There used to be times when blogging involved only words. Blog posts were articles: paragraphs, chains of letters strung together, read by the visitors slowly, with intent.
There wasn’t much in a way of social media, and RSS ruled the world.
Those times are gone. There’s so much information that gets dumped on the web today, that readers have no choice but to pick the blog posts that jump out at them on social media in some way and to skim through those posts once they’re opened.
So, what can we do to make our blog posts stand out in the ocean of others? How can we help visitors notice our posts when they scroll through their feeds on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest?
The simplest tactic that you can start implementing right away is to include images with your posts. Let me show you how to use Canva.
Blogs built on WordPress allow several types of images:
- Logo image
- Header Image
- Featured image
- Additional images in the body of the post
Logo image can be created DIY-style or outsourced. Unless designing logos is your actual profession, I would let someone else do it. It doesn’t have to be expensive. You can start by getting your logo on Fiverr.com for five bucks. The guy I order from does it in 2-3 days.
Logo image is one of those images that’s done once and for all (or at least till your next re-branding).
Depending on the design or layout of your theme, you might have a header image or not.
Most often it’s a photo of you, your product or another image that conveys something about your brand. A photographer will most likely create a base of this image for you, or, if you’re starting out, you can find great stock images and use those.
Header images change infrequently, mostly with change of seasons or special events in your business’s life, like a new product launch, so these images don’t need to be created often.
Featured images are the images that usually hold the title of your post and are pulled in by social media by default when being shared.
On your blog, these are the images that you’ll have for every post you create. Of course, you can choose not to, but don’t underestimate the importance of having them.
If you decide to have images on your blog posts, it’s important that you create them all in a similar style. As with everything else in blogging, consistency makes all the difference. Choose your color scheme, general layout and font styles that you want to use with your featured images.
Having images that have a consistent look help your site look more professional and, more importantly, help your posts become recognizable when shared on social media.
Additional images for your posts should follow same style as the featured images whenever possible.
I get it, you might have things like screenshots of apps or photos of your physical products when style can’t really apply. But, if your additional images are there to visually break the text, create a transition from one part of the post to the next, try to be consistent in their style in respect to the main featured image.
Unless you can afford to pay someone to create all those images for you (and the timeliness to meet), why not create them yourself? You can create great, profesh-looking images. And they won’t cost you a penny.
How are we going to do this, you wonder?
We’re going to use an awesome online tool called Canva that you can find at Canva.com.
Canva is a fantastic tool that’s easy to use and which offers great free options. It allows you create images from scratch, overlay photos and text and provides a huge library of premade images with free and paid options. Let’s talk about how to use Canva.
To use Canva, go to Canva.com and create a free account.
Once logged in, on the front screen, you’ll see several popular image sizes including those for social media.
The images on my blog have certain size requirements, so I always use the custom dimensions.
Click on ‘Use custom dimensions’ and you will get the screen below where you enter the height and width in pixels:
Hit Design and you’ll be brought to this page:
The default image layout is a plain rectangle. Other layouts are available – you see them on the left side and you can choose them by scrolling down and clicking on the one you like.
I’m good with just plain layout, so let’s work with that.
In this quick tutorial, I’ll show you how to create an image without using any background photos.
First, let’s choose a background color.
On the very left sidebar menu, click ‘Background’. You’ll be brought to this screen:
Here you can pick a premade background pattern (notice the ‘Free’ label on those that are free) or you can use the color picker and give it a solid background color of your choice. I use this option to match the colors I have on my blog.
Unless the color you want is one of the six primary colors already on the menu, click ‘+’ to get access to the color picker:
In the color picker either select any color you want by clicking within the rainbow-looking circle, or, if you know the color code, enter it in the field provided.
Once you enter the color code, the rectangle on the right will get filled in and you can see if that’s the color you want:
If you’re good, just click anywhere in the grey portion of the screen and your color picker will go away.
Now we’re ready to add some text.
To do that, click on ‘Text’ menu option on the left. You’ll get this screen where you can either choose from a bunch of free stylized fonts in preset colors below, or, you can add text and choose font style, size and color of your liking:
To use the option of picking your own font style, size and color, click on any of the “Add heading”, “Add subheading” or “Add a little bit of body text” options. Either one is fine since you can change it completely once the text block is created.
Once the text is typed in, click on the font selection drop down (that’s the one that says ‘Abril Fatface’).
Scroll until you find the font style you like and click on it. You now have your text of choosing in the font that you like:
From here you can:
- Adjust the size of your font by clicking on the drop-down size menu (currently showing 42)
- Change the color of the font by clicking on the color picker (the rainbow colored circle)
- Get rid of text by clicking on a trash can
- Adjust alignment of the text by clicking on the down looking triangle (gives you right, left, center and several other options seen below):
To get it into the position I want, I need to move my mouse under the text block until my mouse turns into a ‘+’ with arrows on each end.
Now, the text block can be moved around and you’ll notice helpful vertical and horizontal guides appear to center it just perfectly:
If you need to stretch the text box to have all your words on a single like, use the handles on either left or right (they look like half circles):
Readjust the alignment if you need and you now have your own blog post title image with your brand colors and font style:
You can further embellish it by adding a border, shape or a symbol, all found under ‘Search’.
Just click on any of these options and scroll down until you find the item you want.
This is where you can upload your own image as well.
Once you’re happy with your image, in the upper right of the screen, click on the title if you want to change it:
Once your image is named the way you want, download it by clicking the Download button and choosing format.
I download mine in .PNG format as it looks crisper on the web.
If you were creating an e-book in Canva (yes, you can do that!), you can download it in .PDF:
Click on the format of your choice and Canva will go to work creating your file by displaying you a progress bar. Files are downloaded into your default download location:
Once you have downloaded your file in your favorite format, Canva will offer you an option to share your image via social media which I usually don’t do (unless it was a holiday card you were designing and you want to post it on Facebook).
I usually create one title image that will be used as a Featured image (according to my theme’s measurements) and one Pinterest-friendly image (can be same width but at least twice the height – tall images look better on Pinterest).
My Featured image works well on the blog itself, on Facebook (which likes wider images), Twitter (also displays wider images well) and Instagram. As I mentioned before, a separate taller image is needed for Pinterest to stand out better in the viewers feed.
As you can see, it’s not that hard to create some simple, clean-looking images using Canva.
Once you’ve used it a few times, you’ll be able to create images in no time.
You can also create an image to use as a template and just duplicate it using Canva’s ‘Make a copy’ option located under File in the upper left corner. This will allow you keep you images consistent without having to remember your blog image size, your color number or font style.
Give Canva a try today to create a simple image that will help your post stand out in the social media and get more traffic going back to your blog!
Grab a handy social media image size cheat sheet to help you!