Free stock photo sites. Everyone loves them, right? Well, today I’m going to explain why I stopped using free stock photo sites for my Pinterest pin designs.
If you’re using Pinterest to drive traffic to your blog, chances are you’ve used free stock photo sites to find images for your Pinterest pins and blog graphics. However, using those free photos may actually be hurting your Pinterest pin’s reach!
Grab a seat and let’s dive in!
This post contains affiliate links. This means if you make a purchase through one of these links, I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. All opinions are my own. Read my full disclosure here.
When I first started my blog, I was thrilled to learn about all the websites offering free stock photos. It was so easy to find, download and upload those photos to Canva when making my Pinterest pins!
There are countless blogs out there promoting free stock photo sites for bloggers. Pixabay, Pexels, Unsplash, to name a few. And as a beginner, I totally fell for this.
I used them all, thinking I was choosing great photos for my pin designs. I thought that was what everyone else was doing too.
But as time went on, I began to notice the same images I had chosen were being used on a LOT of other pins. Suddenly my pin designs were feeling stale and amateurish.
And it wasn’t just on Pinterest. I was seeing the same images on other platforms, including Facebook and Instagram.
Here’s an example:
I thought I’d found the perfect image for this post:
Apparently, so did a lot of other people:
I have seen this photo more times than I can count. Every time I see it, I regret using it. It pops up on my Smartfeed DAILY. And it’s not just this one. The same can be true of a good number of photos I used in my earliest blogging days. I cringe at some of my early pins because of the overused photos I chose.
Why is this happening?
If you do a Pinterest search for “Free Stock Photos” you’ll be met with endless blog posts suggesting free stock photography resources. But they all suggest the same ones. And there are only so many photos to go around. The result is bloggers using the same photos to make their pins, create blog posts or promote their content on Facebook.
Why is this a problem?
All these pins floating around with the same photo create an issue for pinners.
Pinterest is all about NEW. Pinterest actually recognizes that it’s seeing those same images over and over again. The platform is sharing those pins LESS because they want to offer new and unique content for their users.
When your pins show up less, that equals less traffic to your blog.
Pinterest also needs to have a very clear idea of what your pin is about. If other bloggers are using the same image you did for their pin on a totally different subject, Pinterest will actually get confused as to what those pins are about.
If Pinterest doesn’t know precisely what your pin is about, it’s going to show up less frequently (or less accurately) in searches. Remember, Pinterest is a visual search engine.
This is the main reason why I stopped using free stock photo sites for my Pinterest pin designs.
It Gets Worse
By using these photos you could be infringing on copyright laws. There are countless instances popping up all over the web where people are stealing photos and uploading them to the free sites.
Meaning, the photos you are using may not have even been uploaded by the photographer who actually took the photo. So it’s possible there could be copyright issues down the road.
So, what’s a blogger to do?
- Take your own photos. Seriously. Pinterest prefers original photos, even if they aren’t amazing. I’m not quite sure how Pinterest can recognize original photos, but they can.
Carly Campbell goes more in-depth on this topic in her amazing/game-changing course, Pinteresting Strategies. I can’t recommend it enough if you want to take your Pinterest marketing to the next level.
- Or use paid stock photo sites. They really are one of those wise blogging purchases you won’t regret. You’ll get far better reach and engagement with beautiful, professional, not overly used images. And the price per photo isn’t drastic.
P.S. Here’s a little known fact about me, I’m also a photographer. Camera equipment and software are not cheap. Photographers should not be expected to give their work away for free.
Pay for the proper photos. Because more often than not, you get what you pay for.
Who to Use for Paid Stock Photos
Their photos are all gorgeous, professional and very high quality. You’ll get free photos just for joining their mailing list. The membership packages are very reasonably priced and offer thousands (yes, thousands) of beautiful, legal to use stock photos. They offer pin templates and social sharing images as well.
Final Thoughts on Free Stock Photo Sites
The free sites are so tempting to use. I get it. Obviously, I did it too. There is an endless supply of “free” photos out there that can be downloaded with the click of a button.
But I’m here to tell you, DON’T DO IT! You WILL regret it. And Pinterest DOES notice.
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