While it remains true that quality content is essential, today’s bloggers need to consider other elements of their digital space to gain traction in an overcrowded market. The creation of eye catching images is an effective method to help you get noticed. Keep reading to discover why your blog needs visually appealing graphics.
Build Brand Awareness
Even if the purpose of your blog isn’t commercial, it’s still in your best interest to create a personal brand. Your brand is the feeling or message people get when they see your blog. For example, if your niche is all about makeup, you’ll want to consider the kind of image you wish to portray. You could aim to portray yourself as a high-end, sophisticated cosmetics expert or aim for the vibe of a fun, eclectic instructor. You would then determine the colors, typography, symbols, logo and other elements that lend themselves to creating such a feel. By using these elements consistently when you post anywhere online, you are building brand awareness. Each time that someone sees your sites or products and are exposed to these visual representations they will begin to recognize that as you. That is called branding.
Adding graphics that incorporate elements of your brand also makes your blog look professional. Be sure to choose high-quality images, rather than blurry photos or ones that appear overly promotional. We’ve all seen graphics that contain photos that are clearly outdated, generic stock images but there is no need to use those when there are plenty of sites that provide access to free images that are beautiful and well-done. If they allow commercial use and modification, you can add your own special touches such as overlays and text to customize them. Make sure you check the licenses to see exactly how you can and can’t use the images.
Social media posts that contain a visual image are shared far more than those without. People relate to photos. Quotes elicit emotion. Infographics provide easy to digest content in a quick, visual manner. It makes sense that such images would be shared more readily than simple text. Social media is one of the quickest ways your content can spread, and attention-grabbing graphics will surely boost the sharing. This is particularly true for a platform like Pinterest that relies on images.
Hopefully, it’s clear to see why you need images and/or some type of graphics for your blog. The right images will not only help you get noticed but help others identify you with your brand.
Basic Graphic Design Principles for Bloggers
The best graphic designers often possess natural given talent, along with years of specialized training, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create lovely image assets for your blog as a beginner.
One key to producing professional looking graphics is to understand the fundamental concepts of design. Knowing these rules will help you to avoid obvious mistakes that could make your blog look amateur. Incorporate these basic graphic design principles for bloggers into your images, and you’ll soon be producing images you’ll be proud to share.
Alignment refers to the way in which the text is arranged on your canvas. It’often tempting for new designers to align everything in the center, but this can produce a result that’s lacking visual appeal. Play around with alignment using left, right or vertical alignment for different blocks of text to find unique arrangements that work with the other elements of your design.
The way in which different elements are grouped together is proximity. Choose the location of design elements strategically to guide the viewer’s eye to where you want it to go. You can do this by placing text into shapes to create a border that breaks things up or by getting creative with linear position, such as situating text on an angle.
You’ll want to incorporate your color palette into your images to keep your branding consistent. You can do this by choosing photos or artwork that reflect or are compatible with your scheme. It’s also possible to place a semi-transparent colored overlay on top of your art to add a hue that works. Just remember to use color theory as your guide and pick a color that elicits the response you desire.
Line plays a significant role in design. Whether used as a border or to break up text, the type of line you choose conveys a message. Straight, clean lines give a sophisticated and modern feel, while curves add softness and warmth. Squiggly lines can be whimsical or fun. Even the width of your lines can have an impact.
Another important aspect of design is shape. Using hard-edged, straight-lined shapes like squares and triangles often lends to a masculine feel, with curved circles or rounded corners fit well in more feminine design. Straight shapes can imply seriousness, sophistication or stability. When you want to create a relaxed vibe, go with softer shapes.
Space, or whitespace as it’s often termed, provides purposeful blank area to allow the viewer’s eye to relax. One of the biggest mistakes made by amateur designers is to use too little space. Avoid trying to cram too much into your graphic, as it can look messy and hard to read. Too much whitespace is a hazard also because it can have an unfinished feel. Experiment to discover what works.
There are a host of other design concepts that are important producing professional looking graphics, but these basic graphic design principles will get you started. Adhere to these fundamentals to create visually appealing images that will add interest to your blog and encourage others to share on social media.
Where to Find Graphics, Fonts and More for Your Blog
There are tons of ways to spice up your blog images. Stock photos, paid or free, are a popular option. In fact, most blogs you see today use photographs in some form, either standalone or incorporated into a design. What you may not realize is that you can find a wide array of other types of visuals for use in your images such as illustrations, icons, textures, vectors, patterns and fonts.
Creative Market (affiliate link) is by far one of the best-known names for high quality design assets. A wide selection of graphic artists set up pages here to showcase their offerings. You can find practically any type of asset you need at Creative Market, from fonts to photo filters. Each month, you can purchase a highly-discounted bundle of assets, as well. This is a great way to grow your library. Sign up for their mailing list, and you can even get free design goodies each Monday.
Design Cuts is like Creative Market in their offerings, along with the fact that they offer an affordable monthly bundle. However, this online retailer represents a select group of artists, meaning their inventory is smaller, but you know you’re always getting the best quality from extremely talented designers. What’s especially wonderful about Design Cuts is their discount program. The more you buy, the more you save.
