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Blogging used to be all about that glossy picture, magazine aesthetic – flat lays on marble contact paper, peonies and wisteria, and posing in front of a stranger’s front door.
And whilst it was a lot easier to build a following back then, because there was less competition, it meant you have to more well-rounded. Your photography skills were as important – if not more – than your writing skills.
Thank God, it’s not like that any more.
I am a TERRIBLE photographer. Seriously. Search for Planet House Plant on Instagram. I love plants but my god I haven’t a clue about cameras.
Nowadays, there a lots of free websites that can help you fake being a good photographer.
Do I need experience in graphic design to create my own blog graphics?
No, but I advise that you take to Pinterest to get an idea of fonts and colours, and branding etc.
All of my websites look broadly the same. It’s quicker for me to use one logo and just switch out the elements. I had no graphic design skills at all, but I managed to teach myself Canva.
How much do I need to pay for graphic design software?
Canva is free, although there’s a paid option. I don’t use it, but it could be useful if you have a lot of images to resize or you want more font options.
If design is a big part of your blog – say, you’re an artist, web, or graphic designer – I would recommend going straight to the Adobe Suite, but the rest of us will likely only need the free version of Canva.
What graphics I created using Canva
All you need to be able to make is:
- A logo (500X500px)
- A header image (mine’s identical to my logo but bigger)(1200x550px)
- A Pinterest pin (use a template and they sort out the size)
- A featured image (672x372px)
The sizes will probably vary from theme to theme but thy should be fine for most of them.
If you put extra images into your articles, then make sure you resize them in Canva (I use my featured image template, but you could do 672 x 672px if you want a square image.
It’s been a long time since I learned how to use Canva, but I’m an EXTREMELY slow learner so I remember getting frustrated with it. Once you get to grips with what you’re doing it’s really straight forward – it’s basically dragging and dropping elements.
I used Picmonkey before Canva, and I liked it – from what I remember it’s a little bit easier to master, and the paid version is super cheap.
The only reason I changed is that a lot of other bloggers use Canva and they often sell or give away free templates. Since I have no design skills whatsoever, these were useful extra back when I spent a lot of time on pin design.
Canva is more powerful software, and can look good on your resume, so I advise at least giving it a go.
How to come up with blog graphic design ideas
Erm, I go onto Pinterest and I look at everybody else’s. Just put ‘graphic design’ into Pinterest and you get a tonne of ideas for logos, fonts, etc etc.
Since Google can’t see my images, I don’t really care too much about them. I just want a little bit of visual interest.
On that note, don’t keyword stuff your images. I give my images the same name as my article, and I usually leave the alt tag.
It used to be a Google ‘hack’ to put a load of keywords in the alt tags, but it’s considered a grey hat (frowned upon but not, you know, illegal) SEO hack and I don’t like it.
The alt tag is there to tell visually-impaired people what the picture is of, and shouldn’t really be used for anything else.
Where to find free images online
I use Unsplash almost exclusively. They have a great range – I can usually find pictures of pretty specific plants for my house plants website. Pexels is another good one.
DON’T just copy and paste pictures from Google images. It’s unlikely, but you could end up getting sued for copyright infringement, and it even if you don’t, Google may notice and blacklist you.
Does using your own photographs affect SEO?
Google hasn’t 100% confirmed this, but using your own, original pictures is thought to improve your SEO, as opposed to using stock photos that thousands of other people have used.
Don’t panic if you’re not a photographer – just use your phone. If you’re worried about your lack of camera skills, compile some data into a graph on Google Sheets and screenshot it.
I take crap photos of my plants but because my audience also care more about plants than photography, they don’t give me grief.
Think of all those low-quality YouTube videos that show you how to fix your toilet. You don’t care about the quality – it’s immaterial – because it’s the content you’re after. You’re not there to be entertained, you’re there to have your problem solved.
How to use your own art on your blog
A lot of bloggers far more talented than I use their own art on their sites. I would love to be able to draw (my dad is literally a professional artist but I have inherited none of his skills) so I do dabble in digital art.
If you’re a professional you’ll probably already have a Wacom tablet and Photoshop, but if you’re a amateur like me, an iPad and Apple Pencil, or a cheaper version of the same set up (tablet and stylus) will do the job.
If you’re on a budget, then grow your blog to a point where you can monetise it, and then spend your earnings on digital art supplies!
I’m a sheep, so I use the Procreate app like everyone else. I love it. I follow online tutorials and pretend I have talent.
Tips for creating blog graphics
- Use other people’s free templates. There are so many you can get in exchange for an email. Get a hotmail account you use exclusively for signing up to stuff if you can’t bear the spam.
- Pinterest is a treasure trove for inspiration. Look at other people’s designs and see if they have any tips.
- Persevere. I know it can be a ballache learning this stuff but it’s a great skill to have, that could potentially give you the edge in a job interview. Also, I highly recommend creating pins for your articles.
It allows other people to share your post if they want, and even if you just set up a Pinterest account and pin your posts to one board, it’s ready to go if Pinterest ever decides to become a real competitor in the battle of the search engines.
Final thoughts on creating your own blog graphics for free
Schedule a day in your content calendar to get to grips with Canva.
Make a logo, a header, a featured image (that’s the picture above the heading with no text on it) and a Pinterest pin.
I set a day of the month aside to create all my graphics for the month’s posts (I usually do ten at a time) as well as titles and subheadings – basically, a structure for my posts.
I don’t create new graphics – I just switch up the text and the image. It usually takes less than five minutes – less if I’ve already downloaded a load of suitable images
I’ve found it’s easier to remember to do everything, and means that I can get my posts published faster than when I have to create graphics, decide on the structure, and write the actual post all in one day.
Also, if I have to do it all at once, I inevitably forget to do something.