Making the Most of Tools, Apps and Services to Create Visual Content for Your Blog
Over the last few weeks, we’ve been exploring different types of content that you can use on your blog. In episode 187 we talked written content, in 189 video content and back in 180 we talked about live video.
Each are important types of content to be able to create for your blog – but one that is increasingly important today is visual content.
When I was looking back at some screenshots of my very first blog from 2002, recently, I was amazed by how boring it looked. Not a single post in the first few months of my blogging used even an image – it was purely text.
Today, the web is a much more visual place and I can’t remember the last time I published content without at least one form of visual content in it.
Visual content helps you to stand out from the crowd, it gives your content personality, it makes it more useful and it increases the chances of it being shared.
The great thing is that we’re operating in a time where there are so many great ways to create visual content. There are so many tools and services available to us – so many that it can be overwhelming to know which ones to use.
So in today’s episode, I asked Peg Fitzpatrick to come on the show to talk to us about her favorite tools, apps and services.
We talk about apps and tools for creating great content, great sources for free stock photos, a tool that will help with the sharing of your visual content and one for organising all of the visual content you create.
As you listen you might want to have today’s show notes open where I list all of the tools, apps and services mention.
Resources and Tools for Creating Great Visual Content for Your Blog
- Join our Facebook Group
- Adobe Spark
- Adobe Draw
- Adobe Color
- Eye Dropper Chrome Extension
- Libre Stock
- Big Stock Photo
- Social Warfare Plugin
- Peg’s blog
- Peg’s post on visual style guides
- Peg’s post on using Trello
- Is written content dead?
- How to create great video content
- How to create great live video
- How to Life the Quality of your Blog with Embeddable Content
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In today’s lesson, I want to talk about tools that you can use to create great visual content for your blog and for your social media. Over the last few weeks and episodes of this podcast, we’ve been exploring different types of content that you can use on your blog. In episode 187, we talked about written content, perhaps the most obvious type of content for a blog. In 189, I talked about video content and had a great interview with Justin Brown on how to create great video content. Even back in episode 180, we talked about live video and how to create a live video particularly for Facebook.
Each of these types of content is really important to be able to create for your blog today. But one that’s increasingly important today is visual content. It can actually be used in a lot of the other types of content as well.
I looked back the other day at my first blog and some screenshots of it from 2002 and I was amazed at how boring it looked. Not a single post on the front page of that blog in 2002 had even any image in it, it was purely text. Today, the way it is so much more visual as a place. I personally can’t remember the last time I published a blog post without at least one image in it or one chat or one page of visual content in it. Most paper today are at least including any image or good image. But there are so many other types of content that we can create, visual types of content as well.
Visual content really does help your blog, your content to stand out from the crowd. It can differentiate you from all of those other means or pieces of content out there. It gives your content personality, it helps it to become more useful, it makes it easier to read, and it also increases the chance of your content being shared because studies have proved again and again that when you have content with visuals, it gets shared at a much higher rate.
The great thing is, today that we operate in a time when it’s so easy to create visual content. There are so many great ways to do it. There are so many amazing tools and so this is a valuable to us, many of them free. The problem though is that there are so many tools that can be quite overwhelming to know which one to use.
In today’s episode, that’s what I want to explore. I want to suggest to you some tools that you can use to create visual content. In fact, it’s not going to be me who will be suggesting them. It’s an expert in this field, Peg Fitzpatrick who I’ve heard speak many times at conferences on this particular topic.
As I was pondering how do I explore this topic, Peg was an obvious choice. She’s going to suggest to you some great tools that you can use for creating visual content, designing visual content, great sources for free stock photos. She’s going to suggest to you a tool that will help you in the sharing of your visual content particularly if you’re a WordPress user. She’s also going to share with you her favorite tool for organizing the visual content that you create.
Today’s episode is going to be well-worth listening if you are at the beginning of this journey creating visual content or you want to find the latest tools because some of these tools are newish tools as well.
As I mentioned before, a lot of these tools are free or at least have free versions. I will list them all on today’s show notes so you might want to open then up as we get into this episode. You can find the show notes over at problogger.com/podcast/191.
I’d also love it if you would join our Facebook group, if you just go to problogger.com/group or do a search for the ProBlogger community in Facebook. I love it if you would tell us what your favorite visual tool is as well because there are lots of others out there and I’m sure there’s others that we haven’t covered in this particular episodes well. Head over to the group after you’ve listened as well and share with us what your favorite tool is too.
Again, the show notes are at problogger.com/podcast/191 where I’ve listed all of the tools that we covered today as well as some other further reading and listening. Thanks for listening and I’m going to get into this interview that I do with Peg Fitzpatrick. Also, you can check out Peg’s blog over pegfitzpatrick.com.
Peg, in our recent episodes, we’ve been looking at different types of content that can be fitted on blogs. We talked about written content, which is obviously a big feature for me and video content and even had to do live video. But today I want to talk about another really important topic content which I think you’ve got a lot to say about and that’s visual content. I’ve heard you speak about this at many conferences so you’re a bit of a no brainer in terms of getting someone on to talk about it. I want to welcome you to the podcast.
Peg: Thank you for having me. I’m super excited.
Darren: I’m surprised I actually haven’t had you on already. It’s overdue.
Peg: Me too. What’s up with that Darren?
