Is it really okay for me to use stock photos in my growing business? You better believe it! I’ve been on Instagram every single day for 3 years and I have seen it all. Professional photos, branded photos, stock photos, blurry photos, way too dark photos, weird feet photos (don’t ask). You get the drift.

Shaming someone for using a stock photo for their FB banner, Instagram feed or to advertise a blog post on Pinterest is so crazy to me. While everyone is screaming that we should be authentic online, we are presuming that all new businesses have hundreds or even thousands of dollars readily available to create their dream brand. The truth is, not everyone does. To assume they are not being themselves because they used a stock photo is such an exclusive mindset. It’s putting people into a box and saying they don’t belong because they have not met your standard of authenticity.

I’d rather look at it this way. Let’s cut through the photos, quotes and fancy graphics and get to know the person behind the posts. Their humor, their drive to succeed. The heartache they faced this year, or the triumph they are celebrating. The photos they post are just a tool, a vehicle to get to know them. Not a platform for judgment.

So, to the DIY mama making ends meet for her family while the baby naps. I am cheering you on. You are building a business and following your dreams. There is no shame in using what you can afford now in order to buy whatever you want later.

To the shy business owner who wants to interact online, but hates selfies and doesn’t have any photographer friends around. Thank you for not allowing anything to stop you from sharing your talents with us. That stock photo you used to share the poem you wrote, or the illustration you made…or the font you so carefully created made me want to jump through the screen and hug you.

To the working woman who runs her business as a side hustle on top of carpools, soccer games, volunteering and being an amazing mom, partner, wife. What you are sacrificing in order to see your dreams turn into a reality amazes me. No one knows how hard you work and the truth is, you don’t need them to. You are driven, successful and you know your own worth. I am so inspired by you because you are not allowing fear or excuses to keep you from your calling. Your voice deserves to be heard. Thank you for allowing my work to help you build an online presence that impacts others and changes lives.

I’ll say it again. There is no shame. There are so many tools out there that will help you along your path to success and I’m happy to say that stock photos are one of them! Build your dream. Make the money. Support your family. I am cheering you on!!!

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