Social media platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat prove just how powerful images are on the internet. Not only is a picture worth a thousand words, it can be worth a lot of money too.

Today, we’re used to a conveyor belt of fresh images on a regular basis thanks to how we consume information on the internet. We’re more used to videos and images – especially as the consumer’s attention span wanes at the sight of a lengthy article.

As a small business, creating your own images is the perfect solution. Unfortunately, learning photography isn’t a skill that everyone has the time or money to indulge in. The alternative, of course, is to use someone else’s images.

But how do you know you’re giving them the credit they deserve? Getting your image sourcing right can be difficult, and if you don’t know what’s best practice it’s possible that you’ll wind up with threats of a court case on your hands.

Even knowing who an image belongs to can be difficult, as the recent ‘monkey selfie’ debacle proves. So, to help you out deciding what sources to credit and when, we’ve crafted a simple guide to crediting images.

Stock photosA Guide to Correctly Crediting Images Online

The most obvious solution to your image conundrum would be to sign up to an online stock photo gallery. From here you can access thousands of photos and you won’t need to worry about any crediting since you’ve already paid for them.

However, for small business owners looking to save costs and bootstrap to make it through the first five years, stock photos may not come high on the list of spending priorities, particularly when there are free resources available.

If you decide to not pay for s stock photo service, make sure you do not use a stock photo image on your site that you have paid for directly from the stock photo site. If you do, you could be looking at a hefty fee – one that will have you wishing you had just paid for the service in the first place.

Copyright free images

A simple Google search of your chosen subject will confront you with whichever picture you desire, but not all of them are up for grabs (although it may seem that way).

Only certain images are copyright free, which can make it tricky for those trying to innocently find an image to use on their site without getting into a legal battle over rights.

To help you weed out the ones you can use from the ones you can’t, there are settings on image sites to help you differentiate between rights-free images, and those you’ll have to pay for.

While you may be able to use copyright images without consequences, that doesn’t mean you should ignore simple, good practice. Always credit the images you obtain from rights-free means, simply to ensure that the original owner receives recognition.

Social media images

Social media can be where image credits become even more of a grey area. On social media, you’re easily able to share, retweet and quote others’ images. However, when you upload someone else’s image as your own, you should also post credit.

If you spot an image that you think would make a good story for your website, you should contact the image owner and check that it’s okay for you to use it. If you gain permission, you should still make sure you credit the image owner.

Where to put it

Once you’ve chosen your image and found the original source you need to credit, you just need to choose where you’re going to put the credit it in your article.

You can either put the image credit as an ALT tag, a caption beneath the image, or if you’ve used a lot of images in an article it may suit you more to add all the image credits in a byline style at the bottom of the article, alongside links to the original source.

Wherever you think is best to put them, just make sure you include them.

Do you struggle to know how to source images? Have you been caught up in an image credit battle? Share your experiences in the comment section below.

Lauren is the driving force behind our content and social services to clients. If it’s an amazing Pinterest competition or engaging copy you require, we have that more than covered with our content & social team.