When you’ve only got 140 characters to express yourself, having anything worth 1,000 words in your arsenal is going to help knock your marketing efforts out of the park. Nowhere is an image worth more than in online marketing.
In landing pages, blogs, or social media, having the right picture can change content from white noise into music to a user’s eyes.
But, knowing how to select and source strong images is more complicated than it seems.
When it comes to image sourcing, there are a few options. Stock images can be sourced through sites like iStockphoto, or Creative Commons. There is also the option of using original images to promote your products and services. In fact, using original images can be the most safe and effective option. Images that are generated or owned by you give your content credibility; many users smell stock photography a mile away, and it can smack of inauthenticity. Original images also leave no doubt about ownership.
You can consider hiring a local photographer, taking the images yourself, or hiring an online marketing agency that bundles this service with their packages. If you opt for the DIY route, make sure that you’re careful to produce well-lit and carefully composed photos. It won’t help if 999 of your 1,000 words are “unprofessional!”
While it might seem tempting to simply carry out a Google Image Search and grab the first picture that works for you, this is an unethical and potentially ruinous practice. Artists who provide photography to stock photo sites, and Stock Photo sites themselves, have highly sophisticated tools to help detect and prevent image theft.
It’s much more reasonable to pay for the appropriate license through the provider site. Images can be found for just a few dollars in many places. Weighty fines (up to $1,000 per instance, from the Getty) will take that momentary joy you felt at sourcing a “free” image, and turn it into misery.
If you simply don’t have the budget to shell out for images, you can still find work for free—but you’ll have to be careful about it.
Searching for images under Creative Commons licenses can yield quality photography, but each may have different requirements. Some are not for use on commercial sites. Some require that the photographer be credited. Others have no restrictions at all. The important thing is to make sure you read the fine print before implementing a CC image. And, when in doubt, ask! Don't forget to keep documentaion.
Finding the perfect image at the perfect price might take a little effort—but the return in quality added to your content is worth it!