The more experienced I get building niche sites, the more I’ve been gravitating toward what I call “authentic sites”. You know what authentic sites are when you see them.
Generally speaking, these authentic sites:
- Talk from personal experience
- Have detailed and knowledgable information (expert data)
- Have real images
When done right, these sites are extremely trustworthy and can convert very well. Now, a skilled enough writer can research a topic thoroughly and appear as an expert to a lot of readers.
But while you can have great content, it can easily be tainted by bad images. These images don’t necessarily look bad, but they don’t quite fit. These are obvious stock photos, copy and pasted product photos, and miss-matched photos (example: showing an airsoft gun instead of a paintball gun).
Let me show you what I mean…
Here’s a typical stock photo. An obviously produced photo for commercial use. Even if you don’t play paintball, this photo isn’t fooling you.
He’s a real photo. Here you can see the full equipment, the shooter’s focused eyes, and gasses coming out of the barrel. This photo was not produced inside a studio. It feels like the author was there actually taking the photo.
Now, which one speaks more authority on the subject? Probably the 2nd one. This may be a more extreme example, but you get my point.
And my point is this – photos convey huge authority.
The problem though is finding these photos. Sometimes publishers need to find very specific photos that aren’t really found on stock photo sites.
For example, if you are reviewing the Concept 2 Row machine, a very good photo to have would be a close-up of the main display. Some of these seemingly simple photos can be really hard to find.
And this is what this post is all about – finding those perfect photos that convey trust and authority.
1. Stock Photo Sites
Stock photo sites are the first place I look. Yes, they cost money, but images are an investment. I also try to avoid free photo sites for liability reasons. There have been stories of people using images marked as free only to find themselves being threatened for thousands of dollars for violating copyright.
Aside from liability, I find stock photo sites to have more variety. I can find what I want easier than spending 15 frustrating minutes trying to find something for free. And, all the free photos are also being used by lots of other people anyway (but does it really matter? who knows).
Right now the only place I use for paid photos is Deposit Photos (my affiliate link here).
I like Deposit photos for a few reasons:
- If you find a sale (from AppSumo on Black Friday), you can get images for $1 apiece, which is pretty decent. You might also find sales on their site.
- Advanced filtering option. You can filter people, gender, ethnicity, indoor/outdoor, time of day, season, location, and exclude “stocky” looking photos.
Unsplash is a great place to find free photos. There are other free photos sites, but I like Unsplash the best. I always check the author to make sure the author looks legit before using photos from this site. It’s a precaution to cover any potential liability.
3. Take Photos Yourself
This method is actually pretty rewarding. If you’re taking your own photos, you don’t have to own the products at all. If you’re in the fitness niche, you can drive to a gym and ask the owner to take some photos for an article your working on about fitness. Or if you’re in the outdoor niche, you can drive to your nearest recreation store. Spend a little bit of time to take real photos. You’ll be a lot better off than generic product photos that a lot of other sites have.
Here’s a photo I took of some vacuum cleaners at Walmart. This could easily be a featured photo of how to buy the right vacuum cleaner.
Taking photos yourself allows for a unique advantage in Google Image Search. Also, you can claim ownership of the photo by adding a watermark, adding even more authority.
4. Create Them in Canva
Another way to create unique photos is to create them. Stock photos can be easily taken from Amazon and other commercial sites and uploaded to a background. I like to use the Make PNG Transparent tool to make images transparent. Then, I add it over a background image in Canva.
Here’s an image I made in Canva using a product photo, a background, and some text:
This is also a great way to create thumbnails for YouTube.
5. Forums, Groups, and Marketplaces
This method can be really good. You can browse marketplaces like Craigslist, eBay, Facebook Marketplace, LetGo, and other sites for certain products. Once you find a photo you like, reach out to the owner and ask permission to use the photo.
As a dirty little trick, if you take these from places like Craigslist and eBay, the listing and images will eventually expire, leaving little or no trace that the photo was copied. You could potentially get in trouble if the photographer finds out, so use your own discretion 😉
You can also reach out to people inside Facebook groups, Reddit, and other forums and ask owners for permission as well.
6. Craigslist Ads
This is a very creative one I learned from my buddy Lawrence inside the Affiliate Niche Builder group.
I’ve run Craigslist ads before when I needed a bunch of photos of a city or dogs or whatever. $5 for 25 images worked great and they’re usually authentic mobile shots.
Pretty genius if you ask me.
7. Youtube Screenshots
This is another dirty little tactic I’ve used. It’s not legal and if you are going to use this method, it should be done right.
This method is to watch youtube videos and take screenshots. To make this work, make sure the video quality is at it’s highest. You can do full-screen sized screenshots and even remove the player controls in Chrome Developer Tools (F12).
This method works best with manufacture videos. I never copy other bloggers’ work. These people are much more likely to file a copyright claim violation, which could shut down your whole business. Use this method at your own risk.