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Watermarking Your Images: Shameless Self-Promotion or Smart?

I was shocked when I heard someone say watermarking your images is a form of shameless self-promotion. Seriously!?!?

I took a moment to think about this and tried to see the other person’s point of view. Sure, I can see if the logo or site URL is the center of attention on the image then yeah, that is a bit much.

However, as with most things in life, if it’s done tastefully, I don’t see a problem with watermarking. It can have several benefits for you as a content creator and for your readers or customers, especially on Pinterest.

Watermarking Your Images: Shameless Self-Promotion or Smart?

3 reasons why watermarking is a good idea:

#1 Protect your work

Of course, the 100% guaranteed way to keep your images from being stolen or misused is to keep them offline. Since that isn’t realistic for bloggers and online business owners, we have to do what we can to protect ourselves.

Including a watermark on your images can help readers or potential customers find their way back to your site when your images are taken by others as their own.

I have come across many pins on Pinterest that don’t link to the original source of the image. I’ve often found myself being taken to sites full of AdSense ads or Tumblr blogs with no link or mention of the source of the image. It’s usually an image that with does not have a watermark that I see being used this way.

A lot of time effort and money is put into creating images that are included on blogs and websites. I don’t think it was the creators intent for someone else to profit from them.

If a watermark had been included then the reader would at least have some information about where the image originated. A quick online search can get them to the site they wanted to go to in the first place.

#2 Protect yourself from broken links

Currently, with the edit Pin feature on Pinterest,you can change the link attached to a pin. There are some legitimate ways to use this feature such as when you upload an image from your hard drive, you can link it to a relavant page on your site. Or, when you find a pin that is linked to the main page of a blog instead of the post you can edit the link to go directly to the post. (This is great pinner etiquette. ) But, I have also seen spammers use this feature to redirect pins to spam sites.

I once pinned an image of a landscape and when I clicked through it took me to a site selling weight loss pills. I’ve even heard someone recommend using this tactic as away to increase traffic to your site and to “take advantage of it before Pinterest shuts it down”.  That made my skin crawl.

These scammy things don’t happen as often to images with a watermark. If something like this happens to one of your pins, a watermark will let people know where they can find the source of the image and the information or product they were looking for.

#3 Increase brand awareness

Ok, I know how this might look at first glance, using watermarking to increase brand awareness is self serving. But as I said before if done with tastefully it is actually an accepted and proven way to grow your business. Think of the most successful businesses in the world and I bet you imagine their logos. Or, if you read their name, you know what they do.

Think of your business in the same way. Online, our images represent our businesses and in my case they represent me and the services I offer. Would you see Apple or Microsoft putting something out into the world to represent their business without their name or logo on it?

 Adding a Watermark

Here are a few ways to include a watermark in your images:

With your URL

Watermark image with URL

With the name of your blog or business

Watermark image with your business name

With your logo

Watermark image with a logo

Notice in the examples above that it isn’t the watermark or the logo that is the main focus of the image. To increase the chances of being repinned on Pinterest it should be the subject of the image that is emphasized.Click here to read about ways to create pinnable images.

Sure, watermarks are easy to remove from images but it seems that most spammers don’t like to do work. In fact, the person that I mentioned before who recommended changing pin’s links, also recommended only using images that weren’t branded or watermarked.

It would be great to hear your thoughts on watermarking, please leave a comment below. And, if your think others would find this information interesting please share it by clicking the sharing buttons below.

To see how easy it is to add a watermark to an image with PicMonkey, watch the video below.

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  1. Avatar

    Great post, Cynthia. Increasing brand awareness is a great reason to watermark your images. A few months ago, a photo I took at a science fiction convention was shared by a celebrity on Twitter and seen by thousands of his followers. And there is no telling how many times it was re-shared. Sadly, I didn’t put a watermark on the photo, so no one knows where it originated. No telling how much useful traffic I would have received if I had bothered with a watermark of my URL.
    Lesson learned.