Darren: I actually don’t do too many interviews. It’s bit of a new thing for me to do interview so bear with me while you’re my guinea pig.
One of the things we’ve talked about in the last few episodes is the superpowers of different types of content. I’ve talked about written content being really good for being found in search, being scannable. I had Justin Brown recently on to talk about video. He talked about how it’s really great for showing your personality and getting shares. I wonder if you can tell us what you think visual content superpower is.
Peg: The superpower is helping all of your other content be seen because blogs used to be just all about the best ideas and the newest ideas and now, as you know, I don’t even know, are there a billion blogs now? Because I know it was millions starting everyday so I don’t know how many there are in the world but there’s a lot of written word out there now.
The visuals on your blog are what help more people number one, they stay to read it longer because when people see it they’ve long while of text, people have such short attention span and I’m really shocked. Have you ever asked your readers how many people read your blog on their phone?
Darren: Yeah, that’s a lot, isn’t it?
Peg: Isn’t it? I was also like, “Who reads a whole blog post on their phone?” But lots of people love it. You need something to break the text up, the big pieces of text because people’s attention span are getting shorter and shorter because everybody’s bombarded with so much information and we’re used to seeing shiny things around the internet.
Thankfully, the flashlights with the music are gone. Now, when people go to a blog post, they like to see visuals. It’s not only just for looking in a blog post but it’s also for shareability because people want to hit a social sharing button. Honestly, I’m shocked when I go to people’s blogs and they have no social sharing buttons. There are so many people that have no social sharing buttons still.
They’re like, “I don’t get any social shares. Why is that?” I’m like, “Remember, one, you could add some buttons. Then people can hit that.” They’re like, “Oh.” I realized that when people are new, it is hard. There’s so much to learn when you’re a new blogger but you can definitely Google those things like 10 things I need when I start on my blog, you can get the basics. Make sure you have the basics in place which are your social sharing buttons. But also images so when people hit the share button, a great image goes with it. If you go and hit a social sharing button to Facebook and it is text only, a lot of people won’t share that.
Darren: If I do, it doesn’t work. It is not going to get the attention of that person as well.
Peg: Absolutely. It will go nowhere in the news feed. Occasionally, people can do a text only post on Facebook and it does okay. But even Facebook they added that feature where you could change your text only post and then making it into a graphic, which I actually, dislike that feature on Facebook. But Facebook is even recognizing that sometimes people just have text. You don’t want that to be your blog post. You don’t want something bad to go out with your blog post.
There’s a lot of different ways that I look at it. Number one, you want it to look nice when people go. They go to the ProBlogger site. They’re going to see this great image that reminds them of other visuals that they’ve seen around. Then when they hit the share button, you want that to share but with the right size. That’s the tricky, tricky piece because one image doesn’t fit on every social site, they all have different parameters.
The thing is you don’t also want a weird size photo to go out because then that doesn’t look it either. I do have a tool for that, if you want I could begin to explain right away.
Darren: Let’s talk about different types of visual content then we’ll get into the tools because I know people will hang in for the tools.
Peg: Wait for it people. It’s coming.
Darren: It’s coming. I like to tease. Before we get into the tools, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the different types of visual content that a blogger can use on their blog because one of the things I love about your blog, and our usual blog is a case study when I speak is that you have so much variety in the visual content that’s on your blog. Every time I look at a blog post, there’s at least one or two pieces. I suspect you’ve got a policy that no can take as it without visual. Is that the case?
Peg: Yeah. All of my blog posts have visuals.
Darren: That’s what we do as well. We always have to have one but what I love about yours is there’s a lot of variety in them. Every blog post has at least one and they’re all kinds of different types of visual. I wonder if you could talk about some of the different types of visuals that bloggers can use on their blogs.
Peg: Absolutely and thank you for looking at my blog and using it as a case study. I’m always so flattered. I was like, “Oh thank you for reading my blog, someone.”
Honestly sometimes it depends on what type of post it is. Say for example, we’re at social media marketing world and I was going to share one of my presentations, I would upload that to SlideShare. I would upload the presentation. Sometimes, it depends. Some speakers don’t like to give away everything if they do the same presentation everywhere. They don’t want to give away their whole presentation. But you could do a shorter version, maybe just the intro with just the tools that you shared because that’s what people want to see afterwards. They see so many people speak that they might forget.
I’ll load it up to SlideShare so then it’s SlideShare content and then I can embed that into my blog post. Then I could break some text with it. Because like you speak at different preferences too and I’m sure people look if you share something, people ask a lot like, “Can I see your presentation?” They don’t get the whole thing but I give people part of it so they can get some piece of it. So they feel like they were there, maybe they hear some new stocks or some new tools or something that I shared. That’s one thing that I’ll do is share SlideShares. I embed videos so I will upload a YouTube video and then I will embed that into a blog post also.
I love doing social images. Instagram images are awesome because you can legally use the images when you’re embedding a social post like a Facebook post or an Instagram post. It’s not taking someone else’s image without permission because it embeds their post and it keeps their name at the top and their comments and their social shares. If you see an Instagram post that you like and you want to use it in a blog post, you can’t just cut and paste their picture. That’s not okay. You could get a DCMA takedown notice for that because it’s somebody else’s intellectual property. But you can embed their social post and if it’s a public Instagram post, then it will embed and then you can share that image.
