Hey there! Welcome, we’re going to talk about design today! Good graphics can make or break your online presence. It can be the difference between master and amateur, just within a few pictures. You may think it’s innocent to slap a messy picture on your Blog or Twitter, with blurry photos and crumpled comic sans titles. You’re not a designer, right? No one expects you to provide perfect imagery. Wrong. Not every one of your followers is a professional designer, but people have a natural eye for composition. They know when something is appealing or not, just by looking at it, and when it’s not they’re less likely to share it. (Remember, the point of you taking time from your writing to post content on the internet is to be shared.) On the same token…a clean, appealing image with your next Twitter post or Blog update can skyrocket your share-ability!
Here are 10 Hacks (for non-designers) to improve your online imagery:
1. Use a Free Design Program: Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop are expensive. I own the whole Creative Suite, but I don’t use it nearly as much as I use Canva. If you don’t know about Canva, you are missing out on one of the best design platforms on the internet. It is totally free and used by marketing gurus like Kim Garst and Chalene Johnson. They even include templates so you can put your content into a beautifully designed graphic, already pre-sized for any social media platform.
2. Simplicity is key: Don’t overdue it. Seriously. In writing we attempt to tell the reader a story using as little words possible, but still illustrating a beautiful picture for their mind. That is also what graphic design is all about. Tell a story using as little information as possible, and you will be surprised at just how modern and clean it turns out. You’ll find that obnoxious boarders, crazy fonts, and weird colors are not necessary for the graphic.
3. Tread Carefully with Fonts: Balance out your fonts, and only use two different typefaces per graphic. That’s right, TWO. Maybe three, if they’re simple and it is completely necessary. Referring back to number 2, simplicity is everything. Pro tip: Stay away from Comic Sans and Papyrus. Old Western novel or not, these fonts are frowned upon by design professionals and your audience sees enough of them elsewhere.
4. Let it Breathe: Give everything within the design room to breathe. Space it out a little bit, give it balance, and utilize the white space. Don’t use huge fonts when it’s not necessary. All these things will add up to a balanced graphic that your followers will love.
5. Match Up Colors: Explaining this would be harder than showing you. See below:
6. Stay Consistent: When creating graphics for your social media platforms, like your Facebook Banner or Twitter Header, you want everything to co-exist. The header on my website matches up with the one on my Twitter. I use the same colors (hex codes) and fonts for everything. This will help you be more recognizable by your followers.
7. Use Quality Images: Don’t, I repeat, DO NOT use blurry pictures. There are tons of great free stock photo resources online. (My favorite is Unsplash) Be conscious of the images you are using on your website and social media. Using blurred or oddly cropped photos can damage your reputation. Oh, and always give credit where credit is due. No stealing!
8. Sizing: Canva comes with pre-sized images that can be really helpful when choosing what to post on different platforms. However, you always want to keep in mind that small images will get distorted. Designing your image on a larger scale and then sizing it down is almost always a better idea. This will help you avoid blurring your hard work.
9. Keep a Notebook: Just like writing, graphic design ideas can hit you without warning. Sketch them out, write them down, save them for later.
10. Be Creative: As with writing, graphic design is completely subjective. There are people who will disagree with every tip on this post, and that’s okay. We all have different eyes and different opinions, and that’s what makes the world so colorful. Use your creativity, and don’t be afraid to test the limits and think outside the box.
I’m going to add a special line here, that I think everyone should know. Not just writers, but social media managers and anyone slapping lazy graphics together: Graphic Design is a job. It’s a career. It’s something that most people get a degree and attempt to master, and they do a fantastic job at it. At no point should you ever belittle the importance of this job. Doing graphics yourself is an easy way for writers like me and you to create a better presence. However, to large companies and marketers I say: Hire a designer. For the love of all that is good, hire a designer. For published authors looking for a book cover: Hire a damn designer. The money spent will be worth it in the long run. Your image is everything, because whether we like it or not, readers are judging your book by its cover. Make it a good one.
Leave a comment below if you agree/disagree with any of these tips and let me know if you have any graphic design advice of your own! As always, happy writing!