You know you need graphics to add punch and power to your online content. But where to find them?
You can search online for images with a “creative commons” license, some of which permit free use with attribution. Or you can create your own. My friend Peggy Duncan and I are going to explain how you — yes, you — can do this.
Create Your Own Graphics in PowerPoint
Personal productivity and time management expert Peggy Duncan is the technology pro here, so let’s start with her approach. She tells me that she uses PowerPoint for all her graphic projects.
She’s just done a blog post — complete with a great video — on how to Create A Twitter Background Using PowerPoint (With Video Instructions). See the image above of her own Twitter background, created in this process.
She has even used PowerPoint to create a YouTube Channel background. Peggy “tells all” in this post with video.
You use PowerPoint, don’t you? Read her posts, watch her videos, and learn Peggy’s techniques to create compelling images with software you already have and know.
Create Images in a Photo Editor
I’m no design or technology pro, but I’ve got a couple tricks to show you, too.
Here’s a simple way to create images — like the one above — in a photo editor. These are the steps I used to create it in the discontinued Microsoft Picture It editor. I presume you can do this with most photo editing software.
- Open Microsoft Picture It.
- Select a new project and then click the Text, “Insert Text.” A text box appears.
- Resize the box by clicking and dragging the edges.
- Type in the desired words, in the case above, just the word FREE.
- Click Text, “Background Color” and then choose one from a color wheel.
- Click Effects, Edges, Soften Edges to create drama.
- Enlarge the word FREE
- Crop the box to get rid of the white background around it.
- Resize the image to 580 pixels, the maximum for my blog template.
- Click Save and create a *.jpg file.
Late last year I wrote a blog post on work/life balance and wanted a simple image to express this concept. When I didn’t find what I wanted, I just created this one using the process above.
Create A Graphic with “Shift Print Screen”
Here’s another way I use my photo editor, Microsoft Picture It. To illustrate this very post, I wanted to show you Peggy’s Twitter background in use. This is the process:
- Locate Peggy’s Twitter page on the internet.
- Hold down the shift key and then hit the PRT SCN (print screen) key, which on my keyboard is in the upper right. This creates a screen shot in the computer’s memory of the image on my computer screen.
- Open Microsoft Picture It and select a new project.
- Click Paste to insert the screen shot from the computer’s memory onto the blank page.
- Crop the image to trim off parts I don’t want, like my Windows menu bar.
- Resize the image for my blog to 580 pixels.
- Save as a *.jpg file.
SEO and Blogging Pros Encourage Images
Even the SEO pros over at SEOMOZ.org encourage use of visuals on blog and web pages. To quote them, “Visual cues can help create expectations and inform passive readers, which will make them more likely to engage with your content.”
Check this post on Visualization, one of their White Board Friday videos. (I’m a real fan of these, ’cause they’re my favorite way of learning the ins and outs of SEO.) How does this relate to SEO? Add “alt tags” to your images to reinforce your keywords.
Finally, at this link, Darren Rowse of ProBlogger talks about the importance of Using Images to Take Your Posts to a New Level.
What’s Your Favorite Way to Create Your Own Images?
While I wouldn’t use any of my quick-and-dirty methods of image creation on a polished website, I can get by with them on a blog. I suppose Peggy’s going to try to convince me to use PowerPoint to create more sophisticated graphics. The pros are going to tell me to get Adobe Elements. What’s your favorite method, your experience, your advice? Please leave me a comment.
Another way to create fun images, using the Print Screen method Wordle Fun