sponsored links

who to credit?



today’s post is a question for you about an aspect of Design Respect. there are clear black and white legalities when it comes to sharing content on blogs and through social media. however, i have been reading quite a few tweets and posts lately that are in the “gray” area and i was wondering your thoughts.

i have read from influencers in both social media and on blogs that as stylists or interior designers, they expect to be credited when their work is in a photo being shared. honestly, i found it surprising. i respect crediting source and/or photographer, but stylist? i had never thought of that quite honestly.

see … i am a designer. an industrial designer. basically, i design the “stuff” that is used by stylists and interior designers for their spaces or shoots. this personal share is relevant because of my postion in the pecking order that leads to that final image being posted or pinned. when you see a gorgeous space for example, there are many hands that go into the creation of that moment … that pin. there is the source of the image, then the photographer, then the stylist, than the designer of what is being shot or the subject matter itself.

on the other side of the pinning coin, a person may be pinning something because they love the color (ah em), lighting, photography, space, or particular object in the image.

so this all leads me…what in fact is the responsibility of the blogger or pinner? where do we draw the line? who should relistically be credited in a share or pin? what are your practices? i would love to hear your thoughts!

creating the job i love


i am excited to share with you the latest news with Design Seeds, Fresh Hues, and what that means to me personally. i have always wanted to be completely transparent with you about my efforts with Design Seeds, and am thrilled to share that it has all “made it to the next level.”

i have operated Design Seeds at a personal financial loss for over 3 1/2 years. i do not do affiliate or sponsored posts, pin for money, or do any of the shopping social media sites that are alternative routes for bloggers to make money. i have run a design consultancy concurrent with running Design Seeds. the income i have earned from client work has been what staffed my team to help support administrative needs as client work grew. it was client income that has also funded Design Seeds all these years (covering costs such as purchasing licenses for images, advertising, servers, font hosts, and web site design and development).

i decided late summer that i wanted to shrink back down to a crew of one, and outsource only my accounting and bookkeeping work. this is why the “designseedslove” twitter feed was taken down and i directly answer all emails and questions personally. although it brought me back into being completely immersed with every aspect of running the site as i intended, it was tough because my workload skyrocketed considering all the client work i managed.

in late 2012, i was racking my brain because i receive about 2 million pageviews a month on Design Seeds, and was trying to figure out how i could better monetize it without compromising my position on not doing any affiliate or sponsored posting. i wanted to cut back on client work and figure out how i could live my dream of being solely focused on Design Seeds. around that time, i announced here that i would start running ads on Fresh Hues. i started running Google Ads, and the revenue was surprisingly high compared to what i was earning with Design Seeds. as a result, i started running Google Ads on Design Seeds in the new year, and have monetized the site enough that i am thrilled to say…

Design Seeds is now my only full-time job!

i have not been taking on client work, and focusing all my efforts strictly on Design Seeds and Fresh Hues. it is through advertising and books sales that i earn the money to operate the sites and pay myself an income. it has been a THRILL to go down to work weeks that are no longer 80+ hours. i also had traveled regularly for clients (at least once a month), so it has been equally wonderful to plug back into being home more and indulging in my favorite hobbies and spending time with family and friends.

i wanted to share my news because many loyal readers knew i operated Design Seeds at a loss for many years, and that is thankfully no longer the case. i hope through continued hard work in having the privilege to share my passion for color with you, that Design Seeds will continue to grow so i can offer even more inspiration and integrate new features into the site.

it is the philosophy that you should live what you love that inspired me to start Design Seeds. i am humbled and grateful that i have had a sustained career doing so as a designer, but over the moon that now i am fully devoted to my baby and passion project.

it is beyond words to express what it feels like to be working for myself while doing what i love most. i understand and value that it is because of the generous support of readers all these years. Design Seeds is as popular as it is only because of grass roots support and people sharing with friends and colleagues. without your loyalty, my humble little passion project would never have grown into what it is today.

thank you for all your continued support as you inspire me to keep on and creating.

the point is not just about a pin




after reading Julie’s fantastic post “Sharing Images on the Interntet…” on Tractor Girl this morning, i was inspired today to write more about @iamthelab‘s Design Respect mission.

with great popularity, comes great backlash. and honestly, i think Pinterest is the perfect illustration of this. since the “Pinterest explosion” last winter, people have been polarized to hate it as much as other folks love it.

i personally love Pinterest, and the reasons vary. the following are a few key ones for me:

1) Pinterest links back and displays proper attribution well (showing a URL back to the original post, and offers the category for people to explore other pins from the same site)

2) Pinterest is responsive and immediately removes pins that violate copyright. i experienced this when a certain paint manufacturer did a “like Seeds” approach and created a palette generator that then adds swatches to original works to promote their paint colors. as Design Seeds were popping up around Pinterest with violated copyright because promotional paint swatches were attached to my work, i reached out to Pinterest and all modified Seeds from this site were immediately removed.

