Build relevant, engaging images for your blog posts, without bothering your graphic designer, using Canva.
Images are an essential component of effective blogging. In fact, it's reported that articles featuring relevant images receive 94% more views than those that don’t. While that stat may be sweeping (are blog posts articles?) and a little suspicious, I think you'd agree that blog posts with relevant images are more engaging than those with none.
Producing those all-important blog images, however, can become a thorny task. While a graphic designer may have come up with the style you use, you normally can't warrant tasking them to come up with an image for each and every post. Plus, you probably don’t want to wait as long as that would take to hit publish.
Yet without go-to software and skills, non-graphic designers can find it challenging to even crop a photo, let alone follow the brand guideline that has been laid down. The result, in many cases, is an over-reliance on obvious stock photography that gets inconsistently applied.
It doesn't have to be that way.
Canva is an easy-to-use, online graphic design solution. With it, anyone can quickly and easily produce an attractive blog post image.
Here's a quick guide to creating your own.
Step 1 - Find your dimensions
The first step in creating a new blog image in Canva, and in creating a reusable template, is discovering the right dimensions.
There are a number of ways you can do this, including asking your graphic designer. Most web browsers, however, have hidden developer tools that can tell you.
In Chrome, for example, right click an existing blog image and select 'Inspect element'. A sidebar will open an image of a box model - at the centre is your image size. Make sure you blog is displaying at its largest size when doing this.
Step 2 - Create your artboard
Sign in to Canva and click 'Use custom dimensions'
Enter the dimensions you obtained in step 1 and hit 'Design!' to create an artboard of the exact size you need.
Step 3 - Add your image
Now that you've got your artboard setup, it's time to add your image.
Upload the image you wish to use via the 'Upload' option in the lefthand menu. Once it's there, one click and it will appear on your artboard. Now use the grab handles to scale it so that the desired portion appears within your artboard. Canva will crop the image to your artboard on the fly so you can see exactly what you will get.
If a simple photo is all you are after, you're done already. Just hit 'Download' and add your downloaded image to your blog.
If your brand, or disposition, calls for more, however, it's time to get creative with colour and copy.
Step 4 - Add some colour
In this example, I've added a simple square from Canva's shapes library. I then changed the colour to orange and set the transparency to 50% - instantly giving that plain old stock photo a totally different look.
Step 5 - Overlay some copy
Still not happy? Let's add some text.
Bring up the text options, by clicking 'Text' in the left had menu, and you instantly have access to three sizes of copy - heading, subheading and body copy - plus a whole host of template layouts.
Via your account settings you can pre-select your brand's preferred font and, thanks to a recent update, even upload your own fonts. Your choices here will appear by default when you open the text tool.
Drag in some text from the left menu, edit the copy and play around with font, size, weight and colour to your heart's content.
And voila, there you have it. An entirely customised blog header image that's the right size and on brand (except for the text in this case which is just there to demonstrate the approach).