When blogging first became popular, it was common for bloggers to simply choose a photo they liked and plop it into their post, sometimes with a catchy caption. But now in today’s crowded and competitive market, a simple photo won’t do. Editing your blog photos or graphics helps you stand out. Two reasons why your blog needs visually appealing graphics that you can customize is that it creates brand awareness and increases social sharing. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a graphic designer to edit stock photos. You just need to learn a few basics to get started. Follow these tips to start learning how to personalize stock images.
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 will likely want to set a certain tone or convey a certain type of message. That's the purpose of branding. Branding is your look and feel, your words, your images, your logo, your products…everything rolled up into one unique you. Think of the major known brands like Apple, Nike and Starbucks. Each of these has a specific brand that you recognize in an instant. Whether it’s innovation and simplicity or being competitive and driven, to being millennial focused with a global responsibility - each appeals to a specific audience. And though you may not have the presence they do, the principles are the same no matter how big or small a blog or business you have. One important aspect of your brand is your images. Some simple ways to create your brand is by using elements such as color, font and image style to achieve the look you desire. The key to increasing recognition is consistency. It’s important to use the same font, colors and style in everything you post. You may use a specific combination of colors or maybe subdued colors or bright colors. Your font may be very simply or may be more ornate as in a script style. It all depends on what you want to convey as your brand. You should also use photos and images that coordinate well with your blog’s post topics or niche. Be sure to add your logo and/or blog name to identify 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. But if you’re looking for a less expensive way there are web sites such as PicMonkey that are fairly easy to use and can produce quality graphics. Picmonkey provides you with lots of time-saving options like a pre-sized canvas, formatted templates and filtered overlays. You can start with a free trial to see how you like it, which I recommend. The free versions have fewer selections. You may want to consider the premium options if the cost is worthwhile for your needs. If you're not sure which programs to use read my post on paid vs free graphic design programs to help you decide which is right for you.
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There are many ways you can edit stock photos 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 and interesting effect. Softening, blurring or coloring an image by using a filter is another simple way to add your own unique touch. You may need to find some design inspiration to give you ideas. See what others are doing that you like but make it your own. Find ways to present your brand consistently through your images.
Create and Save Templates
Creating a customized graphic for each blog post might seem a little overwhelming. It can seem even more of a challenge when you consider that each social network requires its own specific size. For example, Instagram photos must be square and Pinterest pins work best when they are tall. You can take a look at some Pinterest pin designs that I created for my clients as examples and read my 7 steps for creating Pinterest pins that get shared for more information on creating pins. 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 be sure to keep current with any changes.
These are just the basics of how to personalize stock photos to make them fit your brand. You can create your own unique photos for your blog posts without being a graphic designer. Start simply and learn as you go.