Visual content sourcing – Best solutions compared

date Jul 30 2020

author Taru Wahlroos

Great visual content is essential for your brand.

But how can you source it effectively?

In our earlier blog post we told that you should invest in creating cool and authentic content for different marketing purposes. So this time, let's dig a little deeper into the different solutions of content sourcing.

The amount of marketing messages received by consumers is increasing every day and at the same time, their attention span is shorter than ever. The result? Information overload, often known as content fatigue, meaning people are consuming so much new information and content from firms that they are eventually burnt out by the sheer excessiveness of it. Additionally, almost 2 out of 3 of millennials use ad blockers, so it's more difficult than ever to get your message in front of your audience.

For marketers this means that their content should be so cool, captivating, and visually appealing that consumers stop scrolling in order to read what they have to say. In addition, the content should be updated often enough to avoid unnecessary repetition and high ad frequency, which leads to inefficiencies. Thus, brands need a large pool of authentic branded content they can tap into when creating marketing materials.

If done right, on-brand visual content will attract attention, make your customers happy and eventually - drive sales. But where should you start? In this post we'll cover the most common methods for getting amazing visual content for your brand.

The best ways to source visual content for your brand

  1. Stock photo services

  2. Photographers

  3. In-house or outsourced content creators

  4. User-generated content (UGC)

  5. Source content straight from creators

Let's discuss the pros and cons of each!

Visual Content Sourcing via Boksi

Brands need a large pool of authentic branded content they can tap into when creating marketing materials. Photo by Erina Salonen.

1. Stock-photo services

In the beginning of your brand’s social media era, before figuring out what works and what doesn’t, it can be wise to opt for stock photo services. Stock photos are a relatively easy and time-saving solution because you can get images and videos for your brand's use without leaving your office, and for free.

These services and the content they offer, might have some variation, which is why it really matters which service or services you decide to use. For example Unsplash offers cool, freely-usable images that resonate with consumers and gets their attention. So, when you are just starting out your social media game, it can be easier to rely on these kinds of services before investing in photoshoots or a social media team.

However, it can be difficult to find stock photos that really suit your brand. And if a stock photo looks attractive, you can bet that other marketers are looking at the same photo. This can lead to a lot of social posts or blogs that have similar looking people and scenarios, and doesn't help your brand stand out in a crowded market.


🤩Services are often low-cost or free

🤩 Easy to get high quality images quickly


😔 You don't own the stock photo rights, so other companies can use the exact same picture

😔 Some stock photos look exactly like stock photos

😔 You can't request custom photos - reliant on existing content

Visual Content Sourcing – Best Tools Compared

Photo by Toni Eskelinen.

2. Photographer

Probably the most traditional way of creating visual branded content is to arrange a photoshoot with a photographer, a model, a proper setting and staff. This is particularly popular among bigger brands, since they typically have larger financial assets and therefore, can spend more money on the actual content.

But if you can pay more, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should.

Yes, organizing photoshoots gives you access to high-quality photos that you can anywhere, from your social media channels to advertisements that take up the side of a building. However, organizing photoshoots on a regular basis can become expensive and time consuming. In addition, the photos from these shoots can often come off as too polished, which won’t get your audience’s attention. After all, 90% of Millennials prefer authenticity over 'perfect and packaged' imagery.

Sourcing content through photoshoots isn't a thing of the past, but there is definitely room for alternative ways of creating visual content. This is why many brands also have separate content creators in their marketing department.


🤩 Perfect for product release photoshoots or advertisement shoots


😔 High production costs

😔 A high production value can negatively impact consumer perception


Photo by Salla Salmela.

3. In-house or Outsourced Visual Content Creator

For authentic and relatable content, you may consider hiring an in-house visual content creator, whose job is to literally create content for your brand, as a part of your social media team. Or alternatively, you can outsource the content production process to a freelancer or a production agency.

As it is their job to create visual content and bring your social media channel to life, it is reasonable to assume that they have some level of creativity in their hands. So you won’t be running out of ideas anytime soon! In addition, they are familiar with your brand, which makes them great for capturing the essence of your brand through visual content.

An outsourced visual content creator is usually a wise decision if you are not ready to hire one to your company. However, every individual has their own interpretation of a brand and using only one or two outsourced visual content creators can make it so that your content represent only one side of your brand’s multi-faceted essence.

Yes, it is wise to opt for a certain style and voice for your brand’s social media instead of splashing different tones and messages around – consistency is still the key. However, this doesn’t mean that you need to become boring or bland. This is why you should spice up your content by turning to the people who are already loving and using your brand. The customers.


