In our distracted modern age, images—from bold photos to infographics—are key to keeping a reader’s attention as they scroll down the page. In fact, research shows that articles or blog posts containing relevant images have 94 more total views than articles without images, on average.
Here’s the good news: You don’t need to be a professional graphic designer to create visually appealing images that stick. With the range of tools available out there to the average user these days, creating stunning graphics for your blog post or social media sharing is as easy as selecting a few options.
If you’ve been thinking of sprucing up your blog with images that grab attention, here’s how to do it.
Step 1: Find free stock images
Whether you’re simply illustrating your blog post with a relevant image or designing a graphic from scratch, you’ll need access to stock images to start. Some bloggers will simply include the photo as a visual aid, but increasingly, it’s becoming popular to create graphics, such as this one that combines several stock photos to tell a visual story.
You can easily purchase photos from the many stock photo websites, but this can get pretty expensive pretty fast. That’s why many bloggers opt to use free stock photos from sites like Pixabay, morgueFile, Unsplash, and Gratisography. As you’re fulfilling your free photo needs, do check the terms and conditions for each individual photo to make sure you’re giving credit where needed.
Step 2: Pick a graphics tool
If you have any level of skill or proficiency, feel free to whip open that Photoshop app on your computer and start creating. But if you’re like most bloggers, you’re interested in building an audience and writing content that converts, not learning complicated new software applications. Right?
So let’s make it simple.
Instead of trying to learn everything about graphics design, leave the hard work to the experts by signing up for a free tool like Canva. At Canva, you’ll find dozens of ready-made templates that will help you create eye-catching graphics at the click of a mouse button. Most templates come with a few graphics already there, so that you’re not starting with a blank slate. But the interface gives you enough ease and flexibility that you can easily change fonts, pictures, and designs to suit your own needs.
Canva does have some paid options, but the free version will be more than enough for your basic design needs.
Step 3: Remember these rules
So you’ve found a template you’ve liked, added in some of your own images and text and now you’re ready to go.
Not so fast.
While it is now incredibly easy to create shareable graphics, not every graphic gets shared as much as it should. That’s because creating graphics is not just about the tools, but also about the psychology of color, text placement, and choice of images.
Here are some things to remember as you’re creating your images that will help them stand apart from the crowd and make them more pleasing to the eye.
- Whenever you put text on a picture, make sure that the image you’re using is simple and the text is bold and readable. For the most part, what you want to do is have bold text that stands out on the image. Dark text and light backgrounds are pretty common, but white text on dark images can work, too, if done creatively.
- Choose your stock images carefully. They have to be relevant, yes, but also try and make them emotionally powerful. What emotion are you trying to capture in your blog post? Is it passion? Is it power? Is it a sense of wonderment? Pick out a couple of words that sum up how your reader will feel when reading your post. Now pick images that match that emotion.
- Use colors that promote sharing. According to a study from Georgia Tech that examined over 1,000,000 Pinterest images between 2009 and 2011, the colors red, purple, and pink when used in an image promote sharing. On the other hand, the colors green, black, blue, and yellow all stop people from doing so.
- Pick readable fonts. While there are some amazingly creative fonts out there that look beautiful, don’t forget that at the end of the day, the purpose of your image is not just visual appeal but also usefulness. Handwriting fonts, while good to look at, often end up being incredibly difficult to read.
- Finally, step back and look at the whole picture. Do the images, fonts, and icons all work together in one big whole? If so, you’re good to go.
On a final note: A good image can be extremely helpful in creating brand recollection and making a post go from good to great, but equally, a bad image can prove to be distracting and eliminate all the good work done by your post. When in conflict, choose simple over fancy and you won’t go wrong.
Mridu Khullar Relph is a freelance writer, author, and entrepreneur. She writes for national and international news media and runs the website The International Freelancer.