Depending on the type of person you are, it is possible, you may find updating your website exciting or just part of the job. One thing that any style of person can agree on is finding images that match your written word can often be extremely difficult. As a matter of fact, finding the right image can often take exponentially longer than writing the content itself.
Lucky for all of us, there are numerous websites that make finding images just a little bit easier. When I am writing a blog post, I am often thinking about what type of images I can use to complete my exhaustive vocabulary (sarcasm), after all a picture is worth a 1000 words. After my text is complete, and I have considered what type of images I am looking for, I visit a few stock image websites that have plenty of royalty free images to choose from.
Below is my review of the Stock Image websites I use most often.
Google Image Search – Rating 2 out of 5
This is a quick hit or miss, there are often not a lot of images to choose from that you can manipulate for your website. For those of you familiar with Google’s Image Search you will know that with every search typically 1000’s of results are returned. However, just because an image displays does not mean you can use it. What you need to find are images that artists have indicated can be used for commercial reproduction and manipulation. In order to do this, you need to change your search filters to exclude images that you cannot use. To make this change you first conduct a Google Image search, and then click on “Advanced Search.” This will bring up a new page where you can define certain search parameters. One of the last options on the page is usage rights, I change this value to “labeled for commercial reuse with modification.” This indicates to Google that you only want images that you can manipulate and reuse on your website. Results of this type typically return less than 100 images. Sometimes you get lucky, most of the time you move onto the next option.
iStockphoto – Rating 4.5 out of 5
This is in my opinion the most cost affective, quality image search location on the web. Their photos are high quality, relevant and there is a large selection to choose from. Most images that you would use on a website or blog cost $1, if you are trying to use them for printing, they will run $5-$20 which are all very reasonable prices considering the other options available to you. iStockphoto also has a feature called “Lightboxes” which allow you to gather a group of images together, and then you can email them to other people for review. So often, when I am trying to narrow down to the final image to use on a website, I will create a Lightbox with a few images in it, and then email it to decision makes of the website. Allowing them to view the images, and voice their opinion on which images is the best.
To create a Lightbox on iStockphoto.com is pretty easy, simply sign-up for an account via the link in the top right corner of the iStockphoto.com website. After your account is set-up, each image you search for will have an option to “Add to Lightbox” if you have not created a lightbox, or want to create a new one you will be prompted to do so.
Big Stock – Rating 3.5 out of 5
While Big Stock is not as popular as iStock or Google images, it still packs a powerful punch. The images are roughly the same price as iStock, and there is a little less variety, but overall it is a nice tertiary option when you cannot find the type of image you are looking for on the other two sites. One thing I notice about Big Stock is when you need a high quality image for printing you can get them a little cheaper at Big Stock. You need to purchase one of their larger credit packages to get the price lower, but when starting a business, $189 which gets you 140 credits goes a long way towards building out a quality website, along with a few print brochures.
By using the resources above you should be able to find the right image for each and everyone of your blog posts or website pages. Do not forget that a picture can tell a thousand words, so what are you missing out on by not including any images or the wrong image?