The site is a fantastic free option for graphics like patterns, templates and icons. To get access to a larger selection of assets at a price that’s more affordable than purchasing individual items elsewhere, you can choose one of their paid membership options.
Font Squirrel is the place to go if you’re looking for quality free fonts. There are many unique choices here from well-known type foundries. Do take care to read the terms for each one, though. Some are only for use in personal projects.
While there are hundreds of other places online to find blog design assets, these are trusted sources. Even on a zero to small budget, you’ll have no problem finding fantastic graphics, fonts, patterns, photo actions and other elements to make your blog stand out.
Find Quality Stock Images for Free
Images serve several purposes in blog posts, but they won’t do you any good if the ones you choose are of less than stellar quality. Professional photos can be quite expensive, though, and the well-known stock photography sites have pricey membership fees. Don’t despair. You may be surprised to learn there are places you can find quality stock images for free. Keep reading to discover some of the best.
Unsplash is a photo lover’s dream. This site offers over 50,000 free images. You can subscribe to get an inspirational collection in your email each month or simply view by collection or search for a specific term.
With new pictures added every week, you’re sure to find the perfect one for your blog posts. Photographer, Ryan McGuire, generously offers his quality images free with no copyright restrictions.
Pixabay is a website that offers a little something more. Not only can you get photos of all kinds, there are also offerings of vectors, illustrations and videos. You can use it all at no cost. Better yet, the search capabilities allow you to filter by type, color, category, size and more.
Viktor Hanasek, a talented photographer, set up this site to share his photos back in 2013. You can search his vast library of free images, opt for premium membership or even purchase the All in One Pack of every image from the site. An email subscription will get a selection of new photos sent to your inbox weekly.
Lifeofpix sets itself apart from other free stock image sites. Not only can you choose amazing photos from a slew of skilled artists, you can also set up an account that lets you curate a portfolio of images and follow your favorite photographers.
This free photo site with the quirky name grants you access to tons of photos from a wide selection of topics. Easy to search by word or category, you can browse images for all your blogging needs.
This list of free stock image sites offer all types of photography. If you’re looking for photos from a specific niche, there are lots of places that cater to things like travel or food photography. A quick search engine query should find what you need. Do take time to read all license information, though. Some sites require attribution for use of their products or do not allow commercial use. Enjoy creating fantastic imagery with these fantastic resources.
How to Personalize Free Stock Images
In the days when blogging first became popular, it was common for bloggers to simply choose an image they liked and plop it into their post, sometimes with a catchy caption. However, in today’s crowded and competitive market, a simple photo won’t do. Not only does customizing your blog graphics help you stand out, it also creates brand awareness and increases social sharing. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a designer to customize your stock photos. You just should know a few basics to get started. Follow these tips on how to personalize free stock images to create graphics that get noticed.
Create Your Brand
Yes, bloggers need a brand. Branding isn’t just for commercial or retail sites. No matter what the purpose of your blog may be, you likely want to set a certain tone or convey a certain type of message. That is the purpose of branding. You can use blog elements such as color, font and image style to achieve the impact you desire. The key to increasing recognition is consistency. It’s important to use the same font, colors and style in everything you post. That means your blog images should always contain these elements. If your blog doesn’t have a brand yet, take a minute to learn more about choosing the right colors and choosing the right fonts for your blog’s design.
For instance, using the same filter on your photos will create a recognizable look. You may also achieve a distinct style just by adding a transparent color overlay on top of your images. Use images that coordinate well with your blog’s color scheme. Add text in your blog’s font or font combination to further personalize each image, and always use your distinct colors in this text. You can also add a small watermark with your blog’s logo to boost your branding.
Edit Your Images
If you already use Photoshop and Illustrator, or have a desire to learn, these are the tools professional designers use. They also will give you the most versatility and features. However, there are platforms such as Canva and PicMonkey that have far less of a learning curve and can produce fine quality graphics. Such platforms allow you lots of time-saving options like pre-sized canvas, formatted templates and filtered overlays. The free versions have fewer selections from which to choose. You may wish to consider the premium options to determine if the cost is worthwhile for your needs.
There are many ways you can edit free stock images to make them unique. One easy way is by cropping the photo. Cropping lets you focus on one portion of the overall picture, which can create a cool effect. Softening, blurring or coloring an image by using a filter is another simple way to add your own unique touch. These programs all have ways of achieving the look you want; just be sure to use that same or similar filter in all your images for consistent branding. The way you incorporate your blog’s font through text also jazzes up your photos in a way that is brand-friendly. Find ways to present your text and consistently use them in every graphic. This can be through bold, chunky layouts or with a more sophisticated feel.
Time-Saving Tip: Save Your Templates
Creating a customized graphic for each blog post might seem a bit overwhelming. It can seem even more of a challenge when you consider that each social network requires its own specific sizing. For example, Instagram images must be square and Pinterest graphics work best when they are tall. A time-saving technique is to create and save templates in each size you need, then simply switch out the image and text when needed. Because optimal size requirements sometimes change for each platform and purpose, a quick Google search is recommended to determine the correct dimensions.
