How to Use Photos on Your Website Without Getting into Legal Trouble

Avoid getting into legal troubles for using copyrighted photos

We all know the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. In that case, two pictures in an article on your website must be worth 2,000 words. Right?

Not necessarily. On social media, a photo is generally worth a certain number of likes, tweets, pins, stumbles, or shares. It might be worth only a few likes or maybe a few hundred or even a few thousand.

Yes, using images on your website is a top priority if you want readers to enjoy your site.

You can be sure that if you don't use images on your site, traffic will be low. Today's best writing techniques involve writing stories to get your readers involved in your post. And there is no better way to express the feeling in a story than with captivating images.

Suggested reading: Increase Sales: How to Use Storytelling on Your Business Website

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Who Owns Online Photos?

You probably know that photos are copyrighted and legally belong to the photographer. Copyright is automatic – the photographer does not have to file special paperwork for his photos to be copyrighted.

When you find the perfect photo, you do not have the right to use it – even if you give credit to the photographer. If you do, you are taking a huge risk and can be taken to court and forced to pay a pretty hefty fine.

What About 'Fair Use'?

'Fair use' circumvents the photographer's copyright by allowing 'limited and reasonable' use of a photo by someone who is not the photographer. But determining whether your use of a photo qualifies for 'fair use' can be daunting. It's better to avoid walking the very thin line that balances the photographer's rights with the public interest.

How, then, can you find images to use and still avoid a legal battle? The first step is to ask the photographer for permission. You might be pleasantly surprised. Some photographers would like to become better known and might give you permission as long as you credit him by name.

Your request should include –
  • a link to the photo that you want to use
  • a link to the website (or even better: the specific page or post) where you want to use the photo
  • information about whether your use is commercial, non-commercial, academic, educational
  • how you plan to use the image – as is or with some changes
  • a question about how to give credit to the photographer
 Use stock photos legally without crediting the photographer

The Easy Way: Buy Stock Photos

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find out who the photographer of a particular photo is. So more often, you would go to a stock photo site and buy a photo in order to obtain the copyright license.

There are many stock photo sites that have thousands upon thousands of images for sale. You search according to the topic of the photos you need for your article.

The problem is that it can be very expensive to buy two or three stock images for each article that you publish on your website or blog. Stock photo sites often do not allow individual purchases. Instead, they require you to buy a subscription. For example, BigStock subscription prices look like this –
  • 5 images/day or 150 images/month for $79/month - $0.53/image
  • 10 images/day or 300 images/month for $99/month - $0.33/image
  • 50 images/month with no daily limit for $79/month - $1.58/image
One of the major problems with the first two plans that have a less expensive price per image is that you have to download either five or ten each day in order to get the maximum number allowed per month. If you miss downloading five images today, they expire – they don't roll over to tomorrow.

The third plan is more flexible, but images are more expensive.

DepositPhotos is another stock photo site but is less expensive. They do not have as huge a selection as BigStock, but still, with millions of images, you can probably find what you want.

The best thing about DepositPhotos is that a couple of times a year, they have a special sale via AppSumo, who acts like their agent. The last time, the deal included 100 images for $39 that never expire.

If you sign up for a free account at AppSumo, you'll receive email announcements about special deals. When you find out about the special for DepositPhotos, you need to buy it very quickly because it always sells out.

Suggested reading: How to Make Your Website More Attractive

Use Public Domain or Royalty Free Images

There are millions and millions of high-quality photos you can use without worry. Just because they're free does not mean that they are low quality. They are merely photos whose copyright has expired or never even existed for some reason.

Do a Google search for 'public domain image + topic' or 'royalty free image + topic.' In other words, if you want some public domain photos of dogs, Google 'public domain image dog' or 'royalty free image dog,' and you will find plenty of choices.

Use creative commons (CC) pictures on your website

The Cheaper Way: Creative Commons

There are free stock photo sites like Pixabay and Pexels that have images free of copyrights. According to information on Pixabay's FAQ page, "All pictures are released under Creative Commons CC0 into the public domain."

Or you can go directly to Creative Commons search page to look for images that you don't have to pay for.

