Life lesson: Don't use stock photography on your financial website

By Maggie Crowley

Advisor Websites

Before I get into the life lesson, let me tell you a little story. Last week, we got a big, ugly piece of mail. Inside was a letter and a pretty hefty fine from a legal firm claiming we posted a photograph on our blog that we didn’t have the right to use.

This was a shocking claim for a couple of reasons. 1) We always double-check to make sure the images we use on our blog are accompanied by the proper recognition; and, 2) the majority of the stock image websites we use post images that are licensed within the Creative Commons, (a not-for-profit organization that provides copyright licenses that make it easy for people to give permission for others to share their creative work). Well, we identified the image and removed it from our blog, and then paid the massive fine.

This short story is a preamble to a warning for advisors who are working hard to build an effective presence: Using stock photography is a dangerous game! And, there's more to it than the potential fines.

On your website, real photography is a must

Your advisor websites should be about you. We always suggest that advisors spend a few bucks and have professional photographs taken of their team. Not surprisingly, photos of real people outperform stock images by 95 percent. Many people who use your website are prospective clients. Essentially, they’re checking you out. They want to see who you are and what your team is like.

Your blog is a different story

Using images in your blog posts, on the other hand, is a great way to illustrate your article. And, stock photography makes using images so easy. But please take caution. For crying out loud, don’t steal images. Before you use any image from a stock photography site, make sure (double- and triple-check) that the image is, in fact, free for you to use.