There are other ways to represent ideas and vision than light cheesy bulbs and handshakes.

There are other visual ways to represent ideas and vision.

I recently read 10 Annoying Stock Photos I Never Want to See Again by Megan Leap and I loved it. In the world of blogging, advertising, web design and practically any type of visual content, stock photos often rule. It makes sense because they’re cheap (well, cheaper than a photo shoot), you instantly own the rights to them, and they’re easy to find.

In my days of advertising, I’d look through many, many stock photo options before we decided what to show the client, and I know the creative team went through many more photos before that.

As a blog editor posting up to seven times a day, I’m constantly on iStock or Getty for blog imagery. After all, a blog post with an image gets a 40% better response rate than plain text. (Source: Zabisco). But to Megan’s point above, viewers see through cheesy stock photos and it could even deter them from clicking. Here are some ideas to help.

Avoid Classic Stock Photos

With the large amount of content we produce and the smaller budgets we all have, I don’t believe we can 100% avoid stock photos. However, we can avoid stock photos that look like stock photos. A man walking down the street in a business suit is too common, but a close up of his pink and purple tie is much more interesting. Here’s an example.

Use Instagram

If you’re not an Instagram fiend, your boss probably is. In other words, use Instagram photos from your coworkers, friends and the creators of the content as the image. It’s unique, free, compelling and social. If you don’t have a lot of great options, take a bunch of photos on Instagram that relate to your content. It becomes a helpful photo library to use anytime. Here’s an example.

Use Company Photos

Your company Facebook page, Instagram feed or Flickr account is a great place for imagery. Again, it’s free and you own the rights, so it’s a great way to pull content. Writing a post about the importance of team collaboration? Show a company photo of employees doing something together. Here’s an example.

Create Your Own Visuals

Quotes and stats with simple backdrops can look great as blog image. Create a template in Photoshop so you only have to update the text layer and save it out as a JPG. If you’re not Photoshop savvy, have a designer create it for you so you only have to update the text layer each time. Here’s an example.

Do you avoid stock photos? What other tips and tricks do you use for visual content?