Finding the perfect image for a blog post can be time-consuming and frustrating. In a perfect world, we would all take our own spotless, Instagram exploding photos; but we don’t all have the skills or the setting to do it. It is illegal to use images from other blogs or websites without permission, even if you link to the source, and even if it’s a store you presume wants promotion. Asking permission to use images will make you feel legally secure, build relationships and reap additional benefits you may not have even considered.
One of my blogs is in the interior design niche, but sadly I’m not creating home decor masterpieces to expertly photograph every weekend… I don’t have the time, money or space. I love to put together round-up, decor shopping, and design inspiration posts, which support ideas for future projects. Recently, I put together a shopping post about personalized kids room decor, featuring my favorite designs from various Etsy stores. Despite being an Etsy affiliate I contacted and asked permission to use photos from every single store I featured. Nearly all got back to me within 24hrs, and I gained some fantastic perks…
6 Surprising Outcomes from Asking Permission to Use Images
Free Advertising and More Traffic
All but one of the 28 stores I contacted were extremely excited to be featured. After I published my post I sent them all the link, which they all visited and many shared on social media. Some left comments and one even changed their Instagram bio link to my post and shouted out to her followers! I had a considerable boost in my usual traffic, all because I politely asked a simple question.
Many of the programs offered are managed by a few big affiliate networks. These companies manage the entire affiliate process – links, creative, tracking and commission payouts.
Not Everyone Wants to be Featured
I used to presume all stores would love to be featured in a blog post praising their designs. Of course, they don’t mind me using their promo image to advertise their product with a link from my blog – I was wrong. One store replied to my message saying, “On reviewing your blog, we would rather you did not.” Ouch… I pride myself in a great looking blog filled with lovingly written articles, and I wasn’t expecting that. Who knows why I wasn’t floating their boat, but the point is never presume anything, it could come back to bite you.
Unique Perks for Readers (and Stores)
One store was so excited to be featured, they put together a coupon code just for my blog. This code gives my readers a 20% discount on everything… another way to promote the store and my blog post! It’s also a clever move on the store’s side, because they can now see what sales are coming directly from me. Why does this matter? Because if they are looking for future collaboration opportunities they will be able to see if it’s worth working with me.
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Free Product Review Opportunities
One store got back to me very quickly, saying they’d love to send me a FREE sample product to review and feature on the blog. I am in the process of putting together my twin boys’ bedroom, and it looks like I have some free decor to hang above their bed… gotta love that.
Social Media Boost
Three of the stores gave me a shout out on social media, sending me a few new followers. On top of this, I have an Instagram giveaway in the works, suggested by one of the stores I contacted. The giveaway will help both them and I grow our Instagram following, who doesn’t love a product giveaway and a boost in social media following?!
New Backlinks for Improved SEO
One store was run by a lovely Danish lady who travels the world, and donates a chunk of her profits to a fantastic charity helping women during childbirth in developing countries. You really do meet some interesting people when you get talking! She has her own website promoting her products and the charity she works with, and she has now linked to my post because she was so pleased to be featured. Backlinks from other sites are crucial in building SEO and Google ranking. People pay for links like this… all I did was ask permission to use her image.
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What to Say When Asking Permission to Use Images
I’m a big believer in being polite while getting straight to the point. There is nothing worse than a bunch of waffle in an email. In fact, these are the only emails I don’t reply to, because often I think “I’m not quite sure what they’re asking, I’ll read it again later.” Only I never get around to it. People are busy and they don’t need an essay. I messaged people on Etsy through the ‘ask a question’ feature on the product itself. If you’re asking for permission to use images from another blog, emailing them is generally the best method of contact. Remember that blog post comments are public and therefore this may not the most appropriate place to ask. Here is the exact phrasing I used when asking permission to use images:
I run a family lifestyle blog at twinpickle.com. I’d love to feature your decals in a roundup of the Best Personalized Kids Room Decor on Etsy. Would you mind if I include one of your photos to go with the link to your shop?
The message is linked to the product; therefore the store owner knows which product I’m referring to. If you are referring to a blog, include a link to the post and be specific about the image. Also, have a look through the blog’s ‘About me’ or ‘Contact’ areas to see if you can find the name of an actual person. Everyone likes to be referred to with a name.
Why You Should be Asking Permission to Use Images
I have explained all the awesome benefits I received from asking permission to use images for just one round-up post. Building relationships makes all the difference to the success of my blog. And once you break the seal on asking, it becomes really easy. Behind these websites and shops there are real people, and who knows what opportunities talking to them will bring. Most importantly though… it’s legal.