Good images on your website make a massive difference. Strong, good quality images help to position your brand as high quality and professional; they are eye-catching and engaging. Poor quality images immediately lessen the impact of your website and can cheapen your brand.

But if you’re a small business with a small budget or you’re just getting started how do you get good images to use?

Here are 5 options to consider, starting from ‘some budget’ and finishing up with a couple of free options.

1. Hire a professional photographer

Getting a good set of professional photographs is one of the best investments you can make in your business and your branding. It isn’t a budget option but it can be excellent value.

Get a good commercial photographer who knows what they are doing and you’ll end up with a fantastic set of images that you can use throughout your business.

As a service-based business, you can get images that show you at work and photographs taken specifically for use across social media, your website and print materials.

If you sell physical products then good product shots are absolutely essential and can really make your offering stand out. You can see some great examples of beautiful product shots by Hannah Soar on the Open Narrative website.

Open Narrative product shots

Once you have decided to work with a professional photographer, take your time to find the right person for you. You can ask friends for recommendations and then have a look at the photographer’s site and the style of their work.

A good photographer will want to talk to you beforehand to find out what you want to get out of the shoot. Make a list of the type of shots you want and where you will be using them. For example, you might want some wide images with you off to one side so you can overlay text on them without obscuring the details of the photograph and different shaped images for different social media platforms or different positions on your website.

2. Hire an illustrator to create bespoke images

If you want something a bit different then getting bespoke illustrations done for your site is another idea. I’m working on a site at the moment and the site owner has had three ink drawings done of herself at work to illustrate her being a copywriter. It’s going to really help her website to stand out.

I was listening to Glenda Strong, an illustrator I know, talk about her work the other day and she pointed out some great benefits to having bespoke illustrations created for your business:

  • Using illustrations, especially bespoke ones, helps you cut through the noise because they are different from what most people are sharing on social media or using on their websites and other marketing materials. Black and white ones in particular stand out because there is so much colour online.
  • Illustrations can add warmth and fun to your brand. This can be particularly useful if you deal with a serious subject or something that is traditionally seen as dull or boring because they can help you to cover serious topics with a lighter touch.
  • You can rest safe in the knowledge that you aren’t going to run into copyright issues if you’ve had them created specifically for you. Also, don’t dismiss them as being too costly without exploring the option. You might be pleasantly surprised at what good value they are.

Here are some examples of Glenda’s work for Menopause It Matters. These are a good example of using illustrations to bring a bit of humour and lightheartedness to a topic that not everybody is comfortable talking about.

3. Buy stock photography

Stock photography gets a bad rap sometimes. I think that’s because when we think stock photography we think cliched corporate images of smiling people shaking hands or staring intently at computer screens. There is actually an amazing range of stock photography available covering an unbelievable range of products.

My favourite site for paid stock photography is iStock. It’s fantastic, especially if you want something quite specific. I was after a photo of a horse eating hay the other day. I put “horse eating hay” into the search and up came 32 pages of results, 1,919 photographs! They aren’t all horses eating hay but there are certainly plenty to choose from.

I’m still not convinced by a lot of the ‘people at work’ shots but for other subject matter, you can often find good stuff. And price-wise it really doesn’t have to break the bank. On iStock they range from £7 to £20 per image, so very affordable if you just want one or two good images for each page of your site.

4. Use free stock photography

Another option is the many free stock photography sites out there. You don’t get the variety of shots that you get on the paid sites but you can still find some very good images, especially if what you are looking for isn’t too specific. I like Unsplash best out of the free sites but there are loads of them – just Google “free stock photography” and you’ll find plenty.

The free graphic design platform Canva includes lots of images you can use for free and even more that you can busy for $1 each (or get included as part of a paid Pro subscription). You can then use Canva to edit the images, adding words or your logo ready for sharing on social media.

5. Take your own photographs

Finally, you can use your own photographs. Unless you are a skilled photographer then I would suggest you only use this option as a stopgap until you invest in professional photographs.

Having said that, with a bit of care and the benefit of the many photo editors available today, you can produce reasonable pictures with most phones. Just no selfies please. If you do need a headshot and can’t afford a professional one right now at least get somebody else to take the picture and avoid that giveaway selfie angle!

So lots of options to choose from. If you possibly can, then I’d encourage you to go for option 1 or 2. When I build websites it’s so lovely to work with professional images or illustrations because they just take a site up a notch and really help your brand to shine.

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