Monday, November 17, 2008

Graphic Sources for Online Marketers

Graphic Sources for Online Marketers
Copyright © 2008 Paul Smithson
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Finding good stock photos and graphics for use in your marketing can be a real chore and expensive if you don't know where to look. There are hundreds of stock photo agencies, and each one has a different selection, pricing model and rules about the use of their photos.

You need to be very careful when reading the license for any photos you intend to purchase. Some photos may have very strict usage requirements that might prohibit the use you have in mind.

There are actually very few stock photo agencies that are friendly for Internet marketers. Of the major photo agencies, there are really only about three that are practical for use by Internet marketers.

The others are all either too restrictive, don't have enough of a selection, or are far too expensive. Corbis, for example, is far too expensive for the average Internet marketer. Corbis sometimes charges several hundred dollars just for ONE image that can be used only once! This might be fine if you're putting together a print brochure that has a long print-run, but it's just not practical when an image is for general purpose use on a web site.

Here are a few options that might be more appropriate.

IStockPhoto is a very well-known stock photo agency. They have thousands of photographers that contribute to their catalog of images, and their prices are very reasonable.

The quality of the images can vary, but there are plenty of very good quality photos available. Their license can be fairly restrictive, but it will allow most of the uses that Internet marketers would typically have.

BigStockPhoto is another popular agency. Not only do they have a large catalog of photos at very competitive prices, but they also have the most liberal license of any major stock photo agency. They are the only major photo supplier that will allow their images to be used in templates made for distribution. Other agencies don't allow their photos to be used in templates, but BigStockPhotos's liberal license that allows template use, has allowed them to capture a fairly large market share.

Another very useful stock photo resource is PhotoObjects. This site actually provides images that are already removed from their backgrounds for use in designs. This is a big time saver for designers. Cutting images out of their background is very time-consuming, and having it already done is an unbelievable help. PhotoObjects offers memberships at fairly reasonable prices. They claim to be unlimited, but they actually do limit the number of pictures you can download each day. The number is large, so you would probably never go over the limit, but it's worth noting.

If you want more than just photos then might be worth looking at. Don't let the name put you off as has a lot more than just clipart. You'll find literally hundreds of thousands of photos, illustrations, icons, backgrounds, and plenty more besides. Subscriptions are available lasting from as little as a week up to a whole year. If you need a lot of images a subscription can prove excellent value for money, but if you are just after a handful of images then some of the other options mentioned here might be a better alternative.

If you'd prefer to have your images locally, rather than having to access the Internet every time you need something, then you might want to consider purchasing a CD of images. Hemera has a line of CDs that can be purchased at places like Best Buy, Office Depot, Staples, and other similar stores. They have thousands of photos on them, and they can work out extremely inexpensive if your image needs are extensive. However, the quality of the images is generally quite mediocre and many of the photos look about a decade out of date. Still, if you need a very large number of lower resolution pictures of things like flowers and dogs, it can be a good deal.

Whether it's an amazing one off photograph you want for your web site or a huge collection of images for multiple sites, you are sure to find something that will suit your needs at the sites mentioned above, but remember to read the terms and conditions carefully to make sure that it is okay to use the images for the purpose you require

Paul Smithson is the founder of Intellimon and the driving force behind the best-selling XSitePro web site development tool ( Paul has set up five multi-million dollar companies, one of which is now owned by the BBC. His areas of expertise include business strategy, e-commerce, on-line and off-line marketing, software development, and maximizing the potential of on-line businesses.

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