AI has already started to ruin the stock image world.
It may even be trying to steal your dog and your husband as we speak. *I* heard that it’s already taken jobs away from real live humans right here in own our small town. Ok well, maybe it’s not flipping your burgers quite yet but it is already making waves in the design pool…

One small sign is in the stock image inventories…
You see, many designers rely on stock images to produce their marketing content and branding collateral for their clients. These range from graphics needed for mockups, to actual marketing images for ads, as well as icon designs for user interfaces, and they need to be of a certain quality if you want your designs to look professional.

But whether it be through sites like iStock or Pixabay, if you’ve used any of these sites over the last year you’ve likely already seen a noticeable shift in the images you’ll find there. The search results are literally awash with illustrated style, smooth edged – and don’t get me wrong quite eye-catching – images that are not photo stock at all.

At best it makes it even harder to sift through thousands of potential images when you’re already limited on time. At worst it could already be the first signs of AI replacing human talent behind the lens and in front of the screen.

Dammit! I wanted the robots to take care of the jobs I don’t want to do, not take away the creative tasks I work to find time for myself!

A lot of people in the design world are upset about AI, and justly so in their own right. …But we can’t put the genie back in the bottle. Best to make friends with it; learn to recognize it and use it as the potential gift that it could be. It’s already become the “hot new feature” on design sites like Canva, where it’s touted as being practically magic!

Should You Be Worried?
Yes. The robits are comin’ to take yer jobs!

But also no. At least that is, not quite yet. While AI is learning fast – and faster every day – it still largely requires some human input to be directed towards a focused goal or result. A loose cannon is still a freaking cannon! If you can learn to aim it, it can serve your purpose. If you don’t, well…yeah, be worried.

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In case you are worried about supporting AI in your stock images there are a few things that can work to spot them, for now:

Overly smooth illustrated style. If it looks like video game concept art but it’s supposed to be an image of home appliance repair, that could be AI generated.

Odd hands. Look closely at the hands and fingers if there are people in the image. AI currently can still have trouble rendering hand and fingers correctly, so unless it’s been post-editing (good job human!) the digits can be a good way to tell.

Background “things”. You ever drink too much nyquil with your coffee? Yeah. Look at the background, man. At this time, AI will sometimes generate strange digital artifacts in the backgrounds of images. Swirls, eyes, too much lens flare – those kind of things in the background could indicate it’s been rendered by AI.

For now at least the best recommendation I can give is pay attention! Even if you’re adamantly against AI altogether, or just as a creative tool, it’s important to be aware of what changes it is bringing as it is the state of the design industry itself. If you’re not opposed to it, and what it could represent, start learning – and fast! There are definite benefits to having a helpful genie in your pocket, even if you’re already a highly skilled wizard.

If you’re looking to work with a wizard of the web, a digital docent to educate you on the mysterious ways of social media or SEO, Pickwick is more than qualified to help! Get in touch to share with me your visions of success so that we can work together to make them happen.

SEO Lies

Have you gotten one of these emails lately?

“My name is xxxxxx and I am a Digital Marketing Specialists for a Creative Agency. I was doing some industry benchmarking for a client of mine when I came across your website. I noticed a few technical errors which correspond with a drop of website traffic over the last 6-8 months which I thought I would bring to your attention. After closer inspection it appears your site is lacking in 4 key criteria. Blah blah blah your meta-tags!! Oooooooooooooo!!! “

I get them too – and I’m IN the SEO industry!

This proves the first thing I usually tell clients about these messages when they forward them to me out of concern: these people have never even been to your website.

It’s really humorous that in many of these messages it says “I FOUND you on Google!”.
Well, if you found me already what do I need to pay you for?! Nothing.
Which is generally what you get out of services that spam people like this even when you pay their outrageous prices – NOTHING.

Now it is true that every domain can use a website tune-up from time to time in order to rank most optimally for its intended audience, but the scare tactics used by some of these so-called seo gurus is so laughable that it’s sad. Sadder still that they wouldn’t continue to do it unless some people were falling for it.

But what is a concerned small business owner or artistic creator to do if they feel like they’re lost online?
It is tough! Everyone seems to have a site and a store and a page living the wild Instagram life; it can seem like there’s no way to catch up. Here are a few quick tips to help you spot the spammers:

Misspellings in the message
Look for spelling errors. It seems minor but most legitimate business will not have such things in their correspondence – even canned emails.

Meta-Data Grandpa
Any SEO person who harps on the small technical details of your site code like meta-tags, and H tags (which do matter in a small way still) is likely reading from a script written in 1997 when these things still played a major role in seo ranking.

Take a line from their email message and copy it into a google search with quotes around it. You will likely come up with thousands of results highlighting other people who received the same exact spam message.

Google THEM
Search them out before you even think about contacting them or clicking the links in their email. You will likely not even be able to find them, much less on the glorious PAGE ONE that they promise to elevate your business to somehow.

The PICKWICK Promise
I won’t lie to you. I won’t up-sell services you don’t need to pad my pocket.
Online success is an uphill battle – so is any kind of success – but the good news is you don’t have to go it alone!

I have a long history of digital experience in developing visually compelling websites as well as marketing the services and products they offer. I have the online skills you don’t have the time to learn yourself – and don’t want to! With over 2 decades of experience in the digital marketing world I know not only the things to do for greater results but the things to avoid doing as well.

You want to be running your business or creating your next masterpiece, not punching buttons. Let me help!