Images are essential for almost any online marketing initiative, from your website, to your content and social media posts. In fact, in a study performed by Skyword, it was shown that total views would increase by 94% on average if an article was published with a relevant picture or infographic. That’s nearly double the views by simply adding high quality photos. The question is, how do you find the right high resolution images for your content, and how do you make sure that you are using image packs that have the right license terms? In this guide, we’re going to answer that question and more.
Searching for the perfect stock photo
Finding the right stock photography for your content starts at the design stage. The person designing the website or the content that you are about to launch comes up with a general visual style and feel for the project and then starts to look for visual assets. While searching, the designer will come across many high quality images, but not all of them can be used for free (and some cannot be used at all). The question is, how do you know if the images you find on the internet can be used for commercial purposes? Let’s take a look at licensing
Searching for stock photography in the public domain can be a minefield, since there is the risk of lawsuit if you do not use images that have the appropriate licensing. There are four categories of licensing to take into account: rights-managed images, royalty-free images, images from the public domain, and images licensed under Creative Commons.
The first category, rights-managed images, refers to the type of stock photography that you would find on image licensing sites such as Getty Images. This type of license is single-use, which means that if you bought a rights-managed photo and used it on your blog, you will have to purchase another instance of it to use it in an e-book or social media post.
This type of licensing might seem a bit counter-intuitive in the online world, but it manages to strike a balance between a commissioned photo shoot and a widely distributed stock photo. The advantage of using this type of stock photography is semi-exclusivity at an affordable price. Some rights-managed photos will have a time or geographical limit on them, within which you have exclusive rights to use them.
You then have royalty-free images, which are not exactly free of charge as the name would suggest. You still have to pay for them. However, unlike rights-managed photos, these images have no limitations placed upon them, except that you are not allowed to resell or edit them.
You will be able to find royalty-free images on sites such as iStockPhoto and Shutterstock, and the price for such photos can be under a dollar. That is the main appeal of these photographs, while the downside being that they are used pretty much everywhere and by everyone.
Public domain images
Next, we have public domain images – the blogger’s friend. Images in the public domain have no restrictions on them, and you can use them however you want. Public domain images are images that have either expired or waived intellectual property rights.
If you’re not sure whether an image is from the public domain, the copyright protection for an image spans from the moment the image was created to 50 years after the death of its creator.
Creative Commons images
Creative Commons images are usually the best option if you are looking for free stock photos. Under Creative Commons, images are free to share, use and edit. However, there are certain rules when using a Creative Commons photo. There are a total of 6 Creative Commons licenses, each with its own features, that outline how the image can be used, ranging from free full use with attribution, to free commercial use as long as the derivative work remains a part of the Creative Commons.
Websites that offer low cost or free stock images
There are plenty of websites out there that offer free stock photos under the Creative Commons license. These sites offer high-quality, professional, free stock photography that can help your content stand out. Unsplash and FreeImages are two highly recommended websites for stock images, but we also recommend sites such as Coverr.co, Gratisography, Startup Stock Photos, Life of Pix, Splitshire, Picjumbo, Pixabay, and Pexels. These websites have a trove of photos that cover almost every industry you can think of, from digital marketing, to manufacturing.
Consequences of using copyrighted images without permission
Sometimes, whether intentionally or unintentionally, we may end up using copyrighted images without permission. In this situation, it’s best to be aware of the possible consequences. In the best case scenario, the misused image goes unnoticed. However, if the copyright holder is aware that you are using an image without their permission, they have several options. One would be to send a Cease and Desist message and request that you take the image down. If the copyright holder decides to take more direct action, they may file a DMCA claim, with your ISP, hosting company or blogging platform, at which point said company or platform will either take down the website/blog or request that you take down the copyrighted content. In the worst case scenario, the copyright holder will take you to court, which can mean a lot of stress, money and time.
Would you like to find out more about stock photography?
Images can add a lot to any piece of content, and finding the right stock photos can make the difference between a successful marketing campaign and a lot of trouble. At Beau Brewer Digital we make sure to use the best Creative Commons and Rights Managed images for our projects, which in turn leads to high quality websites and articles that convert. If you have any questions regarding licensing and the best ways to source free photos, or if you are interested in building a website or developing marketing materials for your company, contact us today. We will be glad to answer any questions you may have.