Welcome back to The Passion Pixel, internet friends! Before I jump into this post I just have to mention how crazy this past week has been. You’re probably aware that I hosted another webinar on Saturday, which was awesome! Everyone seemed to really enjoy and have a great time. Another super exciting note from the past week is that Blog Photography Snapshot finally launched! I am beyond excited about it, because it means that now everyone who enrols will get instant access to the course, no more pre-sale waiting.

If you’re interested, Blog Photography Snapshot is currently available at pre-sale price (until April!) so if you want to get a deal, plus get instant access, pick it up ASAP!

And if you have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s your cue to head over and read about my awesome new e-course.

Anyway, news and biz updates aside, today we’re talking stock photos and content upgrades. Why they’re awesome, and how to make them work for you.

How to use stock photos to build your email list

Now before we get started, maybe we should cover the basics for the newbies in the crowd. No worries, newbies, you’re my favourite kind of blogger! That’s why I love writing posts about the basics! Which we’re going to talk about now…

So, for starters, what the heck is a stock photo anyway? Well, stock photos are basically photos which are used to represent and idea or a story, they usually aren’t photos that would be considered art work, and they definitely aren’t pics of your friends. They’re somewhere in between, and they’re intentionally ambiguous to allow the viewer to project their own thoughts and ideas on to the photo.

In the blogging world, we use stock photos A LOT in Pinterest graphics, or just on our blogs to add some visual interest. Here are some examples of pretty stock photos:

stock photos content upgrade

stock photos content upgrade

Pretty right? Yaas.

Now that we’ve covered exactly what a stock photo is, let’s talk about what a content upgrade is.

Content upgrades are another common part of the blogging world. They’re special freebies and extras that bloggers offer in exchange for an email address. It helps us build our email lists of loyal followers, to whom we can eventually market our products. Sometimes people call these content upgrades, or opt-in freebies, or lead magnets. The goal is to create something that people will love enough to pay for with the currency of their email. Stock photos work perfectly for this. Let me tell you why.

They’re high value

If you look around the internet these days, everyone and their sister is offering worksheets, cheatsheets, workbooks, and e-books for free to build their lists. And there’s nothing wrong with those – I offer them here at The Passion Pixel as well. But, they’re starting to become the norm. It seems anyone can whip up a more visual version of their blog post, along with a few check boxes in Pages or InDesign. They’re starting to increase in supply, and therefore decline in value. But you know what isn’t as common out in blogging land? Free stock photos, made specifically for bloggers. Beautiful photos take longer to create, edit, and offer, but boy are they worth it. Think about this: you’re cruising someone’s blog and you’re loving their aesthetic. You read a blog post, where they offer a free worksheet to help you with whatever problem you have at the moment. Will you download it? Probably, you might. But, if they offer some custom stock photos that fit your niche and your aesthetic, are you going to download it? Heck yes you are! That’s the kind of value we live for on the internet. Offering something that is uber valuable for free will build trust and help you stand out in the saturated world of blogging.

Everyone needs them (no matter their niche)

Another amazing thing about offering stock photos as an opt-in freebie is that almost no matter what niche you are in, you can start offering these and the emails will roll in. Stock photos aren’t just great for photographers who blog about photography and blogging. There are lots of other industries where people value great visuals. No matter what niche you write about, firstly, there will always be other bloggers who happen to browse your blog that might be looking for inspiration or expertise. If they found that you offered stock photos specifically for your mutual niche, there is no way they are not going to jump on that chance.

Think of it this way: our hypothetical vegan lifestyle blogger friend Emma is browsing some of her favourite blogs looking for ideas and inspiration. She stumbles across a blog that offers stock photos of veggies, nature, and vegan dishes as an opt-in freebie. Emma is not going to be able to type in her email fast enough, because dang she wants those! Because honestly, where else is she going to find such a perfectly packaged bundle to use in her pinterest graphics and on her blog? Nowhere!

