Graphics for Small Businesses

Lindsey’s Career Calling in Public Relations
February 4, 2015
Emotions in Advertising
February 18, 2015
Show all

Blog posts must not only be interesting and useful to read, but pretty to look at as well! (We have a little more work to do on L’Acadian’s.) Here’s an article from the man that will help us get there: Cody Groce.

Small business owners can feel inadequate when squared off against bigger businesses, especially ones with full creative departments. However, you don’t need to have a degree in graphic design or the most expensive software on the market to create stunning and memorable graphics that will make your blogs pop!

The Competition

Larger ad agencies often have full-time graphic designers working around the clock to create beautiful work not only for their clients, but for the businesses themselves. Small businesses, on the other hand, often have employees that wear multiple hats any given day. Some businesses have relied on pre-packaged or purchased art online or have outsourced to freelance-artists – these options can become very expensive, very fast and often you don’t get a huge say in the design.

Free Doesn’t Mean Mediocre

As a designer, I’m always looking for ways to cut down on time spent making things from scratch. Most great designers often stand on the back of the giants of the design world. But guess what — you can use the same resources and with a little trial and error, and you can be on the way to making quick, beautiful graphics for free!

I know what you’re thinking: if it’s free, it probably doesn’t look very good. This isn’t always the case. I’m going to show you websites and resources that you can use to make professional graphics.

Your Weapons of Choice

Design software:

  • Gimp– Gimp, although a little clunky, does almost anything that Photoshop does. Gimp is an application. Forum and guides on the website will help you when you feel stuck trying to manipulate an object.
  • Pixlr– Pixlr is actually where I got my first experience in graphic design. Pixlr is broken up into three different options: Pixlr-O-Matic, a simple app for applying filters and adjustments to photos (available as a mobile app), Pixlr Express, an easy way to add simple text and some adjustments to an image (available as a mobile app), and Pixlr Editor, a robust Photoshop-clone. The beauty of these apps is that these functions are available online from any computer, no installation required.
  • Over– An app available for iOS and Android, is an incredibly easy way to make simple text-over-photography graphics in minutes on the go.

Pictures:

  • Unsplash– a free resource for a ton of gorgeous – and I mean GORGEOUS – photography. Anything from iPhones to bridges to animals can be found here. Free to use for anything you want without a membership.
  • Little Visuals– similar to Unsplash, LV sets out to send you 7 hi-res images to your inbox every week.
  • Superfamous- a studio providing beautiful pictures of nature and other elements. Free to use as long as you give the studio credit.
  • New Old Stock– a unique approach to stock photos. This site offers users a chance to use vintage stock photography that is free from any known copyright laws.
  • PicJumbo- PicJumbo is probably the closest to traditional stock photography, but less cheesy than you think. Subscribe to them to get a free photo every day.

NOTE: If you use websites such as these, make sure to read the fine print and your permissions for these photos. If you’re not sure, ask. Better to be safe than subpoenaed.

The Process:

  • First, find a picture that matches the subject and feel of the blog post. If you’re writing a fun blog, find a quirky photo. If you’re writing a blog post on the holidays, pick something festive, but not cheesy, such as this photo.
  • Next, you can do a certain number of things.

○       You can add a color filter on top of the image. By doing this, it will allow the text you’ll eventually add on top to stand out and be more legible and it’ll add more color to your blogs.

■       To do this, I head to this website. Find a color that matches the blog, click on it and it’ll automatically copy the color’s code to your computer’s clipboard.

■       Next, pull up the photo in one of the heavier editors, such as Pixlr or Gimp.

■       Add a new blank layer, select the paint bucket tool, pull up the color selector and paste the color code to the appropriate field and then click on the image to add the color layer.

■       If done correctly, you won’t be able to see the photo anymore.

■       You’ll want to select the layer on the right side of the screen and adjust the opacity (or transparency). I usually set it to 60%-70%.

○       You could also add a new adjustment layer to make a sort of Instagram-esque filter. There are a number of ways to do this, and you can head here or here to find out how. Pixlr Express also has pre-made options to add to your photos. Just remember not to overdo the filters.

○       You could even add a simple white or black rectangle in the center to put your text over if the photo has a lot of detail.

  • Now, it’s time to add the text.

○       You could either add the title of the blog, or you could add a quick quote from the blog on top of the photo (this works great for Facebook and Instagram to tease viewers to click the link).

■       Find the text tool and type out the words you would like to say. Using Pixlr Express or Over for this makes the process a lot quicker.

■       Using thick block fonts, such as Bebas is great to use for titles. Vintage font styles are in vogue but it is easy to overuse them. A good tip is to decide on only one sans-serif font and one serif to use for all your graphics consistently.

■       Make sure the words are spaced out, not too big or too small and lined up correctly on the image. Using the grid is essential here.

  • Save it, and you’re done!

An example

For my example, I’ll only use Pixlr Express and Editor to make a graphic for a future blog post.

  •   I used Unsplash for my photo. I chose one of my favorite pictures on the site, an antique typewriter.

 

  • I pulled the image into Pixlr Express and then cropped the image (adjustments, crop) to give it more white space and emphasis on the keys of the typewriter.

 

  • Next, I added an Instagram-esque layer, by going to effect and then subtle. I used Merissa and set the strength to about 60% (remember, with these types of filters, it’s better to use too little then overdo it).

 

  • Now, it’s time to add text to this picture! A good combo is a block font with a serif font or script font. I used Bebas for the header and then Habibi for the subtitle.

 

  • And the final product!

 

Great Examples of Simple Blog Graphics