These are just the basics of how to personalize free stock images. You can design your own simple layouts for your blog images without being a designer. Start simply and learn as you go.
Must-Have Graphic Design Elements for Your Blog
While there are tons of creative ways to use blog graphics, there are some that are more essential to your success than others. Customized images can serve many purposes in efficient ways, and the importance of using them can’t be understated. Creating templates to use in branding, titling and promotion doesn’t need to be overly complicated, though. To lessen your overwhelm, let’s break things down to the absolute must-have graphic design elements for your blog. Once you learn and feel comfortable in creating these, you can expand your skills.
Sharing who you are is paramount as a blogger. You share your knowledge, experiences and opinions throughout your content. Your audience will get a sense of your personality as they browse your posts or become regular readers. To increase your chances of encouraging them to stick around, you’ll want to create a bio photo section in your sidebar with your picture, a summary of who you are and a link to your more comprehensive about page. Remember, people are quick to leave a website if they don’t immediately see something of interest. Capture their attention with a photo introduction.
Your blog header is likely the first thing readers see when they visit your site. It’s at the very top of the page and lists the blog’s title. This can be done simple with text only, but a design that incorporates a bit more can go far toward developing your brand. Be sure to check your blog’s theme to determine the size your header will accommodate, otherwise, your design could look distorted or simply not work at all. Go with simplicity because you don’t want to distract the viewer’s eye with too many aspects. Choosing a few colors, with no more than two fonts for your blog’s name and tagline should suffice. You can add a shape or uncomplicated graphic if you wish.
Your logo is an essential piece of your branding kit. This small design element packs a big punch when it comes to recognition. It can be used on social media, business cards, your website, stationery and promotional items like t-shirts or magnets. Creating a logo is possible even if you’re not a graphic designer. Just be sure to keep it simple and not too busy. Choosing a shape and adding your blog’s name in your signature font can be enough at the beginning. Try to elicit the feel of your brand. You can do this by a shape with soft edges and lighter hues to create a relaxing feel or by going with a bold image in bright shades to evoke energy.
A post header is the graphic that introduces your blog post. It is usually a photo or illustration with a filter overlay and the title of your post. A shape can be used as a text box to make your words stand out. Your chosen filter overlay should remain consistent for every post, as should your font. These things will soon become recognizable when seen on social media as your readership increases. Be sure to leave enough white space around the edges of your graphic so that the text is legible.
Social Media Images
Your social media shares should always include an image. It’s been proven that graphics substantially increase click through. You can use your post header as a template, but each social media site has its own recommended sizes. Once you’ve determined the current size being used by each site, create a template that can be customized with new photos and text for each new post.
These graphic design elements are the must-haves for your blog. Their creation is the foundation you need to feel confident about presentation and promotion. Taking the time to develop these assets will put you on par to joining the ranks of other successful bloggers and give you confidence in your professionalism.
Where to Find Design Inspiration
Whether you’re just starting out or have been blogging for a while, developing creative blog graphics can be a struggle. If you’re new, you may not even know how to start the process. If you’ve been around the block, you may discover things are getting a bit stale. It’s easy to become overwhelmed or fall into a rut in a creative profession like blogging. Taking some time to peruse visual sources and do some research may just be the key to providing you with a boost of creativity and optimism. Read on to learn just where to find design inspiration for your blog.
The first place to begin may be with blogs in your niche. Seeing what others are doing in their design can provide you with a slew of ideas. Just be sure to add your own unique touch to your designs, as mirroring the design of another is counterproductive and unoriginal. Viewing the work of others can also give you some ideas of what not to do. You’ll get a feel for the kinds of colors and imagery that are being used and which authors seem to be using them most effectively.
Pinterest is the social media site that has imagery as its foundation. You probably already know what a time suck this treasure trove can be, which is just proof of how effective visual images can be. Search for terms like “blog header” or “blog graphics” to produce a ton of ideas to fuel your imagination. This is a great way to keep up with design trends, as well. A visit to Pinterest should be a regular part of your evolving design process.
A perfect place to get design inspiration for your blog is by checking out the work of professional designers. Graphic design professionals almost always have a portfolio of their work on their website. You can do a Google search to find designers that do blog work or look at your favorite blogs. Often, you’ll find the credit of the designer at the bottom of the page. While the techniques of the pros are probably beyond your skill level, you can modify ideas you love in a way that is within your abilities.
Check out both print magazines and ones online for ways in which design is being used in various formats. It’s true that print and digital techniques often differ; however, you may be able to draw on some fantastic color combinations, layouts or headlines found within real, hands-on pages. There are also plenty of design-specific digital magazines that can guide you on the latest trends in web design, along with tried and true foundations. Some names to look for include Smashing Magazine, GizMag, Lovepic, Magwerk and Komma.
Enjoy your search for design inspiration with these resources. There’s no end to design ideas. Sometimes you just need a spark to move you in the right direction.
What’s your biggest blog design roadblock right now?
Share in the comments and we’ll do what we can to help!