using images to promote your business part1

Using Images To Promote Your Business

It’s a very graphical, visual world on the internet these days. I am sure you are busy using images to promote your business and to attract attention to your social media posts and content and marketing stuff, and to include in presentations and videos. However, it can be an absolute minefield, and you can quickly and easily get into trouble if you don’t take care when using images online.

This is a subject that crops up time and again in online marketing forums and groups and therefore we made it the topic of conversation at our recent Women In Enterprise & Business (WEB) meeting June 19th 2017. This post summarises the content of a 60 minute chat in a rather warm pub! We meet in The Altisidora in Bishop Burton, East Yorkshire if you want to come and join in the fun. NOTE: this group has since  evolved into The Sparkling Business Club.

Publishing & Sharing Images

Let’s be clear. We are talking about using images and publishing them on the internet, and sharing them with the public. Using images to promote your business.
There can be many legal implications regarding copyright and use. You can’t just do an internet search, find an image, copy it and use it. Just because it’s on the internet absolutely does not mean you can use it how you want. An image has been created by someone for a variety of reasons and it is theirs, not yours.

Using Images Legally

Here is an excellent infographic based on using images legally. The original embed code no longer seems to work properly so this is just the link to the image. You will have to click to make it larger or smaller in your browser.


Read more at Visme Blog: How do you know if an image is in the public domain

Here Is A Very Recent True Story.

I was discussing with a potential client about their Instagram account and the lovely images they were sharing. Where did they get them from? Who was creating them? Horror of horrors – their part-time admin person was going into Pinterest, copying the images and then going onto Instagram and posting them on their account, with no reference to the original source of the images. That is NOT sharing on social media – that is image theft and can result in hefty penalties. Sharing an image on a social media platform is OK. Copying the image and posting on your own account on another platform, with no attribution, is not Ok. I advised that they stop it immediately.

I also know of several Virtual Assistants who have been given images by clients to use in social media, or on their website, or blog posts etc. The VA’s didn’t think to check that the clients actually had a right to use the images, and when Getty Images discovered the illegal use, not only were the clients fined but so were the VA’s. It was hundreds of dollars. So Beware.

Where Can You Get Images From.

DIY & create your own.

Starting With FREE.

Everyone loves free don’t they? There are many free graphics sites, and it’s easy to find blog posts listing sites that provide free images. You also need to check that they are actually ‘royalty free’ too – you can use them without paying a fee (royalty). Even then there are different terms and conditions to comply with, and different types of ‘free’ licence too. The infographic above goes through the different types in a nice clear way.

When downloading anything off the internet, you always run the risk of downloading malware and viruses so always make sure your virus protection is up to scratch. A paid version (of virus protection software) is always going to be better than a free version. Free images can also be over-used, and you will see the same images cropping up time and time again. And even if its ‘free’ you must check what you can, and can’t, use it for.

This link is another excellent post which also explains that even if you take your own photographs, there can still be issues with rights and licencing.

My other opinion is that someone has spent time and talent creating an image. If they are good, creating images is probably their ‘proper job’ and so they expect to earn a living creating images. You also expect to earn a living doing what you like to do, so from my point of view, I think that if you want people to buy stuff off you, you should be prepared to buy stuff off others. What goes around, comes around and all that. We all give free samples, but how would you feel if someone took one of your free samples and pretended it was theirs?

Paid Images.

You are better advised to buy your images from one of the many reputable stock image websites. They look after the licensing issues, and also have clear information regarding licensing and image use. Also they carry insurance so if you buy an image off their site which later turns out to have copyright problems, they carry the can. Many sites have special offers to get started with and are actually good value if you use images often. I have a subscription to at the moment, but have also used iStockPhoto and Fotalia too.

What Have You Paid For.

Even if you have paid for an image this tangle of rules and issues doesn’t end here. There is also the consideration of what exactly have you paid for? The issue of ‘commercial use’ needs attention. That is typically when you have an image and then you are using it in a commercial situation – maybe selling mugs with the image on it, or other merchandise. You may be able to use the image for commercial uses, but there can be a limitation on the volume of use – you might be able to create 50 copies for example.

Who Can Use It.

You might have paid for the image but you can’t typically give it away to someone else either. Just like you can’t typically use an image that someone else has paid for. They have the rights. You don’t. This can be an issue when working for clients, such as a virtual assistant, or web designer. If you were charged for the images, they are yours and you should be given them. The web designer does not have the right to use those images for other clients, for example. If you buy an image and use it for a piece of client content then the client does not have the right to use it. These are general scenarios. Simple rule I stick by – the person who paid for it has the right to use it. No-one else. Anything that is used specifically for a client should be paid for by that client. Software, music, and images – I take the similar approach.

If In Doubt – Check Those Boring T’s & C’s and make the effort to understand your rights and responsibilities and liabilities.

DIY & Create Your Own

This is a great thing to do – really gives you an opportunity to create unique images, to reflect your brand and personality. So you can use and adapt your own photographs, and also create your own graphics using powerful but FREE web based tools such as Canva (I love Canva) and there are loads of graphic apps for mobile too. Here you might want to think about protecting YOUR copyright on your images (‘cos you don’t just want people using them without permission – right?) and also branding, and linking …..
Another large subject so we are discussing this in our July meeting.

Will Anyone Know You Have Used Their Image…

Erm YES. There is such a thing called ‘Reverse Image Search’ where you can search for an image using an image. It’s quite clever, and that’s how it is easy to find ‘illegal’ uses of an image if someone wants to keep an eye on what’s happening with their work. Search for ‘reverse image search’ to find out more about it and how to do it. Bonus… it’s a great way to identify those phoney blokes on Facebook who want to be your friend and use pictures of other (more attractive) blokes as their profile piccies. LOL.

The Other Side Of Image Searches.

So we can use image searches to track down problems with image use. But the other side of the coin is that internet users also search for a lot of images. A LOT of images. In fact it’s about a THIRD of searches that are for images. So you will also want to think about how easy it is to find your business and products and services with a great graphic or image. So this is a great example of strategically using images to promote your business.  I did a quick search for ‘podcast producer’ in Google and clicked on the images tab. In amongst a set of drab images, fairly close to the top, one of mine stands out which links to the blog post that it was created for. Yippee.

In Part 2 Of This Blog Post,

I am going to look at how to get your images found, and how to make sure they are not so big that they slooooooow down your website and your visitors leave before they get to see your pretty pictures. Or buy anything off you.

I hope you found this useful. What aspects of using images do you need to check up?