As an entrepreneur, it’s likely that you maintain a company blog. And if you don’t, you should! Blogs are great for increasing traffic to your site, as long as what you write is interesting and not just blatant advertisements posted over and over and over again.
However, blogs in general present unique challenges to consistently generate unique and engaging content. It should look good and have visual appeal. Sadly, most blogs are constrained by the design of the site or the software used to produce content.
But you can boost your blog from blasé to brilliant with the right stock photography. Admittedly, most stock photography is the exact opposite of brilliant. Most business blogs are riddled with handshakes, happy suited people crossing finish lines and giant thumbs up hand motions.
While looking for some stock photos for one of my own blogs, I came across one of a stuffed monkey holding an egg with a happy face drawn on it in crayon. I ask you, who needs a picture of a monkey holding a happy egg? I sure as heck didn’t, but apparently someone out there thought they should break out the old Canon and take a couple of snaps of a child’s toy holding their breakfast. I admit, though, that it was a little cute.
So, to help you build a visually appealing company blog, here are a few tips to help you get started.
Know Your Audience
A few months ago, a vegan magazine found itself in hot water for using images of non-vegan food for their articles. To make matters worse, they actively photo-shopped bones out of some of the images, effectively ruining any chance they had at denying they knew these pictures of delicious steaks and hamburgers were not vegan.
So, the moral of the story is, when searching for the perfect photo, remember what type of audience you are trying to reach.
Spend Some Money
There are quite a few free stock photo sites, and some even have decent images. But you don’t want to write an article around the image, you want an image that simply fits the article. Otherwise, it is like cutting up a puzzle piece just so you can finally see who is playing in that “Concert in Golden Gate Park”. (For those who do not watch The Simpsons regularly, it was James Taylor).
If you feel comfortable working among free stock images, then don’t spend the money on a subscription. However, subscription based sites have a much better selection — allowing you to find a photo that fits with your article and does not clash with the design of your site.
But if you find a subscription a little too rich for your blood, use sites that offer a credit system which allows you to pay for pictures as you need them. Beware! Often times the photographer sets the number of credits per photo and you may find yourself digging into your savings just to grab that ‘perfect image.’
Avoid Clichés Like the Plague
You see what I did there? Don’t let my genius distract you; be sure to avoid those stupid pictures that so many blogs love to use. The “thumbs up” and “suited men running across the finish line” are just two examples. Trophies, frustrated computer users, women laughing at salad.
Clichés prevail in the world of stock images because they are widely applicable and photographers like to make money. You will have to spend a little more time — and money — but it is worth it in the end if customers don’t have to open your blog and stare at pictures of bad suits, handshakes and deadened eyes.
At any rate, a little effort goes a long with stock photography. I know it may seem like an insignificant part of a larger effort, but stock photos are typically one of the only pieces of visual media on company blogs. They matter more than most people think.
Your customers and readers will thank you for choosing a good-looking, appropriate, professional photo instead of relying on something cheap and easy you found after thirty seconds of scrolling through a free site. As much as I love stuffed animals and breakfast food, some things just don’t belong in company blogs.