Ok, I get it. You're a business owner and everything costs money and moreso nowadays than ever. Inflation is up, profits are down, and clients are more hesitant to make big investments than they were a couple of years ago.
But you know how important your branding and imagery is to build your legitimacy in the online business world. Crappy selfies and microsoft paint looking graphics aren't cutting it against the big dogs. But you're not a design expert...you're good at what YOU do. So how can you get a polished brand on a budget?
The quick, cheap fix is using stock images and Canva templates. And that's not the WORST thing in the world. In fact, at House of Gold Creations I don't advise paying big bucks for your branding (graphics, images, website) for the first couple years because most online business owners change their offers, business structures, and positioning a lot in the first 1-4 years of business. So, no, I don't condone dropping 10k on a fancy website, set-in-stone graphics, and a blowout photoshoot. But also...if you're running a service based business, stock images are (generally) not the way to go...
Because using stock images can be trickier than it seems.
Getting consistency across composition, editing, and overall vibe is actually waaaaaaay harder than you think.
And consistency in your branding is, by far, one of the most important factors in memorability - and if people don't remember you, you're not leaving enough of an impression for them to buy.
You need to be THAT PERSON who is the expert in THAT THING.
This is what gets you tagged in FB groups, shared via word of mouth, and potential clients will click a little "saved" tag in their brain to contact you for your specialty when the time comes. So you need to be ok with showing YOUR face as the primary imagery.
Primarily using stock images doesn't allow us to get to know YOU. And if you're offering a high touch service, or even your own products...why would your ideal clients want to see some random person who has nothing to do with you and your business?
And yes, you can absolutely use SOME stock images to bolster your own bespoke imagery. stock images aren't the devil. The key is how and how often they're being used.
So here are 3 things you can do to minimize stock images & make sure you're leaving a lasting (and authentic) impression on your audience...
1. Create bespoke graphics that can use a mix of carefully chosen stock images AND images of you.
These are graphics I created for a client where she can easily add images of herself or use some carefully selected and edited stock images for variety. The key with using stock images in your branding is to ensure your edits are as similar as possible to each other. Pay close attention to how the stock images and images of you are edited and find the same filter, and make adjustments in your editing app (likely canva) to get the same effect across the images.
This will make for a more seamless effect across the board, and by adding your images into graphics, there's already better continuity built right in.
Virtual photoshoots of two clients who wanted to refresh their content without having to commit to a full in-person photoshoot.
3. Save up for a professional, in person brand photoshoot.
If you're not sure about wtf you want, the right photog will help you extract the vision for your brand and turn it into visuals. And many photogs (me included) offer payment plans and are happy to book you months in advance!