How to Prevent a $10,000 Mistake! Royalty-Free Images

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Have you wondered where to get good royalty-free images on the Internet? We’re going to talk about how to protect yourself against a $10,000 mistake that one of my clients made that is very common when you’re looking for images. We want to keep this from happening to you.

Let’s talk about images. Man, they’re fun! We could put them in blogs, on our website, and we can use them on our social platforms.

What we usually do is type in Google search the images that we need. Then Google will show an overwhelming result in front of you. You scroll it down, look for whatever you want for your Social Media and Website. Now, what our brain tells us is, “Well, if it’s on Google Images, I can use it, right?” Your brain would be wrong, you can not use these images. 

Let me explain to you why you can’t just grab and save photos from Google. There’s a bunch of misunderstandings around what is royalty-free and what is not royalty-free and unfortunately, I’ve had a couple of clients who have gotten in trouble by using images that are not theirs and they thought it was just fine. 

There’s a whole big issue right now with Getty Images. I’m sure you guys have heard of Getty. They’ve been around forever. They own most of the stock photography sites on the internet right now. 

Gettys business model has changed to “We will troll the internet. We will look for all of our pictures that people have taken from Google Images, and then we will send you a notice of a fine, a bill.” and that bill then goes to lawyers and attorneys and then you don’t need me to tell you what happens.

I’ve had several clients get smacked around this. So, this is why I want to talk about getting good royalty for images that are not going to be a $10,000 mistake. Let’s say you saw a rose gold watch, it’s by Samsung. 

Now, I can go in there, I could right-mouse click on this and take it right now and save it to my computer. That seems fine, but I’m telling you it’s not. You don’t know in that image.  There’s a photographer and a company that owns that image. It just happens to show up under rose gold. 

Here’s the problem with these is that how do we know that those images are tagged correctly? We don’t know. Those images come from all over the Internet. We don’t know how they’re tagged. Who tagged them and whether from. 

So, my advice to you is never to take any images off of Google images. It is risky and you don’t know if those have been tagged correctly. Once you get a little love note from Getty or Samsung, it’s too late. 

Let’s talk about how we can find excellent stock photography. You’re probably going to have to pay. I’m going to show you some free sites that are going to give you these royalty-free images where you’re not going to get in trouble.


Now, Pixabay has collaborated with Shutterstock. Shutterstock is you have an account on Shutterstock and you can go and buy images there for licensing. 



Unsplash is another great place to find royalty-free photography that you can use. So, I’m going to come back here. Now, what’s interesting about this is that a community of photographers has said, “Look, we want our images seen. We’re going to take all these images to give me attribution and you can use my images as much as you like.”

I’m giving credit to the photographer without getting in trouble. She has said it’s okay for me to use her images as long as I give her attribution. Yay! That’s wonderful, I love this. 

You could also hire Unsplash to take custom photos for you too. So, you can hire one of the photographers. Say I’m doing a video shoot for this. I need images of this and they’ll go and take them for you for a price. I think that’s kind of a cool feature. 



Canva is a Godsend. I spent years as a graphic artist, I was a graphic artist for many years in Photoshop and that sucks you in like no one’s business. You can get in there and start mixing with the pixels and the filters and you’re going nuts.  2 hours later you still don’t have an image. 

Stay out of photoshop and go to Canva. Canva is a genius tool!

It makes creating images so easy. Now, the cool thing about Canva is that you can go in and you can create custom images on the fly. Another great part of Canva is that all the presets… So you think about banners on Facebook, banners on Twitter, images for Twitter, and Images for Instagram.

This has all the presets already defined. So, if I want to come in here and I want to do a YouTube thumbnail, I can come in here. All I have to do is to click the YouTube thumbnail. It’s already been measured.

If you want a killer photoshoot, invite, go onto Craigslist. Look for people that are photographers in the area. Or thumbtack is another great tool. Thumbtack is an app you put on your phone and it gives me access to makeup artists, photographers, wedding consultants, you name it. 

Hire a photographer for a half day. It’s going to cost you like maybe 200 bucks. Have them come to an event that you’re having or come to your company and take good photos. Using photos that you created, whether they be on your smartphone or they are through a photographer it’s always going to be the best way to go. 

When you stock photography, you’ll lose a level of personalization. It’s like you remove your set… On one level, you remove yourself from that personalized engagement. 

Whenever you’re going to use something like stock photography, just remember that people know it’s the stock photography and it can be slightly discrediting if that’s all you use. Because you’re not showing who you are. You’re just using other people’s photos. 

Now, you’ve created a royalty-free image. It’s not going to get you in trouble and you have a beautiful graphic. You don’t have to think about being a graphic artist. It has all of the cheats in there for you. 

Canva makes its money off of selling clipart and stock photography at a buck a pop. So, if you need something, you could buy it for a dollar, and then you know you’re covered as well. So that’s awesome. 

When you’re thinking about royalty-free stock photography, take it yourself. Smartphones have amazing cameras. Take your photos, it’s fine. I spoke for the American Broadcasters Association. I attended a seminar that was about viral video and virality and a big part of virality is that it’s in the moment. 

It’s spontaneous, you capture a special moment, and if you capture it just right that it has this viral quality to it, which is great. But when you take pictures with your smartphone, people know that you’re kind of like giving them a backstage pass to what your life is. 

If you have a backstage pass, it just has more credibility. It is more about you and less about a stock image. Make sure to balance your use of royalty-free images with your images and then upload them to Canva and then add your text on top of that. So important that you be thinking strategically around, “What does my feed look like on Instagram? What does my feed look like on Facebook?” 

Now, Facebook is most people’s photos that they take from their smartphone. But as you evolve as a business owner, you’ll have a business page on Facebook. You’ll have a brand business account on Instagram and you’ll have a brand account on YouTube. 

For you to create consistency of brand across all those different platforms, you need a tool at canvas so that you stay. You have all your logos correct, colors are correct, and that your images are correct and you know that wherever they see you. Whether it be LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube thumbnails, or Facebook or Instagram, it has a beautiful consistency. 

I hope you learned a little bit about royalty-free, make sure to post a comment down. If you have some other great tools that you have found that make creating images at you know, legally and have a real eye-catching pop, put them in the comments below. 

I’d love to hear your feedback on that. So, go to Canva. Create some awesome images and I can’t wait to see them on social media.

If you are interested in learning more about how we can help you use the link below to book your FREE hour call with me 

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