How I Use Stock Photos In My Business – Guest Blog from Designs by Kayla

About a year ago, I was busy scrolling through my Instagram wondering how all of these accounts and business owners created perfectly curated photos for their brand. All the while, my Instagram account, other social media, blog posts and website could use quite a bit of work in that department.

Styled stock photos allow me to find something on brand, while still providing amazing content. How? It takes the guesswork out of what to post so that I can focus on what I’m telling my followers, readers, subscribers, customers, etc. and engaging with them.

However, I don’t just go and pick random photos that look good. Each photo has to go through certain criteria for me to consider it.

  1. Brand Colors

Don’t pick a random photo because you like it. Look at it to make sure your brand colors are included. For example, you don’t want maroon and gold colors when your brand is mainly turquoise and brown.

  1. Aesthetic

Does it match the look and feel of your brand or social media? Don’t choose a flatlay photo that has cameras in it if you aren’t a photographer or aren’t talking about photography. Don’t use a photo with a whisk and flour if you don’t talk about food, recipes or anything related. A lot of people fall into this because they are always on the hunt for FREE styled stock photos. Just because it is free DOES NOT mean it is right for you.

  1. Content

This one is harder to grasp until you map out what you need. What I mean by content is what you will be using these for. Are you only in need of flatlays? Do you need a bunch of photos that showcase a workspace? Do you need mockups?

I use stock photos in so many ways, it is crazy. It is always nice to know that I can find something that fits my brand and looks great.

  1. Email

Styled stock photos are great for your email header. It’s eye-catching and looks nice with text overlay.

  1. Social Media

This is where I use stock photos the most. I will use it just as the image for the post, with a text or quote overlay, as a mockup and many other ways. The options are endless!

  1. Blogs/Website

This is a gold mine opportunity for styled photos. You can use them for your blog header, throughout a blog post, featured images, and many more places! I have a few in mine that are on my front page. It’s a photo that directs them to another one of my pages and describes the content they will see.

  1. Freebies

Be wary of this, as every styled stock photographer has different restrictions. Some photographers allow you to use the photos within the worksheets or freebies you offer for email opt-ins. Some do not, and most photographers do not allow you to use styled stock photos in paid material too. Please make sure to check on all restrictions. If you want to use styled photos in paid or promotional material, I highly recommend purchasing custom styled stock photos.

  1. Branding

As a brand designer, I am constantly creating designs for my customers that are on-brand. When I showcase them to my clients and to the world, I want the designs to look clean and ready to use. For that, I use what is called a styled photo mockup. These are styled photos that I can place my designs in them to make them look like they are being utilized in their environment. This can be an Instagram graphic, Pinterest graphic, blog header, e-book cover, or whatever collateral is being designed. Here are a few examples:

Now that you know what to look for in styled stock and how you can use them, I’d love to leave you with a few actionable tips to get started with today.

  1. Take a look at the places above that you can utilize photos and make a list of the types of photos you can use.
  2. Write down the guidelines you need to follow for each. For example: photos need to include the colors green and gold; or I need to promote my Instagram feed, so I need a photo that has a phone displayed in it. Getting specific about what you need will only help you save time, stay on-brand and avoid confusion – for both you and your audience.
  3. Research into styled stock photographers and find the one that is right for you and matches your style. Follow them on social media, opt-in on their emails and take a look at what they have to offer as far as photos for free, to buy, custom and maybe even a photo library that you can subscribe to.

Ever since I started using styled stock photos using the guidelines above, I’ve seen an increase in traffic, followers, engagement and time. I’m able to substitute the panic of finding something to post just to post with spending time engaging with people. The change that creates is amazing and so, so rewarding (and valuable!). It’s a small and inexpensive change that can jumpstart your business.


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