Create Attractive Visual Images for Your Blog Posts

Alice in Wonderland and cards flying

‘and what is the use of a book,’ thought Alice, ‘without pictures or conversations?’

Alice has a good point. Many people are more likely to read a book, article or blog post if it has illustrations that draw the reader in. Not all of us are like Alice; as a friend pointed out, she is intrigued by words. Others like music, video or audio. But for those who might be more likely to read your article because you have a unique illustration, why not provide the great illustration to go with the post?

“But I’m not an artist!” I hear you say. OK, I will address some options, once I convince you of the importance of visual imagery on many social media platforms.

Use of Visuals in Social Media

alice sees create visual imagery for your articles

To prove the importance of visual imagery in social media, think of these four platforms:

  • Pinterest
  • Facebook
  • Google+
  • Blogs

Let’s explore each one. Pinterest is all about image. If you have no images, no will pin your post on Pinterest. And Pinterest is the fastest independent site to hit 10 million monthly uniques in the U.S. – how can one turn away that kind of traffic? Regarding Facebook – aren’t you more likely to click an article on Facebook if it has an appealing image? Google+ – this new comer to the social media scene is attracting quite a few photographers and other image creators. And just like on Facebook when you share an image on Google+, it’s going to attract more clicks if a nice thumbnail accompanies the post. Finally, do you have a blog? There are lots of people who might enjoy repeat visits to your blog if they know each time they will be treated to some nice imagery. It’s not all about words – images can be part of the content as well.

How Can I, a Non-artist, Add Attractive Illustrations?

One solution, of course, would be to hire a designer to create some imagery for your posts. However, you might be able to come up with some simple images of your own that will be attractive and unique. You mostly need access to the web and some ingenuity.

A good place to start would a collection of your own photographs or pick illustrations from books that are over fifty years old, so that the illustrations are now in the public domain (like Alice in Wonderland). You can then add some fancy, personalized text to the image in order to make it work for your blog post or article.

Create a Rabbit Presenting Blog Hopping Image using Pixlr

Announcing Blog Hopping Works with a rabbit from Alice in Wonderland

You don’t need to own Photoshop or even Photoshop LE to produce an illustrative image. Those are wonderful software packages, but for the purpose of simplicity, I will assume you don’t own those packages. Here’s how to create an image of a rabbit announcing Blog Hopping Works! using Pixlr, a free online graphics tool. If you want an example of a great post on blog hopping, try Dee Ann Rice’s post on Blog Hopping or Ian Ieba’s post on Developing Alliances and Friendships with Other Bloggers.

I chose this rabbit from Alice in Wonderland because it is in the public domain, so I’m not stepping on any artist’s toes by doing so. If you want you can thank John Tenniel on your post for producing those wonderful works.

Step one: Copy the image unto your computer. Then upload it to Pixlr.

rabbit alice

rabbit in pixlr

Step two: Notice the image doesn’t give you much room for text. So expand the canvas size. Under the Image menu, select Canvas Size.

enlarge canvas

Step three: Click the box on the right, because you want the rabbit to stay on the right and the text to go on the left. Set a new width for the canvas size. I picked 300px – you can later reduce the image to 150px if you want it to be small.

set canvas size

Step four: Use the text tool to type your text. Various fonts are available at a variety of sizes. I used the text tool in two different places to separate “Announcing” from “Blog Hopping Works!”

text tool pxlr

Step five: save the new image to your computer. You can then upload to your blog post.
save your rabbit image

Your Turn, Please

Do you have photo editing software or other graphics software? Do you use it? Have you hired anyone to do graphics for your site? Have you considered collecting your own photos to illustrate blog posts?

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34 thoughts on “Create Attractive Visual Images for Your Blog Posts

  1. Nice article, Leora! It has always been a good idea to add images to your blog posts, to catch your readers’ eye and to distinguish your posts and pages from one another. But now with Facebook and Pinterest being two of the main ways to share articles, it’s even more important! Another source for free photos is Flickr, but you need to search for images that have been designated with a Creative Commons license as being free to use (probably for commercial use). Thanks for the tip about Pixlr – looks quite easy to use.

    1. Graham,

      Thanks for the thorough comment! Picasa is also free, but it requires a download. I thought it would be super easy to use a program that is online – you can then access it from anywhere. Good point about finding photos through Flickr – I tend to use Wikimedia a lot, with similar designations as free to use.

      It would be fun to see what you put together as a blog image. FYI, several years ago I wrote a short tutorial on my other blog, and I remember you encouraged me to continue doing so. I find many of the design/photo tutorials are written for those who want to be designers, but just like not everyone who writes will be a professional writer, one can produce fine, unique images without being a professional designer.

