How to Create the Right Image Online
Creating unique and meaningful content is a key component of any blog.
But content does not just consist of words.
Content includes images - graphics, photos, videos, icons, etc.
How do you ensure that your images are unique?
Compare and contrast the following statements:
- "And in bottom place is David with 28%"
- "I really love your graphics and your blog focus!"
Quite a difference eh? How has that transformation happened? Read on...
I guess I was about 14 years old when I heard those exam results for Art. It didn't really come as any great shock to me. I was poor to say the least.
Alas, my artistic skills were limited to music and I had to realise that I was never going to do much with creating works of art, no matter what media was involved. My hands just didn't do what my brain told them!
The same limitations followed me into IT. With all the available graphics software surely I would be able to overcome my limitations?
I've never been able to master computer graphics either: from Corel Draw to Photoshop, my skills have remained near the bottom of the scale.
Sure I had a dabble, but I had no real desire to want to learn. I knew it wouldn't be the best use of my time.
Excel, Word, Enterprise Software systems - no problem.
But graphics - not a chance.
Yet, here I am with my website, knowing that images are going to be a necessity.
Everything you read informs you that people want images and videos:
Did you know that the human brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text?
To quote a popular phrase: "A picture paints a thousand words."
What are the options for the people 'less-blessed' when it comes to graphic design?
How do you create the right image online?
Here's how I get round the challenge using three different resources:
- Image Sources
- Simple Tools
My number one outsourced resource is, believe it or not, my daughter.
Yes, just to rub salt in the wounds, the graphically challenged father somehow managed to produce offspring that is not only good at graphics, but also goes and makes a career of it.
I think it's safe to say that my genetic pool played no part and it was all inherited from her mother.
Having a professional designer and illustrator using a professional software package (Adobe In Design) helps to make your work stand out from a regular pdf created from a word document.
Abi Hartshorne - Hart Studio
I guess most people have heard of Fiverr by now. Its a really useful place to go to get quick jobs done, including graphics work.
I've had a few 'gigs' from Fiverr, but my favourite was the 3-D book stack images I had created for my ebooks by bigfunlee:
Fiverr - https://www.fiverr.com
Upwork (Previously Elance or Odesk)
I've not used either of these places yet, but I know they get good reviews. I think the key is to define exactly what you want out of your job and to get the freelancer to qualify on that.
Note: Since writing this post Elance and Odesk have now merged into Upwork.
Upwork - https://www.upwork.com/
Another one I've not used, but have seen some recommendations online, especially if you want to create a brilliant cover image for your Kindle ebook. The prices are much higher here, so only use on special pieces of work!
99designs - http://99designs.co.uk/
In some situations you don't actually need to create your own images - you can use existing ones that fit your requirements.
The are lots and lots of images on the internet, but they are not all free to use, and many have licence restrictions on them - so you need to tread carefully.
Don't just go to Google Images and copy one from there. You could be heading for a copyright infringement!!
By using the Advanced Search on Google Images you can select just the images that are available for commercial use.
I've put together a list of a few places where you could go and get your images:
Pixabay - https://pixabay.com/
Pexels - https://www.pexels.com/
Unsplash - https://unsplash.com/
Iconfinder - https://www.iconfinder.com/
Free Images - https://www.freeimages.com/
Morgue File - http://www.morguefile.com/
CanStockPhoto - https://www.canstockphoto.com/
Big Stock Photo - https://www.bigstockphoto.com/
Stock Photo Secrets - https://shop.stockphotosecrets.com/99club.html
Using a photo or an image from the above places can be a great workaround if you are short of graphics skills. However, the downside is that these images are public and can be used by anybody else, and ideally you should strive to create unique content on your website.
There is a neat little tool, a google extension, called Tin Eye that can check where your 'common' image has been used elsewhere.
I used some common images last year on my blog. Using Tin Eye, you can see where else they have been used:
Therefore, where possible it's best to use your own images and photos. Or at least take a stock photo, and make it unique to you.
As I mentioned earlier, even though I've spent many years working with computers I've never really mastered the various graphics packages available.
There is no way I could outsource all my graphics due to constraints of time and money, or just use stock photos/images. Therefore I've had to knuckle down and start being creative - well a little anyway!
The tool I use for my graphics is Canva.
Apparently it's simple and easy to use 🙂
When compared to Photoshop I'm sure it is, but there is still a learning curve. I'm getting there slowly.
For me the best part about Canva is that it has some starting points; i.e. backgrounds or layouts or text blocks, so you're not left with a completely blank canvas to start off with.
Canva - https://www.canva.com/
Another popular editing tool is PicMonkey. Its not one I've tried myself, although others swear by it.
PicMonkey - https://www.picmonkey.com/
Again, not used it, but it comes highly recommended.
PIXLR - https://pixlr.com/
I'm still learning. I'm trying to improve on my limited artistic ability by using the tools and resources at my disposal.
But when I get a comment like this then I'm encouraged that I must be heading in the right direction:
"Stopped by your blog as well: I really love your graphics and your blog focus!"
Thank you Gertrude for your words of encouragement!
So, that's all there is to creating the right image online.
That's just part one.
Creating your image is one thing, but optimizing it is another.
Here’s what you have learned today:
- You can work around your limitations
- There are several tools and resources online to help you achieve the right results
Please share your experiences in the comments below:
- What is your experience of creating images and graphics?
- Which tools and resources have you had most success with?