    • Avatar

      Thanks Mitch! Another great point you bring up here. If someone with a large following shares your image on social media or on their blog (with permission or attribution) a watermarked image could be a great way to bring new traffic to your site.

  2. Avatar

    I’ve been debating with watermarking my photos. For awhile I watermarked everything, but since I use a logo and had to do it with PSE, it added a ton of time to my blogging process. Now I’m thinking about just watermarking “Pin-able” images. Also, my watermark logo doesn’t include the “.com” part of my website name, it just says “Real Life Notes”, do you think I need to add the .com to make it more clear that’s the URL?

    • Avatar

      Hi Jill, thanks so much for your question!

      I googled Real Life Notes and your site is listed first in the results. Since you rank #1 any one who sees your watermark and searches for it will find you. So, right now I don’t think the .com is necessary. The only hiccup I could see is if your site’s Google ranking changes.

  3. Avatar

    Cynthia, thanks for this. I’ve been really sloppy in this department. I appreciate the reminder!

  4. Avatar

    Hey Cynthia,

    Thanks for the good advice. I tried watermarking my photos before. I used a program called Impression Exporter. It worked great and I could do all my photos in bulk, but the problem was that all of the embedded data, such as location info, would be erased from the photo. For a travel blog, I like the idea of someone being able to find exactly where the photo was taken when I use my phone and other info when I’m using my real camera. This is definitely something I’m going to have to reconsider.

    • Avatar

      My pleasure, Jason!

      That is a fabulous idea for travel bloggers to include location information in their photos. It would help your reader and if the location is included in the photo’s file that would give you a good SEO boost too.

      Thanks for your comment 🙂

  5. Avatar

    I feel that the concept of watermarking has been around for hundreds of years. I would never ever recommend a painter not to sign their paintings because it would be shameless self promotion. If a person creates a piece of work, whether for professional or personal purposes, there needs to be an identifier for that work.

    • Avatar

      Vincent you’re absolutely right, I hadn’t though about this from an artist’s perspective. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

  6. Avatar

    Cynthia, thanks so much for providing this information. It was just what I needed! It only takes me a few seconds to add a watermark to my photos using PicMonkey.

    Now, if there was only an easy way to do this to the more than 200 existing photos on my website! I dread having to re-upload all the redone photos to my site, especially as I don’t have the original photos well organized.

    Is there a way to watermark my photos linked to my Pinterest board without losing the attached pins?

    • Avatar

      Debra, thank you so much for coming by and leaving a question I wish I had better news for you. Unfortunately, there is no way to change the image of a pin. The best plan would be just to watermark from here on out.

  7. Avatar

    Cynthia, I found your site through 2 Create A Website’s blog post about Pinterest.

    This is an excellent video. I didn’t realize that spammers are stealing images. I am going to start adding a water mark to my images.

    I haven’t looked too deeply into your site yet. Do you have an article on how to increase traffic to your website through using Pinterest?

    • Avatar

      Hi Jordy,

      Thanks so much for coming by and for your kind words about the video. As for how to increase traffic to your site using Pinterest, I wish there was a way I could sum it up in one article but unfortunately, it isn’t that easy. Success with Pinterest, as with other social networks, requires time and effort to grow and develop a following that will bring you quality traffic.

      Here are a few things to keep in mind:

      1. Have pinabble images
      2. Create content worth pinning (informational, inspiring or entertaining)
      3. Make it easy for your current readers to pin with a pin it button
      4. Create an account with boards that will appeal to your target market
      5. Participate and engage with other people on Pinterest

      I hope this helps a bit. The blog post that will be published later today has a video of a conversation I had with a couple of people getting started on Pinterest, you might find some helpful information there. Also, episode 7 of my podcast is all about the basics about getting started on Pinterest and episode 16 will guide you through some of the recent changes.

