Tips for Using Images off of the Internet

Obviously, I’m a writer, not a designer. So while I’d love to stick a wicked cool graphic I designed into every blog post, I can’t. In fact, I usually trot over to Google whenever I need something. If you’re in the same boat, then this post is for you.

Google makes it so easy to find images online. And while you may be aware of copyright laws, it often seems like they go out the window in this wild, wild West called the Internet.

However, that’s not always true. Many of the images on the Internet are protected by copyright of some kind, and you can get into serious trouble for not adhering to those rules. But if you’re smart about it, you can avoid trouble before it happens by following these key steps, Searching and Documenting.

Searching

When you’re looking online for images, start narrowing your search right away. Don’t just type keywords into Google Images. Instead, go into the Advanced Search setting of Google Images and limit what results come up by clicking on the Usage Rights tab. To be on the safe side, I usually will pick “free to use or share, even commercially.” But even when using the images that come up, you should be careful about what you choose. Most of the time, Flickr is the number one site to come up for me, and while most stuff on Flickr is free, many of those images require some sort of credit to be given. (The image will have information on the sidebar that will tell you what you need to do.) Make sure you do this. Not only is it illegal not to do so, but it’s also just rude.

Bonus tip: Often, I go directly to Unsplash for the images I use. The website is easy to use and has a great selection of photos available.

Documenting

Now you’ve got to document the image you have. Here’s what I typically do with the images I use (although some websites may require more information):

1. After putting it into WordPress’s Add Media tab, I insert the image into my post and set the margins around 7-10 to give the image some breathing room. (This makes it look less cluttered when you add a caption.)

2. Next, I either put a full-out caption in the image or will just use alt text to give credit, depending on what the image owner asks. I usually will say, “Image courtesy of Person’s Name (Flickr, Unsplash, etc.).”

3. Finally, if I copied the image’s URL into Add Media, then I just let the image link back to itself. If I saved the image, then I add “custom URL” in the Edit tab and place the original image’s location there.

So, there you have it! Using these tips, you should be fine when you’re using images off the Internet. Good luck!

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