free stock photos, free image editing tools, online image editor

Chapter 3: Free Stock Photos & Free Online Image Editing Tools

INSPIRED & WRITTEN BY Arcadier

In a marketplace, a product or service listing will only be as good as its photos. Photos have the ability to attract your audience, and more importantly, convey the nature and function of the product or service. If you’re thinking of ways to get more purchases and bookings done on your marketplace, high quality photos could be the missing piece of the puzzle.

Case in point: When Airbnb first started, the hosts were using camera phone photos or amateur photos from classified sites for their listings. What did its founders do? They rented a camera and visited the listed properties to take some professional photos. A week after they replaced the photos, Airbnb doubled its revenue — their first financial improvement in over eight months. Of course, they knew this wasn’t a scalable solution, but it presented an important lesson that would set new standards for the property rental marketplace.

Photo credit: Airbnb.

Needless to say, high quality images bring life to a webpage and add a layer of professionalism and authority. It’s a tool that marketplace owners can use to gain the trust of visitors, which is likely to help you achieve more sales. Focusing on scalable and cost-effective solutions, Arcadier explores how you should determine your marketplace’s visual theme and learn how you can get high quality images and photo editing tools for free:

Know your product

If your marketplace specializes in needs-based products or services like electronics or home cleaning services, it’s best to use photos that show them for what they are. Images should still be bright and clean, but more importance is placed on clear and detailed descriptions rather than stylized photos.

Aesthetics is much more vital to marketplaces that sell lifestyle products such as clothing, cosmetics, footwear, or furniture. Build an aspirational brand takes much more work because you’re drawing people to purchase an experience associated with your brand — you have to engage your customers by telling your story, and images have to be attractive and embody the brand’s interests and attitude.

As a general rule, encourage your marketplace merchants to take clear, well-lit photographs against a backdrop color that suits the theme of your marketplace. Multiple photos should be taken to show as much detail as possible as these help customers in their decision-making. In addition, as much as possible, wearable lifestyle products such as jewelry, footwear, clothing and accessories should be given real-life context. Customers tend to value them more when they are seen on a model or styled with other complementary products.

To help market the lifestyle products on your marketplace, marketing campaigns should convey your brand’s mood and aesthetic. Online or printed lookbooks and catalogs like those done by renowned fashion and furniture brands are also great to have once you have the funds to invest in your own high-quality photography.

Photo credit: Laura Ponts, Rabat.

Know your clients

Heard of the saying “Your vibe attracts your tribe”? Everything you post as your brand — through Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter or e-mail newsletter — are all mini ads for your marketplace.

The photographs on your marketplace have an impact on the community that frequents your marketplace. Your audience decides what is memorable and valuable, so your aim should be to have the visuals on your marketplace speak in a way that appeals to your ideal customers. To do that, you have to understand their demographics, behaviors, beliefs and desires.

A good place to start is having a clear idea of your ideal customer and understanding the existing users of your marketplace. What brands or companies do they love? A quick trawl through the listings in your marketplace should give you some ideas. Social media is another wonderful resource to help you understand your customers. Very easily, you can browse their interests and identify patterns.

Familiarize yourself with similar brands

Once you’ve done your research on top brands that your customers follow on social media, take a few cues from their visual practices, from the colors they use to how they showcase their products or services. For example, many lifestyle brands use editorial imagery to showcase their products.

You’ve probably seen millions of ads in your lifetime too. Save those that you think are aligned with your marketplace image. Tools like Pinterest make it really simple for you to save images you like and organize them in folders. In this case, it’s okay to copy (not replicate) others’ ideas, only if you infuse your own creativity and originality into it.

Free resources for stock photos

If you are unable to take your own high quality photos or don’t have the funds to hire a professional photographer, there’s always the option to use stock photography for service listings and creative marketing materials. Stock photography websites such as Thinstock.com and shutterstock.com offer monthly membership packages.

The only caveat with using stock photos is that certain photos are overused and may look typical and unoriginal. Although some say that stock photos isn’t an effective way to make your marketplace website stand out, it really depends on how your curate the photos. Make sure you only use those that look authentic. You can create your own guidelines and only pick stock photos with a particular theme. For instance, if you operate a marketplace that sells beachwear and resort lifestyle products, you can pick beach-themed photos and edit them with a color filter of your choice to make them look consistent with your brand image.

Our favorites:

Unsplash

Pexels

Stocksnap.io

GoRaydar.com

Magdeleine.co

Resplashed

Mmtstock.com

Life of Pix

Stokpic

ISO Republic

Picography.co

FoodiesFeed

GetRefe

Bucketlistly

Free photo editing tools

Whether you are using stock photography or taking your own photographs, photo editing is important in producing good images. According to Curalate, photos that get the most “likes” are those that utilize natural light, are textured with low saturation, have low amount of background, and have a single dominant color, especially with blue as the dominant color.

You can achieve these effects through photo editing, and here are free and easy-to-use tools in case you don’t have Photoshop:

·         GIMP – Free software download for image editing, retouching and drawing

·         Fotor – Photo editing and retouching directly on browser

·         Picmonkey – Online photo editor that allows photo collages

·         Pixlr – Online image editor to fix, adjust and filter images

Last but not least, for simple photo editing (filters, transparency) combined with graphic design for all purposes (including invitations, posters, presentations and infographics), Canva can help you create beautiful designs, even if you’re not a graphic designer. You can pick from any of Canva’s free template designs and work with the simple drag-and-drop interface to create something original.

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