Are you ready to add that special “POP” that will make your great content stand out?
When people come to your website, there are 3 things you want.
- You want them to be interested in what you have to say right away
- You want them to recognize your main points easily
- You want them to remember what you wrote (and where they read it).
When I first started blogging I was absolutely ignorant when it came to the use of images. I didn’t realize that much of what I was doing was the equivalent of stealing.
I’d go to Google images, use keywords to search for the type of picture I wanted, find it, download it, and use it.
But that is the WRONG way to go about it.
Not only is it illegal and unethical to use another person's image without permission, it can also get you into a heap of legal trouble.
And on top of that, there is evidence that using the same old, tired images everyone else is using can actually hurt your search rankings.
Why did I do it that way? I think I did it that way for two reasons:
- I was ignorant of the ethics involved.
- I was looking for “FREE” ways to build my blog. (I still do, but now I do it legally AND free… keep reading).
Modify your images with online tools
Instead of doing what I did when I first began, you can find free images to use, which I wrote about earlier, or you can create your own. But even if you use the free images you can find online, it's a good idea to make them uniquely yours.
- Picmonkey – Picmonkey works like this: upload your image, play around with the wide variety of tools available, then download the finished product to your computer.
- Photobucket – Photobucket works this way: upload your images and even store them (they give a LOT of space in their free account). But that’s not all. Many people don’t realize that Photobucket also has a powerful editing suite to modify and enhance images. Similar to Picmonkey you can upload your image and modify it in a variety of ways. BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE! Not only can you download your finished images, you can link to them directly using the links Photobucket provides.
Free programs for image creation
Sometimes I only put text or effects onto an image (which both of the previous programs do), but other times I want to draw a cartoon or create an image from scratch. When that’s the case, I need something more powerful.
The first tool I use is called Inkscape – it’s an Open Source (free) vector graphics editor, with capabilities similar to Adobe Illustrator or CorelDraw.
Inkscape allows me to import or create images, using a variety of drawing and graphic editing tools. I can import my images, modify them in thousands of ways, and when I’m done I can export them into a png format.
I'm no artist, but to give you a very basic idea of what is possible with Inkscape, to the right is a cartoon image I created as part of an online video curriculum I sell for those studying to become a mortgage loan originator.
To learn how to use Inkscape I highly recommend you check out these free video tutorials covering the basics of Inkscape. The guys who do them are extremely good at using the program AND are skilled at explaining things.
Once you get the basics down, go on to the advanced tutorials. You’ll be amazed at the cool things you can do to create or enhance your images using Inkscape.
The png format Inkscape exports to makes for a larger file size, and that can slow down the loading time of your webpage. That’s where image converters come in…
There are many online image converters that do a great job. Here's a few:
But I don’t like having to hop all over the Internet to get my image work done, so I use another free program called Paint.net.
I use Paint.net to convert the images I make in Inkscape into jpg format. It’s really pretty simple.
How to Use Paint.net to Convert Images
#1: Open Paint.net
#2: Go to File>Open and choose your image.
#3: Once the image is opened in Paint.net, go to File>Save and change the file type to jpg.
#4: Click the save button, choose your desired file quality using the slider at the top left (higher numbers = bigger files), and click “OK” at the bottom.
These 4 steps take less than a minute but reap HUGE dividends in page load speed, which can be the difference between keeping a new visitor on your website or chasing them away because your page loads slowly.
Getting started NOW!
I have to be completely honest… both of these programs are going to require you to invest some time to learn how to use them. But it's an investment worth making. You'll come away from your learning with skills to make entirely unique images that set you apart from other bloggers and get your message out to the world more effectively.
Are you ready to take the plunge? Here are your next steps…
#3: Learn the basics with the tutorials
#4: Start making your own images.
I've only been using these programs for about a year but now I can create a brand new image from scratch in less than 30 minutes… and it's totally worth it!