Visuals are really important in blogging. They break up blocks of text and make content more engaging. Also, you need visuals to share your posts on social media (especially Pinterest)!
Let me share my tips for creating engaging graphics for your blog:
Choose a good design app
There are many powerful and versatile tools for designing visuals out there. There's obviously Photoshop, but not all of us are proficient designers and master that. I know I don't.
I use Canva, but I think it comes down to personal preference. I pay for a Canva For Work subscription, because that gives me many more possibilities in terms of keeping my visuals consistent across my brand, and the paid tool is much more efficient. Since I use it multiple times a day for creating blog post graphics, Instagram posts, Pinterest pins, and I used it to make my media kit, my guest post guidelines, and business cards, it's worth it.
What's the purpose of the image?
What are you using this image for? To complement your story, to illustrate a point, or to promote something? Featured images (for example at the very top of your blog post) should be the most visually striking, to draw the reader into your post.
Infographics are a whole different concept, they should be self-contained and contain a lot of explanatory text.
Have a think about what kinds of visuals you want to create, and practice creating different ones so you can use them when the situation asks for it.
Examples of different types of visual content:
Think about sizing
Depending on what you're using your graphic for, it has to be a certain size to be properly displayed.
Blog posts don't have strict requirements, but it depends on your theme and whether the post is more focused on imagery (e.g. travel photos), or text (e.g. a short story). Try to vary your sizes so the post becomes more visually interesting.
Social media is trickier because each one has its own optimal size requirements. If you don't stick to them, the graphic will end up being unappealing since it'll only be partially displayed, or cut off on the screen (like overlong pins on Pinterest, for example). Take a look at the image below of my Facebook post. That was not so great. 😛 Here's a cheat sheet for social media graphic sizes.
Canva gives you templates that are the right size for the different social media networks and the paid version of the app even resizes existing visuals for you. However, I have found that the sizes can be inaccurate sometimes as they get updated so frequently, so check for updated cheat sheets first.
Light or dark? Define your colour palette!
Before producing the visual, decide whether a light or dark theme suits the post and your blog overall. Then, use colours consistently. Canva For Work helps with this by letting you define the colour palette for your brand, and then putting these colours in your toolbar when you create a visual. Get inspired with these palettes!
Use your brand colours in your blog posts visuals and your social media images to create a memorable brand image. The same goes for fonts.
Add text to images
Like I just said, consistent fonts are important. Choose 4-5 that you use frequently and define which are better suited for headings, subheadings, and paragraph text. I'll admit, I'm still not great at using consistent fonts for my images, especially for Pinterest because it's so tempting to use pretty, decorative fonts. Well, do as I say, not as I do, right? 😉
That said, readability is so important. This is one that many people forget about, and they end up with gorgeous graphics that have text on them that no one can read. It's a pity because it ruins the whole image. Make sure that the text is big enough and that the contrast between the text and the background is strong enough. If it isn't, add a shape under the text or change the image tint to boost readability. If it's still not working, change the image. It's way better to have legible text than a lovely image with illegible squiggles on it.
Grids and collages can be really effective when done right. Just make sure that the right images are grouped together, and that the whole thing expresses a consistent message. Try not to just randomly throw pictures together that have nothing in common, try to group them by colour theme, subject, or story.
These are all my best tips for creating visual material for your blog and social media. I hope they're useful! Do you have any additional advice? If so, I would love to hear it in a comment!