Everyone wants their blog to look at certain way and have a certain feel. Some opt for cute, some go the minimal route, others like a bold design. One of the biggest and easiest ways to boost your blog is to incorporate pictures or stock photos but what if I told you the blog images you’re using could get you in serious trouble?
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When you’re starting out you have to determine where to spend and where to save. In the name of “let me save a few coins” a lot of people decide to turn to their trusty friend Google.
However, they’re not googling where to find free stock photos that aren’t cheesy, instead they’re searching for their blog photos on Google Images.
Major noob move, major illegal move.
So let’s just state this as plainly as possible: you cannot use images from Google just because they showed up in your search results.
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Why you shouldn’t use pics from Google on your website
Whenever a person creates something (and photography falls into “creation”) they automatically own the right to that work. This is called copyright.
The creator gets to decide how they want to distbute the work they’ve created. A photographer can opt to share their work freely or have people pay for access to their creations.
Here’s the issue – when we’re googling for something and those images pop up, we have no idea which one of those images is a free pic or one that has restrictions on it.
Anytime something is shared on the internet it adds to Google’s search results and there’s a chance the image you’re taking from Google might have originally been paid for. You didn’t pay for that image so even though it pops up in Google you can’t use it. The usage right ends with the company or person who paid for it.
When you take an image from Google you run the risk of illegally obtaining an image that you do not have the right to use. It’s a risk because you might be taking a free stock photo or you might be taking an image that was initiall paid.
Another issue with ripping images off of Google is they’re not always available at the best quality. Using grainy images on your blog is not a good look, let’s keep it real.
What are your options if you can’t use images from Google?
Use free photos
Remember I told you photographers have the right to share their work for free if they choose to. A lot of photographers offer free images and there are many stock photo websites that have free images available.
- Take a look at these 10 websites with really cool stock images that are perfect for your blog
- Creative Market offers 6 freebies a week and they almost always a free photo or two
- Flickr is another hotspot for pics – be sure to change the copyright settings when you search
- Be friends with a photographer and get free pics!
Take your own photos
You can always snap your own pics. The best part is, you’ll own the rights to these images and you can decide if you want to share them for free or make money from them.
- Use your smartphone to take amazing blog photos
- Stop taking pics on auto – learn how to use your camera like a pro
- Use a great photo editing app to make your phone pics pop
Pay for pics
I stress the importance of keeping costs low but sometimes it pays to invest. The cost of stock photography is more affordable than you would think and for certain businesses or blogging niches, having access to premium photos means it’s less likely you’ll come across someone using the same images.
Creative Market has some amazing photo sets (where you get a bundle of photos and not just one), here are some good ones:
- A light and airy holiday themed photo set, perfect for a feminine blog or website
- This watercolor themed photo set which has 400 elements included!!
- Go bold with this pink + black themed photo set (this one is so cool)
- Grab this giant bundle of flatlays and images with 250+ elements included!!
Ask permission to use someone’s photo
It never hurts to ask if you can use someone’s photo. They’ll most likely want you to provide a link to their site as source of credit.
Also, when working with a brand or a personality, many will provide photos if the project calls for it. Let’s say you’re working with a hotel, they’ll be happy to provide images of their property because they want to control how they’re represented.
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What happens if I use a photo illegally?
Sometimes nothing happens, but why operate on the hope that nothing will happen to you? If you’re caught using images illegally (especially if you’re using them to make money online) the owner has every right to make you remove them or take the situation to court and force you to pay.
It’s a headache I think you can avoid by at least starting with high quality free images and fighting the urge to snip, snip a pic from Google.
Remember, I have an entire list of websites to find free photos for your blog or creative project. I also have a ton more tools and resources for bloggers in my FREE Resource Guide – download it now!
Have you unknowinginly filled your blog with Google images? Start making switching them out today!
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