Content Marketing

The Great Blog Photo Dilemma: Stock or Custom?

How many words is a picture worth? You don’t really need to be told again, do you?

Images are necessary to make your blog posts easier to read and help to make your site look a little fancier. You know this from all the articles you’ve read on Contently telling you so.

Now that we convinced you, do you know where those images are coming from? You have two options: stock images or creating your own.

Mouth Media wrote a great post comparing the pros and cons of each and it boils down to two segments: either you are a business where time equals money or you want your creativity to flow free.

Which camp do you belong to?

You are a thriving business with little extra time

If your business lives by VP and CTO Werner Vogels’ philosophy that a business must focus on their core competency instead of infrastructure; if you are professional company that focuses on business-to-business sales, taxes, or finances; if throughout your busy day of running a business you try to make time to write blog posts since you know that a company blog is a good idea; or if you have a limited budget, time, but still have the desire to create images yourself, then you should use stock images on your blog.


  • Fit tight budgets,
  • available when you need them,
  • great for visually referencing your editorial content


  • Your competitors have access to those images as well,
  • compromised creativity,
  • stock photos are generic

You are a creative brand who needs to show individuality

If you know your way with a camera and have a talent for composition; if your business or personal brand is known for being creative and authentic and creating your own custom images makes it all the more clear; or if you also want to make your blog posts unique from everyone else, then you should let your creativity shine and create your own custom images for your blog.


  • Brand consistency,
  • exclusive use of content,
  • transparency


  • Requires time,
  • requires money,
  • requires talent

Or, you belong to a third, niche segment

If you know that some stock images are cheesy and full of cliches, however,  you have a creative idea that needs to be made into a project before someone else thinks of it; and if you know how to curate content and have an idea for which images will cause a chuckle, then you might be, or be like, Edith Zimmerman, writer for The Hairpin and creator of Women Laughing Alone with Salad.

In a perfect world, you would have a team of professional photographers at your disposal to create all the images you want. However, for many small businessed, using stock images is the only option.

Read Contently’s post on Best Practices For Using Stock Photos When Blogging and follow Creative Commons guidelines. Once you have the time and money, then invest in creating your own custom content.

Pictures help tell your company’s story, and you want all those thousands of words to be your own.

Images courtesy of kevin dooley/flickrKarunaEM/shutterstockshoofly Stock/flickr


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