nicpel: (Default)
This started out as a forum response, but I decided I was getting too long-winded and would rather blog about it :)

I keep hearing about how hard it is to find legal images you can use on your Squidoo lenses and that's why there's so much trademark and copyright abuse. I disagree. Yes, it takes a little more time and effort (which is why the scammers won't do it), but there are plenty of great ways to find attractive images for your pages without doing so in a questionable or downright violating fashion.

This is basically my 10-step "Elimination Process" when I'm personally looking for images to use on one of my lenses:

1. Take my own damn photos. Nothing is more personal and unique than photos you take yourself! When I cook something I might want to write about, I photograph it step by step. Go to a concert? Take photos. Travel somewhere? I take photos. Eat at a great restaurant? Photograph the food. I have a library of easily about 10,000 photos now on just about any topic I want to write about. Sure I'm not a professional photographer, but quite often a simple iphone snapshot can do the job just fine. That's all I used on my How to Make Pizza lens.

2. AllPosters. As an AllPosters affiliate, I can use poster images of all kinds on my lenses - provided they link back to the product for sale. Plus I can earn money if someone buys the poster! AllPosters have everything from celebrity pics to movie posters to classical art and much more. When I can, I like to mix together AllPosters images with my own photos, like I did for my Duran Duran survey. It's hard NOT to be able to find something appropriate at AllPosters, so why not become an affiliate yourself?

Webmasters Make $$$
Webmasters Make $$$

3. Amazon. Selling Amazon products is a great way to make money with Squidoo, whether you have your own affiliate account or use the Squidoo Amazon affiliate program. And if you're selling an Amazon product on your lens, you can use their photos of it (like I did when I was trying to find a legal MasterChef image to use...)

4. Morguefile. Don't let the name turn you off. Morguefile is absolutely my FAVORITE place to search for general-type images of people, food, places, ideas...just about anything that's not celebrity-related. Morguefile photos are free to use commercially (as long as you're not just repackaging them without modification) so they're absolutely perfect for a lot of lenses. If you look at my Weight Watchers Points Plus 2012 lens, all of those photos are from morguefile and showcase some of the variety that's available.

5. Ask a friend. I have a few friends who are awesome photographers. And if I explained exactly how I was going to use their photos (yes, commercially), with full credit, I've been lucky to be given permission to do so. So if you see photos on Flickr or elsewhere by someone that would be perfect for your lens, but you're not sure about the usage rights? Why not ask them? Yes, they might say no. But they could say yes as well and everyone goes home happy. My Foo Fighters Survey lens wouldn't be the same without the awesome photos used by permission from [personal profile] cat_wolf.

6. Check for digital press kits/allowed for commercial use images. Some artists, bands, celebrities and events will have digital press kits on their websites where its clearly stated the images can be used for promotion, reviews, news reports, etc. Just be very careful to read the fine print. For my Dragon*Con Guide I downloaded the logo direct from their media center/press kit.

7. Wikimedia Commons. Wikimedia can be a good source for things like classical art images, nature photography, animals and more. However, I still try to be careful about using Wikimedia images because since they are user-uploaded, there sometimes can be questions about their legality and usage rights. But it can be impressive what you can find here.

8. Other commercial websites if you're reviewing their products/selling them. This I try to be careful with, but it is generally considered acceptable to use product images if you are reviewing them. I always try to find the product first via Amazon (so I can get a sales commission!) but in a few cases I'll go this route with no other option available. Certainly if you're promoting items for sale in your own CafePress store, you can use images of them - and you should!

9. Flickr public domain and Creative Commons (with commercial use) images. In a near last resort, I'll search Flickr for photos that allow for commercial use elsewhere. However, just like with Wikimedia Commons, you have to be careful that the person who uploaded the image really had the rights to do so. I've seen album covers, posters, publicity photos and similar clearly copyright protected images labeled incorrectly as "public domain" on Flickr before. So user beware.

10. ClipArt collections on-line. This is sort of a last-resort for me but one I'll sometimes use, like on my Garlic Intolerance lens. Finding GOOD clip art can be difficult - and being sure the clip art is truly public domain even harder. So I only use one or two clip art sites and collections that I believe I can trust.

Now, if I get past #10 on the above list and STILL can't find the type of images I think I need for a lens? Then I start to question whether it's really a good subject to build a lens ABOUT - at least not until I can find, create or photograph the right kind of images to use for it.

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Nicole ("sockii") Pellegrini

January 2013

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