3) Pinterest is a major traffic driver. people pin Seeds, and i love that they do so. Pinterest is the largest source for Design Seeds traffic, with direct traffic closely following. no other social media comes close to driving the traffic Pinterest does.

now that you know a few of my feelings on Pinterest, let me share with you the social media that makes me shiver…


what makes me cringe when i am checking out my Analytics for Seeds is when i see traffic coming from Flickr or Deviant Art. i do not have accounts either place, so that means someone uploaded my work (which under their terms means they have either written permission to be posting my work, or they are claiming copyright). i am not aware my work is there, or where to find it. as the source in Analytics simply says “flickr.com,” i have no way of tracking it except for searching the site directly or trying a Google search. also important is that on Flickr, there is nothing integrated to link back “cleanly” to original works or posts. i understand this is not the purpose of Flickr, but people are using it in such a way that they are not only uploading their own work.

another pitfall in social media is on Instagram and how people are using it. it is a great network to share candids and visuals you serendiptously come upon through the day or your adventures. however, many do not use Instagram this way. people are using it more and more to promote their work, sites, or posts. i do not upload Seeds on Instagram, but other people do. as a result, i have lost control of attribution on top of copyright when others upload Seeds. on Instagram, my work does not link back to the original post and is altered through their filters and effects. this same issue holds true for when folks upload Seeds to Twitpic. doing an @someone is not proper attribution when you are uploading their work. you always need to link back to the original source.

finally, the grandaddy of copyright challenging social media is Tumblr. i recently saw this photo on a Tumblr site. the author was taking credit for the photo and even shared what lens they used.


the photo actually is from my old studio, and the photographer is Jennifer McCarty. i felt a little violated because these are my favorite personal treasures (each with a story or was a gift) and it is unsettling to see them claimed by another. but clearly the big issue is that the person is claiming the photo as their own.

and that simply blows. my. mind.

the photo is still on this person’s Tumblr page and has over 4,400 notes, and there is no clear way to have violating work immediately removed from Tumblr. icing on the cake is that this image is only going more viral and linking back to the offending Tumblr account.


 just touching on these small challenges of Instagram, Twitpic, Deviant Art, Flickr, and Tumblr are the tip of a very large iceburg. this is not a “Pinterest issue,” but a discussion on all social media and an effort to grow awareness on copyright and attribution.

i know my post offers many of the pitfalls, but i could go on about the powers. that is another post for another time. it is more critical to educate and spread word about the pitfalls and put out the fires to preserve what can be very positive platforms for artists and designers.

i hope this provides more food for thought, and i appreciate the passion of readers in supporting and helping get the message out.

origins pinned … sharing & social media


photo via @designseeds

Brett over at iamthelab.com has started a fantastic initiative called “design respect.” i am working to support Brett’s effort by helping to grow awareness through my own “design respect” posts here on Fresh Hues.

we are fortunate to be part of an age where social media seems to only be growing through constant innovation. as a result, it is very important to help grow knowledge on what it means to respect original works, and support the sites/designers/artists who create it.

today i want to address sharing other’s work on social media. i have been seeing the following happen more and more frequently with Design Seeds. people who love Design Seeds (and i certainly appreciate the support and loyalty) will (this is where it goes unfortunate) download an image / palette they love, and upload it into their Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest stream.

although the intent is well placed, it is actually not supporting my work by downloading it and putting into a personal social media account. attribution is beyond just adding @designseeds on the image or tweet. the actual URL (the link to the original post) is also part of the attribution. see … when someone uploads another’s work into their personal stream … “the buck stops there.” they are taking ownership of another person’s work and the link to the original post is forever lost.

it seems to be a growing issue. my gut says that it is because people do not understand what they are indeed doing by uploading other people’s work. so please … help out, set an example, and spread the word. the reason why it is so important (in addition to honoring copyright) is that traffic back to the original work / post is what keeps your favorite sites in business. it takes considerable cost to run a design blog, and traffic is a critical component in being able to afford to stay in business as an original content blogger.

sharing is caring … and it is always appreciated every time work is pinned, tweeted, posted, and “liked.” the key in sharing is that you are giving full credit to whom it belongs. bottom line …  simply link back to the original post or image. by doing this, you are providing full attribution while sharing what inspires you and supporting those who create it.

design respect

by Sean OConnor

i recently posted “integrity sold…”sharing the issues i have been facing with large sites and companies emulating the Design Seeds concepts. i also shared how readers can support original content sites in times where design blogs consist largely sponsored and affiliate content in “taking it back.”

readers and fellow bloggers have been extremely supportive. one champion and long time supporter of Design Seeds is Brett of iamthelab.com. IAMTHELAB brings to us artisans and designers who are innovators and on the leading edge of the handmade community. Brett is also passionate about creating awareness that is lacking in the design and shelter blogging world.

when “integrity sold…” received such amazing response, Brett had chatted with me about his concept for Design Respect. benchmarking Link With Love, Brett is pioneering the Design Respect movement. to read more about it, please check out Brett’s latest post.

it is important to support passionate efforts such as Brett’s. the quality of the online design world is what is ultimately at stake. candidly, the reason why quality is going down on sites is because the online world can be like kids playing soccer. people see what is popular, and they pile on (irregardless of their expertise). it is lost on many bloggers that talent and originality are what creates popularity. another big issue in imitation is when a larger site than yours riffs on your concept. readers miss that the larger site is actually the copy, or others find justification a “everyone is doing it” excuse. people do not often stop to think these imitators threaten and truly can drive the originator out of business.

in addition to derivative content, many sites can be like riddled with sponsored content. ads are no longer just in the margins, but are the content of the posts. posts feature paid for content, or bloggers receive a commission on the products they feature if readers click the links from their posts and purchase something. i believe Design Respect also touches on this in that when sites feature such content, they should ensure they are not promoting imitators and they are transparent to their readers (beyond burying disclosures in hidden margins) regarding the post content.

whether you are a reader who desires inspiring content, or a fellow blogger trying to create with integrity in the sponsor riddled blogging world … please take time to check out Brett’s efforts with the Design Respect movement.