In the days when blogging first became popular, it was common for bloggers to simply choose an image they liked and plop it into their post. If they wanted to be fancy, sometimes they would add a catchy caption.
However, in today’s crowded and competitive market, a simple photo won’t do. Rather than using an image “as-is”, you need to customize the images on your website.
This helps create a cohesive look and feel across the site. Not only does customizing your blog graphics help you stand out, it also creates brand awareness and increases social sharing.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be a designer to customize your stock photos, but you just should know a few basics to get started. Follow these tips on how to personalize free stock images to create graphics that get noticed.
Here are a few things you need to keep in mind so that you remember to personalize stock photos (and even photos you may have taken yourself, the point here is that you need to alter the images you are going to use).
Create Your Brand
Yes, bloggers need a brand. Branding isn’t just for commercial or retail sites. No matter what the purpose of your blog may be, you likely want to set a certain tone or convey a certain type of message. That is the purpose of branding.
You can use blog elements such as color, font and image style to achieve the impact you desire. The key to increasing recognition is consistency. It’s important to use the same font, colors, and style in everything you post. That means your blog images should always contain these elements.
For instance, using the same filter on your photos will create a recognizable look. You may also achieve a distinct style just by adding a transparent color overlay on top of your images. Use images that coordinate well with your blog’s color scheme.
Add text in your blog’s font or font combination to further personalize each image, and always use your distinct colors in this text. You can also add a small watermark with your blog’s logo to boost your branding.
Edit Your Images
Before you think modifying these images is going to be a lot of work or require that you go back to digital photography school, relax! This will be easier than you think.
If you already use Photoshop and Illustrator or have a desire to learn, these are the tools professional designers use. They also will give you the most versatility and features. OK, I know I just said it would be easy! These programs do have a little bit of a learning curve but if you want the maximum flexibility in image manipulation, they is the way to go.
However, there are platforms such as:
Each of the above platforms have far less of a learning curve and can produce fine quality graphics. They allow you lots of time-saving options like pre-sized canvas, formatted templates, and filtered overlays. The free versions have fewer selections from which to choose, so you may wish to consider the premium options to determine if the cost is worthwhile for your needs.
There are many ways you can edit free stock images to make them unique. A few of the ways include:
- Cropping – One easy way to alter an image is by cropping the photo. Cropping lets you focus on one portion of the overall picture, which can create a cool effect.
- Softening, blurring or coloring – You can alter an image by using a filter; this is another simple way to add your own unique touch. Each of the programs listed above all have ways of achieving the look you want; just be sure to use that same or similar filter in all your images for consistent branding.
- Adding Text on The Image – The way you incorporate your blog’s font through text also jazzes up your photos in a way that is brand-friendly. Find ways to present your text and consistently use them in every graphic. This can be through bold, chunky layouts or with a more sophisticated feel.
Creating a customized graphic for each blog post might seem a bit overwhelming. It can seem even more of a challenge when you consider that each social network requires its own specific sizing.
For example, Instagram images must be square, and Pinterest graphics work best when they are tall.
A time-saving technique is to create and save templates in each size you need, then simply switch out the image and text. Because optimal size requirements sometimes change for each platform and purpose, a quick Google search is recommended to determine the correct dimensions.
These are just the basics of how to personalize free stock images. You can design your own simple layouts for your blog images without being a designer. Start simple and learn as you go!