Few things can capture people’s attention as easily as beautiful imagery.

In fact, articles with images get 94 percent more views than those without and consumers are 60 percent more likely to consider a business if an image show up with search results.

As marketers, we face that fact on a daily basis. That’s why we have a talented graphic artist named Addison working for us. It’s also why we are particularly knowledgeable on where to find fantastic photos online and how to properly use them.

The next time you are working on a project and need appealing imagery, use this guide.

Three Guidelines for Image Reuse

Not sure if you can use an image? Here are some simple guidelines to help you out:

  1. You create it, you own it.

No matter how simple the graphic is, if you create something or photograph something and use it publicly online, it is still yours. Technically, unless you have licensed it for open use, no one else can use it without permission. The same goes for every other image on the internet.

  1. Unless you are paying for them, images need to be both “royalty-free” and “free for commercial use.”

In theory, if you don’t make money from your blog, you could risk skipping the “free for commercial use” part … but I personally wouldn’t recommend it because there are some confusing gray areas. Rather than think too hard about it, I try to use only “royalty-free” and “free for commercial use” images.

NOTE: There are 8 million different apps that allow you to lay text over an image these days. Technically that is “modifying” the image, so the usage rights must allow you to do that. Better safe than sorry, even just for a cute tweet!

Some creators will allow their images to be used with attribution (often images from other blogs, etc.). In that case, blogger and designer Tiffany Staples recommends the following format:

Directly under the photo, you will place the following:
1. Title of Photo
2. Link to Original Photo Location Online (The photo title can be used as your anchor text with this link accompanying it.)
3. Author of Photo Link (Link to the Author or “About Me” Page)
4. License (This can be a little hard to find, but if you are using a site that states Creative Commons, you can state “CC” and then place the # of the stipulation next to it.)

  1. If you mistakenly use someone else’s image and they ask you to take it down, do it IMMEDIATELY.

If you comply immediately with their request then you will save everyone a lot of headaches, time, and potential court costs. Personally, I have never seen things go beyond level of conflict, unless someone truly and obviously violated a copyright. However, I have read just a few horror stories online – enough to scare me into proactively being really careful.

Where to Find Free Images

The good news is that there are plenty of places to find safe, properly licensed images for you to use in blog posts, tweets, and for other online purposes.

Search Engines

  • Google Images – Once you have started your search, go to Search Tools > Usage Rights to select the rights you need. You still want to double-check the source of the image you choose.
  • Creative Commons – An easy-to-use search engine that searches other independent sources.
  • Wikimedia Commons – Just make sure you read the usage rights for each image you find and abide by those rules.

Free Photo Collection Sites

  • Pixabay – Quick, easy, and I think their selection is pretty decent.
  • Pexels– Depth of options for professional use and allows you to alter the size of the image you download.
  • Unsplash – A perfect option if want to feel inspired. Take a stroll through their collections and you’re bound to find something you love.
  • Negative Space – If you’re looking for great photos of people and almost any every-day object, this is the place to look first.

And remember – you can always take your own photos or create your own images!

Looking to learn more? Sources for this post include:

I am not a lawyer and this post in no way constitutes legal advice. Just some friendly suggestions for simplifying the whole “safe for reuse” image issue.

This post is an updated version of a post originally published by The Stay Engaged Experiment at https://thestayengagedexperiment.wordpress.com/2015/08/18/three-quick-guidelines-for-image-reuse/.

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