How to create supporting graphics for your blog posts (without Photoshop)
The extra effort you put in to making supporting graphics for your blog can make all the difference to the success of your post. Here’s how to do them, without expensive software or design skills…
We all have heard the old saying:
A picture tells a thousand words.
This is even more prevalent when producing content, especially with something like a blog post that is text-heavy. You need to break it up with visuals to help the reader through the post.
The outcome of using supporting graphics in your blog posts is you have a reader who has a much better understanding of what you have written (and they’ll have an added appreciation for the effort you put in).
It shows you care about them.
Unfortunately, it’s a whole extra layer of work you need to do. Instead of it being ‘done’ when you finish writing, it’s just ready for the next step.
I know it can be frustrating when you just want to get it published.
But that mindset is your enemy. Too many marketers don’t put in the effort.
That’s where your opportunity lies.
So here’s a guide I’ve put together to show you how to decide where to use them, what type to use and how to create them.
And yes, there’s plenty of supporting visuals to help!
Decide where to use them
It can be tricky to know where to place visuals in your post.
How often? Where? What type?
There are theories about trying to use one every 75, 100, 500, 1000 words. But that gets confusing and isn’t necessarily authentic.
You need to use your best judgement.
- For complicated topics that could benefit from some visual aid, use them more frequently. Same with walk through articles.
- For listicles where you show many items, consider which are the easiest or most important ones to include an image with and go with that. You won’t need to use an image for every single items on a 100+ list post, but be logical about which ones to create a graphic for.
- For posts that include a lot of data, use graphs and charts where you can to simplify the communication of that information. People will skip over it otherwise.
Types of supporting graphics
There are several types of supporting graphics to consider:
- Samples & mockups
- Explanatory screenshots
- Graphs & charts
How to create them
It depends on which type of graphic you need. Yeah, I know…
Let’s have a look at each one.
Samples & mockups
Often samples will simply be a matter of taking or finding an appropriate photograph of the item (physical product).
Creating mockups of items doesn’t need a designer, but it will certainly save a lot of your time if you can use one.
Otherwise Mockup Editor is a great tool for adding images or screenshots to frames or electronic devices in a real-life scene that you can customize.
To use Mockup Editor:
- Open Mockup Editor
- Choose your background
- Choose your frame or screen
- Add any other items
Sometimes you just need to use a screenshot to get your point across.
Sometimes you need to do this a lot and the process can get quite tedious.
Fortunately there’s a tool called Skitch, which, although it has been discontinued by its creators, remains one of the most efficient screenshotting and annotating tools available.
You can download it here.
To use Skitch:
- Open the program you want to screenshot
- Click over to Skitch
- Click the ‘screen snap’ button at the top center
- It will move you to the program you had open prior, with a selection tool active (so buttons and links are disabled in this mode)
- Click and drag to select the part of screen you want to capture, or right/cmd click to capture full screen
- Use the left side panel tools to add feedback to the screenshot. Here is a guide of the panel items:
- Once you’ve finished, you can use the Skitch menu (top left) to ‘save as image…’, or if you want – and I love this feature – you can use the ‘Drag Me’ part at the bottom center to drag the image to somewhere you desire (eg. Google Doc, Trello card, File folder).
Memes & Gifs
But the bottom line is, they have them and most importantly you can search for them quite easily. So that’s where you need to go.
Look for keywords relating to what you want to use. Often it could be a pop culture show or scene that you want to use.
Then go to the search box and type in those words.
The memes you can save the image and insert into your post, but the gifs you will need to click the embed button and copy the code.
Copy the code to clipboard, and paste into your post.
Infographics, Charts & Graphs
Once you sign up, it’s easy to get started. I’ll show you the basics for creating a chart:
Choose task type.
Pick a theme and name task
Add the charts, maps, text, graphics, media and data you want.
When finished, click Download and choose between image (JPG or PNG) or PDF download.
If you have several data points to illustrate, you can place them together in the one document and you essentially have made an infographic.
Once you have downloaded your image, you can place it in to your post.
The best part is, you will have summarised your data a lot more clearly in graphical form!
It has never been easier to add these ever-more-important visual assets to your blog posts. With these additions you will begin to see the benefits of higher engagement from your readers and ultimately, more sales.