  2. Actually, for very simple photo and image manipulation, I often use Irfanview (which is free software) – but that’s simply because I’m familiar with the software. I’m definitely going to try out Pixlr – actually, I have used it for quick screen grabs in the past – but it does look quite easy to add quick text to images, as you’ve done here. And you’re right about many of the tutorials being written from a graphic designer point of view. As you’ve proved in this post, it’s well within the reach of any of us to create some engaging graphic content.

      1. Irfanview was originally created simply as a multi-format image viewer, but the creator added some basic image manipulation features too. I often use it to crop, resize and reduce the file size of images.

  3. Hi Leora,
    I think I must have had an imagination by-pass, I just don’t get these ideas hitting me at all. Perhaps I should go back to a childlike mentality for an hour or so a day 🙂

    If I do edit images, I use photoscape, it isn’t too complicated, and doesn’t have a steep learning curve which suits me fine.

    Now it’s time for my childlike activities, so I’m going to play ball,

    Barry
    Barry Ranns recently posted…An Easy Way To Lose Google PRMy Profile

    1. Barry,

      Maybe it’s just the illustrations that don’t work for you. If you prefer photos as images, that’s a great way to illustrate a post. Don’t forget you can add some text to personalize the image.

      – Leora

  4. Leonra,

    Thanks for the mention in your post.

    I do like your image that you made. I think it is probably better than the one that I used for my post on Blog Hopping.

    I will have to admit that I am not very creative when it comes to images.

    I will have to remember this. I even have photoshop and use it on a regular basis but like I say creativity is not easy for me.

    Thanks again.

    Dee Ann Rice
    Dee Ann Rice recently posted…Duh, It Was In Front Of My Face The Whole TimeMy Profile

    1. Dee Ann,

      I hope you don’t mind that I liked your post so much it made me want to make an illustration for it. You are welcome to use the image.

      I believe if we all studied art and creating visually as much as we have math, we could achieve some great imagery. Not all of us are stupendous at math, but most of can add and even do algebra. I believe the same is true for creating art.

      – Leora

      1. Leora,

        I am honored that you liked my blog post so much that you made an image for it.

        I may just use your image. Thanks for offering.

        You are probably right. I am that math person though. I took 4 quarters of calculus in college and currently tutor my daughter in her college math. Her teachers think it is great.

        I am working on my creativity side of things. I really try but have a hard time coming up with things sometimes.

        Dee Ann
        Dee Ann Rice recently posted…Blog Hopping – What Is It / Why Use It?My Profile

      2. Dee Ann,

        I’m fascinated that you are a math person, as I come from a family of math “people” – now my teenage sons know more math than I do. I’ve always been good at math but not stellar, so I know when I work hard at it, I get better.

        I find the same applies to my art and design – I work on it, and it improves. There is always going to be that art or math prodigy who does it with great ease, but most of us can do well with some hard effort.

        If you ever want some creativity ideas, feel free to ask. I have more ideas than time.

        – Leora

    1. Lindy,

      Great list of free tools. Maybe the next time I do one of these mini-tutorials, I’ll use one of those. I didn’t even think of G+ as an editor, but I suppose it probably has some elements of Picasa, since both are owned by Google.

      I tend to do all my photo editing in Photoshop, but I realize that’s not realistic for most of my readers.

  5. Hi Leora

    First off, thanks for the mention and link to my blog it’s very kind of you and much appreciated.

    I must admit I love working with images and always include an image or images into each post that I create.

    I have photoshop CS5 which I love working with so I tend to use that, but I have used Pixlr in the past which is an excellent Free Online Image Editor.

    If your readers are looking for free online software maybe they can benefit from going to;

    techsupportalert.com/content/best-free-online-applications-and-services.htm ~ (I have left out the www. as I did not want to add a link in my comment!)

    Great post Leora thanks for sharing and I look forward to my next vist… in the meantime I’m off for a good nosey around your blog!

    Take care, catch up soon

    Ian 🙂
    Ian Ieba recently posted…Developing Alliances and Friendships With Other BloggersMy Profile

  6. I just learned how to use Pixlr about a month ago Leora so I agree with you, it’s a pretty easy program to learn.

    I love adding words to images but a lot of it I actually just do in PowerPoint too. I guess I’m just so use to it now but may have to start using Pixlr instead.

    I think it’s all what we’re use to right!

    Thanks for the share and walking us through how this is done. I know others will really appreciate this.

    Have a great week Leora!

    ~Adrienne
    Adrienne recently posted…Advice To Me 10 Years AgoMy Profile

    1. True, you can use Power Point for quite a lot! I don’t think it matters what software package you use; the real point is to include imagery to complement your text.