It's Just Not Worth the Risk

There is no need to risk a lawsuit over using a copyrighted image. You can see that there are plenty of inexpensive or free ways to find high-quality images to use on your website. Be sure to include images on your website, but do it the right way.

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Author: Kate Benzin

The 5 Most Popular SimpleSites in 2016

Have you ever wondered what the most visited SimpleSites look like? Now you can find out which SimpleSites are the most popular and take a look at them.

Below are the current five most visited SimpleSites with a little information about each one. In general, they chose SimpleSite because they could build a website or blog easily – no worrying about html coding or other complicated stuff.

Suggested Reading: World's Oldest Blogger is 104 – and Still Going Strong

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Bedfordshire Drain Repairs – 1,110,787 visits as of October 7, 2016

Family-run Bedfordshire Drain Repairs wants to fix your drain system and make sure that it works properly all the time. Of particular importance, they will use CCTV and give you a dvd of your drain system that you can use when selling your property.

And if you're looking at property to buy, they'll perform the pre-purchase survey that your lender requires. That inspection will also give you peace of mind about your purchase.

But Bedfordshire Drain Repairs doesn't just work on drainage systems. They provide several other services –
  • groundwork and landscaping
  • demolition
  • renovation of property
Bedfordshire's SimpleSite is very straightforward and easy to navigate with excellent photos to demonstrate their services. If you're in the Bedfordshire, U.K., area and need some of the services they provide, take a look at their SimpleSite.

Out of Passion: Van Leeuwen Irish Terrier Community Ltd – 1,276,311 visits as of October 7, 2016

Jean Soeters' passion is most definitely Irish Terriers as he clearly shows on his SimpleSite Out of Passion: Van Leeuwen Irish Terrier Community Ltd.

If you want to read about his passion for Irish Terriers and his commitment to the breed, click on 'Read This First !!!' and 'read more' pages from the menu on the left. You'll soon understand his philosophy about who should be allowed to own the breed. You might even be tempted to visit the kennel located in Kent, U.K.

Jean obviously has his hands full with his Irish Terrier kennel, but he felt like people didn't have access to clear information about the breed, and he wanted to share his knowledge. A few years ago, he decided it was time to tell the world about Irish Terriers, but he didn't want to take time away from his dogs to learn coding or a complicated web-building system. That's why he chose SimpleSite.

When Jean saw information online that SimpleSite made it easy for non-techie people to build a website, he knew he'd found his solution. In just the few years that his SimpleSite has been online, it has become one of the five most popular SimpleSites.

The Crocosmia Gardens – 1,368,118 visits as of October 7, 2016

Mark Fox is the creative mind behind The Crocosmia Gardens and has been a serious Crocosmia collector for more than 16 years. If you want to visit, his garden is in Caistor, Lincolnshire, U.K.

The purpose of The Crocosmia Gardens SimpleSite is to share information about the flower and to spread knowledge about the wide variety of Crocosmia available that many people don't know about.

His SimpleSite not only displays the Crocosmia varieties that he owns and has bred, but also contains historical information about Crocosmia as well as excellent tips about how to take care of your own plants. In addition, he provides lists of other sites in both the U.K. and the USA that sell Crocosmia.

Mark likes SimpleSite so much that he's started another SimpleSite about caring for hedgehogs.

ffire Photography – 1,525,944 visits as of October 7, 2016

On her SimpleSite, ffiona Erskine of ffire Photography says, "I am nothing special … I just see the world in a special way …"

And her photography, displayed on her SimpleSite, clearly demonstrates the truth of her statement. She has been a self-employed photographer for over eight years and works with her husband Ian who handles the business side.

Located in the Sydney, NSW, Australia, area, ffiona currently specializes in shooting weddings and dogs. She says that she loves being the person who captures wedding images of the couple in love.

In addition, ffiona is the offficial photographer for the Purina Sydney Royal Dog Show but photographs dogs at many other dog shows as well.

Her current project is Chasing Satin. In this case, satin refers to the satin ribbons that can be won at dog shows. This project to help raise money for cancer research started out small to be a calendar of artistic shots of dogs with models. But it just kept growing. ffiona ended up with more shots for the calendar than she needs and is also making a documentary.

