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When you create a social media graphic, choose a blog post feature image, or grab a photo for your Facebook biz page cover, you should never just pick the first stock image that comes up. Strategically using stock photos can help get your brand message across to readers/ideal clients and solidify your colors and themes in a very subtle, but effective way.
Examples of how I use stock photos in my branding:
If you look through the images I use for my blog, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, you will notice that my blog colors are either in text, design elements, or the backgrounds I use.
Here is my brand palette:
And the following are images from across my social media platforms using stock photos:
All of these include background textures/images that came from stock photo sites. Not all of them are free stock photos, sometimes it pays to get exactly what you’re looking for….but we’ll get to that further on in this post. 😉
The moral of this story is that I NEVER just choose any ol’ stock photo to use. Every image I pick is chosen with care and I do what I can to find something that will relate back to my branding in some way.
4 Tips for finding just the ‘right’ stock images:
- Make a list of words you can use to search to find on-brand images.
You can combine keywords such as a color from your brand palette and a theme. I might search “blue design” or “turquoise desk” to find something that fits in with one of my posts. Or for clients who were consultants with a book company, I’ve searched “purple book”, “red stack of books”, etc.
Examples of stock photos I found in Canva for one client. Her brand colors were teal and purple and she was a book consultant:
- Search for your brand colors and the word ‘background’ to find new images and textures to throw in the background of your graphics. Instead of simply using a colored square or rectangle from your design program, use textured stock image backgrounds to create visual excitement and grab your reader’s/ideal client’s attention.
Here is an example:
That image above is 100% fine. It’s well designed, it uses the person’s brand colors, it shows what they do (home decor). Totally works, right?! Now, look at this one:
Same exact image, but all I did was use stock images with texture in them! Doesn’t that make a world of difference on visual impact?!
- If you have common themes you use for your branding such as coffee, wine, books, candles, whatever it is….Create a folder on your computer or in the design program you use. Take 1-2 hours a month (block it off on your calendar to make sure you do it) and spend that time searching through your favorite stock photo sites: both free and paid. Collect images that represent your brand visually and thematically and save them in one spot.
This will make creating your graphics more productive and efficient. You’ll know right where to look first to find an image you need before wasting time searching and searching through all the stock photos you use in your design program.
- Plan out your content ahead of time. Then make a list of the graphics you will need to include. Search for these all at one time and add them to that folder you just created up there in #3 ^^^). Batching tasks is a great way to increase productivity!
Where you can find stock images besides free stock photo sites:
- Shutterstock or Dreamstime
Both of these have free and paid options. The Paid options make them much more robust sites with huge offerings. But, to be honest, a lot of what you can find here, you most likely can find something similar using stock images from Canva.
This is my FAVORITE site for flat lay, feminine business type stock images! Alicia is awesome and she has great variety when it comes to color choice! You can search by color to see all the photos in one hue! If you become a member, you also have access to a TON of Canva templates for opt-ins, cover photos, e-books, and more. Just about anything you can think of that you might need to create for your business. She also has stock Instagram images! She’s a one-stop-graphics-shop! LOL!
- Creative Market
This is one of my favorite places to look for new fonts, design templates if I’m not creating them myself, as well as backgrounds, textures and stock photos. You can filter your search by the amount you want to spend, what type of file you’re using, or a multitude of different categories.
This overview gives you a great place to start. Bring your brand together across your social media graphics! Combine your brand color palette, font choices, logos, and stock images to create a cohesive visual look!
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