have integrity when choosing & using images for your biz

image courtesy of my husband, james gunton, and mememaker.net

i am a huge fan of using images to send a message about your business, your passion, and your expertise. people resonate with images - whether they are photographs, quotes, infographics or humour – they mean something to people and they are easily shared with others so they can be a great tool for marketing your business and engaging with people.

but please, please have some integrity when choosing and using images for your business.

i see people sharing images all of the time that are not properly credited to the author or linked to the orginal source. i have found my own original graphics being shared online with my watermark removed. this is not cool. i have clearly stated on my blog that i want people to share both my graphics and my written content, but it should be properly attributed to the author (me!) and it should contain a link back to my site. and that should be standard procedure for anyone sharing any kind of content online.

but it seems like many people are not aware of how to properly credit images. perhaps the popularity of facebook, pinterest, instagram and other online apps and platforms, people think that the images are there for anyone to use any way they wish.

that would be like walking into a library, picking up a book, ripping out a few pages, and then sharing them with your friends. no credit. no link to the orginal work. just because the library is free to use it doesn’t mean you should treat the books or the authors that way!

here are some tips if you wish to share an image as a promotional tool for your biz...

  • create your own. this post is full of free apps that you can use to create awesome images for your bizhire a photographer, designer, or illustrator to custom create some images for you
  • find images that are free for you to use – this blog post from tadah has some great tips
  • ask the creator of the image for permission to use it on your site/page/newsletter etc. or look on their website to see what permission they give
  • if you use images created by other people make sure their watermark is visible and that you have credited them and linked back to their site
  • if you find images on pinterest that you would like to embed or share, make sure they link back to the original source and the author has given permission for them to be pinned (many images are not linked back properly, and this is annoying if you really would love to share them. but we are talking biz-karma here, just sayin)
  • share images on facebook by using the share button on the author’s page (so they remain linked to the author themselves) or if you must re-upload it to make it more visible and appealing include the attribution and link back in the content area
  • if you find a photograph you would love to use to promote your business you must get permission from the photographer and/or purchase the rights to use it. just because photographs are all over the internet does not mean they are free for you to use. (not only are you infringing on their copyright but you can harm their business if the photographer has sold exclusive rights to a photo)
  • use common sense. there are internet memes abound that no one knows the authorship for. for some reason this doesn’t seem to bother anyone. but photographers, designers, illustrators, artists, creators, heck parents even, want to be credited for their images


  • take someone’s image and remove the watermark, attribution, or link
  • take someone’s image, add your own text or alter it, and call it yours 
  • take someone’s image, save it, re-upload it, and act as though it's yours (even if you didn't mean to)

the way we share content online is opening up new roads and opportunities for to visually market our businesses. i for one am super excited about where these roads are taking us. and i firmly believe that the benefits i get from sharing my work online far outweigh any risk of copyright infringement. in fact i have purposely created images for people to use as a method of promoting their business and what they stand for. but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t sting when my images are used without so much as a thanks.

it just boils down to integrity really. do unto others....

want to read more on this issue?

- link with love - an awesome site devoted to inspiring positive change

- the 'how to credit poster' from the biz ladies at design sponge

- this awesome story of how a photo thief got busted