Selecting Media That Sells

Authentic Media Makes a Difference

A “conversion” is when someone performs a goal-related task online like clicking your “Buy Now” or “Follow” button. Using generic stock media leads to lower conversion rates online (McCraw, 2017). Eyetracking analysis by the Nielsen Norman Group demonstrates that stock photos of professional models are often ignored entirely (Nielsen, 2010).

Custom media of your actual location(s), staff, products or services builds trust and increases sales. Sties Design Agency performs custom media shoots at recognizable locations with local models. We also do on and offsite product photography and headshots.

What if You Have to Rely on Stock Media?

What do you do when your budget, deadline or other factors eliminate the possibility of a custom media shoot? The answer is to select affordable stock media which compliments your brand and online marketing strategy. Make sure your selections are…


Authentic Stock
Obviously you can’t show a photo of a building you don’t operate out of or a product you don’t sell. You can select photos of “real” looking people or locations that represent your mission and the benefits of your products and services.
Avoid outdated stock, cheesy smiles or clearly staged poses. Instead, look for media that tells a story and shows people that represent your target audience(s). See examples below.
Look for free or affordable stock media. Use Tineye or Google Image Search to see if you can find the same media cheaper from a different provider. We usually try to pay under $20 per media item. Some of our favorite stock media sites are listed below.
Don’t use comps or previews of stock media with watermarks or licensed media you have not purchased. Avoid shady, unprofessional looking sites that offer “free” stock media. They often steal content from other sites to increase their traffic and ad revenue. Yes, people use media without a license or from shady sites and yes, they wind up paying big settlement costs from stock media providers that use technology to find license violators.

Read the fine print about the license options and purchase the correct one. In most cases the Royalty Free (RF) license is sufficient, but an Extended License (EL) is required if you use the media to sell items like ebooks, t-shirts, calendars, mugs, etc. Each provider has slightly different terms. Some providers have limitations like the length of use or base the price on the type of use.

Examples of “Fresh” and Free Stock Media

A Few of Our Favorite Stock Sources

Affordable License (Less competitor usage)

We’re Here To…

  1. Plan and perform your custom photo or video shoot using various locations, models and props.
  2. Help you perform stock media searches to find the right media for your project.
  3. Photoshop your logo or identity into stock media like on a phone or tablet screen.

Let’s Get Started

14 + 7 =

Or call 574.875.8525 – Monday – Friday, 8AM-5PM EST.


McCraw, Austin. “This Just Tested: Stock Images or Real People?” MarketingExperiments, 15 May 2017,

Nielsen, Jakob. “Photos as Web Content.” Nielsen Norman Group, 1 Nov. 2010,