What is a website without pictures? People love visuals and the internet is full of good-looking and beautiful images that you can use. Multiple studies prove that pictures lead to higher levels of engagement. After all, a website or blog with nothing but text is going to look plain and dull. Pictures help bring life to the content and illustrate what each piece is about.
But you better be careful about which images you decide to use on your website. Not all pictures are up-for-grabs for just anyone to use. Unlawfully using someone else’s image could lead to the image being removed from your site at best to a lawsuit at worst. It doesn’t matter if you’re a part-time blogger or a full-time writer and content creator. Illegal images will get you in trouble no matter what.
Taking pictures from Google Images or even image-sharing social media sites like Pinterest and Tumblr can be considered a copyright violation. You can be liable even if you credit and link back to the original source or use the picture for non-commercial purposes. Using a picture without permission from its owner is considered to be theft, even if it was unintentional. More likely than not, if you get caught, you’ll just be asked to take the picture down. It can lead to fines or lawsuits if you don’t cooperate though.
Pictures that are labeled for reuse are usually public domain pictures or under a Creative Commons license. You can find usable images by conducting a Creative Commons search or by using various royalty-free photo sites. Some popular ones are Pixabay, Unsplash, Stockvault, Pexels, Stocksnap, and Flickr. Make sure you filter for “Commercial use allowed” when searching on Flickr.
Some sites will require you to register an account to download images or use certain features. You may also be required to credit the photographer and possibly link back to the source. Make sure to read the licensing rules before you use any picture.
If you have the budget for it, you can purchase high-quality stock images from iStock, Shutterstock, and other similar websites. These places often charge an arm and a leg for their images. Famous and successful websites like Forbes, Inc., and Business Insider use professional stock images all the time. However, they aren’t suitable options for small bloggers working from home still trying to make a living.
You should assume that all images are copyrighted unless stated otherwise. If you are unsure, you can usually check the license which will tell you the image’s usage rules. Some Creative Commons pictures require attribution or a link back to the source in order to be used. If an image is copyrighted, you can ask the image’s owner for permission to use it. If not, there are countless other options available on the internet. Remember to use your best judgment.