Blogging is one of the most effective ways to build your brand, promote your business and build an audience of people eager to support your entrepreneurial projects. Since your blog is a potentially interactive medium, it makes sense to break up walls of text with images. However, your choice of images is almost as important to your blog’s success as the written content itself. In fact, if you make the wrong choices when it comes to images, you can actually face legal action, which can prove devastating when it comes to accomplishing your blogging goals.
Don’t: Use Copyrighted Images or Images You Find in a Search
Too many bloggers assume their blog is so small time, no one with the copyright to an image will ever notice them. However, you don’t have permission to use any image you find online, even images of celebrities. Photographers own the copyright to the images they upload online, and you often need model or owner releases if the photos feature people or properties, unless those people or properties are very famous. Regardless, the photographer owns the right to any image he or she takes, and you absolutely can be sued for using it on your blog – even if you take down the image the moment you learn there’s an issue. The lawsuit or settlement could be enough to force you to shut down your blog.
Do: Use Stock Photos and Your Own Photos
On the other hand, that doesn’t mean you should stop using images entirely. For example, Forbes reports that 18.9 million women actively write blogs. If you’re going to stand out from the rest, you have to not only provide more and better content, you have to present it in a way that’s memorable. To avoid litigation, you must either take your own photos – and get legal releases from any models or property owners, if necessary – or pay to use stock photos that allow commercial use of their images. If you update a lot and are pressed for time, a membership in a stock photo website is the easiest way to get the images you need, and there are a lot of images from which to choose.
Don’t: Be Too Comical
Comedy is like sprinkles on an ice cream sundae. A dash makes the ice cream taste even better; a huge amount covers and distracts from the ice cream entirely. Your instinct to spice up your blog with funny pictures may backfire if you do it too often. Include no more than one funny image per post and make sure it definitively ties into the point of the post. Comic photos that don’t tie into the point of the post are merely distracting and even annoying to the reader.
Do: Vary the Types of Images
Using only a small amount of comedy doesn’t mean you should only post images of stock businesspeople conducting business. Include graphs and illustrations as well and images of people who represent your targeted audience outside of the business. Just remember that you can’t post graphic or illustrations created by another artist without permission, just as you can’t post photographs for which you don’t have the rights. Adding a credit is not enough – you must have written permission.
According to HubSpot, 93 percent of human communication is non-verbal. Although people will seek out your blog on the basis of the information you can impart, they’ll continue coming because they have a pleasant experience visiting it. Images help convey your message more clearly, and they break up the information so readers have more time to absorb the material.