How to Use Stock Photos for Marketing?

October 3, 2022

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- Save time:
  We've curated the best   images for you.

- Save money:

  Unlimited use from $23   per month.

If you are a graphic designer or a VA who takes care of the visual content for social media, websites, email design, newsletters, or marketing campaigns, you might have used plenty of stock photos already. Or, at least you must be familiar with the stock photos.

Stock images are often used by marketers because of their ease of access & availability. It’s a great way to implement your marketing plan, instead of hiring a photographer or buying the right gear for getting the right images that speak to their audience.

What are Stock Photos?

Stock photos are images that are available by various stock agencies under license for commercial, marketing, or personal use. They are made available by the artists who take them and submit them to the stock agencies for a certain percentage of commission.

Once an individual buys images from stock agencies. He has to pay a certain fee to buy the license of stock photos and then use them legally for whatever purpose they want. The fee is then split between the agency owner and the photographer.

Stock images are often used for various business or educational purposes. Businesses can buy the license of a stock photo instead of hiring a photographer for a project, thereby saving money and using it in places like product listings.

Man standing on top of cliff and looking over the vast forest

How to Use Stock Photos for Marketing?

Visual content speaks more loudly than most of the written text, and that’s why stock photos are so popular. Images not only make your marketing content stand out but they can also influence the buying decisions of your customers.

First thing first, pay attention to your audience. Your target audience is who you wish to impress with your marketing, which is why the images you use should be relevant to them. If your target audience consists of millennials that work from home, you can make use of stock images that show an at-home workstation or an office within a house.

In this article today, we will walk you through how to use stock photos for your marketing plan and where you can find them.

Let’s dig into that. 

1. Choose Good Stock Photos

If you add a stock image of bored, exhausted people at work in an office setting on your blog, it will not only give a poor impression to your viewers but could also drive away potential customers. Instead, an image of happy people with wide broad smiles on their faces would attract the onlooker. So, if you want to make the most of stock photos, it is important to choose the right ones.

When it comes to stock images, the most common mistake marketers make is choosing the easily available options. Study, research, and visit multiple stock photo websites in order to find the images that you can use in your marketing content.

It is also important to make sure that the stock photos you have chosen depict genuine human emotions. Depicting real human emotions derives real connections. There is a huge variety of stock photos that depict real emotions and are perfect for marketers, but finding them is going to require some effort on your end. Take time & effort to bring some great results for your overall content marketing strategies.

Girl smiling covered in paint

2. Make Sure the Images are Relevant

Relevancy is always great, and it wins. Just because stock photos are ready to use doesn’t mean all of them will be valuable to you. You can use the stock images as standalone graphics or use them as a background for your graphics.

The majority of stock images available on the internet might not be relevant to your marketing goals or your target audience. Here’s what you need to do to find the images that are relevant. Ask yourself the following questions to have the right sense of the images you choose.

  • How you are going to use it?
  • Where will this image appear? On an email’s header, a social media post, in your editorial calendar, or in your blog post?
  • Background of a social media graphic?
  • So the main image of your marketing campaign?

Once you are clear about the end goal, you will be able to choose the right image with the right orientation and the right theme.  When you are making your marketing plan, you can also strategize the search and selection process of stock images. This way, you can ensure that the stock images you have chosen are relevant to what your company is offering to people.

3. Simple is Beautiful

When you come across millions of stock images to choose from, you might feel tempted to go for colorful photos. However, the busier a picture looks, the less likely it will be to attract your target audience. People prefer advertisements that are simple and easy on the eyes.

However, it is important to know the difference between simple and boring. Pay attention to the contrast of the images. For example, if you want to add some quotes or some tips you should choose a stock image with low contrast with a consistent & uniform backdrop. This is important because once you add the text, it will have a high contrast on the background and will be appealing and clearly visible. Avoid stock images that are completely devoid of color and look boring.

It may sound complicated to you now, but once you go through a few hundred stock images, you will learn to spot the difference between simple and boring. And once you find the right type of images, you can share them with your audience after customization to see what kind of response they get.

Man lying on a roof top covered in grass

4. Customization is Always a Good Idea

Don’t be afraid of making a few changes to the stock images you have bought. You can add a call to action to the photos to make them more useful for your business. It’s a great idea to add a tagline or your company’s motto to the images to increase brand awareness.

If you have a design team that can handle the customization for you, that’s good, but if you are the designer give yourself creative freedom for appealing customization. Once that’s done, you can share the image with your audience through your website or your social media profiles.

When designing your marketing strategy, you can also decide what kind of edits you will need for your social media profiles. If you have everything written down in your marketing plan, you won’t have to spend a lot of time finalizing each stock image.

5. Spend Money, If Needed

A lot of stock images are available in the public domain category, in other words, you can use them for free. But when you need images for advertisements, you cannot compromise on quality. So, if you can’t find a suitable stock image for free, don’t hesitate to spend money on a licensed photo.

You will be saving money by buying a stock image for advertisement as you won’t have to hire a photographer and pay for necessary equipment. You also do not have to worry about hiring actors if you decide to use stock images.

Don’t forget to set aside the budget for stock images when dividing your marketing costs. It will help you figure out how much you can spend on stock images and therefore, you will be able to spend wisely.

6. Learn How To Find the Photos

Many stock agencies have robust options, and often it becomes hard to find the right image for your brand or business. You might need a great art of research to find the images. If you dont know the right process, the images that you will find will be off-topic or sometimes lean.

Here’s an example. If you are writing a blog post about project management, and try to find the images by inserting the keywords ‘project+managmentt’ will end up having a bunch of random images.

Instead, try to find the relevance of the topic that you want to promote or write about. So in the case above mentioned, if you try finding teams, or managers, then you will have an image management team in any organization.

Here are a few other tips.

  • Try to find pictures of laptops, desktops, pens, or papers for any social media posts
  • Search the images of the courtroom, and gavel, if you are writing for legal business

Just make sure you choose the right colors, and the right orientation of the stock images so that they are efficient for the effectiveness of the overall marketing strategy.



The use of stock images in marketing is still in its early stages, which is why it is the perfect time for you to join this trend and get one step ahead of your competitors. If used correctly, stock images can greatly help your marketing campaigns. So, start searching for the right stock images today and see how beneficial they can be for your business.

About the author

Visme is everything you need to create beautiful content. It’s one tool to design, store and share your content. One tool that gives you all the templates, graphics, and assets you need. And the place to get free educational content built to give non-designers the resources to become amazing visual communicators.


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