Content marketing should be a part of any digital marketing plan for small businesses. When marketing experts refer to a content marketing strategy, they are talking about making a plan to build your audience by publishing, maintaining, and sharing regular and consistent content that informs, entertains, or inspires your target audience to get to know your business and buy from you.
Blogging is one of the best types of content you can create to achieve this goal and it is a critical part of any successful content marketing strategy. Posting relevant blog content with appealing pictures will help generate more leads for your business because it drives traffic to your website and establishes your business as an expert in your field, which is good for Google rankings.
We’ll save our tips for writing effective blog posts for a different article. Today we want to discuss copyright issues when it comes to choosing a picture for your articles.
What you need to know about pictures if blogging is part of your content marketing strategy
If you are planning to start blogging and (wisely) want to include a picture with each article, it’s important to be careful not to offend or break any copyright laws. Most images you can find through an Internet search are protected and can only be used if you have permission from the original owner or you risk being sued.
Even before you started your professional life, you used to find amusing pictures on the Internet and put them on your Facebook and social media pages. You took pictures with your smartphone camera and sent them to Instagram. Your friends and family always enjoyed your postings. Now you figure you can take advantage of all the pictures on the Internet or the ones you’ve snapped on your phone for marketing your business. Unfortunately, there are a couple of problems with this idea:
- Internet pictures are copyrighted. Picture owners generally allow use of their pictures on personal websites but as soon as someone takes their picture to try and profit from it, the owner can sue for compensation. This applies to pictures on your business web pages, including blog posts. If you refuse, they can sue you or shut your site down for copyright infringement.
- Your smartphone camera efforts aren't professional enough for business. If your pictures look amateurish then you are potentially hurting your business image.
How to get legitimate images for your blog posts
If you're interested in using effective and legal images for your business website and blog, you have the following options:
Ask the owner. Sometimes all it takes to get permission to use an Internet photo is to email the owner. A few will gladly grant permission as long as the caption includes a link back to the originating website. Most, however, will want some kind of royalty payment.
Hire a photographer. A professional photographer conveys your business message using your company products, goods, and services. Photographs can be taken with your brand in mind. This is also the most expensive option. The cost may be worthwhile for pictures you want to use for your homepage slideshow, but probably not for weekly blog posts.
Download from a stock photography website. Companies such as Getty Images, 123RF and ShutterStock charge a reasonable fee if you want to use one of their millions of images. There are also websites that offer royalty free images for no cost such as Pexels and Pixabay. You can search by keywords and choose among different resolutions. In addition, you can almost always copy a free, watermarked version of a picture you’re interested in to see if it will work on your blog or website before you commit to a purchase. The only disadvantage to this option is that these images won't be specific to your company or product, and will be visible on the sites of their other customers.
If you want more information on how to effectively use Internet marketing for your business,