Are you struggling to create enough imagery to share online? Do you feel your photos could look a little more polished? Maybe you’re taking dozens of shots just to get one that you’re happy with. Don’t get down on yourself! People spend years learning photography, and even then, it still takes a lot of time. While having professional-looking social media and blog images is important, so is everything else you have to get done!

Photography isn’t just useful for Instagram, you need imagery for everything! When you write a new blog, you need a photo to attach when it streams on Pinterest or Facebook so people want to click through. You need polished cover photos for LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. There are so many ways to use imagery to market yourself online, but so often we miss the opportunity.

Whether you want to DIY your imagery or let someone else do all of the work, it doesn’t have to be a complicated process. If you want to DIY it, start with these four tips to elevate your game with minimal effort or extra time!

#1 – Understand Your Lighting

This is especially important when it comes to photographing people (ahm, selfies). When light shines directly on your subject (frontlighting), it’s going to minimize texture. Skin is going to look more flawless and imperfections are going to be less obvious with this kind of lighting. This is why most YouTubers sit in front of a ring light!

It’s also important to understand that different lights have different color temperature. In the morning, sunlight is warmer than it is midday. Different light bulbs create different hues, and anything the light bounces off of can impact the overall effect. If you have a digital camera, you can adjust this with your white-balance control, or if you’re good with photo editing software, you can touch it up later.

#2 – The White Foam Board Trick

Clean, minimal images are everywhere these days, and you might be wondering how to make your own. There’s a very inexpensive tool that can help: a piece of white foam board. It usually only costs a few dollars, and you can find it at Target or Hobby Lobby.

To create the perfect flatlay, open a window where lots of natural light is shining in. Lay your foam board on the ground where it’s sunniest, and position your props on the board. Then, grab a chair or step stool and shoot from directly above. Try to position yourself over the center of your image (you can always edit later, but it’s much easier if you can get it with your camera). You’ll probably want to adjust brightness to get closer to a true white, but with this trick, you’ll be making your own stylish images in no time.

#3 – Add Some Text

Images can be so much more effective with a bit of text. Free online tools like Canva make it super easy, but there are a lot of other programs and apps out there as well.

If you’re sharing a blog post or freebie online, put your pitch and website URL or social handle right on the image. That image is going to be shared, sometimes without the caption or even your name attached, so you still want people to be able to find you and find your offer.

Make sure you use fonts that are consistent with your branding and that work with the image. You may want to put a semi-transparent overlay on part of your image, then layer the text on top of that. It can make your message easier to read, especially if the photo has both light and dark colors.

#4 – Styled Stock Photography

If all of this sounds like it’s going to take too much time, you can definitely “outsource” your imagery by grabbing images from a styled stock photography service. The photos will be high quality because they’re shot by professionals. However, because the images are available to everyone, they end up being less expensive than if you were to hire your own photographer.

Does this mean there’s going to be a bunch of imagery online that looks exactly like yours? It depends. If you’re using a free stock photography site, you’ll probably notice that other people you know are using the same images from time to time. However, if you’re using a subscription service, the images are going to be much more exclusive and less likely to be seen in other people’s feeds.

In the world of online marketing, sometimes the images you use are just as important as your words. We have short attention spans, and we need something eye-catching to make us stop scrolling and read the content. If you’ve been feeling like your images need an upgrade, I hope these tips help you get the shares and followers you deserve!