Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Lessons Learned the Hard Way: Why you should always take the time to watermark your images

We all have moments in our lives where we wish we could jump back to our past selves and shout something at them. This is one of those instances.
It all started back when I decided I was going to “brighten up” my deck this past spring. I had great plans and after much thinking, decided to fix up my outdoor benches and make a coffee table out of a piece of glass I had lying around from a broken table, along with 2 tires recently removed from my vehicle.
I spent a lot of time on that project, and was so excited to share it with friends,  family and my blog followers. Because of this, I quickly uploaded the photos to this post, without any editing to them, whatsoever. This was problem #1.
As I’ve grown my blog from its itty-bitty conception, I’ve become more and more concerned with getting my projects/posts up online quickly- meaning something had to give- and that was the extra time I had been taking to edit my photos, adding a watermark to them and metatags. To most people, these aren’t that important, but when you projects are out on the internet for all to see, especially in the age of Facebook and Pinterest, it SHOULD HAVE BEEN more important to me. I SHOULD of took the time to put watermarks on, and just be a day later getting my posts up. But alas, I didn’t for many projects in the past few years, and now, not doing so, has come back to bite me.

Going back to my deck project- my tire table got some major attention on Pinterest and on blog hops I participated in- everyone thought that was the coolest thing about my deck seating area transformation, whereas for myself, it was just an idea I had that was just a part of the “room” as a whole. 

Most people adored this image from my post:
Then this Buzzfeed article happened.

 One day in June I pop on my blog and my pageviews had skyrocketed. I was like, “What the heck?” and sure enough, Google Analytics said boatloads of people were coming from a Buzzfeed article posted over the weekend. I was happy, excited and quite ecstatic that little ol’ me had a project worthy of being in a roundup of “The Coolest Backyard Furniture DIYs” (I was #19). A few other sites that basically rehash what Buzzfeed posted also picked up my picture and link to my project, driving a few more people to my site. This is when things start to head south.
Because Buzzfeed has become synonymous with Facebook, I knew the article would be shared all over the place and didn’t think much about it. What I forgot about this though, is people often steal- meaning, they download the photos from articles or blogs, and then repost them on Facebook like it was their own image, with no link back to the original post.

This came to the forefront when a few days ago a friend sent me a message on my Facebook wall with “This looks familiar”- a popular thrifty blogger had posted my tire table image with a link to Pinterest where you can Pin it- however, the link on Pinterest did NOT go to my site, nor was my site mentioned anywhere in the Facebook post. It went to the image only, off floating in cyberspace, with no recognition whatsoever that I did it. No links, no mention of my name, nothing. I contacted the blogger, who once found out it was my project, linked things to my blog. This was after it already was liked over a thousand times, shared over 500 times and commented by about dozens of people- so that means those hundreds of people, didn’t know it was done by me! 
After all that stress of getting things tracked back to my original post from that point forward, I asked where they got the image from in the first place- they said they got it shared from another blogger’s page. So again, I track down that blogger and tried to let them know that it was my project, and can you please link it back to me.
The blogger shaming began even more with this second instance, than the first blogger I had conversations with. “We only share photos that we don’t have sources to on Facebook, we would never share unknown sources on our website.” “But, you should really have a Watermark, so we at least know where it came from,” “Do you know how to do Watermarks?” Etc, etc.
My stomach started to turn, as I see the hundreds upon hundreds of shares, likes, comments on these various posts by other bloggers who shared my image, but had no idea it was MY PROJECT!  On top of it, I was sick at the feeling at how dumb and “lazy” I had become as a blogger- I’m a graphics designer for God’s sake! I can make a watermark in 2 seconds, but I just didn’t think I had the time to do it for all my photos on my blog- I just wanted the posts up as soon as I could, often making posts from my phone or ipad.
Then my head started buzzing- “How many people have liked, shared this image, and they didn’t know where it came from? Think of how many new followers I have lost from this!?!” I wanted to bawl my eyes out at this point.
After much discussion with the second blogger, we figure out a way to get the image updated with a version that has my “new” watermark on it, but again, all the people who shared or liked it before, would not see that updated version. 

So a lesson has been learned and I am slowly but surely trying to update the majority of my blog post images with watermarks on them (which might take me all month to go back and do that to many years of blog posts). But at least from here on out, even if someone saves the photo to their desktop, you see clearly on the photo where it came from. I probably won’t watermark my “thrifty finds” as they are products, rather than crafty projects or d├ęcor, but everything else from here on out, is getting watermarked.
As many bloggers I am sure have come across, Facebook/Pinterest can help and hurt your blog at the same time. All too often we find spammers or malicious stealing people who download a blog image to their computer, re-upload it as their own, with no way of knowing the original source. Often I see recipes posted by fellow friends that have the recipe listed below the photo with no source whatsoever as to who it came from. This bothers me greatly. 

Currently, I don’t blog for money. I blog for fun, and to share my crafty and DIY projects with the world, in hopes at least someone learns something new or gets inspired to try some new way of creating something. But even though I don’t blog for money, this whole situation still bothers me greatly.

So, I urge you. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE watermark your images if you are sharing them online. And if you are sharing a projects you found online, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE include the link somewhere in the post back to who created it if you can.
Don’t let this happen to you, let alone, don’t be one of the people who did this to someone like me.

Normally I don’t blog about things like this- normally I’m just a share my projects to the world, kind-of blogger. But I thought this was something that needed to be shared and said, so no one else makes such a horrible mistake like myself, even if it is a reminder to just take the time to do it.
I’ll never be able to get back the thousands of shares that people have spread across the web without crediting me in the photo or in the comments, but at least from now on, I can help try to prevent it from happening again.

Thanks for stopping by and listening/reading all- sorry for the wall of text.
On a happier note, I hope you all have a lovely day!


  1. Oh, man. And just yesterday I posted a bunch of vacation photos and didn't watermark them because it felt too efforty. I'm sorry this happened to you and will learn your lesson. Watermarks from now on!

    1. yeah. The effort of doing it to every photo was my reasoning too as to not doing it. But boy am I kicking myself for not!


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