Finding Images for Use Online
If you’ve read anything about creating posts online to market your business, then you know that choosing the right photo or graphic to go with a social media post, a blog post, or on your website is super important (if you’d like to know more about the impact images have on our words, check out this post from Annie Hurst over at Off-Center Design).
Using a compelling photo that illustrates your point means greater understanding. Additionally, it means that you have a better chance of grabbing someone’s attention. On social media, a great photo can even get your post in front of more people. But, you aren’t a photographer and you don’t know where to start. So, what do you do?
Learn the Rules of Use
Ever heard of Creative Commons licensing? Now’s your chance to learn. Read this from the Creative Commons’ website to learn what a CC license is and which license would be right for your business.
There are sites specifically designed to lead you to photos and graphics that are free to use with attribution. What’s attribution? Attribution means that you are properly giving credit to the creator of the image. There is a specific way to do that.
For example, look at this from Compfight.
Compfight has an area where you can select which type of CC license you need after you search for a photo or vector graphic based on a keyword. Once you select an image, you can copy and paste the attribution code straight to your blog post or website.
If you’re curious what all that code looks like, here’s an example:
It includes a couple of hyperlinks, and I like to set it apart from other text by italicizing the attribution so it’s clear who deserves the credit.
Know Your Image Options
In addition to images that require attribution, there are free-to-use, no-attribution-needed images are out there as well. You know where you won’t find these? In a Google image search.
Instead, go to sites that are reputable and very specifically state that the photos there have a CC 0.0 license, or free-to-use with no attribution needed. Sites like Unsplash, Pexels, Pixabay, or StockSnap have these photos.
Another option? Buy some stock photos.
When I have a blog series coming out and I’d like all the photos I use to be similar in overall appearance, I invest in the paid-for stock photography. Or, if I need a new look for my website, I invest in an image. If I need a signature image, one that I will use over and over on social media to announce something or be part of a theme, that’s when I purchase a photo or hire a graphic designer to design an original graphic for my use.
When you purchase a stock image, you are increasing your chances that others won’t have the same image on their website or blog post or social media site. It sets you apart. Hopefully, you chose a great image, too, which is another bonus.
Did you know that using someone else’s image without their express permission is the equivalent of stealing? Did you know that retouching or altering someone else’s photo without their express permission is not only illegal but also a little insulting? My photog friends assure me that what irks them the most about misuse of their photos is when someone retouches an image they took and edited.
So, this means that you can’t grab an image from Google and use it as your own. You also can’t grab an image from social media and use it as your own. You are invited to click the share button and share someone else’s image, but never save it and post as your own. Posting it and naming the owner in the post isn’t okay either. They must consent to your use prior to you using the image.
By using someone’s image for your business, you are opening your business up to liability. Don’t do it! If you need help, shoot me an email and I will be glad to answer any questions you may have.
Don’t Give Up
If you’re new to online marketing, don’t let this post scare you. Just remember to always respect the intellectual property you find on the web. If you’re ever unsure whether it’s okay to use an image, chances are it isn’t.
The best thing you can do is to hire a professional such as myself who will handle your content marketing for you. Then they will find great photos for you.