      Please let me know If I can help you as you get started 🙂

  8. Avatar

    Hello Cynthia, I googled watermarking on pinterest and your article came up. Thank you for your information. I have been tossing this around in my head for quite some time. I have been using a larger watermark and placing it strategically yet artistically in the body of the photo. My reasoning has been that if it is harder to remove then less people would try to use it. Here’s an example of one of my images.
    In your opinion, am I doing myself more harm than good?

    • Avatar

      Ann, I think your photography is so good that the large watermark is OK. You could aways make it more subtle if you think it detracts from the image.
      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

    • Avatar

      Ugh…the creativity is in the concept, the photograph, the design of the set. Are you trying to show off your logo skills, or the photography? Making it “impossible to remove” simply makes the image “not nearly as unique and beautiful” because chances are, that logo appears on tons of other image 🙁 Anyway, I believe if you search for the world’s best photographers you will not find watermarks on their portfolios…so why should we?

  9. Avatar

    Thank you for your input!!!

  10. Avatar

    Ran across your post while doing some background on an article that is the exact opposite of your position on the topic of watermarking images. You raise good points, and perhaps if you are limiting them to only social media sites a very almost imperceptible watermark is fine…but for photographer/artists’ portfolio of images this is a huge no-no and will do more harm than good.

    • Avatar

      Hi Vin, I agree for the sake of art a watermark ruins the piece but in the world of social media and marketing I think branded images have their place and can help a business. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts 🙂

      • Avatar

        You may be right there; in fact you probably need to consider other things such as the size of the image, aspect ratio for the intended post so that text doesn’t disappear, etc. I guess I am more dubious of a scenario where the images are “all the photographer’s work” in a portfolio, their very own gallery. People will steal, regardless….but it’s the potential customer I am most concerned about. Thanks for your response!!

  11. Avatar

    I sign my paintings, and I sign my images online. Considering how many sites strip the metadata from our images, and many share without attribution, how are people supposed to find us? I am seeing more and more fine artists and professional photographers watermark, so I don’t really buy the argument it is a no no anymore.

    • Avatar

      Jafabrit, can you put a link to one as an example? Because the trend is only growing with the population of new users who don’t know that it hurts their image, not helps. I am not talking about social media, multi-artist websites like or whatever; knock yourself out degrading your work there. I am talking about professional artists who presents in galleries and have their own web portfolio site. Yes of course you should SIGN your work. That has nothing to do with “watermarking your web image”. When you sign your painting you do it in a specific place and it does not detract. When you sign a framed and matted print, you do it on the mat outside the image (also not to detract.) As to finding you….how are the people viewing them to begin with? Is the site not professional? Does it reflect YOU as the artist who created them or are you just uploading a bunch of images to a social media website? And you you really think that a person who steals your image wants to find you? You may not buy the argument, but I doubt if people are buying your work if it is defaced with logos, etc. I know…I am argumentative….;-)

  12. Avatar

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  13. Avatar

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  14. Avatar

    Hmm is anyone else having problems with the pictures on this blog loading?
    I’m trying to determine if its a problem on my end or if it’s the
    blog. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

  15. Avatar

    This is a good article. In every industry there is the problem of educating your audience. Because marketing is taught in colleges and trade schools and not high school, the general public is unaware of what image creators are doing with signatures and watermarks.
    I’ve enjoyed combining my signature from my art with the watermarking technology. I signed my name as I would on any piece of art I’ve made, then scanned it into the computer. After using a trace program to get a vector image it is a simple matter for me to drop it onto any photos I take. Not only that, but I can add color change and special ‘effects’ to the images if so desired (i.e. change the color of the signature to match the color scheme of the art).
    Thanks for posting this, I’ve shared it with my contacts.

    Thom Pettit

  16. […] Including a watermark on your images can help readers or potential customers find their way back to your site when your images are taken by others as their own. I have come across many pins on Pinterest that don't link to the original source of the image. via […]

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