If you were writing a blog post about you have a lot of photographers that follow you. Say you were doing a study on like 10 Instagram accounts that post great landscape photos, you could embed the photos in there. You could talk a little bit about it. You could say like they go out at different times of the day, they use different lenses. You could have the different techniques that they use in there to get the different types of photos. You could use their photos by embedding their post. It also gets more engagement back to their posts.
Darren: It’s a win for them as well as you just getting people back to you. I guess the big thing I want to get across to our listeners is that whilst we’re going to talk a lot about today is tools that you can use to create great visuals that you don’t have to create all the visuals. There’s so much visual content out there that you can be embedding legally onto your blog. We talked a lot about that in episode 97 about embeddable content but I really encourage listeners to go and have a look at Peg’s blog to see this in action. Because every post almost have something embedded, whether it’s a Twitter.
Peg: I do. I also do tweets. I like to do the click to tweets because those are super popular. Like for you, you do a blog, you do a podcast, if you say something or if you have a dash time and it says something that’s nice, short little tweetable, you could make that into a tweet. You could have it, it shows as a quote in your blog post and then people can click to tweet and then it goes out on Twitter and it adds a link back to your podcast. That’s a win-win too.
Darren: Let’s get into some tools. Let’s start with tools that you can use to help create visual content.
Peg: One of my very favorite and I have worked for them as a brand ambassador is Adobe Spark. Have you tried Adobe Spark yet?
Darren: I’ve tried it a little bit. I think I tried it right in the early days and since then I’ve heard it’s developed a lot. Talk to us about it.
Peg: It had. It’s great. They have three different tools in them. One is called Adobe Post, one is Page where you could make landing pages. Then they have Spark Video and I’m not great with video. Here’s the big secret with all my great visual content, I actually can’t use Photoshop and I can’t edit video. I am like most people where I don’t have the super high-tech skills. Where I think a lot of people feel like, “I can’t make great graphics because I don’t know how to use Photoshop and I don’t know how to edit video.” I don’t either.
I taught myself how to use other things that look professional. I test things. In Adobe Spark, what I love about it is everything looks crisp and professional no matter where you put it. There’s a tool that a lot of people use and I don’t like to say bad things about tools. But when you would do the photos, like you put it in your Facebook cover and the text would be blurry. And it looks very unprofessional. I think it had to do with Facebook whatever they did to the photos. But Adobe Spark, everything looks 100% professional.
When you add the text in, they have a little dragging tool where you could just move it without having to realign your text. Everything stays aligned perfectly and you can center it, it has the little gridlines. It’s just easy to use and they do right in app have free photos that you can use, that you can legally use. It makes it one-stop shopping.
Darren: Adobe Post is something that you can use on your phone but it’s also desktop, isn’t it?
Peg: Yes. What I like about that is I like to make my stuff usually on the computer and then if I need to, I’ll bring it over to my phone. Like if it’s something for Instagram, sometimes I’ll make it on the computer and then bring it over to my phone to share it. When you’re on the phone, you can make animations. If you wanted to make something that had some motion to it with a text or something, you can do that on your phone but not on desktop.
Darren: Wow, very cool. You’re using this mainly for text overlay type stuff?
Peg: Yeah, I use it for text overlay stuff. I’ve even made slides for presentation on it. You can use it for all different kinds of things. I use it a lot to do my Instagram stories because they have little Instagram story size in there and then you can animate them and put stickers and stuff on them. It’s super fun.
I use that for my blog post graphics. I use it for social graphics. I use it for all different kinds of graphics, presentation stuff sometimes. It doesn’t have a multi-page feature so it’s not ideal for presentations but for my blog graphics, I love it.
It has a feature where if you make one that ends up being really popular, I like to pretest my social stuff, just like your blog content, if it’s popular then you reproduce that template like, “Okay, that blog post works.” If you have a graphic that’s really popular, you can just hit a duplicate button and it makes a template from it. Then you can just rearrange the photo and it makes it nice so you’re not recreating the wheel every time.
Darren: Yeah. That’s great and that would help with consistency between your images as well. Is there any cost associated with Adobe Spark?
Peg: It’s 100% free right now. Everything is free in it. The images are free. Everything is free in it right now.
Darren: Isn’t it amazing? Unbelievable, the things that work at our fingertips.
Peg: If you are an Adobe Photoshop user, it’s part of the creative cloud. It will tie all your things together. You could pull your lightroom photos in there. It’s connected to everything Adobe.
Darren: Excellent. I’m going to learn how to use it a bit better.
Peg: It’s so easy, it really is. Do you use Lightroom?
Darren: Yeah, I’m a big Lightroom user. I think that would be pretty cool to be able to pull in my own photos and sync between them. That’ll be great. I created a video with the video part of it and I think I created a video that used the audio from this podcast and then I put some images over the top of it. I thought that was interesting because a lad made a share that onto Facebook as a way to create some moving images with the audio, Just as a teaser for the podcast, I think I did a couple of those in the previous days, lots of potential there.
Peg: They updated a lot in the video section too. You can embed a video in a video now.
Darren: Wow. Okay.
Peg: It’s all like drag and drop. It’s so easy, even I can use it.
Darren: If I can do it, anyone can.
Peg: Yeah, it’s true. It’s not complicated at all. It’s really just coming up with the ideas for your blog post like what type of blog post is this one? Is it a podcast or is it a tutorial, is it a how to? Some of the other blog posts are how to blog posts.