      I really enjoyed when you talked about your Dad on your last post. I must say that my mother (of blessed memory) influenced this post – she was a technical writer, and she once wrote a manual for the military that included Alice in Wonderland illustrations.

      You have a great week, too, Adrienne.

  7. I use Paint Shop Pro for my graphics. And lately I have slacked off adding images as I haven’t been in the mood to create anything or find images that are not copyrighted and lack of time.

    But, when I am in the mood for an image, I will just create something simple as I don’t need elaborate to grab attention, the post should do that all on it’s own 🙂

    Hope you are doing well, sorry I haven’t been around here lately.

    Linda
    Linda recently posted…Tips for Converting an Article into an eBookMy Profile

    1. Linda,

      I hope you are doing a little better than you were a few weeks ago. Funny, when I feel a little down the first thing I do is create graphics. I suppose others will write and yet others might listen to music.

      Nice to hear from you.

      – Leora

  8. This is so creative Leora,

    I just use plain old flickr all the time but this sounds like a nice thing to do!

    Finding the right image for your post can be a lot of trouble especially I feel that what I think is not what I actually end up with; I don’t find the exact image most of the times!

    Very informative! 🙂 Thanks once again!
    Hajra recently posted…Will they call you over for a bloggers party?My Profile

    1. Hajra,

      Hey, Flickr is a great source! I can understand wanting one image but not getting exactly what you want. I work hard at my photography skills for that very reason.

      At least you provide an image – I find some bloggers just drop illustrating their posts all together – a lost opportunity.

      Glad you find the post informative.

  9. I’m familiar with Photoshop but I like the idea of using illustrations. That can often look very stylized and unique rather than photo images.

    PS – How interesting that when I read the bio’s of so many they never put that they are a daughter or a son…mom, wife, husband yes. Daughter, no. Almost like it isn’t as relevant anymore. Your take is interesting and better I think.
    pea recently posted…Simple DeterminationMy Profile

    1. Pea,

      If it weren’t for my family, I would be nowhere! And my father has become an important part of our lives, now that he lives two blocks away, visits us frequently, and isn’t getting any younger (like all of us).

      Yes, old illustrations with some new color, text or other changes can give a nice lift to an article.

      Thanks for dropping in and leaving a comment.

  10. I just thought of one important aspect that is missing (or rather, not thoroughly discussed in your article), Leora. How do you go about sourcing and obtaining the illustrations? For example, how do you go about capturing the illustrations – do you find them online? Are there good sources pointing to great illustrations in books in the public domain?

      1. Thanks Leora! Perhaps you could consider gathering together some of these sources and creating another post. You had some great ideas in the post you linked to above!

  11. Hi Leora,

    It’s my first time here. I found you on Adrienne’s blog. It’s true that images were not as important 5-10 years ago online as they are now.

    I love pinterest. I am getting followers everyday doing nothing at all, except for adding my posts.

    I have downloaded Pixlr not long ago, but I can’t really use it. Kinda hard to understand 🙂 I am sure I can follow what you are showing here though. For simple text on pictures I tend to use photobucket because it’s no brainer, however, Pixlr does much, much more. Just don’t know how to use it, darn!

    If you know that software well, please shoot some video tutorials, that would be great 🙂 What do you think?

    Nice meeting you here and have a great day 🙂
    Sylviane Nuccio recently posted…Promote Yourself, Bloggers, Writers, Internet marketers, Network Marketers, and more…My Profile

    1. Sylviane,

      Are you sure you “downloaded” Pixlr? It’s an online program (unless I’m not aware of another version).

      I’ll keep in mind doing video tutorials.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting,

      Leora

    1. Praveen,

      Glad you find this useful. Sometimes I can’t tell what will be helpful and what will be too esoteric before I write a post – I get some interesting responses.

      I’m sure I will write more about images, both creating and finding, in the future. And more Pinterest, too.

      – Leora

  12. Nice post,
    visual appearance of every blogpost impact on visual identity of complete blog, and that’s why is important. Another thing is that just 15-20% of readers actually read entire post, they check important for facts and images.Improving visually your posts you’ll get readers to stay longer on your site and read more details. But, you must take care to not use images without proper license.

    1. Jeff,

      All are good notes: most people don’t read the whole post, so an attractive image might help them stay on the page a bit longer. And one needs to use imagery for which one has permission.

      Thanks for leaving a comment on the blog when you are stopping by.

  13. Hi Leora I’d like to thank you for this interesting post. Yes images add an interesting dimension in our communication.

    Images have helped my write on my blog as I do not have a natural flair.

    Thanks

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