*This post is a guest post from blogger Aminta Demadura.
Have you ever wondered exactly how you should be using styled stock photos on your blog and social media accounts?
In some situations, leaving the image as-is is the perfect use for it. But what about all the other graphics you need to run your business? For example, you’ll need custom social media headers, promotional images, pins, tweets, Instagram photos, blog post images, buttons, banners, website elements, and a bunch more.
That’s a lot of images! Not to mention it’s pretty freakin’ embarrassing when you find a dozen other people using the exact same free stock photos as you. (Hint: It’s not great from a branding perspective!).
But today you’re in luck, because in this post I’m going to show you nine killer ways to customize one styled stock photo and really make it your own.
Before we get started, let me show you the original photo we’ll be working with below:
Change the Tone or Add A Filter to Spice Up Your Stock Photo
Picmonkey makes it super easy to add various filters and tones to your photos. Below you can see that I used a black and white tone, their Yester-year filter, and their HDR filter on our original image. The sky is really the limit here. Picmonkey offers dozens of different filters and effects, so play around a little bit and find out what works for your brand.
Add Interesting Effects to Change the Mood
Filters aside, there are also plenty of different effects you can use to change the mood of your photo. In this image, I used the bokeh filter to add a small and subtle, yet pretty bokeh to glam up the image. This is a really fun way to customize stock photos for things like Instagram (which is super visual) and blog posts, where you’re likely to display a large photo to draw in your readers.
Use A Gradient Overlay in Your Brand Colors
Gradient overlays have definitely become more popular in recent years, especially as bloggers use them to add text and promotional messages to the darker end of the gradient. One reason they are so popular is because they allow you to instantly place one or two of your brand colors over a stock photo!
How cool is that? I hear tons of bloggers lament about how much trouble they have finding styled stock images in their own brand colors. Turns out with a dash of creativity you can make almost any stock photo fit your brand!
And if the gradient looks a little too plain for you, you can always customize it further with your brand’s fonts, logo, extra overlays, and more.
Take A Variety of Cropped Sections For A New Spin On Your Stock Image
Probably one of the easiest ways to customize a stock photo is to make various cropped images from it. The key here is variety. You can take horizontal cropped images like the one shown below, or you can take verticals for Pinterest and squares for Instagram.
Heck you can even take super wide and short crops to use as your header images! Rotate them, flip them, or change the angle and you can easily squeeze a few dozen new blog images out of one styled photo.
Create Unique Pinterest Pins
Let’s be real for a moment. We all know that one of the keys to Pinterest success is to have stunning, bold, easy-to-read pins that make people want to save them. Any old boring pin just isn’t going to cut it these days.
The good news is that with a few edits you can create some kick ass pins that grab people’s attention fast. In the pin below, you can see that I added a two color gradient overlay in blue and orange to a vertical crop of the original photo.
Then, I added a partially faded white overlay rectangle to set the stage for my text. And finally, I added the title of the pin in two of my brand’s fonts with my logo at the bottom.
Isn’t that easy? Seriously, this edit took me under five minutes.
Make Pinterest Worthy Inspirational Graphics
Part of a blogger’s job is to inspire their readers and encourage them to come back for more great information and motivation. And if a picture is worth a thousand words, then you better get your buns working on some inspirational images, stat!
To create this image, I simply added a two toned gradient overlay to a vertical crop of the original photo, and then added a simple script font over the top of that. Voila!
Take Square Crops to Feed the ‘Gram
Do you ever feel like Instagram is eating you out of house and home? I sure do. It takes a ridiculous amount of photos over the long term to grow a serious Instagram following and let’s be honest, not everyone has time to shoot that many photos!
One way to make the most of a styled stock photo you love is to take a variety of square crops from all over the image. You can even take it a step further and flip or rotate them once they are cropped to make even more unique images.
And if you want to create a really unique Instagram feed without spending a ton on photography, consider turning each original stock photo into nine squares that you post on nine consecutive days. You’ll get a visually appealing block effect with every three rows being unique clips of one styled stock photo.
Create Sales Graphics That Get the Click
If you have something for sale on your blog (and you should!), sooner or later you’re going to need some promotional graphics. These are images that you can use on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social media accounts to let your followers know when you launch a new product or have a sale.
In the image below, I took a close up square crop from our original image and flipped it. See how the tulips are pointing from the left rather than the right?
After that I added a nice script font with a thin line below it to promote the sale. Simple and classy.
Make Some Attention Grabbing Twitter Images
If you’ve been on Twitter more than once or twice, you know that tweets with pictures are waaaaay more noticeable than text-only tweets.
The fact is that if you want to stand out on Twitter, you really need to be making images to go along with your blog post links. These not only help solidify your brand, but they also entice your followers to read the post, comment, and hopefully retweet it to their followers as well.
Thankfully, making Twitter images in Picmonkey or Canva is crazy easy. I used a white overlay, two branded fonts, a thin line, and my logo over the original image to create the Twitter image below. And even better, you can save the template to the Picmonkey Hub and come back to it again and again for future Twitter images. It really doesn’t get any easier than that!
By now I’m guessing your brain is swimming with ideas for customizing your own styled stock photos! Making custom edits doesn’t have to be hard, and it’s even easier now with all of the free photo editing software available to bloggers. My biggest tip for bloggers is to edit your photos in a way that incorporates your brand colors, fonts, shapes, etc. Good luck!
Before you go
Don’t forget to grab your free stock photo pack right here! They’re perfect for blog posts, making Pinterest pins, Instagram posts, Twitter images, and more. And of course, you can customize them as much as you’d like using my steps above. Enjoy!
I’m Aminta! I teach millennial entrepreneurs how to grow their online businesses, become financially independent, and give back to the world in a meaningful way. You can check out my blog over at www.amintademadura.com, or follow me on Twitter @AmintaDemadura. See you there!