites that distribute free stock photos under the CC0 licence:
If you're looking for more free design ressources, click here to access our 25 Free Design Resources every content marketer should know about.
Rule 2: Modify the Photo to Create a Unique & Branded Image
All of this can be done with a free online tool called PicMonkey (there are other alternatives out there such as Canva or Pixlr, but I happen to like PicMonkey a lot). In this short step by step video I show you exactly how it's done.
- Start by cropping and reframing the photo.
- Next add a filter or a colored overlay
- Now you can add your text & your logo.
You now have a completely unique image that you can use on your blog and share the hell out of on social media without damaging your brand!
Now it's your turn. Are you using (free) stock photos on your website? Do you think they might hurt your conversion rates? Let me know in the comments below!
And one more thing, if you liked this article, could you do me a favor and click on one of the social share buttons? Thank you :)