Not too long ago, we launched 75 totally free stock photos for you to use ... however the heck you want. No royalties. No fees. No worries. They're still available, and we've seen them floating around the internet here and there, and we think it's awesome.
(Note: This post isn't for the folks with in-house designers and Photoshop skills for days. These are hacks -- which means they're little tricks anyone can do. So we'll be using PowerPoint to do all of this. Hooray for free tools!)
Little PowerPoint Hacks to Customize Your Stock Photos
1) Impose images onto screens or other blank backgrounds.
Here's the original stock photo:
You could use this as it stands, but you might want to do a soft little plug for, say, your own website. Or heck, a co-marketing partner's website. So customize that screen to have something else on it! Let's say you want to put your website on the screen.
Insert the stock photo into PowerPoint, then grab a screenshot of the website you want to put on the screen and insert that into PowerPoint, too. Then, start rotating that bad boy so it aligns with the position of the laptop screen. You can do this by right-clicking on the image, selecting "Size and Position," and then adjusting the "Rotation" number to the degree that works for you. Or if you're not sure what specific angle you need, just click the green circle above the image and rotate it to be the angle you desire. This image ended up being rotated to 24 degrees.
Now, it's time to move the image where it belongs -- on the laptop screen. Just drag it up to where you like it, and you'll have this ...
... which looks totally ridiculous. To make the website blend into the computer more, we'll have to make it a tad fuzzier, as the laptop itself is kind of blurry. To do that, right click the image, and select "Format Picture," and use the "Soften" toggle bar to, well, soften the image. Depending on the color of the website's border, you might want to add a glow around the edges to help it blend in a bit.
Once you get the image a little less stark, just crop it to fit in the stock photo's dimensions, and voila! Customized stock photo.
You could apply this technique to any blank areas of stock photos to showcase something that matters to your brand -- or just to add some easter eggs to your content!
2) Add text to your images in creative ways.
The great thing about adding text to your images is that it makes them more dynamic, and gives them more use cases across your marketing. For instance, we'll often add text to our blog post images so that they can get more engagement on social media. Here's an example of using text on one of the free stock photos -- this is what we started with:
Alright, we got some good white space in here. Let's turn that into an actual brainstorm for a specific industry. It's been a while since we talked about the booming unicorn industry (long-time blog readers may remember a time when that popped up quite frequently in our posts), so let's pretend this is a photo for a blog post about expanding your unicorn business product offerings.
First, open up the photo in PowerPoint. Then, insert a text box in the center circle so you can add some text. You'll probably want to change the font -- you could even download a custom font that looks like whiteboard writing! For this, I'll just use Eras Light LTC.
Now, since people don't all write in perfectly straight lines when they're whiteboarding, let's tilt that text box a bit so it looks more natural. You can do that by dragging the green button that you see below left and right. We'll also change the color of the text to a brown color to match the marker.
Now, let's add some copy to the outer circles, so it's a full brainstorm, and voila!
3) Add frames, borders, and logos.
Did you know it's insanely easy to add frames and borders to your photos to make them stand out from the crowd? Here's a compilation of just a few of the things you can do in PowerPoint alone just using the "Picture Styles" in the "Format" tab. This would be particularly useful for adding a simple touch to social media images to make them stand out in a cluttered feed.
If you expect one of your photos or posts to get shared a lot, you might want to add some brand identifier, like a logo, URL, or company tagline, too. This is something you often see on photos from Creative Commons, so that the original creator's name is attached to the image somehow. Because you already know how to add text to your images using PowerPoint, we won't go through the keystrokes, but you could do something simple like this:
Now, that photo is just a tad different from the other photos on social media with the subtle border; and even if the URL is stripped at some point when it's, say, repinned on Pinterest, you have a call-to-action built right into the photo.
All these little additions and customizations might culminate in stock photo that looks something like this -- perfect for social media sharing:
At the bottom of the photo is the URL to a blog post, and a compelling quote from the post is pulled and put onto the photo. Then, to brand it a bit more, a logo is inserted at the bottom of the photo to ensure credit is always given no matter how much the image is shared.
Simple stuff, right? So now it's your turn -- how do you customize your photos? Share your hacks with us!
Originally published Aug 29, 2013 2:00:00 PM, updated July 28 2017