Let me write you a picture of a young woman who was once tired and sad. A lady who previously couldn’t find the energy to face the day, but who now sleeps through the night and wakes up filled with joy.

Now let me show you that picture.

happy woman

Words provide context. They answer questions. And, they convince customers to act.

Pictures grab attention. They stimulate the brain. And, they improve reader retention.

Needless to say, pictures are an essential piece of any great content marketing strategy. You need them, plain and simple. But you also need the right picture. You need an image that represents what you’re actually talking about.

The images you use should enhance the point you are trying to make. For instance, images of puppies get more clicks than images of a conductor at the symphony. But, unless the upcoming concert will be conducted by a puppy, there’s little context for a symphony to post a picture of a puppy.

How and where should your business source images that are relevant? If you’re looking for the perfect picture, a professional’s typically the way to go. But using a professional can be expensive and time intensive.

Sometimes the clock and budget just don’t leave room for a professional photo shoot. That’s where online picture sourcing comes into play. The following are three unique places we source images:

Upsplash (free)

sourcing images from Upsplash

This awesome online resource provides free, high-resolution photos you can use as you’d like. There are thousands of images covering a wide variety of topics. They don’t have that stock-photo vibe to them. And, Upsplash offers a really user-friendly search bar.

Will you always find a photo that works? No. We bat about a 30 – 40% success rate for finding photos that match our topic.

iStock (paid)

sourcing images from iStock

There are multiple online resources for purchasing images. We’ve used several. Currently, our favorite is iStock.

The prices are reasonable and the selection is huge. Plus, you can create your own image boards. This allows you to easily compare a variety of images and identify the one (or ones) that are best for your project.

Another perk of iStock’s boards feature is the ability to share your boards. Sometimes when we use stock photos for a client project, we’ll create a board and then share it so they can pick their favorites.

Embedding (Instagram/Twitter/Facebook)

Sometimes you can’t buy the right photo. Sometimes it’s already been shared on social media. Enter the embedding technique.

Embedded posts are public social media posts displayed on an external website. In the screenshot below you can see an example of an embedded Instagram image. We helped Tru Health embed an image from Glen Allen Star’s Instagram feed to showcase the food described in its blog post.

embedding an image

This tactic can provide a slew of benefits, including:

  • Social Proof
  • Context
  • Extended Social Reach

However, there are a few things you have to know when you embed an image. First, the content you’re sharing is not hosted on your site. Second, if the content you’re embedding is deleted, the space will render an error.

BONUS: Use Your Phone to Score Great Images

Early on, smartphone cameras provided some pretty suspect images. Today, smartphone cameras can take awesome pictures – especially if you have a little picture taking know how. That’s why we outlined our top nine tips for taking better smartphone pics.

I want to take better pictures!