Without a doubt, creating images for blog posts ranks pretty low on my list of favorite tasks. Yet, I’ve found that having compelling images, not just stock photography, is important for getting social shares and keeping my readers interested, especially with longer posts.
I’m not a very good photographer, though. It certainly isn’t a passion of mine, and I don’t own a DSLR. However, I’ve still come up with a few ways to add compelling images to my blog posts. Here are my three best methods:
1. The Title Image
One of my favorite types of images to create is what I call the “title image.” I like this type of image for my blog posts because they look professional and are readily shared on Facebook and Pinterest. They’re also easy to make using stock photography. Here’s how to make a title image:
- STEP ONE: Find some stock photography with licensing that allows you to edit it.
The image should be related to your post, but since you’re going to be adding text, the relationship can be looser than if you were only going to use the image. It’s very important that you look not just for Creative Commons images, but also images where the owner stated that it’s okay to alter, because you will be adding text to it. For our example, I’m going to use this image from NMX 2013. Since NMX owns the image, I know that I’m allowed to use it in this blog post and to alter the image with text.
It’s great if you can find an image, like this one of Tom Webster, that has a big blank spot. If you can’t, however, not to worry! Focus on finding a nice shot that fits your post topic rather than an image that is so-so image with a blank spot. I’ll show you in the next step what to do if there’s not a big blank spot.
- STEP TWO: In your favorite photo-editing program, add your title.
I’m going to show you using PicMonkey, which is free and easy to use. You don’t even have to download anything; it’s an online editing program. You could use Photoshop or whatever other program you have that allows you to add text.
Select a font you like and add the text. It usually works to either center the text, adding breaks so it fits nicely, or to justify the text left or right depending where it is located on the image. If I justified the text in this image, I would left-justify because it’s on the left side. But let’s go with centering the text for now:
This is a nice font for our silly made-up title, but the line in the background is a little distracting. So, a bolder font would probably work better. I’m also going to add a shadow in a contrasting white color to make the words really pop.
That looks pretty nice, and it only took me a few minutes. You can also play around with using different fonts and sizes to make certain words stand out. Remember to create something that represents your brand and your niche well. Here’s an example of a more playful look:
This one took a little longer, but gives you a completely different look. There’s no formula for choosing the right font, size, and colors; you just have to play around with it until you get a look that you like.
But let’s say that your image didn’t have a nice open spot like this picture of Tom. Let’s say instead you have this picture of the crowd watching a session:
In this case, any place you add the text, the busy background will distract you and make it hard to read. So, I suggestion added a faded block of color behind the text. I usually use either black or white and fade to between 30% and 50% depending on how distracting the background is.
You can of course also make it snazzy with drop shadows, fun fonts and colors, etc. but keep in mind that this technique looks best when the title is on a single line, so longer titles don’t work will with this method.
2. The Collage
Another option you have if you want to make a highly-sharable image is to do a collage. I most commonly add the title of my post to these as well, but how you use a college is really up to you. This method is great for list posts or when you’re talking about several tips/products/etc. throughout the course of your post. It allows you to highly several images at once this way.
For example, let’s say I was writing a post called “NMX Speakers Who Make Glasses Look Cool.” I could do this:
Cliff Ravenscraft certainly does make glasses look cool…but if I want to highlight several different speakers in my post, an image of Cliff alone might not be the way to go. So instead, a collage will work well.
- STEP ONE: Find images to illustrate all of your points.
In this case, I’m going to find images of lots of NMX speakers who wear glasses. As always, remember to use images under the Creative Commons license where the owner allows you to alter.
- STEP TWO: Open PicMonkey in collage mode.
You can definitely use other image editing programs as well, but PicMonkey is hands down my favorite tool in this case because it has a mode specifically for collages.
- STEP THREE: Choose a layout that will allow you to highlight your text and add images.
There’s no one right way to do this. You could, for example, choose to have a large box for the text (to add later) or you could create a college where you’ll later add the text over top of the images, like with the title slide.
Here’s the an example with the former:
And the latter:
- STEP THREE: Add text to your college if desired.
To actually achieve the look you get with the above two images in PicMonkey, you have to save the collage and reopen in regular editing mode to add the text. This is where I also added the blue boxes in both cases. Adding text gives you more of the “title image” look, but a pure collage without text might work well for your needs.
3. The Quote Image
Lastly, a really easy type of image that is usually shared a lot is what I call the quote image. I’m taking a page from print design for this one! When you’re reading a story, especially in a magazine, there are often pull quotes – quotes from the actual text that have been pulled out and made into larger images because they are interesting or important.
This is so easy I’m not even going to break it down into steps for you. All you do is paste a line from your post into a photo editing program. You can use an image or texture for a background or use a simple colored background that coordinates with your blog’s theme.
Here’s an example of a quote I used for an image in a post featuring NMX speaker Dino Dogan:
Even better, you can connect an image like that to Click to Tweet and tell your readers via the caption to click on the quote to share it. A good quote is irresistible to share!
So there you have it, my three favorite ways to create images for my blog posts even though I’m not a photographer and don’t know much about editing images. How do you add images to your blog posts? If you have a great method to share or have tried any of the above methods, leave a comment!