I have examples like where Canva is another tool I use. It’s a down under company. They have output stuff in there and I’ll do a screenshot and then you could put circles around softer areas pointing to things or text overlays. Not to do a blog title but just to point out something when you’re showing something new. When you’re explaining something so you could do the steps, you can do step one, step two, step three. That’s easy to do in Canva because they have a multi-page feature. You could put the screenshot in and then add the different layers in there. That’s also easy.
Canva, they have a free version and then they also have Canva for work which is great if you’re a blog that wants to be consistent which should be everybody. In Canva for work, you can add your logo, add all your colors. You can add in some fonts that are your custom fonts that aren’t in the apps for everybody to use. You can add two or three fonts in there. You make your own little brand kit with all your official colors and official fonts and your logos. Those stay in the app and you can use those on any design. You don’t have to reload them every time. Then by default, your brand colors come up.
Darren: That is a tool that we’ve used quite a bit particularly with our events. To be added between our team members as well, it’s quite useful.
Peg: It’s great to be able to share designs. You can create templates and share the templates with other teammates.
Darren: That’s something that was really missing a few years ago. You had to create everything from scratch every time. That was really tough.
Peg: And if you make a mistake, if you have a typo which it happens. Sometimes you have a typo on it, you make the whole design and you finish it and then you can’t edit the design. That’s the big benefit of Adobe and Canva and Spark and Canva. You can go back in and edit that same design. If you were doing event marketing and then something changed, you need to change one thing. If I had to redo the whole piece of art, that’s horrible.
Darren: It is horrible. We’ve got Canva and Adobe Spark. Any other? I’m sure you’ve got plenty.
Peg: Little fun apps. There is an app called Ripple that I like that makes really fun animations. I don’t know if you’ve tried that one before.
Darren: No I haven’t. Tell us a little more.
Peg: Ripple is a paid app. I call it a premiere app because it is one that’s more expensive. You do have to pay for it to take their logo off it. I don’t like to use anything with a brand’s logo. In your blogs, I don’t think it’s very professional to have the logo so I paid for the app.
You could make really cool animations that have text. They have a lot of different templates. You can add music in there and do all kinds of fun things to make a fun graphic. You can play your own photos in, it could be text only. There are a lot of different things that you can do in it that are fun. That’s just like the ones that are a little fun groovy kind where you’ve done your basic blog graphic but then when you want to do animated ones. Those are fun to do.
If you post it on Instagram and then go back and embed it into your post or you can tweet them, you can post them anywhere in social. But you can also download them and upload them into your blog post.
Darren: It’s going to be useful within the blog post but also promoting it as well. Anything that boosts really does get a little bit more attraction on Twitter, of anything.
Peg: Especially on Twitter. Giphy is another great one. I love Giphy. Do you use Giphy?
Darren: Only for fun. Finding other people’s GIFs and sharing them but not creating them. I didn’t realize you can create them in there.
Peg: You can make GIFs on Giphy. I have to say I pretty much just go on and look for stuff too because there’s just great stuff in there. But those are really fun. GIFs are great in blog posts because they don’t slow your page time at all. Because they’re fast and they don’t take up as much of the time like a regular video or photo. You could embed GIFs into your blog post. Have you done that before?
Darren: I’ve done it a couple of times and usually it’s to do something a bit humorous just to brighten things up and give people a giggle. I found that come out quite well.
Peg: It’s great for social sharing as well. If you have your blog, Twitter especially, it’s great to have the animations on there. You can make your own but I usually take the ones that are in there. But if you were doing a tutorial blog post, you could make a little GIF showing the steps on how to do something.
Darren: Excellent. We got Spark, Canva, Ripple, and Giphy so far.
Peg: Sketch is one that I like to use. Do you use that one?
Darren: I’ve used the desktop version. I think it’s Sketch that I used, anyway.
Peg: I like to use that one to do screenshots on my phone when I’m writing tutorials that have to do with anything mobile. So then I can do the little arrows and have little things like if there’s something new that happens on a social platform and you want to show. I like to just do the arrows and stuff because if you show a screenshot, people don’t necessarily know what it is you’re trying to highlight. You try to make it as easy as you can for people. I love to use that on my phone.
I really go back and forth between my phone and my desktop a lot. I also use my iPad Pro and I’ve been experimenting a little bit with using Adobe Draw to do some hand lettering but I’m not super professional at it yet but it’s really fun to add onto a graphic just to do a signature or something.
Darren: Okay, excellent. That you use with the pen on the Pro?
Peg: Yeah, the Apple pencil.
Darren: I use Sketch on the desktop as my main screenshot tool.
Peg: Oh you do? I don’t even know it did that.
Darren: You can have that installed on your computer and instead of just using the Apple screenshot, you can do your screenshots in that and then it allows you to add in arrows and all of the same things that you’ll be doing on your phone but on your desktop as well. As far as I know, it’s a free tool too.
Peg: Cool, I’ll check that one out. Because I haven’t done that on desktop and I like to do that. I’m always switching around to find the easiest one to do screenshot. Because when you do that on your Mac, it just saves it to your desktop but then you have to put it in another program so it’s a lot of stops.
Darren: There is another one that I use to do a whole website. If I wanted to do a screenshot of a whole website from top to bottom and it’s not all on the one screen, it will scan that whole site but it gets a little bit buggy because Hello Buzz and things like that tend to get captured numerous times across the screen. It’s bit of a problem.
