Images are crucial for blog posts. The right image draws in a reader and breaks up the text for an easier read. Images help illustrate the text and liven up a blog post. The right image is especially critical for those pinnable images to stand out in the Pinterest feed. But, where are you sourcing your images? With images so readily available on the internet, it may seem like anything’s fair game to use. How can you ensure you legally use images on your blog and avoid fines and other legal issues?
Blogger Beware: Know the Rules for Images!
It’s important to know the legalities of copyright and image licensing and abide strictly to the rules right from the start of your blog. Don’t think just because your blog is small no one will notice. There are unscrupulous photographers and lawyers setting traps with their images and they’ll come after anyone of any size. These fines can reach into the hundreds or even thousands of dollars, even for a small blogger.
Sarah Kornblet of Destination Legal, a lawyer turned blogger, wrote this fantastic article for Social Media Examiner on How to Legally Use Images in Your Social Media Marketing. While focused on social media, the same rules apply for your website. Take a read – and check out Sarah’s site for other great legal advice all bloggers need to know.
How to Safely and Legally Use Images on Your Blog:
1) Never use an image from a Google search
Google is a search engine, so it’s pulling in images from all kinds of sites. Some of these may be free to use, but others are not. You can’t be sure on the licensing for a given image from the Google search. You can use this for ideas, but please don’t take an image directly from a Google search.
2) Use caution on free stock photo sites
I’ve been a fan of Pixabay.com, which is a site for free stock photos. However, I recently heard that some photographers are posting photos there and then later changing their licensing. They can come after you for using their ‘no-longer-free’ image. If you do use these, keep meticulous notes about where and when you got the image, so you can prove it was free-to-use when you got it.
3) Paid stock photos are your best bet
Paying for a license is your best option for photos (unless you’re using your own images). This can get expensive, especially as you’re just getting started, but consider the cost of settling a lawsuit and those license fees don’t look so bad. Be sure to read the details of the license agreement to know how you can use the image. Some allow the image to be used only once, while others allow more flexible usage. Some allow you to use the image for commercial purpose (such as the cover of a book you’re going to sell), while others do not.
My favorite stock photo sites:
Below are my three favorite sites for stock images. These are really the only sources I go to now for images and I use them a lot. (FYI: These are affiliate links.) In general, you can expect to pay about $4 per image on most of these sites. Other sites, like Shutterstock and iStockPhoto.com run closer to $10/image, unless you sign up for their subscription plan which offers some discount.
Lightstock.com is a great source for Christian-based images. They have a great selection of Christian themes (prayer, Bibles, church, Easter, etc.) and all the photographers are Christian. I do an annual plan so I can get discounted pricing. This takes the price from $10/image down to around $4. I’ve talked to them about the standard license and it does include use as a book cover.
Christianpics.co is an up-and-coming Christian stock photography site. They’re currently running specials for lifetime access to their pictures for a one-time fee, before they begin charging on a subscription basis. I highly encourage you to jump on this deal! If you sign up in June, it’s only a one-time fee of $59 for lifetime access. Don’t wait too long, because the one-time fee goes up each month, until the end of the year when they move to a subscription plan. You really can’t beat this deal!
Depostiphotos.com has a wide selection of images of all kinds. Their images also run about $3-4 each, but they periodically run fantastic sales to purchase 100 images for $100 – that’s only $1 each!! Be on the watch for these specials (and I’ll try to pass them along as I see them).
Stay safe and legally use image on your blog! Use caution in choosing images, only use reputable sources, and know your license terms.
Want more tips, tools, and deals for blogging? Sign up to receive the Behind the Blog newsletter and I’ll send you a list of “My Top 10 Favorite Blogging Tools.”