Check out her SimpleSite – you might be tempted to turn your dog into a model.

Suggested Reading: Use Social Media to Notify Your Readers About New Blog Posts

Daylily Place – 2,750,408 visits as of October 7, 2016

Visit Daylily Place online and you will be rewarded with images of beautiful daylilies that owners Fred and Kathleen Manning have shown and/or hybridized themselves.

The Mannings have been involved with daylilies for more than 13 years. They've won several awards from the American Horticultural Society, and each year, they introduce daylily versions they have hybridized.

Fortunately for flower lovers, Daylily Place is a commercial and display garden that can be visited by appointment at their location on the Gulf Coast of Alabama. Just contact them through the contact page on their SimpleSite.

If you can't make a visit in person, don't worry. The Mannings have made a gorgeous display on their SimpleSite, which is easy to navigate. The images of their flowers are so enticing that you'll probably spend longer than anticipated browsing them and end up with a long list you want to order. But don't hesitate. Some of their stock sells out very fast.

Ready to Build Your Own SimpleSite?

Take a look at these popular SimpleSites to get ideas for building your own. You can get started for FREE – just click the green button.

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Author: Kate Benzin

Use Your Smartphone to Take Amazing Product Photos for Your Online Store

The camera on your smartphone can take surprisingly great photos

Now that online shopping has become so widespread, having high-quality images of the product you're selling in your online store is just as important as having a high-quality product.

The perceived value of your product just might depend on those photos. Your readers cannot pick up the item and examine it, so the photo (or better yet, photos) of your product must be appealing enough to entice your readers to click the buy button.

Suggested reading: How to Maximize Your Business Using a Blog

Don't worry. This doesn't mean that you have to hire a professional photographer to take shots of each product for sale on your site. Your budget may be tight – especially if you're just starting your business. Keep reading for some tips to help you use the camera on your smartphone to take surprisingly great photos.

Ready to start your own website? Click the green button to make your own SimpleSite website for FREE.

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Equipment for DIY Product Photos

You won't need much preparation to produce shots that will show off your products in their best light. It's not as difficult as it might appear at first, and you won't need to invest a huge amount of money on high end equipment.
  • Camera – Yes, start by using the camera on your smartphone. You may later decide to upgrade, but check the results using your smartphone camera first. You might find that you don't really need to upgrade.
  • Tripod – No matter how careful you are, if you hold the camera with your hands, you won't get the sharpest image possible. To make sure that the item is completely in focus, you will need a tripod to hold the camera perfectly still. You can pick up a good, inexpensive tripod for U$20-30.
  • Table – A folding table works fine. Set it up against a wall with a large window at one side, if possible.
  • White background – Camera stores sell white backdrops, but you don't need to invest in that. Instead, go to an art store and buy a few sheets of their thinnest white mat board. Make sure the sheets are substantially larger than your product because this mat board will be the background in your photos.
  • Masking tape – Use this tape to secure the white mat board onto the table and wall.

How to take excellent photos for your online store

Learn All the Operating Functions of the Camera on Your Smartphone

Like many people, you probably already use your smartphone to take snapshots. The cameras on smartphones have become incredibly sophisticated, though, and you may not be taking full advantage of all the possible manual settings that yours possesses.

If you have a smartphone that does not have manual settings, think about adding an app that will add manual controls, such as Camera+ or Camera ZOOM FX.

Take the time to learn how to use the manual settings so that you have some control over exposure and white balance.

Set Up Your Photo Area

First, make sure that your product is perfectly clean with no price tag showing.
Then, wait for a day that is bright but a bit overcast. Avoid bright sunlight because it will throw harsh shadows onto your product.

Set up photo area

If you are unable to set up near a large window, place a fairly bright lamp off to one side.
Tape bottom edge of the mat board flat to the table, leaving enough to curve up the side of the wall. Tape the top of the mat board against the wall. In this way, your white background will be behind your product as well as under it.