Peg: It shows you how many pop-ups you have on your site.
Darren: It’s getting less useful. Any other visual tools?
Peg: One of the things I was going to say with the multitude of tools that out there, it’s really important to pick one and try it for a while instead of constantly jumping around to a bunch of different ones because it gives you more consistency in your brand and your graphics. If you switch around a lot, it’s hard to get the same exact fonts unless you’re a Photoshop user where then you’re always using your same fonts. But also, you could take classes at Skillshare. Have you done any Skillshare stuff, Darren?
Darren: No, I’ve seen them quite a bit.
Peg: It’s really reasonable, it’s $10 a month and you can take unlimited classes. If you did want to pump up your blog, if you’re going to be a blogger and you’re in it for the long haul and I always tell myself, “I’m going to get better at it.” They do have classes for Photoshop so you could learn how to use those. Or YouTube is great for tutorials for all the design programs. People have made really great tutorials for it.
If you’re somebody who feel stuck and you’re not sure, you feel like they might be too complicated for you, definitely check out YouTube and blog posts to find how to’s and how to do different design things. Give it a good try before you switch to something else because it’s like social platforms. Do you want to use HootSuite or Buffer? It’s personal preference. It’s like going to a doctor, you choose the one that you feel best with that gives you the best advice. They’re all a little bit personal.
Some people like more choices. I feel like too many choices gives you design after feel and then you can’t make any decisions. You definitely want to get to the proficiency stage so you can stop using the templates. The templates in all of them are great when you start out but you really need to get proficient so you can make your own template so your designs look different.
Darren: I was going to say, this is one of the questions we’ve got in the Facebook group from one of our members is that people love the audio of the graphic overlays but they bring you so much. How do you create them so that they’re different? That was one of the question I’d wanted to ask you. How can you add a little uniqueness into that apart from learning the tools a little bit better? Is it something that you can give us some tips on with that?
Peg: Sure. Definitely, the thing is it’s good to have those at the beginning so you could learn how the tool works. You can get ideas, you can play with them because Canva and Adobe Spark both have templates. But then, once you’re comfortable using the buttons and everything, you definitely want to step away from that and instead of taking a templated design, just start your own design. Then just think about really what your blog post is about.
You want to create your own brand. If you don’t already have one, a brand design. You want to have a visual style guide for your brand. You have your font and your colors. Even in style of photos, your brand should have a personality so you might have always humorous, funny photos or maybe serious photos. I write about social media, you write about blogging so maybe they’re going to have computers or people working. But you don’t want them to be too stock photo-ish but just of the same theme because eventually what you want is for people to see your images and to know that it’s yours.
I have people that see my stuff on Twitter or on Facebook and they say, “Oh, I knew this was yours because I saw your graphic and I loved it and I knew that it would lead to a great blog posts.” They tie that together, they tie seeing a graphic on Twitter with knowing it’s going to my blog. That’s why it’s so important.
If you don’t have that, they’re going to click on somebody else’s great image on Twitter. Because tweets don’t last very long, a tweet lasts 20 minutes from the time you hit send or it’s published. After 20 minutes, it’s dead in the water unless somebody goes and says, “Oh, I wonder if Darren’s published.” They’ll think lately and they click over to your profile and they scroll down. But most people look at their news feed or lists so it’s important to have really eye-catching images that do look the same.
You want to create a visual style guide. I do have a blog post about that on my blog. But the things that you want to come up with are your brand colors, you want a main one or two colors, maybe one more accent color. You want a main font and maybe one accent font so maybe it might have one that’s a little bit more decorative and one that’s a little bit smaller for the sub header. Then you’d have your logo that you would use the same every time. Then you just want to remix that into different variations but keeping it in the same family.
It’s not as hard as it seems, the more consistent you are, the easier it gets. Then you build the brand and you know when you go in, you’re going to use the same blue, you’re going to use this font. You start seeing what things work well together. Then you think, “Okay, this one is a lighter background so this needs a darker color over it.”
Play with the templates to get a feel for what designs look balanced. You can create something that’s visually the same style as of one of the template but change all of it to match your brand. It doesn’t look exactly like the template but you could say, “Oh, well they used a little shape in the background.” Then you can copy the elements of it and then tweak it to match your brand. Once you start doing that, you’ll get more comfortable with it.
Darren: I find that templates are sometimes good starting places as well and you can change it from a rectangle to a circle. Change the shape. Change the fonts from what they’ve got there. You can use them as a stepping stone towards learning how to use the tool and making them completely unique.
Peg: It’s not as hard as it seems. Just try to practice with the templates and then bring yourself off the templates and create your own designs based on your own brand. It’s really important if you guys are listening to this, I know you want to be pro bloggers too. Take the time to figure out your visual brand and then it’s not a decision you have to make anymore. You always just know these are the fonts and these are the colors.
Another tool, speaking of colors is if you need to create a brand new brand, there’s Adobe Color. It used to be Kolor but in Adobe, they have a tool where you can make different color palettes. I love that because what I did for my blog makeover, two blog makeovers ago, was I had this picture that I absolutely loved. It was the inspiration for my whole design. I put this into the tool and it gave me a color palette based on that. It picks the colors out. Then even going one step further, it gives you different colors. You can be all coordinated, you can have opposite colors, tertiary colors. It gives you a whole bunch of different brand palettes.
