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Today, I’m excited to have Rebecca on the blog today to talk about graphics! She has some great advice and is a GREAT resource if you are looking expand your knowledge in all things blogging. Take it away, Rebecca!
Hi everyone! I’m so excited to be guest-posting today on Tonya’s blog! Before we get started, a little about me. I’m Rebecca and I blog over at Unbound Pages. I’ve been blogging for a little over three years now. I started out as just your standard book blogger (if there is such a thing) and now I’m a resource for book bloggers trying to grow their blogs. Other important things: I love pizza. I pretend I’m a runner. I love zumba. If I could have one superpower it would be flight. And I wish I could have a pet dragon.
Lately I’ve been posting a lot about blog graphics. I think this is something many of us book bloggers struggle with (I know I did for years) and I want to help make it clearer and easier. Let’s be honest. As book bloggers, the thing we care about the most is books right? We don’t want to spend hours and hours making graphics for our blogs when we could be reading. Not when we have stacks of review books crying to be read and our backlist TBR piling up so high we fear it will crush us. Well, good news! You don’t have to spend hours making graphics. Once you understand the basic elements of a blog graphic and figure out what your template will be, you can create graphics in five minutes.
There are 4 main elements of a blog graphic.
This is where most people get tripped up. Those of us who aren’t photographers anyway. I do encourage you to try out taking your own pictures for your blog. That way it’s all original content. Plus you can grow your bookstagram account and your blog at the same time. Taking your own pictures doesn’t have to be hard. And it doesn’t have to be expensive either. You can take some gorgeous pictures with the camera on your phone. I’ve done it before and the photos turned out great. If you have a nice DSLR, that’s even better. I wrote a post on settings to play with on your DSLR to shoot in manual mode so check that out too if you’re interested.
Okay, so there are a couple really important things to remember when taking your own photos:
- Natural light: I see this tip on every single photography post on the internet so I’m not revealing some big secret here. But there’s a reason it’s on every single photography post in the history of ever. If you follow none of these tips, follow this one. It makes a world of difference in your photos. Artificial light looks yellow and ugly. Fact. Shoot near a big window that lets in a lot of light. Or if you’re adventurous, shoot outdoors! That’s not for me. Too many bugs.
- Clean background: Not necessarily a white background, but don’t take a picture of a book with your blender in the background. If you want a white background, poster board or a white sheet works great. Wooden boards on an outdoor deck look awesome. Try not to make your background too dark, it will suck up all the light.
- Props: You can find so many props around your house. Seriously, no need to go buy any. The majority of the props I use are things I had laying around my house. I’ve seen a lot of bloggers throw a bunch of props in their pictures and that’s a great look. I take a more minimalistic approach with mine and just add a few props with more white space in the background. It’s totally up to you what you want to do. Do what works for you!
Okay, so what if you don’t want to take your own photos? Totally understandable. I actually use a mix of my own photography and free stock images.
One rule though: Don’t ever just grab an image from Google. You’re infringing on someone else’s copyright – even if you credit the source.
Finding stock photos can be super overwhelming. There are a ton of websites out there and a lot of them say they’re free, but then somehow end up wanting you to pay. Not fun. I use this one because all the photos really are free and there’s a great variety on here.Use your own images to create amazing blog graphics. Find out how! Click To Tweet
The next element of a blog graphic is color. You need to decide what color scheme you’re going for with your fonts and overlays (we’ll talk about those in a second). Follow your blog’s brand. If you haven’t chosen brand colors for your blog, you should. It’s going to make your blog look more cohesive and it’s going to make it way easier for you when you’re ready to create blog graphics. You’re going to want to choose 2-3 colors for your blog and stick to them. Yes, no matter how tempting it is. This doesn’t mean you can never redesign or rebrand your blog, but that’s always an endeavor so take your time and choose colors you really love.
Once you settle on your colors, write down the hex values somewhere. This is that weird color number. The pink on my blog is “ffbff8”. If you’re creating graphics in Canva or Picmonkey you can see this hex value as you change the color. If you already have it figured out on your blog, you can take a look at your theme in the appearance section to see what hex values you’re using. Writing these down will make creating your graphics way easier. Instead of playing with your colors trying to get them to match, you can just type your hex value in and you’re done!
You’re going to be putting text on your blog graphics so you’ll need to choose 2-3 fonts to use on your blog as well. Same as colors, fonts are going to be branded. Figure out what goes well together and what reflects your blog and your personality. Then write those fonts down in the same place you wrote your hex values down. You’re going to be referencing that a lot.
Important things to include on your graphic:
- The name of your post: come up with a catchy headline that will grab your readers’ attention. You can use Coschedule’s headline analyzer to help you out here.
- Star rating if you’re posting a review. I encourage you to create an original graphic for your book reviews vs. just using the book cover photo. It definitely will help you stand out in the book blogging community.
- Your blog url. This is basically like adding a watermark to your photos. We all hope there are no bad eggs on the internet, but there are. Putting your url on your graphic protects you so everyone knows who the graphic belongs to.
- I also add a snippet of why I liked or disliked a book on my graphic for my reviews so this is another option for you!
And finally, the last element is an overlay. What do I mean when I say overlay? So you’re using a background photo right? Putting text right on top of that photo makes it hard to read. But if we add an overlay, we fix that problem. On the graphic for this post you can see that square gray box beneath the text. That’s an overlay. There’s many different ways you can use overlays:
- A box like the one above
- A box that spans the entire graphic
- Banner type overlays that are just behind the text
Play around with it and figure out what works best for you. Just make sure your font is legible. Nothing drives me crazier than when I visit a blog and can’t read the font on a graphic or on the blog itself.
Using these four elements will help you create graphics in less time. Want more info? I created a free course called Create Your Own Graphics specifically for book bloggers. There’s even a lesson on pairing fonts in there, which I know many people struggle with. Remember, people are very visual, so whether we like it or not, graphics are important to our blogs’ growth. Sign up today and start making better graphics with me!
Thanks again, Tonya, for letting me take over your blog for the day! And thanks to all you wonderful readers out there for taking the time to hang out with me for a bit. If you have more blogging questions you can always reach out to me on social media or shoot me an email (rebecca(at)unboundpages(dot)com).
- Do you make your own blog graphics?
- If so, do you use your own photography or stock photos?
- Is there anything you plan on changing after reading this post?
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Tonyalee is an avid reader, gym junkie, coffee addicted workaholic and blogger. Be sure to follow on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram for random shenanigans.