How to Use Stock Photos in Content Marketing

Five easy and innovative ways to incorporate stock visuals in your content marketing material to drive engagement and conversion.

Content Marketing

Welcome to the world of dynamic content marketing, where images speak louder than words. The right image is pivotal in delivering marketing results, whether used in a blog article, website copy, or newsletter.

Conversion marketing gurus claim that visuals convert more as humans process graphic information 60,000 times faster than text. A 12–30% increase in conversion rate is no small feat, and this claim undeniably increases the importance of images in content marketing.

They are also vital for driving engagement and connecting with users. How important? Well, studies have found that images used on Twitter were tweeted 150% more, and Facebook posts with images got 2.3 times more engagement.

But most importantly, images are essential when selling products or services in advertising. The picture, at times, will determine whether a sale is made. This drives home the importance of choosing the RIGHT image to drive sales.

However, finding a high-resolution image conveying your intention is easier said than done.

Stock Images: The Invaluable Resource

Recently, stock images have emerged as saviors for content marketers – saving them from choosing between low-quality graphics or high-cost photographers. Stock photos are taken professionally but licensed for commercial purposes. It is like buying ready-made but customizable photographs off the shelf. Whether you are a solopreneur or a big corporation, stock images provide a treasure trove of editable graphic marketing material.

Stock images can be more effective than professionally shot pictures in terms of engagement and content performance. On top of that, stock photos are affordable, so it is no wonder they are being used more often.

This guide will discuss five easy and innovative ways to incorporate stock visuals in your content marketing material to drive engagement and conversion.

1Skip Overused Images

Skip images that everyone is using! This is important but difficult. However, it would be best if you refrained from using pictures that have been used numerous times. You don’t want to use the most popular stock images but the ones that have yet to be used. This way, not only are you choosing to display something that hasn’t been seen before, but you are also creating unique content for your viewers.

A great tip is to choose a few and head to TinEye to see how often the image has been utilized. This way, you can pick one that has been used sparingly. Also, it’s better to avoid using free images, as many content creators use them for their convenience. The best option is to pick royalty-free images from premium sources at affordable prices.

2Use Images that Look Natural

It may seem obvious, but finding natural and genuine-looking stock photos is challenging. The reason is what seems natural varies from person to person. An easy way to ensure your pictures don’t look like generic stock images is to choose photos with real people. We mean real people who don’t look like models or pictures in staged surroundings.

An important point to mention about pictures with real people: you should always ensure that the website you get the images from has a model release for the individuals in their photographs. Signed model releases are essential when a person, pet, private property, landmarks, and logos are used in stock pictures. You can always contact the photographer if this is not indicated.

3Define Your Target Audience

You always want to ascertain who you are writing for when creating content. Why would you not do the same when you are choosing stock images? But the fact remains that choosing pictures sometimes comes as an afterthought. But as we have learned above, people remember graphics more than words.

Define what readers you are targeting and the emotions you want them to feel when they look at the picture. For example, if you are writing an article for single moms, you would like to choose stock images that feature mothers with their children at the forefront of the picture.

4Use Images that Connect to your Content and Location

When choosing stock images, look at specifics like location, surroundings, and overall context of the pictures and videos you choose. If you are creating content for a country in South Asia, then using photos with blond, blue-eyed people might not be wise. Choose stock images that will resonate with your audience, and if you choose models that look like them, the pictures will appear more natural.

Remember, pictures generate emotional responses, and if you disregard the culture and context of your readers, then your content may not do so well. Pictures also convey messages. You want to ensure your images convey the same message as your content. They are subtle inferences and messaging that can be picked up at a glance; make sure it is streamlined with your content.

5Personalize Your Stock Images

This is often overlooked, but you can edit the stock image in minor ways, like overlaying it with text, cropping it, and even changing the colors. This is a great way to make the image unique and freshen up your content.

However, read the guidelines on the stock photo websites to verify if modification is allowed.

Do take the time to do a content audit and review pictures every six months or so to see if you can find something better. The world of stock imagery is expanding exponentially, and the image quality and subject matter are improving daily.

Final Words

Knowing how to use your stock images effectively can increase engagement and viewership. Take the time to look for the right image, even if it is frustrating. Try changing search terms and use a variety of sites so that you have numerous choices. Use human images whenever applicable and ask yourself how you feel when you look at the picture. It’s probably the same way your readers do.


Ivy Attie is a content manager, researcher, and author in various visual media-niche publications. She is passionate about visual imagery, eCommerce, and everything related to digital marketing. Her majors are communication and journalism.