Take another piece of white mat board and prop it up against a few books on the table directly across from the window/lamp, leaving enough space between the window/lamp and the propped-up mat board for your product to sit. The propped-up mat board will bounce light from the window/lamp back onto the darker side of your product so that the lighting is more even.

Place your product in the area you've created and start shooting. Consider moving in closer to take shots of details. Having multiple images of your product will increase its overall appeal.

Suggested reading: Increase Sales: How to Use Storytelling on Your Business Website


Edit your product photos

Your smartphone may have some built-in photo editing features, but if not, you can take advantage of some free photo editing software for your pc or Mac –
Read more: 7 Great Alternatives to Photoshop

You don't need to get really creative. After all, you're not producing a work of art. In the case of product photography, you want images that show off the products as they truly are.

Using any of the four free photo editing programs, play around with brightness, contrast, white balance, and sharpness. Crop out extra blank space. Straighten the image if it's slightly crooked. You might find that the photo you thought was already perfect can be made even better.

Don't get discouraged if you're not happy with your first results.
  • Wait for another day when the sunlight is better for photography.
  • Try shooting from different angles.
  • Move the propped mat board around to see if that casts better light onto the product.
  • If possible, sit the item on a small pedestal to make all its features more easily visible.
Experience can be a great teacher. Give your imagination free rein, and you will probably find that you become more and more expert as you try different techniques.

Ready to start your own website? Click the green button to make your own SimpleSite website for FREE.

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Author: Kate Benzin

Your Blog Can Change Someone Else's Life

Help other people go through difficult times

Have you ever thought that your blog posts might be able to help other people who are going through difficult times?

If you already blog about your hobby, then you've likely received comments that have mentioned how your techniques helped a reader. The reverse is probably also true when you've gotten comments with suggestions that have helped you out.

But what if you blogged about more personal topics, for example the difficult times that you've gone through? Do you think that sharing your methods of coping might help or inspire others?

You probably understand how writing about traumatic events in your life helps you work through the small or big bumps you find as you travel through life. In fact, journaling for your own mental health is a widely recognized way of dealing with your own emotional issues.

If you don't have a blog yet, click the green button to make your own SimpleSite blog for FREE.

Build a Free Blog here!

Connect with Others

You may not yet accept the idea that others can benefit from posts you write about your traumas, but think about literature for a moment.

"The good writing of any age has always been the product of someone's neurosis, and we'd have a mighty dull literature if all the writers that came along were a bunch of happy chuckleheads."
 – William Styron, Writers at Work, 1958

In that vein, you've probably read a book or two that eased your pain a bit when you read about a main character you could identify with.

The same can be true with blogging. Your blog posts can touch readers who are dealing with issues comparable to yours.

Regardless of how unique your particular situation is, this big world contains others who are suffering through similar dilemmas. Your posts can help them –
  • cope with a similar predicament
  • look at their situation in a new light
  • resolve to improve their lives
No one is suggesting that your posts should be written at the level of Hemingway or Faulkner. The point is that when bloggers write about traumatic events in their own lives, the reader can identify and feel less alone in dealing with the problem.

Blogging is therapy

Tips to Help You Write About Your own Emotional Issues

  • If blogging publicly about painful periods of your life seems like something you just can't do, then write your blog under a pen name. It can be just as rewarding for both you and your readers.
  • Start out by focusing on big themes that many readers will be able to identify with – love, fear, disappointment. Be specific enough that your readers are interested, but leave the heavy topics like suicidal thoughts and severe depression until you can see by readers' comments that they're ready.
  • Don't worry if your readership doesn't grow fast. Most blogs don't grow quickly. It's likely to take 6-12 months to have a significant number of readers. At the beginning, let it be enough that you are getting the benefit of clarifying your thoughts and feelings in written form. And stick with it.
  • Read comments from your readers very carefully so that you can see what parts of your writing touch people the most. In addition, comments showing your readers' needs and interests will guide you in deciding on topics for future posts.
  • Some readers are likely to give negative comments, such as "Grow up," "Get a life," or even worse. Just delete them without trying to prove your point. But if a reader takes the time to write a thoughtful negative comment, read it carefully to see if there's something you missed in your post. You might find a whole new post from a phrase in a negative comment.
  • Write your posts as stories – not as chunks of information. Stories touch people emotionally and keep their attention. Your readers feel a connection with you through your stories – not through information that you give them.
  • Be authentic. Readers will know when an article is not honest.
  • Don't worry about changing the world. Just imagine one reader and try to touch that person.
Suggested reading:
Your Blog Can Change Someone Else's Life