Darren: It’s going to give you a collection of colors that are going to work together. Excellent!
Peg: You can pick your main color. It gave me combinations that I wouldn’t necessarily thought of. Then you could just save those and you get the hacks codes and you save them and then you always have it. You can figure it out, it’s not that hard. But you definitely do want to have a visual style that includes your color.
Then, another tool that I like it’s a Chrome extension called Eyedropper tool. I like that because if you have your brand colors but you’re making something that has a certain color in it, you can use a little Eyedropper tool and then it grabs the color out of the photo so you can match the photo exactly, which Photoshop has that built-in but the other tools don’t have that.
Darren: To be able to do that from your browser makes a lot of sense. Give me a list of all these so anyone who is listening along and wanting to find all these tools, I will link to them all in the show notes today.
Darren: One of the questions I’ve had a number of times over in the Facebook group is around images. A lot of these tools have stock photos in them. Adobe Spark does, Canva does. Do you have any other image stock photography sites that you love and that you recommend?
Peg: Yes, I have one I found. It’s amazing. It’s called librestock.com. When you do a search in there, a search is like 43 other photo sites. Everything is free on this site. Searching this one free site takes you to all the other free sites. Images are really good.
The one that I like the best out of all the ones that it searches is Unsplash. It has really gorgeous photos on there. But I usually start with Librestock just because it searches Unsplash and 42 other ones. All of them you can legally use. When you click on them, it does show you what the other site that it comes from and then you have to click through one more thing. You’ll click through and it takes you to that site and then usually you just download them or they may have question or something on there but all of them are free. It just gives you a huge variety.
Darren: I’m going to be checking that one out. I use Unsplash a lot as well. In fact anytime I open a new tab on Chrome, it opens up a photo for me in Unsplash which I like as well.
Peg: There are beautiful photos out there, really beautiful.
Darren: The only problem I have all these free ones is you do see the same image a lot on blogs. You got to dig in a little bit and find something that maybe hasn’t been used as much.
Peg: That’s the nice thing about Unsplash and Librestock. You’ll find things that aren’t the same that you see. They’re not traditional stock photos. I used to use big stock photos a lot but those are the ones that are the more typical “stock” photos. But Unsplash are like because it’s different. It makes it harder when you have a subject like social media business or entrepreneurship because there’s a lot more nature photos and things like that.
Darren: I find that I’m always looking for photos of photographers because that do really well for us but there’s only so many photos of cameras and photographers on these sites.
Peg: Yeah. You’ll find some good ones on Librestock because I have searched for photos on there.
My favorite paid one, it’s a pretty expensive one but I love it. It’s stocksy.com. If you have a project that you want a really stellar photo, Stocksy has beautiful photos. They’re very not stock photo-ish, they’re like lifestyle photos. Those are my favorite ones.
But it’s hard to say even on the other ones because when you know you can go on Librestock and get all the other ones. But that being said, I do search a lot right in Adobe Spark and Canva because I know that you can use all of those legally. I’m sure you probably had other podcast where you talked about legally using photos.
Darren: Yeah. We’ve talked a little bit about using other people’s content. I guess the other option that some people go for and I’d love to hear your opinion on it is such like Flickr or 500 Pixels where they’ve got creative commons photos that you can either embed or use as well. Do you have any thoughts on those sites?
Peg: The embedded, I looked up both of those 500 Pixels and Flickr and they both have embeddable images. If you use the embeddable images, then you do have permission to use the photos no matter what. That’s really good because it does the photo attribution right when you embed it. You’re 100% set. I used to get tons of photos from Flickr but my fear was you can go and change the settings on photos and change the creative commons license. Then I was afraid that if I use the photo and then a year later they change the license on it, you could get hit for that.
Darren: This is something I ask the question with an opinion as well and that is exactly what you said. I had a lawyer approach me recently asking me for payment for a photo that I embedded on the site 2004 I think it was. It was a creative commons license photo at that time and then they changed it. I was able to go back and show them using the internet archive that it used to be a creative commons image.
Peg: Sneaky. That’s a good sneaky trick, Darren.
Darren: Thank goodness, it saved me $10,000. There is some risk associated with that but if you use the embed, it should be okay because they don’t allow you, at least on Flickr, to embed unless the photographer gives you permission to use the photo if that’s the case.
Peg: Yeah. It’s said that and then also if they change them gassing them, the embed would just have an air image on there something.
Darren: That’s the other risk is that you end up with posts with broken images in them because the photographer takes them off and you end up with this ugly gray thing saying this image is no longer available. It doesn’t look too professional.
Peg: It’s tricky. That’s the thing that people really need to think about. Other people say like, “I can’t afford a photo.” And I always say, “Can you afford the $10,000 if you get busted for taking somebody’s photo from Google?” No. The other thing that can happen which I mentioned briefly is you can do a takedown notice with Google. You get the black mark on your blog and you get zero traffic or referral for that forever.
I reported someone because they took all these content from one of my blog post and they put it into an infographic and they didn’t credit me for it. Which even when they credit on an infographic, it’s just your name on there. It’s not a link back or anything. Their infographic went viral at Pinterest. I said, “You took this and you didn’t ask permission.” It was a secret formula that I created for how to do well on Google +. They took it and I was like, “You can’t just do that.” They didn’t want to change it because it was viral so I reported it to Google. They get nothing for that now.
