One of the “best practices” of blogging and creating web content is to include graphics and images. It’s like a Blogging Commandment:
Thou shalt not plagiarize.
Thou shalt always using subheadings.
Thou shalt add a picture.
Okay, maybe it’s not carved in stone, but adding images to your blog posts is something that many people, myself included, recommend. There are a few reasons for this.
- It gives the reader something to glance at and get a feel for the piece. Most people are scanning when they first get to your website. An image is something that can attract (and keep) their attention.
- An image you use in a blog post will show up on social media when you share a link to the blog. Images get a lot more attention on social media – Twitter or Facebook – than text alone.
- A high quality graphic gives you something to share to Pinterest or upload to Instagram.
Images have plenty of uses, but what if you don’t have a graphics person on staff or the budget to hire a freelancer? There’s nothing more intimidating than trying to make the nice looking graphics you see on other blogs when you feel clueless.
Don’t worry. You have options, and they’re either cheap or free, depending on what you need!
PicMonkey and Photo Editing Websites
In a previous post, we shared where you could get free images to use on your blog. You found the perfect image but you want to make it a little more special. Maybe you want to change it a black and white image or add the title of your post. You could spend hundreds of dollars on photo-editing software or hire a graphic artist.
Or you could do it yourself online.
My personal favorite is PicMonkey because as someone with zero graphic skills, I was able to figure it out in less than 10 minutes. When you go to the site, you have options – edit an image, touch up, design something, or create a collage of multiple pictures.
Once you’ve uploaded your image, the options feel limitless:
- Crop, resize, change the colors, rotate the image
- Add effects like a focal point, softening, dark edges, and more.
- Touch up with blemish fix, red eye remover, even weight loss
- Add text
- Add graphics, other images, and even symbols like arrows or hearts
- Add a frame around your image
- Add textures like light trails and water to a blank background
- Create a graphic using a theme like School or Vampires
And those are just the free options. You can go to PicMonkey and use it for free without registering or logging in any time you want. If you see a feature you really want to use, you’ll have to get a paid account but you’ll get a 30 day free trial.
Canva and Other Graphic Creation Options
What if you don’t want to find and download images? Maybe PicMonkey is great but you want something with more features. My other favorite, and it’s the one I use most often, is Canva.
Canva has a huge suite of online templates for everything from an Instagram post to business cards. There are free templates and even free graphic elements (like text and symbols) or you can pay $1 per item. Maybe you see a template you really like – the picture is perfect, the font is professional, but you don’t like the color. All of the elements in that template come together – for only $1 – so you choose it, make the changes you want, and you’ve got something it look like a graphic designer created for cheap.
What makes Canva great is that you can use it as a one-stop shop for all of your graphics needs. Postcards, flyers, business cards, online ads, and so much more can be made all within the website, and you can usually find the same template regardless of the category you select, so if you like the yellow one in the postcard section, you’ll probably be able to find it in the business card section, too.
If you find that Canva becomes your go-to place for images and graphics, they do have a paid option called Canva for Work. You’ll have more options to help make your branding that much easier and less time-consuming to create. For a casual user, the basic option should suffice.
An image for your blog post should look professional, but there’s no reason to kill your budget. With the right tools, you can do it yourself and pay almost nothing.