That Time I Gave Away One of my Biggest Marketing Secrets for the Good of the Industry

As a marketing professional in the nonprofit world I’m constantly looking for ways to make CSIA visually attractive to both homeowners and chimney professionals, while also keeping a tight reign on spending. One of my main tactics for accomplishing these goals is through the use of my own photography or the use of free, but high quality images, found on the internet.

But let me backtrack a little…

A few days ago, I was having a conversation with an owner of a chimney sweeping company out east, who also happens to be a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep. He had asked me why I hadn’t just gone to Google images and a picked a better photo for a certain spot on our website. At which point I had to slam on the brakes and let him know that this is an incredibly dangerous business practice, because the vast majority of images found through a typical Google image search are copyright protected — meaning you can totally be sued for using them without the express permission of their copyright holder.

In fact, within my first month of working for CSIA, we received a letter from Getty Images stating CSIA was displaying a Getty-owned image on our website without their permission, and we owed them X amount of dollars for doing so. Needless to say, I immediately did an audit of all the images on our website (and there were a TON) and pulled down whose ownership I couldn’t verify with absolute certainty. That was not a fun process.

Now, if you visit www.csia.org, you’ll find a totally rebuilt website, but you won’t find any images that weren’t either taken by me personally or sourced from a credible website that offers “Creative Commons” images or even better, “Creative Commons Zero” images, which means the images are free to use by literally anyone for literally any purpose.

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All of the images on CSIA’s website were either shot by me or found on Unsplash.com.

I feel like I’m giving away one of my most valued secrets, but one of my favorite websites for finding great images for CSIA projects is Unsplash — a site I love so much that I also contribute some of my own photography.

Now I could make this difficult on you and say “hey, go to that site and start searching for images relative to the chimney and hearth industries”, but before I even sat down to write this blog, I did that work for you and created a “collection” of industry related images that you can immediately download for use on your own marketing & advertising. You’ll find images of rooftops, fires, smoke, firewood, etc, and I hope they’re helpful.

You can find the collection here:  https://unsplash.com/collections/483185/for-csia.

Good luck!

jordan prAbout the author: Jordan Whitt is the Director of Communications and Marketing for the Chimney Safety Institute of America and holds the CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep credential.  Outside of the CSIA, you’ll occasionally find him doing some public affairs work for the American Red Cross or the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, or taking lots of photographs. You can email him directly at jwhitt@csia.org.


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