Finding Photos Online: The Who, What, Where, and Why
Unfortunately, many companies are still hazy about how photos work when you put them into blog posts. At times, it just seems easier to ignore the legal fine print that comes with grabbing a photo off the Internet and throwing in onto your blog. (I’m guilty myself.)
However, finding a photo you are allowed to use can help save you a huge headache in the future. The last thing you want is to be found using photos illegally, even if it does take a few extra minutes each time you load a post. It’s important you know the who, what, where, and why of photos for your blog posts.
The Who, Where, Where, and Why of Finding Photos Online for Your Blog
When it comes to finding photos, you want to make sure that you are staying legal on all aspects of your website; not just your blog.
Blogs are typically where most of the issues lie, but being educated about photos is something you can apply to any aspect of your website. So let’s look at some of the details you need to know:
You want to make sure that you are relaying information about photo publishing to everyone involved in your company.
Although you might be the one that publishes most of the photos on your blog, there could come a time when you’re on vacation or when you take a sick day that someone else has to take over. You want everyone to be on the same page, not just the company owner or the content manager.
What you’re looking for when you look for photos to use on your blog online are one of two different types: Creative Commons, which are free, or Royalty Free Stock Images, which are usually paid. Below explains a little bit about each:
This is a type of license that allows photographers to license their work for free in certain situations (including blog use). Images under the creative commons license are typically not available for commercial use, and you almost always need to give attribution.
Royalty free images are images you can pay for. Most recommend using these images if you’re going to highlight the photo in any way or use it as a major point on your blog post.
Price usually depends upon the size of the photo, but are typically only 2-3 dollars per photo. Most companies have you buy a certain number of credits that allow you to purchase any photo on the website at any time.
Want tips on selecting the right image? Check out this article on conversion-boosting images.
This is the big question and, as discussed above, it can be split up into two parts: free photos online or paid photos online. Below are a few places you can find photos legally online and whether or not they are free or for a charge.
iStock Photo. Paid.
This is a site that is very easy to navigate. It utilizes different categories and allows you to search for photos by keyword terms. They also offer flexible payment options, which is something pretty unique to this site.
This is the most popular place to find free photos that you can use. In fact, I found the photo above by using Flickr.
I like this site because it is very clear about what you need to do in order to be able to share an image. Once you find an image that works for you, you can click on the link under “license” to see what your options are. Below is a screenshot of the screen I saw when considering using the photo for my article:
Every Stock Photo. Free.
This is more of a directory full of licensed photos from around the web (many coming from Flickr). They have a great selection and also explain to you under what terms you can use the photo. In most cases, you simply have to give attribution to the site. Other than that, you’re good to go.
This website allows you to buy credit pack so that you can buy photos as you need them. They have many 99-cent images and everything is high quality. According to the site, they have over 13 million photos, illustrations, and vectors.
Creative Commons. Free.
This is the site devoted strictly to creative commons. In addition to photos, it offers information about why it matters and what all of the terminology in the online photo industry means. You can also find photos here that can be used for commercial use.
You want to make sure that you have the correct photos for your blog for two reasons:
Copyright laws are serious. If you’re found stealing a photo and claiming it as your own, you could wind up paying thousands of dollars just for that one photo. It all depends upon what the owner of the photo chooses to do, but paying a huge fine is likely your worst-case scenario.
Google does not want to see websites stealing photos, and because it’s important to optimize your photos for search with descriptions and tags, Google will surely find you.
Having quality images on your website can help you show up in image search results and other SERPs, not to mention improve CTR, so you don’t want to get penalized if Google finds out you stole the photos that are getting you so much attention.
It’s easier than you think
In the end, finding pictures to put on you blog should be one of the easiest aspects to running your website. Not only do you have to worry about all of the normal things associated with a company website — SEO, conversion rates, PPC ads, reader engagement, analytics and other data, etc. — but you have to worry about things such as duplicate content and intellectual property when you go to publish content.
These things can get messy; at least with photos you can stick to a few great sites and know you’re safe.
Do you have any tips about finding photos online? Have you ever gotten in trouble for using a photo that you weren’t allowed to use? Let us know your story and tell us your thoughts in the comments below.
Photo Credit: Valerie Everett on Flickr.com