Darren: You got to be careful, got to give good credit.
Peg: We’re the same way with our writing. We don’t want people to steal our written word. People really just steal images and they don’t think twice about it. They just take them and they think, “Oh, I Googled it and it came up. I was looking for this and I just wanted to use it.” It’s not okay if it’s somebody else’s image. Even if it’s on the internet, it’s not okay.
Darren: There’s more and more legal firms now targeting use of image in this way. They’re approaching photographers and say, “We found people using your images.” They’re doing the leg work before they even talk to the photographer because they know it’s easy money. Just be really, really careful on that front.
One of the challenges on many bloggers’ face is that they can get overwhelmed in terms of the organization of all these visual images that they’re creating and keeping track of them. You mentioned as we’re preparing this interview that you might have some tools in helping on that side of things as well.
Peg: I have one really great one that I love so much and it’s Trello. Have you used Trello yet?
Darren: We’ve used it a little bit and then we started using Slack and it took over some of what we were doing as a team but I do know we’ve got some readers who just use Trello for themselves, not even with a team.
Peg: I use it for myself and I’ve used it on a team. Slack is great for communication but sometimes it’s hard to find stuff from an old conversation, that’s the problem with Slack. You can integrate Slack and Trello together but Trello is the organizational tool. I look at Slack as the communication and Trello as the organization.
They set up to be virtual post-it notes so you could save a whole bunch of things and you can create lists in there. You can add photos in there. What I like to do is create an editorial calendar right on a Trello board. Then you can keep all the pieces for a blog post on one little card.
In that one card, you can create a little checklist for each blog post. On my little blog post checklist, I have blog post title because I like to check it to see how it does like that CoSchedule had linear analysis thing. Then, you have the SEO for the post and the is post written in? Do you have the graphics? You could do a little checklist for all the pieces.
If you’re working with a team and you have one person editing, one person’s doing the graphics, there’s the checklist that can really be checked off on there. Everybody on your team can be on the cards and you can have conversations in there. If you want to, you can share the link to the Trello card in your Slack channel so you can say like, “I finished doing all the parts for the checklist on here.” And you can put it into the Slack channel saying like, “It’s ready for editing now.” Or “It’s ready for graphics now.” You don’t have more than one person working in the same blog post.
Even for me, even for one blogger it helps a lot. What I like is that you can embed all the images in there. If I get my images and I have them but I’m not going to make my graphics, I can just load the raw images in there and then I can make the graphics and put the finished graphics in there. Then work on the blog post later.
Blog post, you can have a formula of it. Sometimes you work in different order. Sometimes, I come up with the title first and then I write the blog post. Sometimes I’m writing the blog post and I’m not exactly sure of the title. We work on a different order but then this way, even really experienced bloggers, you can forget a piece. You’re not going to forget them on purpose but you could forget something but it’s great for working on a team as well. But I like it mostly for the graphics because you could load all the pieces. You could load all your social graphics in there too.
We didn’t get to the other tool. I’d share that one too. I almost forgot. You almost make me forget one, Darren. We’ll skip with Trello stuff. When you’re in Trello you could create all your social graphics. Say you made the perfect size tweet and you made a great Pinterest graphics, you could put those into Trello and then when you’re done with the post, you put them over in a column that’s just all the finished blog posts. Say two weeks later you want to share that blog post again, you can go back in there and get your graphics out again.
Darren: That’s great because I’m always looking for old stuff and then I have to search Twitter to find that graphic that I have already shared. It gets so messy.
Peg: When you go in Canva and you have three years worth of graphic, I have so many graphics in there and I’m scrolling forever. This way you create it once and you put it out in that one Trello card and it keeps all the pieces together. It integrates with your iPad, your desktop and your phone. If you did all your work on your desktop but then somebody is asking you, “Hey Darren, did you have a blog post about how to use Trello?” And you’re like, “Yes I do, by the way.” You can tweet it to them and you can pull out the graphic on your phone from your Trello board.
Darren: That’s great. Speaking of post about Trello, I just found yours online and I will share it on the show notes. It’s 10 Ways Trello Will Make Us Your Social Media Management Pro. It’s a go to post so I will link to that on the show notes as well.
Peg: The one that I use on my blog post is a plug-in called Social Warfare. The website is warfare plug-ins. What I love about this is it’s in the back end so it doesn’t slow your blog post down at all. If you just have an image on the top, if you’re super old school and you just have the one horizontal image at the top, you need to get up to date into 2017. People hit the Pinterest button, there’s the big tall graphic. But you don’t want an 800 x 1200 graphic on your blog post. Then when they hit the Pinterest pin it button the big image pulls up because it’s in the back end.
In there you add two separate graphics. You add one that’s a horizontal and one that’s a vertical for Pinterest. The horizontal one is sized, it works for LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook and then when you have all your open graph stuff set up, everything goes perfectly. It also lets you do custom text for the tweet so you can add hashtags and stuff in there if you wanted and then a separate Pinterest description because they’re all a little bit different.
If you have a Pinterest description, you would have more keywords, more conversational tone. You wouldn’t just have the title of the blog post. You would say like, “I can’t believe how many great things you can do with Trello. Check out this blog post and learn how you can be a social media pro.” You would want to put something else. It makes it easy to customize it.