Or say, for example, that Emma isn’t even a blogger. She’s just a fashionable vegan browsing the web. Maybe she comes across a free pack of high quality pics of her favourite things: veggies, nature, food, and animals. She’ll download it to use the pics for her phone’s lock screen and desktop background for suresies. Why? Because who the heck else is taking beautiful vegan photography?

And in this story lies the exact reason why stock photos within specific niches are even more of a draw than stock photo packs from bloggers who blog about blogging. Because it’s not a very common offer! When someone finds this, they will love it because they can’t find it anywhere else. You know what they can find elsewhere? E-books, worksheets, etc etc.

Speaking of needing stock photos, want a pack of five high quality photos that you can use however you want? Click here to download my pack now!

stock photo examples

they spread your brand

So not only are stock photo opt-ins mega high value, and unique enough to work with every niche and help you stand out, but this little secret also builds your brand and spreads it to others in your niche. There’s a formula to this and I’ll tell you why it works.

Here’s the (obviously super scientific) formula:

A defined brand and style + Stock photos that embody the brand + Consistency  + Downloads x Users = Brand wild fire.

Allow me to explain.

Okay, so let’s say you blog about urban gardening. Congrats, that’s super cool! You’re going to start collecting emails by offering free stock photos of succulents, flowers, and other plants. You keep your branding consistent among all your pics, and reuse the same plants and other props in each of your photos. Other gardening bloggers start to discover your high value offer, and they start using your photos in their Pinterest graphics, and on their blogs. Even though they might not be directly crediting you, everyone in the urban gardening scene online will start seeing your photos pop up everywhere. When they eventually find out where they’re coming from (because they’ll go looking for them too!) they’ll know who you are, and start subscribing to you too.

Sound far fetched? Well, it’s happened before.

Let’s look at an amazing example of a successful photography blog, Pink Pot. Just because Chaitra blogs about blogging doesn’t mean this wouldn’t apply to other niches as well. If you’ve ever been on Pinterest, I can guarantee you’ve seen her pictures. Bloggers form all different niches are using her photos from her Creative Convex program. She offers monthly bundles of super high quality photos to email subscribers, and while bloggers are getting a great chance to use professional photos, Chaitra’s brand is simultaneously spreading like crazy. This is also due a lot to her consistency and her own brand showing through in the photos. Do these look familiar?

PinkPot_CreativeConvex_V2        stock photos content upgrade











Yeah, I’m sure they do. Chaitra took these, and they are literally all over the place. You can do the same thing in your own niche, given that at least some of your audience may be other bloggers who write about the same topic (which I’m sure is likely the case)

They build your authority

On top of adding value, standing out, and spreading your brand, offering stock photos as an opt-in freebie is also going to build your authority with your readers. This is a general consequence of sharing lots of free value with your readers: they will start to trust you. When it comes down to brand or blog authority, there are a lot of factors in the mix. The cool thing about blog photography is that it covers a lot of them.

Factors leading to brand authority:

  • Adding lots of value (and not asking for much in return)
  • Consistency
  • Wide spread awareness

These are the things that lead readers to trust you, and offering stock photos for free covers all three of these!

It’s pretty clear that stock photos make an amazing opt-in freebie for any blog or business. They’re great for gaining authority, creating brand awareness, and growing your email list.

But now you might be wondering about the “how” to this why. If you want to learn everything you need to know to succeed with taking beautiful stock photos with your blog, I would highly encourage you to check out both my free email course, Blog Photography on a Budget, as well as my recently released e-course, Blog Photography Snapshot. I know you’ll love ’em both!

Happy Blogging!



  • This is great Katie. I’ve only started using stock photos about a week ago because I really have trouble taking good photos. I’m not that much of a photographer. I’m more of a writer. I do agree that visuals are definitely needed for a blog, whatever the niche.

    PS. I’m a big fan of Pinkpot, too. 🙂

    • Thanks for stopping by, Heide! PinkPot is pretty awesome 🙂