🤩 Full control of the content you create


😔 Visual content creators can quickly become overburdened with the amount of content required for modern day companies

Visual Content Sourcing – Best Tools Compared

Photo by Laura Laukka.

4. User-generated Content

Another option is to post user-generated content (UGC) which is organic content that has been created by your brand's followers. Its power has been widely recognized and it can give a much needed boost for your social media game. After all, a large portion of consumers rely on the words of a friend or acquaintance rather than those of a brand when making purchase decisions.

Try creating a hashtag with which your followers can share their own moments with your brand and share the best shots published under that hashtag. Posting UGC lets you socialize with your followers and at the same time, harness the power of brand love.

This approach works for a small portion of your content but generally speaking, relying solely on UGC is a highly unstable strategy. Yes, it can give your brand credibility in the eyes of other new customers, but if the user-generated images or videos aren't up to your visual standards, they won't work e.g. on Instagram, where good visual content is essential. Also, putting all your eggs in one basket and waiting for your followers to post awesome content is definitely not scalable nor reliable.

In addition, reposting UGC might work on social media for some time, but if you want to use the content in your other marketing channels, the question of photo (and video) rights will become relevant. It's only fair for the content creator to get paid for the work they have done, but purchasing single photo rights from various people just seems a little too much work.


🤩 Your users create this content for free

🤩 Content is authentic and 'real'


😔 Finding the content and negotiating sharing can be labour-intensive

😔 Requires that your users produce high-quality content worth reposting or sharing

So...if you want to level-up your branded content game, we recommend combining the power of UGC with the ease of stock-images, quality of photographers photos and the creativity of visual content creators. But how does that work?

Source branded content

Photo by Anni Korhonen.

5. Source Content Straight From Creators

In addition to stock photos, photoshoots, single visual content creators, user-generated content strategies, there is still room for boosting your visual content game. There are many talented people out in the world and some of them might even be fans of your brand. So, why not harness their creative minds and love for your brand and let them do the work?

There are content sourcing platforms available that allow you to tap into a diverse network of creators and source visual content for your brand directly from them, for your own personal use. In a way, it's like generating your own stock photos!

You can source personalised branded content at scale from creators who love your brand and want to engage further with you.

Best of all, it can be the least time consuming of all the above options. For example, on Boksi, all you need to do is:

  1. Create the length of your campaign

  2. Create a detailed brief to describe what content you are looking for

  3. Submit your campaign for review

  4. Review the content at the end of your campaign

  5. Purchase your favourites - and use them anywhere!

This option provides you with tons of high-quality content that is created specifically for your brand. You have exclusive rights to the content, and by running your campaign on a content sourcing platform, you free up your team to work on other projects while the creators do their best work.


🤩 You receive high-quality, exclusive content at the fraction of the cost of an in-house photoshoot

🤩 Easy to fit into your team's existing workflows

🤩 With exclusive rights, content can be used anywhere, any way you please


😔 Heavily reliant on a strong, clear brief so creators know exactly what to create for you

Sourcing content in reality

Sure the idea sounds nice, but how does it work in Boksi? Using Boksi takes a ton of work out of the process. Simply tell us what kind of content you are looking for and we'll take care of the rest. In order to streamline the process even more, we just launched a Branded Content Create Tool with which you can create a clear brief easily. After the brief is done, we find the absolute best creators that meet your description.

Next, the content creators will read your brief, get inspired and upload their amazing content for you to review. The next step is to select the pieces of content you want, move them to the shopping cart and click "Buy". Oh, and after purchase, the content is yours for a lifetime.

All that's left is to start using your beautiful content! Post them to your feed, craft up an ad campaign or print on the side of a building. The sky is the limit!

Boksi is the easiest and most cost-effective solution for sourcing visual content for your brand. Whether you need beautiful marketing images or creative and funny TikTok videos, we have you covered. By sourcing content through us you get full rights to use the content in all of your channels and you don't need to juggle with licences, since the content is yours for a lifetime.

By harnessing the talent of a variety of creators, you can get content that captures the different sides of your brand. So, why not start today? We currently have an offer, with which you can get a bundle of 10 photos just for 3500€.

Getting started is simple. Schedule a quick meeting here and we'll get you set up with your first campaign!

Taru Wahlroos

About author

Taru Wahlroos

Taru brings years of valuable B2B and B2C marketing expertise to the Boksi team. Her secondary title is Head of Friday Candy, a highly important role and one she takes very seriously.