Whether you choose to take your own, or pay for a stock image, the benefits of having a unique photo are high. Whatever you use them for, be it blog posts, web design or to promote your business, it is well worth doing.
For a start you have the impact on search results. The search engines like unique content. And although you may think “oh they can’t read photos, they go on filenames, surrounding text and alt codes”. That is true. But look beyond that.
For a start you can use the tineye.com reverse image search engine. What it does is brilliant. You type the URL of an image and it works it’s magic to then show you places where other files that are either identical or incredibly similar is used online. How good is that! This shows the technology definitely exists, and as time goes on it will be more widely used.
As mentioned above a good benefit is a positive reaction from search engines.
Another benefit is authority. It looks more authoritative when you use unique photographs. I sometimes write reviews of gadgets and the PR agencies who send me the gadgets love it when I use my own taken pictures rather then the standard press ones they send out to everyone that also get used on ecommerce websites, comparison websites as well as other reviews. Forget that, I want to stand out and be seen as an authority amongst my peers!
A big benefit is it opens up a promotion opportunity. Nowadays there are plenty of photo sharing websites and apps, the biggest and most worthwhile to upload to are sites like Flickr and Pinterest and apps like Instagram. There are also lots of Twitter related ones you can upload to like Twitpic.
There are a few beautiful reasons for using them. For a start they have tools that make it easy. Secondly it gives you another business profile to promote, and possibly most importantly; you can upload them using your websites profile, or your own personal profile if you are a photographer, and often also get a link back to your own website (although not in the case of Instagram). Don’t forget about Stumbleupon either where visual things tend to perform well getting lots of thumbs ups. We have used Stumbleupon for this website and get a few thumbs up and you can get some very highly-targeted traffic.
Don’t discount the benefit of pleasure either. You should always enjoy what you do. And personally I find using my own photos gives me the most pleasure, followed secondly by a stock image which preferably has never been used yet, or only once or twice. Thirdly I get the least pleasure from using widely spread files that are probably on a hundred other websites if not more.
How To Take Them
This obviously depends on your goals and market. If you are a blogger in the gadget niche like me, then you will need to get holds of the gadgets, if you are writing news pieces on latest gadgets this could be tricky! In a situation like this it can be hard.
But if you are, for example, a gardener, get out in the garden and take a photo of the flower you are writing about, don’t use someone else’s picture, take your own!
There are so many different types of websites and niches that it is impossible for me to cover everything here. So for your personal situation I recommend you have a brainstorm and think about cool ways you can take photos yourself, or find stock photos that haven’t been used yet. Using a reverse search engine makes that possible.
One simple way is to quickly make stuff. I have a whiteboard in my office, and quickly created the image at the top of this post. You can tell I created it quickly because it is pretty rubbish. But that literally took me 3 minutes to write, snap and upload to this blog post. It would have taken me a lot longer to go through external websites hunting for an ideal picture. So I have not only got something unique, but saved myself time.
And as proof that it is unique you can run it through Tineye and it comes up with no results out of 4.413 billion images. Happy days!
Not got a whiteboard? That’s fine you can use all sorts, draw on paper, use objects on carpet or use Alphabetti Spaghetti. Get really creative with it, heck draw things in the muddy ground outside your house if you want to. Really get your thinking cap on and get some sparks flying. Once you come up with ideas, you can also replicate them in the future.
Once again I will repeat, I know that isn’t a great picture, but I wanted to prove a point. A lot of people probably couldn’t have thought of how to do a unique photo for this post (if they were in my seat) but there was a way. And in terms of doing it properly I could have gave it really nice writing style, using different coloured pens and in a larger size so it wasn’t quite as grainy when I captured it.
If you are keen to take advantage of the benefits of authenticity then here is a task for you to do this evening. Start by listing the equipment you can use to take photos. Whether it is an iPad, Smartphone, DSLR or even a webcam! Then write what you need the images for. And then have a brainstorming session to blitz out ideas. Ones like what I mentioned above such as using a whiteboard or paper or even mud are great. Good luck with it!