Photographs are just that: pictures of people or things that relate to your business. Within the category of Photographs, there are two sub-categories: Custom photos and Stock photos. Both can be used very easily, but I will say right now that when dealing with social media and your current customers, you will get a better response from Custom photos than you will from stock photos.
A Custom photo is one you take yourself (or someone on your staff takes). It shows a specific item, people or activity that may or may not directly relate to your business. The fact is, you clicked the button. This is different from a Stock photo, in which someone else has provided you with an image that you, and just about anybody else in the world, can use as described in a licensing agreement. Not every photo you see on a Google Image search is free for you to grab and stick on your blog! However, there are some GREAT sources for free images, and I’ll be listing those in the “Resource” section in the book. Two of the ones I like are Pixabay and FreeImages. Both of these services offer you the use of their images for free, after you create an account on their sites. Honestly, I don’t ever get email from them, even though I’ve had accounts for a very long time. It’s painless, and the rewards are outstanding. FreeImages has about 350,000 pictures you can use, and Pixabay has over 400,000 and is growing fast. You simply input your key word (Like “canoe”) and you’ll get back all the images they have with “canoe” in the key word description.
A word of caution: Both of these sites make their money by teasing you with their free content, but hoping you will click on the NOT free images at the top of the page. If you see the perfect image in that section of their catalog, then you can expect to pay between $20 and $400 to use those pictures. For what you’ll be needing these, you can almost always make do with the free images on the lower part of the page.
When you are using your own Custom photos, you also need to make sure that anyone who is identifiably appearing in those pictures has given you permission to use them. Have a stack of Release forms by your counter for when customers come in and you want to take their picture with their new purchase. You must have this, and we have included a simple media release form in the Resources section of this book as well.
Take and use custom photographs with your phone. Get in the habit of taking them… a lot. Download them onto a flash drive if you have to, but don’t be afraid to take a picture of a nice piece of yardwork you did for a customer, or a beautiful fruit basket you are sending to a retiring client, or your manufacturing line making custom parts for incinerators, or a client with a new hair color she just loves. All of these are about your business and what it does, how it does it, and every one of these images tells a story. Be sure your picture is part of a story that you can “round out” with a few hundred words. Showing a picture of a happy customer tells people the important things they really want to know about your business. Showing happy workers, or a cheerful work environment, helps people to feel good about giving you their money because they feel like it’s going to be used properly. (In contrast, don’t show a picture of your Jacuzzi/swimming pool combo with your new Porsche parked in the distance and then claim you can’t lower your prices to compete with the Box Stores. Remember, social media requires honesty!)
As I stated earlier, Stock photographs are taken by other people of other things than those that directly relate to your business, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use them whenever you need them. In fact, as you are creating your weekly blog posts, it is always good to have a featured image that the social media sites can discover and post as the highlight of your article. Choosing this featured image is an art form in and of itself, because not all featured images are created equal.
For example, let’s say you are a custom printer and you just finished a batch of wedding invitations. If you just take a picture of the invitations you did, then people can see exactly what you created. Unfortunately, unless you are a professional photographer, with a full lighting set up, you may not be able to show your work in the proper way to really give your readers a true idea of the quality of your work. So, instead of creating an image of your print job, perhaps something like this might be better:
This took about 60 seconds to find on Pixabay. But if you match the headline to the image, then you have a good chance at capturing the interest of your target audience. So, for a picture like this, I would suggest the headline:
Be sure your wedding invitations are as unique as your wedding
As teaser text for the post, you can start with something simple like this:
We recently created these unique wedding invitations for a wonderful couple in San Diego. These pictures show you the details of the invitations, right down to the custom embossed envelope design.
Anyone who is planning on getting married is going to want to dig into that article to get ideas for their own wedding, and some of them may even contact you for more advice. That’s the best possible outcome, and the work may only take you a ten to fifteen minutes. Where else are you going to get one or two new clients a week with just fifteen minutes of work? Most businesses could grow on just a few new customers every week, and by using the right images to attract attention, this is what business marketing online can do for you.