Tuesday, 7 October 2014

5 Super Easy Ways To Create Images for Your Blog Posts

Create Great Images for Your Blog Posts
Images for your blog posts are important for many reasons. They illustrate important points to your readers, make social shares of your posts stand out in the newsfeed, break up text to make the content easier to read, and encourage people to share your post for no other reason than they like the main image. While there are many sources of ready to use images available, you should consider creating unique images on your own.
In this post, we’re going to look at the reasons why you should create your own great images for content and the ways you can do it.

Why You Need to Create Your Own Images

You might be wondering, since I mentioned that there are many sources of ready to use images already available, why you would want to spend the time creating your own. Here are just a few good reasons.
  • Stock photos are generic and widely used. Anyone can buy and use a stock photo for less than a dollar, which means many images appear on the Internet hundreds, or even thousands of times. If you’re goal is to create unique content, why top it off with a generic image?
  • Creative Commons image use can backfire. Many Creative Commons images are licensed specifically for non-commercial use. Non-commercial is open to interpretation by the owner of the image, therefore, if you use their image on a blog owned by a business or a blog that generates revenue, it may be considered commercial usage.
  • People are more like to share images they’ve never seen. People who love sharing images on sites like Pinterest are more likely to share yours if it’s something they’ve never seen before that is either useful or simply visually appealing.
Now that you know why you should create your own images, let’s take a look at how to create them.

How to Create Effective Screenshots

For those who enjoy creating how-to and tutorial content, screenshots are essential. Free tools like Jing will allow you to not only capture screenshots, but also easily annotate them. Annotations help make your points or instructions crystal clear to readers who need a little visual supplementation.
People will not only appreciate your ability to illustrate your points clearly, but you’ll also get requests from others who want to share your annotated screenshots. Use those requests to get your name in front of new audiences without any additional work.
Another great tool for screenshots is FooCapture. You install the extension on Google Chrome and use it to capture screenshots, annotate them, and have them automatically added to your WordPress (WordPress.com or WordPress.org) media library. Premium service plans for this tool is only $6 per month for unlimited connections / WordPress connections.

How to Customize Images on Canva

For graphically challenged individuals like myself, Canva is a tool that helps you quickly create graphics for your blog content, social media, and presentations. They have templates with built-in images and overlay text that you customize to fit your content. All of the work is done online, and what you create is free, unless you pick a template that uses a stock photo in the background.
If you’ve browsed the blog graphic templates, you might have noticed they all come in one size (800px x 1200px). The key to using Canva is to not limit yourself to the blog graphic templates, even if that’s what you are using them for. There is a total of twenty categories of template types, with square and rectangular designs. You might find that the Facebook cover templates are better suited to your posts than the actual blog graphic templates.
To further customize your images, use your own background photos, or find stock imagery from other sources. This will easily differentiate your blog graphics from someone else’s. When you do choose your own background photo, aim for a similar color pattern and blurring effect, the latter of which you can do using tools mentioned in the upcoming section about using your own photographs. This will ensure the text overlay provided in the template still stands out.

How to Generate Infographics

Infographics have gotten a bad reputation in the last year due to the influx of low-quality infographics created in order to build links for SEO purposes. They are still some of the most popular types of images to share.
So how do you create infographics? First, you’ll need to start with some interesting data that relates to your products, services, or industry. ShareThis, a popular social sharing plugin, regularly publishes infographics about the social sharing statistics around music festivals, sporting events, holidays, and other trending topics. If you don’t have data from your products, you can usepublic data sources or conduct surveys on your own.
Once you have your data, you will want to share it in a visually appealing image, aka the infographic. Tools like Piktochart allow you to create infographics based on pre-built templates or using their drag and drop editor, removing the need for you to be a graphic designer.
Similar tools include Infogr.amVisual.ly, and Easel.ly.

How to Use Your Own Photographs

If you enjoy photography, then creating your own photos for content is a great way to incorporate your hobby into your marketing. Take your camera everywhere you go to capture images that could be used for future pieces of content.
For example, if you write about local marketing, then photos of local businesses would be great literal options. If you like to inject some humor into your content, take photos of things that would be funny. Any opportunity to photograph a scene with words can also come in handy for content.
The best part about using your own photography is that you don’t have to be a professional photographer with expensive equipment and software to create great photos. You can simply use your smartphone and free apps like Aviary to edit the photos you create, right on your device.
For those who do have a digital camera, you can do simple editing work (such as cropping your images) in free programs like Gimp. For those who want to do more advanced editing, such as adjusting brightness, contrast, color balance, saturation, clarity, and built-in presets, there isAdobe Lightroom.
It has lots of great features for photo editing without the complexity of Photoshop. Best of all, thanks to the Adobe Creative Cloud, if you do want Photoshop, you pay a monthly access fee as opposed to hundreds of dollars up front. For example, you can take Photoshop and Lightroom for a 30-day free trial, and then pay for $9.99 per month.

How to Create Memes

Speaking of using your own photography, if you’re a fan of memes, you can create your own with your photographs. Start by going to the all famous Cheezburger site and click on the Create link at the top right.
To add a simple caption, choose the Add a caption option. Upload your photo, and then select it to add some captions.
The result? Your own meme!
Captions can help you turn almost any image into one that is relevant to the piece of content you are writing. The best part is people love them! I created one for a post a while back using a photo of my newest adopted family member – a sweet little black and white kitten. It resulted in a lot of pins.
One note on creating memes with tools like the LOLbuilders. You should be sure to visit the website’s Terms and Conditions to see how the website treats user submissions. When you upload your photo, you may keep the copyright, but your photo may be shared with other users on the website as well.
Photography by Kristi Hines. All Rights Reserved.
Do you create images for your content? What types of images and tools do you use? Please share in the comments!
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  1. I use Seriif Page Plus and Draw Plus. Great for text, images, drawing, memes, PDFs, web content and lots more. I use Gimp, and Ulead PhotoImpact (which cost me a pretty penny!).
    I take a lot of shots with my smartphone; and have Aviary installed.
    If you go to Serif's website, you can get free versions of (early) editing software.
    A while ago, I wanted some pictures of some dogs to put on a website. I found some on Flickr, contacted the photographer and asked him if I could use some. He happily agreed... for free... and I, naturally gave him a great mention.

  2. Thanks for the tips Neil! Some good advice! You seem pretty up too speed regarding this subject matter.. :-)

    1. Thanks, G McGivney. I like to restore old and/or damaged photographs; and create my own images. I may swap an image between two programs. All programs have their own attributes.
      My two best tips are: play around and have fun; and save often in a dedicated file with new file names for each project.
      Another tip: when you edit a photo on your smart phone, find out how to put the edited image into your Gallery. Otherwise, if you post it straight from the editor into G+, for example, the App shunts it's own promo. into your text!
      This is why I prefer to use 'my own' software and not Apps.
      To everyone interested... make your own images, or just ask the owner. It's easier, and less hassle, than just lifting images off the web.