It’s very similar to using Yoast in the back end of your blog post where you’ve got a couple extra fields. Then it also builds the ability to do the custom click to tweet right in your blog post. It used to be you’d have to go out to the click to tweet site, learn this quote or whatever. It’s built right in. I love that just because the Pinterest graphic for me is the money. My blog gets organic traffic number one and Pinterest traffic number two.
Darren: Just a recap on this one. It allows you as you’re writing your blog post to add some extra images and text so that when people hit that share button and appropriate images shown and appropriate text is shown alongside that if that’s a tweet for example. Is that a good summary?
Peg: That is a good summary and it doesn’t slow your website down which is important. The reason that some blogs don’t want to put a lot of images is because they feel like it’s going to slow their site down. This keeps them on the back end. It’s extra steps with the graphics in there but if you’re going to the trouble of writing your great blog content, you definitely want it to have optimal sharing when someone else sharing it. You share them initially but then you need to think about when people are coming back to your blog post.
Darren: This is a $29 per year product just looking at their website now that allows you to use it on one of your websites. They’ve got other packages if you’ve got more than one website. It’s a paid one but definitely looking at the feature list, it’s got some pretty cool stuff on it.
Peg: It’s the only plug-in that does this. To me it’s worth the money because the Pinterest traffic is awesome. It’s not just the web traffic because Pinterest, Shopify did a study and it showed that people spent two times as much on Pinterest as they do on Facebook. If the average Facebook customers’ worth $40 in sales, it’s $80 in sales in Pinterest. People are there really buying more. If you’re selling anything: courses, books, whatever way you’re making money, Pinterest is a great place to be. It’s worth it to me.
Darren: One more question that’s just coming on Facebook, from Max is around sizes of images. He’s saying if you had to create, it’s picking up in the fact that you need different size images for different social networks. What sizes are you preparing for each blog post?
Peg: Good question. For every blog post, I do 800 x 1200 which would be my Pinterest or 735 x 1102, it’s the same ratio it’s 2:3 ratio. I do a really big one for Pinterest. If you don’t want it, put it on your blog post or use this plug-in. You could just share it to Pinterest with the big image even if you don’t have it on your blog post, you can still create the graphic to share on Pinterest. Twitter I do 1000 x 500 that one’s 2:1. Then Facebook, off the top of my head, I’m totally blanking. That one is a rectangle but you could also just use a 1:1 ratio on Facebook. What I tend to do, I use 1:1 just because I can use that on Instagram and Facebook.
Darren: Is it 1200 x 627, was that right?
Peg: Yes, that could be.
Darren: I think that might be what we do on Facebook. I found if you only want to create to then the Facebook and Twitter one, you can sometimes get away with that because they’re not too far off.
Peg: Yeah they’re not too far off but then you definitely need to do a long, tall one for Pinterest.
Darren: 800 x 1200 is Pinterest, 1000 x 500 for Twitter, and we think Facebook is 1200 x 620.
Peg: Like I said, I usually do 1:1 now just because square does work on Instagram and Facebook. For a while, it didn’t work on Facebook and then they changed it.
Darren: Interesting, I’m going to try that for Facebook. That would take off a bit of a vertical space in the page too which isn’t a bad thing.
Peg: It works on Twitter as well believe it or not. Square is pretty good, it’s almost the most versatile. If I had to pick one shape, if I was only going to do one, I would do a 1:1 because it’s not the worst on Pinterest either. It sucked into the big, long, tall one. If you did an 800 x 800, it would be pretty good everywhere. But I like to take up as much as I can on Pinterest.
Darren: We need to do another Pinterest episode at some point because I have a few other questions on that. We’ve covered enough today unless you’ve got any last tools that we didn’t squeeze into the episode so far.
Peg: No, those so far were the ones we’re waiting and waiting. I’d love to come back and talk about Pinterest because I love Pinterest.
Darren: Definitely put that on the to-do list for sometime in the coming months. Thanks so much, Peg. Where can our listeners find more about you?
Peg: I’m Peg Fitzpatrick everywhere. You can find me on my website at pegfitzpatrick.com or any social media, I’m pretty much there. Come and say hi.
Darren: We will link across to Peg’s blog as well as some of the posts that I’ve referred to during the episode as well. Thanks so much, Peg. Hopefully, that you’ve stimulated some great visual content for our listeners’ blogs. We’ll chat again soon.
Peg: Okay, thank you.
Darren: Thanks for that.
Wow. What a lot of information there. As I mentioned at the top of the show, you can head over to our show notes today to get a transcript of everything we discovered as well as all the links to the 14 or 15 tools that we mentioned, as well as some of those posts that we mentioned. There’s a great post I linked there on Peg’s blog on creating a visual style guide which is really worth having a look at.
Also, she’s got a great post on how to use Trello, 10 different ways to use Trello as a blogger. I’ll also list there on the show notes some further listening if you did miss one of those early episodes in this series on creating great written content, on creating video content, and creating live videos as well, as well as one on embeddable content.
They’re all listed over there on the show notes. Head over to problogger.com/podcast/191. Thanks for listening and I’ll be back with you next week with episode 192.
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The post 191: Tools for Creating Great Visual Content for Your Blog appeared first on ProBlogger Podcast.
- 189: How to Create Amazing Videos for Your Blog Using Your Smartphone
- 187: Is Written Content Dead?
- 186: A Step-By-Step Guide to How I Write a Blog Post