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Using Images In Blog Posts


Some of the most common questions people encounter as they begin blogging revolve around images: how to credit them, what the copyright regulations are, and general, proper blog image etiquette.

Using Images in Blog Posts

Images and the Fair Use Doctrine

First up, the legalities: images are copyright to the photographer. Unless you are the photographer, you have received permission from the photographer, or they have licensed their work for creative commons, you are using any images you post under the US government’s doctrine of “fair use”.

You should read this short page for the complete information about fair use but to paraphrase, there are four factors at play:

  1. The purpose and character of the use (commercial? non-profit?)
  2. The nature of the work itself
  3. The amount used of the work as a whole
  4. The effect of your use upon the market value of the work
Blogging Etiquette

As you can see on the copyright office’s page, the entire fair use area is gray. Here are a few things that are absolutes:

  • Getting approval from the owner means you are in the clear to use the image.
  • A creative commons license (which many bloggers who take their own photos provide in the terms and conditions of their site) means you are clear to use the image.
  • If the owner of an image asks you to take it down, take it down.  Period.
  • You should ALWAYS credit the owner/photographer.  Even if you have permission.  Even if it’s creative commons.  Unless it’s your image, or a stock image that does not require crediting (aka “attribution”), this rule should be followed 100% of the time. For example, the image above is a no attribution required stock image.
  • Pinterest is never the source of an image.  I repeat – your image credit should never be to Pinterest.  There is a photographer/blogger behind that pin who brought the amazing content to light.
Tips for Bloggers

If you are a blogger yourself, it is a great idea to have a policies or terms page on your site, telling your readers whether or not they are free to use the photos (and content) that you have posted and in what manner.

When you post images that you do not own, I think it bears repeating that you should always credit the photographer.  If you found the image on a blog other than the photographer’s, you should also credit the source of the information and any sources that they have named. It doesn’t cost anything to be nice and give credit where credit is due!

Bloggers and photographers, do you have tips to share on image etiquette or guidelines for usage?

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So You’re Ready To Blog…


You’ve read my previous post about deciding whether you’re ready to start a blog and the green light has appeared.  Now what?

Steps to Take Before Starting a Blog

Step One: Name Your Blog

(If you are a vendor with an existing company name (and you plan to add a blog with your existing company name on your site) move on along to Step 2.)

It sounds quite obvious but naming your blog is not as easy as it sounds.  After brainstorming blog names, you will first need to verify in the US Trademark Database (TESS) that your chosen name is not taken.  You will also want to verify with Whois that the .com of your chosen name is available for purchase.

Step Two: Branding

I cannot stress enough how important cohesive visual branding is to your new blog.  This includes color schemes, fonts, and most importantly your blog logo and header.  You want your blog to be a reflection of you, your company, and your content.

Think of brands you use on an everyday basis.  What makes you choose Tide vs. Cheer?  Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi?  A generic granola bar may taste almost exactly like Quaker, but how likely are you to choose generic?  What makes you lean towards brands that you trust?  It isn’t always taste, usefulness or tradition – in some cases it’s as simple as the overall appearance and packaging of the product on the shelf.

The web is the same.  You may have the best content in the world but if your blog/site is poorly designed and difficult to navigate, you’re not going to generate the readership you want.  So when you’re branding, as difficult as it may be, you’re in Field of Dreams land.  “If you build it (and have excellent content, and market yourself, and make sure you SEO your site properly, all of which we’ll discuss soon!), they will come”.

Step Three: Sketch Your Layout

In Photoshop, Powerpoint, or with stick figures (my preferred method), begin sketching out your blog’s look and feel.  Do you want a 2-column or 3-column layout?  How do you want your front page to appear?  Do you want to immediately display excerpts or full-text posts?  What information do you want to display in your sidebar?  What information do you want included in your posts’ headers?  Their footers?  What navigation elements are essential?

This is a daunting task but before any technology is implemented you need to have a vision!  Review as many blogs as possible for elements you want to incorporate into your preliminary design.  This is also the time to work with your graphic designer on any special illustrations for your site, or to gather the best photos of your work to display.

Now that you have a good idea of the look and feel of your new blog, it’s time to get technical!  Next up: a series of posts on Building Your WordPress Blog!

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So You Think You Want To Blog?


As small business owners, entrepreneurs, or hobbyists, if you are considering adding a blog to your business the first question that you should ask yourself is:

“Why am I blogging and what do I hope to gain?”

Read This Before You Start a Blog

Bloggers are:

  • Writers
  • Developers
  • Librarians
  • Social media managers
  • Intellectual property experts
  • Editors
  • Graphic designers
  • Advertising execs
  • Marketing gurus

Blogging offers lots of amazing rewards but comes with a great deal of responsibility, and each time you put a post, a tweet, or an email out into the blogiverse you are representing yourself or your business… that’s a lot of pressure!

Sit down to think for a moment about the blog you hope to create, the audience you want to reach, and the true reason you want to start a blog.  Make a pro/con list.  Consult your business plan.  Read other people’s blogs to get an idea of the audience you may want to reach and the network you want to join.  Then ask yourself…

“Am I qualified to blog about _____?”

Whatever your chosen topic, you should be a subject matter expert in that field.  Your field may be yourself.  It may be your business.  It may be your own taste.  Clearly you are an expert in all of those!  But let’s say you want to start a blog about gardening.  What can you add to the gardening blog industry?  Do you personally garden?  What do you know about growing specific plants, vegetables, or flowers?  Are you prepared to answer questions from readers and advise them on making their garden grow?  If the answer to these questions is no, stop here.  Do not pass Go, do not collect $200, and do not start a gardening blog.  But if you’re a bona fide gardening pro, then the last and most important question is…

“Do I have time for this?”

For many of us, blogging is a full-time job (on top of our full-time job).  It’s a huge commitment.  You must take the time to realistically assess whether or not you will have the time and energy to devote to your site.

If you’re a brave soul and are ready to jump in feet first, I’m going to be doing a series of posts to help you get started building your WordPress blog. I remember vividly how it feels to be brand-new to the blog world and tackle the setup of a website, so we will go back to basics, answer all of your burning questions, and you will be blogging in no time.

If you’re on the fence, well, that’s OK, too.  Starting a blog is not a decision to be made lightly, and we’ll have much more discussion on the realities and benefits of blogging, and why it may or may not be for you.

For all of you experienced bloggers reading, what other factors should those who are thinking about creating a blog take under consideration?

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