Yes, You CAN Use Stock Photos on Instagram! Heres How.

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Stock Photo Polaroid of a pink building on a solid background

Wonder if you’re allowed to use stock photos on Instagram? You may have even heard some criticism already. Things like, “stock photos are too generic… it’s someone else’s vision… what if everyone else is using the same photo as me?”

We’ve heard it all, and while there is a certain stigma that using stock photos is bad for branding, that’s only half the story. In fact, using carefully selected stock photos can help your branding, AND save you tons of time, energy and money. Especially on Instagram!

(The stigma also doesn’t take into account that stock photos aren’t bad for branding when you mix them in with custom-made content.)

Over here at Tailwind, we’re hearing that the thing that early and experienced marketers are spending the most time on is creating content. And we couldn’t agree more! Churning out content consistently is tough, especially if you post multiple times a week to get the best engagement

(I, personally, feel like a content-making machine 80% of the time.) Also, most of us are not professional photographers or photo editors, so this makes the content creating process even longer. And it fills your camera roll up with countless outtakes! 


And time is crazy important if you’re marketing a business. This makes looking out for ways to save more time a must if you want to stay on top of your game. You want to be able to invest that time in strengthening your business and growing your following. Or just straight-up achieving better work-life balance!

Good news – we’re talking about some of those ways to save time RIGHT HERE in this blog post!

So let’s get into some time-saving tips, courtesy of a little thing we like to call stock photos.

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1. There’s no need to go out and take a bunch of photos when you’re using stock images.

Finding time to scrape together a last-minute photo shoot for new content is stressful and time-consuming. (Even if that photoshoot is just different angles of your backyard.)

Using stock photos in lieu of taking pictures can help you in a few different ways. Whether you’re in a last-minute bind, aren’t feeling pretty enough to be photographed, or just don’t have access to a high-quality camera – stock photos are here for you. Most importantly, they allow you to keep your content machine going strong!

(We use and love Unsplash for stock photos. They have a wide array of awesome lifestyle and feed-friendly images that are ready to go right now.)

2. Reduce workflow time by using stock photos already inside of the Tailwind Dashboard.

Tailwind for Instagram has a really cool new feature: stock photos are actually embedded into the tool, right in your drafts! 

Time spent logging into a stock photo website, downloading an image, finding and re-uploading that image into a scheduling tool, and then going back and deleting that large file to save precious space on your desktop is just not necessary anymore.

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So when you go to upload a photo/video into your drafts, you’ll see a brand new button: ‘Choose Free Stock Photo’.

Here’s what it looks like:

Stock photo Instagram integration - Tailwind and Unsplash
Stock photo Instagram dashboard integration with Tailwind and Unsplash

Side note: If you’ve heard that using a scheduler for Instagram gets your posts shadowbanned, debunk that myth and get a peek inside of Instagram’s algorithm right here.

3. Using stock photos cuts down on time spent creating aesthetic.

No need to spend hours a day creating, editing, and stylizing images. Just pull similar stock photos or overlay a branded filter or text to make a stock photo fit your brand. No expensive phone editing apps necessary!

Keeping your brand looking cohesive is just good practice, so be sure to have a certain style. And then stick with it. This article has some solid tips on how to make your entire Instagram feed feel cohesive and well-branded. 

4. Save Time by Repurposing Stock Photos.

Stock photos are useful not only for your Instagram feed, but across all different platforms, and for any kind of marketing or press campaign.

Running Facebook ads? A good stock photo might just outperform anything that you have custom-designed!

Have an email campaign that needs some spicing up? Toss a fun stock photo in there.

Need a good graphic for that guest blog post you’re writing? A stock photo works.

Speaking of blogging – here’s five clever ways to promote your blog post on Instagram. 

5. There’s no time spent trying to figure out if an image is free to use if it’s a stock photo.

If you’ve ever wondered if pulling a random photo off of Google Images could one day get you sued, you have a good reason to. It’s bananas how many bloggers, marketers, and business owners have random images all over their site that they just willy nilly pulled from the internet without thought. 

I remember working with a client on his website, and I noticed that his blog graphics looked like they were a bunch of random pictures that belonged to other people. When I told him about it, I originally thought that saying that was enough to make him go ‘Oh, you’re right – we should change that.’ 

But it wasn’t. 

He just said ‘Yeah, they are’, and moved on to the next topic of business without any care in the world.

Heads up: A random photo off the internet doesn’t have to be a National Geographic-worthy pic to warrant serious consequences when using it without permission. Most photos are intellectual property, and it’s never a good idea to use them without tracking down the owner and asking for permission – and likely paying for them!

It’s not just bad for branding, but you really could get sued. You can keep yourself safe by using stock photos. And you can find plenty of stock photos on the web that are free with sites like Pixabay or Unsplash, or pay a modest fee for photo collections through sites like DepositPhotos

In both cases, the photographer has given permission for public use. (Yay!)

Before you click the download button, make sure to read the licensing terms and conditions for each site, as they vary! This will help you avoid potential trouble for misuse!

6. You won’t need to set time aside for freak outs when you use stock photos.

You know that rise of panic at the end of the day as you realize that you haven’t posted anything in a few days and need to post right now? The pressure of managing a full content schedule while you’re often working, parenting or just trying to live your life can get overwhelming quickly. It’s easy to let posts slip through the cracks – until you panic and realize your followers haven’t heard from you in a week!

Good news – that panic will be almost non-existent once you start regularly using stock photos. You’ll have a treasure trove of high-quality photos ready to go. 

So take a deep breath and let out a sigh of relief. ‍♀️

Also in the name of Zen – bookmark this page here to have handy Instagram resources like image creation tools and bunches of high-quality stock photo sites at your fingertips. 

And make sure to grab a free trial of Tailwind for Instagram! Our all-in-one Instagram scheduling tool will help you banish the panic with:

  • Thousands of stock photos at your fingertips
  • A Smart Schedule generator that automatically gives you the best times to post your content
  • Drafting and publishing tools that will help you plan months of content in just a few hours a day!
  • Caption formatting tools, like Hashtags in First Comment, the Emoji Picker Keyboard and Caption Font Formatting for different font styles!
  • Auto Posting integration with Instagram Business accounts – so you can truly set it and forget it!

And there you have it! Six whole ways that using stock photos saves you time. 

Robin Williams Yes GIF by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment - Find & Share on GIPHY

So remember – that stigma that Instagram stock photos are icky is forgetting how much valuable time you really can save by using them. Maintain a good mix of stock photos and custom images and craft an unforgettable brand, while still having time to check your email once in a while. 

Choose balance over outdated hearsay, and give yourself the gift of more precious time spent elsewhere… doing what you really love!

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6 Ways using stock photos on Instagram saves you time

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