Why Sourcing Your Images Carefully is Critical to Your Business Survival

You’ve probably heard some of the horror stories by now. And if you haven’t, we are happy to share some of ours:

  • Several months ago a client of ours let me know that she was being sued to the tune of 5-figures for using copyrighted images on her blog.
  • A long-time colleague of ours worked with a company who was being brought to court over the background of his website coming from Google Images.
  • A friend of mine mentioned that he was getting a cease and desist letter and a notice of copyright infringement to take an audio track off his website that he thought was open-source. At least in his case he wasn’t getting sued yet.

The stories above are all true, and are a showcase of the challenging times in which website owners live. In these instances we had no knowledge of our clients’ image-sourcing practices. This is also the case with our current client-base – we do not have control over which images our clients choose to use on their website. However, in an effort to be helpful to minimize the odds of this happening to you, we’ve put together a helpful and simple guide on how to effectively source images for your websites and media.

It is important to note that when we design a website, we always strive to use images that come from open-source, free to use and from non-copyrighted catalogues. We do everything in our power to help absolve our clients of liability. However, if you are selecting images to use for your blog, please read on to make sure that you are sourcing your images correctly.

(Note – we are not attorneys, and so the advice given below should NOT be taken as legal advice, nor are we responsible for any damages you may incur as a result of using one of the services we recommend below)

Do not Use Google Images

First, stay as far away from Google Images as humanly possible. I cannot overstate the importance this enough. Sure, when you do an image search on Google you might find what you are looking for, and it might seem like a perfect match for the blog post you are writing. However, even though it says “Images may be subject to copyright”, you need to assume that you cannot use any of them.

The issue is that someone might post an image that they think is open-source, but it is possible that the license expired, or they purchased a one-time license for the image that only applies to the buyer. So if they re-post this image and you use it, you technically do not own the rights to the image.

Sure, some of these images might be safe to use, but most of them are not. Better to be safe than sorry in our experience.

What Happens if I Get Sued?

It will vary, but these days what can happen is that attorneys will search website images to see if the site owner legally owns an image, or images on their website. If not, they may wait for a period of time and then claim that their representative (possibly the owner of the image) is suing for a specified amount, usually over $8k, over copyright infringement. This has happened to many website owners.

Once this happens they may try to settle with you for the above amount. If you do not settle, they may or may not try to take you to court for more significant damages. Either way, having to drop $10k or more is often a hit that a small business cannot survive.

The best way to avoid it is to be careful where you source your images.

Ok – I Am Sufficiently Worried. Where Can I Get Safe Images?

Pixabay offers free, open-source images. Some images claim to have model-releases for images to be used for websites or blogs safely. Others require that the images are only used for a specific purpose, such as for editorial use. Be very careful with those images in how you use them. Generally you can go to Pixabay, do a search and find the image you are looking for to use on your site.

However, please make sure to read their disclaimer on each image, the image details, and if any credit needs to be given to the photographer or image owner.

Alternatives include Unsplash and FreeImages.

If you would rather use a premium service for paid images, then 123rf, Dreamstime and Shutterstock are good alternatives. These all contain high-quality images and you are essentially buying the rights to use them, sometimes for a limited period of time. However, as with the warning above about Pixabay, make sure that you read the details of use for each image.

Can I Get Help With Images?

We are happy to take a look at your situation and assist you with sourcing your images. Again, while we are not attorneys, we can at least help point you in the right direction. Feel free to contact us if you should have any questions.

Why YouTube Matters for your Business

When it comes to marketing yourself or your brand online, being able to form a genuine connection is vital to reaching your audience and generating potential business through your content.

It’s no secret that videos are currently the most popular type of content on the on the web today. If you can effectively demonstrate your brand’s products or services through video content, you have the upper hand when it comes to gaining new business.

Online platforms such as YouTube are an excellent and creative outlet for marketing in today’s media centered environment. If you haven’t thought about using videos to market your business, it’s time to consider adding YouTube to your online strategy. It will help boost your SEO, build your traffic and expand your social reach online.

Here are 5 reasons why you need to start using YouTube for your business now:

1. YouTube has a Massive Global Audience

A recent Business Insider article revealed that YouTube has a monthly audience of 1.8 Billion users and “that’s just the people who are logged in.” This number is inching closer to Facebook’s 2 Billion monthly user count. In terms of search engine use, YouTube is ranked second behind Google. No matter who your audience is or where they are located, they are most likely using YouTube to search for and view video content.

2. Boost Your SEO: Google Owns It

Google, the world’s number #1 search engine, acquired YouTube in 2006. In recent years, YouTube has become Google’s most popular service, edging out Gmail. Because Google owns YouTube, there is a built-in advantage for SEO, as Google favors businesses that utilize their tools. Essentially, this means that videos from their platform will have an upper hand in ranking high within search results. In fact, many prominent YouTubers use it to effectively assert themselves on the first page of Google search results.

3. YouTube Videos are Easy to Make

You don’t need to an expert videographer to make a YouTube video. For beginners, you can get away with making videos with the built-in camera on your mobile device or laptop. Although your picture doesn’t have to be perfect, your audio should be loud and clear. The one thing that commonly drives away viewers is poor quality audio. In this case, it doesn’t hurt to pick up an inexpensive microphone to help boost the clarity of your audio. You’ll find that a simple upgrade to your audio will actually put you ahead of many other marketers on YouTube. Later on, as you get more experienced in this facet of marketing, you can always purchase a few pieces of equipment to make the process easier and give your videos a more professional touch.

4. Personalize your Brand to Build Credibility

Video has the power to make the interaction between businesses and customers more personal by giving an actual face and voice to the brand, which allows the brand to demonstrate their products or services in a very real way. This can allow the brand to further connect with their audience, which helps create trust and credibility.

YouTube provides a platform to show how knowledgeable you are about your particular niche or field. Providing insights and added information helps prove how proficient you are in your field and that you are a trusted resource. Showing users the behind-the-scenes aspects of your brand will allow your audience to really get to know what you or your brand stand­­ for.

5. Build a Community

YouTube is a fantastic platform to showcase your brand and create a regular audience. If your business doesn’t currently have a YouTube channel, creating a new one will allow you to tap into an entirely new audience. If people genuinely like your content, they will stick around and subscribe to receive your latest video updates. This is reason enough to create a channel for your brand that users can find and follow. By simply clicking the subscribe button, they will become part of your community.

Getting your brand or business seen and heard can be a challenge. With the increasing amount of people using YouTube to market their businesses, this platform is steadly becoming more significant than ever.

If you’re hesitant about getting your business on YouTube, don’t wait any longer. It’s time to hit the Play button on success.