shutterstock_256144651We’ve all heard the warning to never post pictures of yourself you wouldn’t want others to see. As far as this generation of those born with the internet are concerned, it’s the oldest rule in the reputation rulebook.

Are there any new rules revolving around pictures anymore?

The short answer is, “Yes.” This is further evinced by the fact that every major social media site asks for a profile picture of some sort. Beyond this are the various galleries that then provide you with more space to build your visual portfolio. Unfortunately, how to do this isn’t openly discussed much. It’s obvious you should have a good, high quality photo, and yes, there should be more than one, but how do you do this? Where do you even start?

The Search for a Snapshot

As a rule of thumb, all of your social media sites, blog sites and anything else with a personal profile should have the same photo of you and, if an option, the same picture for the banner space. This way, when people click to any site you are on, they will immediately have a general understanding of what to expect, reducing confusion.

How do you go about finding this one, perfect image?

The easiest route is to hire a photographer to take headshots for you. Instead of searching online, however, your best bet is to ask around your network, especially those that have pictures you like. Typically, they’ll have a go to photographer that potentially costs less than the competition. Once the appointment is scheduled, the photographer will give you a rundown of what you need to bring and what to expect. They’ll also feel out what you’re hoping to get from the shoot. Expect to bring a few outfit changes and have your hair done in a way you like.

The Stock Photo

Beyond a signature look, your blogs and other posts will do much better if there’s a visual story attached to them. Unless you have a professional photographer that takes shots specifically for your company, the best way you can do this is through the use of stock photography. Online, for free or for purchase, are innumerable amounts of photos just waiting to be used. Unfortunately, many companies misuse these photos, resulting in a very awkward or even legally detrimental situation. To avoid this, here’s what you need to keep in mind.

DO pick images that are directly related to the content. This can be as straightforward or as subtle as you want. For instance, you can write an article about leadership and either choose a photo of a CEO giving orders or an image of ducklings following their mother.

Don’t assume the audience will relate to a photo. The safest route is to go with an image you have no doubt the audience will understand. If you’re writing an article about job hunting, it’s best to avoid any stock photos of newspaper classifieds.

Do modify the pictures. Just because you’ve found a great addition to your article doesn’t mean you have to keep it exactly the same. Feel free to play around with adding text to otherwise clarify and enhance its usefulness. You can even crop out bits you don’t want to use. Just be sure to check the creative license of the photos you’re using since they might have very specific rules on what can or cannot be altered.

Don’t use just stock – not for your personal accounts (unless you’re using an image with text over it to emphasize a thought or quote). Remember, people are more interested in seeing your photos to get to know you in a more personal level.  Variety is the spice of life and with apps such as Instagram, you, too, can become a decent photographer. Take some time out of your day to practice snapping photos of things you plan on using in the future.

Do optimize images with text. When you go to add an image, sites will typically come with areas for you to attach phrases or keywords to the picture. This then helps its chances of appearing during image searches thereby increasing the likelihood of new people stumbling upon your site.

The Final Results

The thousand words a picture is worth is solely based on the story you choose to tell. In business, this means remaining as concise and focused as possible across all mediums. From a unified social image to adding visual storytelling to blog posts, your brand can become so much more with something as simple as showing the world you understand how to make connections on varying levels.

Take a look at our Recommended Sites to see what free and for fee photo sites and tools we recommend.