What I Have Learned About Images On My LinkedIn Posts

a post photoFor four years I used stock images on my blog posts and LinkedIn posts but a little over six months ago I quit and started using my own photos. Here is what I have learned:

They are called “stock images” for a reason.  After a while, stock images are pretty easy to spot, because you have seen them before, and they all kind of look the same. Impossibly good looking people having a grand time at the office (kind of the LinkedIn equivalent of a beer commercial), road signs with business terms on them, wordles full of more business terms, blackboards stuffed with business terms, cartoon characters representing business ideas.

I used to use stock images myself. But I became frustrated because they encompassed the odd combination or looking generic and being expensive.

And the image company would sell the same image to someone else, so I was paying for something that wasn’t unique to me and could show up anywhere at anytime.

I found there were free image resources out there, but that didn’t solve the problem of using something that other people are also using.

To cap off my frustrations, I got a nicely worded but very firm letter from a museum’s lawyers saying I was using one of their photos. Someone had taken the museum’s photo and sold it as their own work to a stock image company who then sold it to me.  

So I decided last fall that I would use my own photos. And I quickly discovered that no one really cares what image you use. I think photos help draw attention to my posts, but as they mostly seem to gives our eyes a break from all the text, just about any photo will do.

I have used my own  photos for six months now and the only comments I have received are positive ones. or inquiries as to where a photo was taken, or even what it is a photo of.  

Often, the photos I use will bear only tangential association with the post I have written, but sometimes the photo will suggest the title of a post for me. A photo of a lemon tree prompted me to write about LinkedIn giving you lemons and making lemonade, a sunset suggested the idea of LinkedIn sunsetting a feature.

Where do I get my photos? A lot are from vacations or travel. A good bunch are things that I own – bits and pieces of things around my apartment – and lot (shoutout coming) are courtesy of my brother Mark Johnston, who has traveled a lot and taken photos everywhere.

Selecting a photo to use in a post is now fun. It used to be a dreary exercise in “heck, I used that one three months ago, can I get away with using it again?”. Now it’s become, “okay, what can I use that vaguely connotes the resourcefulness in coming up with my own images?”

I wound up finding my own path with respect to my post’s images. I didn’t do what everyone else does. And it works for me. I think the lesson here is that whether it is the photo or illustration you use on a post, or the way you use LinkedIn, remember that your needs are unique. Listen to what other people have to say, but experiment and figure out what works for you.