How to Create a Stock Photo Library for a Few Hundred Bucks a Year

Fun DogWith the web in the midst of what I call the “content explosion” it is very difficult to stand out. Images are a great way to do that and they are now more important than ever because social shares include images.

As a consultant I have talked to several businesses that feel buying images when they are needed is just too expensive and I agree it can be. I am also not a fan of some of the free images available because I see the same images all over the web or they are often low quality. To stand out you need unique and/or beautiful photos that will pull people in and I am going to give you some quick steps on how to do that for just a few hundred bucks a year.

1. Pay for a Subscription for One Month

Sites like Shutterstock allow you to pay for just one month and download a certain number of images a day. Shutterstock allows 25 a day, they allow you to download any size image and I personally love the quality of their images. Bigstock allows you to download 20 images a day, but I know nothing about their images. There are others out there and often they have free trials.

If you can download 25 images a day for 30 days you will have 750 images in your library. This amount will cover most companies for content, email newsletters and other advertising for an entire year or more.

2. Have Someone Download and Organize Images Daily

kid on hippo

To really get your money’s worth someone needs to be assigned the task of downloading and organizing the photos everyday. Have your marketing team sit down and brainstorm on the kinds of images you will need. List out topics and categories – social media, technology, business people, trees, food, cute kids, families, words – you get the idea.

Once you have some ideas of what you need tell the person that will be responsible to look for powerful images that get these ideas across.  The obvious isn’t what you are looking for; go creative. You should know that this is a tedious job that takes a good amount of time, so give the person completing the task the time to do it right.

TIP: Remember to rename images before you use them on your blog.

3. Choose Unique, But Not Too Weird Images

You want to stand out in social media feeds and the best way to do that is to choose an image that draws the eye, and of course create a title that makes people want to click. Images that are too weird can push people away from your content, so while you want to be unique you do not want to be freaky.

What do you think of this image? 

freaky eye

Does it make you feel good? Scared? (It freaks me out a bit) Does it make you want to look away? If you need an image of an “eye” which would be more unique and pleasing to your readers, the above eye or the one below?

Beautiful eye

Both of these images could work depending on the topic, but which image would be more appealing to your audiences? You have to focus on your audience and the audiences you are hoping to reach. Freaky is not always the way to go.

4. Use Dropbox For a Categorized Library and Availability

DropboxYour photo library needs to be accessible to everyone on your team. Dropbox will allow you to add all your downloaded images and categorize them. To the right you will see some of the categories in one of my image libraries. Your team can access the images from their desktop, but not fill up their hard drive with hundreds of images.

Dropbox is very affordable and setting up a library like this ensures that a loss of a computer or an employee will not result in a complete loss of images. I do recommend you back up all the images on a flash drive just in case ([ backup everything just in case ;)].

5. View the Library with Tools Like Adobe Bridge For Easy Scanning

Even if you have images categorized it can sometimes be difficult looking through a ton of images to find what you are looking for. Tools like Adobe Bridge allow for quick scanning. If someone can only see names and not image icons, depending on which type of computer they use, it will be a nightmare for people to find images. Tools like this will save time and energy and reduce frustration.


See, You Can Have a Great Image Library!

IdeasIn 30 days you can have a large, nice image library! It will take some time and effort, but you can get it done. Try to think out of the box with images and really find things that others haven’t seen or used before.

Image tips: 

  • Clear images are important
  • Choose the largest size possible so you can use the images in multiple ways (resize for the web)
  • Look for colorful and/or impactful
  • Look for things that are inspiring and beautiful
  • Find images that can represent something else in a brand new way
  • Each image must fit into a category
  • When it comes to words & certain graphics you can always change the hue, so the image could be used twice
  • Different is good

If you have any additional tips we would like to see them below. Also, each image (not the screenshots) above are from Shutterstock.

About Melissa Fach

AuthorityLabs Community Jedi - Melissa Fach is the owner of SEOAware, LLC that specializes in consulting and training businesses. She is also the Community Jedi at AuthorityLabs, the Social Community Manager for Pubcon, a past Editor of Search Engine Journal and a big cat volunteer. You can find her on Twitter @SEOAware.

Filed under: Featured, Tips


ronell smith


We apparently think alike. I thought of No. 1 and No. 2 last last year. I signed up to Bigstock for 10 days to take advantage of such a program. I love your system for downloading and organizing them.


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