It's Your Blog

Your blog can be about whatever you want as long as your words are not harmful to others. Whether you write under your own name or use a pen name, people walking a similar road as you will be happy to connect with a blogger who has some of the same issues to deal with.

They may not always leave you a comment to express that sentiment, so you may have to remind yourself from time to time that your first reason for blogging about your issues is to help yourself. And if your posts help someone else along the way, that's a big bonus.

Ready to start your own blog? Click the green button to make your own SimpleSite blog for FREE.

Build a Free Blog here!
Author: Kate Benzin

World's Oldest Blogger is 104 – and Still Going Strong

World's Oldest Blogger

The world’s oldest blogger is Dagny Carlsson. She started to blog just four years ago at the age of 100 and immediately took the internet by storm – not just in her home country of Sweden, but all over the world.

She’s been featured on the Swedish TV show Skavlan and on websites EverythingSweden and Stellanaija – to name just a few of the many interviews she’s done.

Take a look at Dagny’s site Blog with Me!, or Blogga Med Mig! in her native Swedish, which is closing in on two million visitors in just four years. Google will translate it for you into just about any language you can think of if you’re not familiar with Swedish.

Dagny’s philosophy is that a long life is due to two main components: good genes and curiosity. Given the activities she pursues at her age, she clearly was fortunate enough to receive good genes.
As for the second component, she considers curiosity to be the way to stay mentally young. She demonstrated this by taking a computer course for the first time when she was 99 years old. Why? To satisfy her curiosity about computers.

As a result of that course, Dagny started a personal blog on SimpleSite in 2012 and continues using the SimpleSite blogging platform today.

Suggested reading: Success Story: SimpleSite Blogger Goes Viral!

Dagny Carlsson

Dagny signs her blog posts as Bojan – her pen name. She looks at herself and her past history in musings with a little humor, but considers herself to be a blunt person. She likes to write stories that compare how things are now with how they were years ago.

Popular on Facebook

Dagny is not only popular with mainstream media. On Facebook she has a fan page with more than six thousand followers. Take a look at this video posted on April 20th showing her trying out a virtual reality device for the first time. More evidence of her curiosity.

What Is So Fascinating About Dagny's Life?

You might be thinking something to the effect that “Well, if she can do it, I guess I can, too.” But then the naysayer inside your head reminds you that there’s nothing particularly exciting in your life to blog about.

At that point, you probably ask yourself “What is so interesting in her life to blog about?”
Good question.

The answer is that Dagny Carlsson leads a life that is probably not very different from the lives of most people. What sets her apart is the manner in which she presents her life to the public. The popularity of her blog can be attributed to the heartwarming and optimistic attitude that she expresses in her posts. She shares everyday activities with her readers in an endearing tone, such as –
  • memories of her childhood
  • the desserts she likes to make
  • tips on managing personal finances
  • pictures of her home
  • Swedish traditions
  • her gratitude for life in general
In addition to the everyday topics that she blogs about, she hopes to also be a voice for older people. With her interviews in various Swedish newspapers and on several Swedish television programs as well as her ongoing blog and Facebook fan page, Dagny certainly is showing the world just how big an impact a 104-year-old woman can have.

Suggested reading: Tips to Write Engaging Blog Posts

What Next?

Since Dagny claims that a person gets old when she stops being curious and learning new things, she says that blogging will not be the last thing she learns. She mentioned checking out Instagram next.

Sweden became synonymous with IKEA many years ago. Now, Sweden is famous for Dagny Carlsson, the oldest blogger in the world.

Has this post motivated you to start blogging? You can join Dagny on SimpleSite and set up your own FREE blog. Just click the green button to begin.

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Author: Kate Benzin