Images are a must-have resource for engaging marketing content. Inevitably, as the demand for interesting, relevant content rises, so the number of images needed also increases. Here is my take on some of the options for sourcing images…
Let’s be honest, this is probably the first place many people search when it comes to sourcing images for marketing content. Google Images is easy to access (http://images.google.com) and there are literally millions of apparently free images available through a simple Google search. However, whilst Google can be a good source of images, you do need to be careful when selecting which to use as many of the pictures you find are copyright and using them without authority can be risky – Take a look at this post from last year if you want to know more.
Royalty Free Image Libraries
If you don’t want to take the risks of simply using images downloaded from Google, one option is to use a commercial library offering Royalty Free images. Royalty Free does NOT mean free. It means that you pay a one-off cost (normally via a credit system) which allows you to then use the image as much as you like within the terms of the licence. In some cases the licence will place restrictions on where or how the image can be used though usually, if you are using it on the web in your own content, these should not cause an issue. There are many such libraries out there, but two that we use regularly are Shutterstock and iStock. Both of these libraries offer both subscription (pay a monthly fee for a set number of images per month) or pay as you go (buy credits & use these when you download images) models. Finding images on these libraries is also pretty straightforward with both having great search facilities but it can be a case of using the search then scrolling through the results looking for inspiration! In addition to still photos, these libraries also have some great graphics, illustrations, videos and even audio too.
Free Image Libraries
Whilst there is no doubt that paid libraries contain the largest number of images and offer the widest variety of content. There are also some great free image libraries out there. Like their paid cousins, they offer royalty free images but in this case there is no cost per image. Usually the sites simply ask for with donations via PayPal, or that you help them promote themselves through social sharing. One thing to bear in mind with these sites is that they will often require that the images are credited to the original photographer when they are used. I found this blog post listing a number of free image libraries and thought you might find it useful.
Whilst the most expensive route to images for your content, getting a photographer in can sometimes be worthwhile, especially where you are looking for very specific shots of things like product, or shots of your team or offices. There is no doubt that shots of the real thing deliver more impact than using stock images. Investment in professional photos can pay dividends and create a resource that can be used again and again. When done well, using professional images can really give your site the “WOW” factor. Here is a great example of just such a site – www.aardvarksafaris.co.uk
Take your own
Of course you can always take your own photos. Almost everyone now carries a high quality camera on their SmartPhone. With a bit of practice, your smartphone can produce excellent images, and video, Photos of events, showing your product in action, people in your team can all be great additions to your content. What’s more, by following a few simple rules, you will be amazed at the images you can achieve! Ideally, every piece of content you produce should include at least one image. Having a source for that perfect image is a must.
Editing your images
Most people don’t need the power of Photoshop to edit images. This said, the ability to crop and resize images is immensely valuable. Making images the right size and resolution for your website can really help your site loading speed. With this in mind I thought I would close with a bonus tip. Check out a free piece of software called IrfanView . Whilst it promotes itself as an image viewer, it also handles all the basic image editing stuff you might need. It also has a great batch processing facility for resizing, resampling and renaming images in bulk.