Are you too busy to consider adding visuals to your blog posts?
After all, you have content to create, posts to promote, and comments to answer, right?
According to WPLoop, “Articles with images receive 94% more views than those without one.”
Also, 65% of all readers are visual learners. In other words, the majority of your readers will understand your information better if your blog post is accompanied by pictures or infographics.
Fortunately, today’s guest author is here to explain where you can find visuals to add to your blog posts. His tips are both creative and free to implement.
5 Steps to Create Stunning Visuals for Your Blog
by Augustus Franklin
The first step to enticing visitors to read your blog is to show them a feature image that looks amazing while subtly hinting at the theme of your blog post. There is a treasure trove of tools and stock images freely available online that bloggers can utilize to create their designs.
Here are 5 simple steps to create stunning visuals for your blog without spending a single penny.
1. Identify the keywords that best represent the theme of your article
Your feature image speaks to your audience before your words do. Finding an image that tastefully reflects the idea behind your content requires that you get creative with your keywords when you’re crawling stock image websites for the perfect match.
On that note, putting the title of your article into a search engine isn’t the best way to get the perfect image for your post. Learn to match keywords to your article through association.
Writing an article on “5 Ways You Can be More Productive at Home”? You could try “productivity” for some neat results that are already on a bunch of other websites, or you could get creative and think about what you’d consider as being “productive at home”. To me, getting some writing done or reading a book would be considered time spent productively. There you have it, three new keywords to try out; “writing”, “reading” and “coffee”.
While “productivity” gives you a few good results:
Being creative with keywords gives you a lot more options to choose from. The below image features search results for the keywords “reading”, “coffee” and “writing”.
2. Find the Right Image
There are so many amazing image hosting websites on the internet. But from a blogger’s perspective, I require the flexibility to search for a particular topic and find a decent collection of images that relate to my content. If a website gives me a collection of amazing visuals without context, I can’t make use of them. And I cannot go sifting through hundreds of pictures every time I write a blog post to find the right image that suits the theme of my post.
I’ve ranked 5 stock photo sites here that have done a good job of returning relevant results for my keywords. You’re free to modify and reuse the images hosted here for commercial purposes as long as you follow a few general bylines. Most of these sites have their own version of the CCO [Creative Commons Zero] license. As long as you’re not directly selling the images, uploading them to third-party stock websites or using them in projects that have inappropriate content, you’re in safe territory.
For more stock photo resources check out this list by Hubspot.
3. Decide on the graphic size/ the medium/ the text
Are you planning to create a feature image for your blog post, a graphic for an amazing quote you found, or just looking to find the right cover image for posting on social media? Most design tools ask you to select your design preference before you start editing so you don’t have to worry about the dimensions. But in case you’re working with custom dimensions, this article from Buffer will give you a good idea about image sizes.
Once you decided on the size and medium, it’s time to decide on textual content. If it’s a quote, then there’s little confusion about the text. But when you’re designing a feature image, it pays to show restraint with text on your image. Don’t squeeze in tiringly long (albeit meaningful, I’m sure) titles onto your image. It’s important that you get your idea across to the reader with as few words as possible. The feature image is only a guiding light to the main attraction, your content. You want readers to look at your image, take in the entirety of it in a single glance, click on it, and head over to your content.
4. Find the right tool to create your blog graphics
Canva, Adobe Spark, and Stencil are a few free resources that offer great flexibility with your designs.
I’ve always used Canva to design graphics for my blog. I tried out Adobe Spark recently and I love the look and feel of it. The seamless image resize option remains one of my favorite features of the tool. Unlike Canva, you don’t have to keep using the text box to make changes. With Spark, just grab the corners of your text box and you’re set to resize. The final visuals came out looking good. But I had to spend much longer on Spark to get the design I wanted than I would have had to with Canva. When you’re on a tight schedule to publish posts, spending almost as much time on the images as you did on the article is not a viable option.
The next tool I tried out is called Stencil. But it’s been a few days now since I used it and I can’t think of a single feature that really stood out. I know the visuals came out fine. And yes, there some cool features like the large collection of templates, icons, the simple UI [User Interface]; all very nice and all very much like Canva. Even the joy I felt when I found the text resize bar (instead of the primitive way of manually entering text size), paled when I found out Stencil only gave me 10 free designs every month. Not giving any free templates didn’t tip the scales in Stencil’s favor either. It’s still a good tool for basic designs, but Canva does everything Stencil does and better.
The flexibility that Canva offers in terms of editing images and with simple things like being able to overlay images over the background makes it the overall better option for me. But I won’t deny it, I did enjoy playing around with Spark and Stencil, and I’d definitely recommend that you give them both a try.
What I liked (free version):
Canva: editable templates, more freedom with color, custom dimensions, image overlay
Adobe Spark: seamless text resize, ability to justify text, user interface
Stencil: text resize bar
[Read: How to Use Canva: A Quick Guide]
At the end of the day, the best images come out of lots of experimentation and your willingness to think out of the box. Always keep exploring for new ways to brighten up your designs and make sure your content matches up to the expectations you set with your stunning visuals. Now that you know exactly what to do, it’s time you decided to do it your own way. Good luck.
Author Bio: Augustus is founder and CEO of CallHub, a California-based Voice and SMS service company bridging the communication gap for political campaigns and advocacy groups. When he is not working, he is either making toys with his kids or training for a marathon. Find him on Twitter.
Host Blogger’s Comments:
Readers, please share so other bloggers know the importance of adding visuals to their blog posts and the resources Augustus shared.
What did you think of his article? What tools do you currently use to make your blog graphics?
I look forward to your answers in the comment section.