Are Professional Graphics Important for a Blog? – Blogging on a Budget

professionalSo many of us, myself included, think a lot about our budgets when we’re working on our websites and projects. When you’re worried about spending too much, it’s only natural to look for shortcuts. You may look for a slightly cheaper writer and do some extra editing or look for free plugins with similar functionality to paid ones you were looking at.

I’ve personally found that it can be better for me to hire a lower priced writer since even $40/article writers deliver a final product I’ll be editing my own personality into. I like my content to have a bit of me. If I’m going to be doing the editing anyways, paying $10-15 works out a lot better for me. Graphics are an entirely different situation though…

You have a few options here:

  • Make your own graphics.
  • Use a template and add your own pictures and text.
  • Buy some on Fiverr.
  • Hire a graphic designer.

Well, since we’re bloggers we know enough about good content to take even subpar content and make it great, but if you don’t know how to use Gimp or Photoshop (or even if you do in some situations) you can’t just edit the graphic to look better.

Your graphics decide a lot about what people think when they land on your website, sales page, or blog. It’s one thing to have simple graphics, it’s an entirely different thing to have completely amateurish graphics (at least when it comes to your header/book covers).

Now, since I’m on a pretty strict budget I try to use minimal graphics. I stick to headers and ebook covers unless there is something I really need. For my Facebook cover image I found a large stock photo and I cropped it to be the right size. It isn’t branded but my personal picture (that most recognize me from) is my profile picture.

When I do need graphics, I don’t skimp out and buy cheap graphics. I have a guy I work with that has a nice price and creates some pretty awesome. The downside is that he normally has a 4 week waiting list to get work done, so if I can’t wait I’ll head over to Fiverr and pick someone to make a placeholder. Sometimes you even get lucky and find someone you like over there. I got my header on Smooth Blenders from Fiverr and I like it enough I’m actually keeping it.

I don’t think super amazing graphics are completely necessary, but having something that at least looks nice and professional is important because it’s the first thing your visitors see. It helps them shape their opinion. You can’t brand yourself as an expert if your graphics look like they were made in Microsoft paint. If you’re on a budget, search Fiverr or oDesk for someone who makes nice looking graphics but plan to replace them because it’s had to find anyone on Fiverr who creates truley professional looking stuff. Alternatively, barter services! Find a graphic designer and trade article writing or any other skill you have to get the best of both worlds!

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Comments

  1. I think they matter a lot. I purchase stock photos or use Flickr and look for ones that have an arty feel to them.
    Maria E. Hill recently posted..Herbs That Control Blood SugarMy Profile

    • Ya, I like to use professional stock photos or well taken personal photos in my blog though I’ve been known to add the occasional bad graphic to a blog post for a bit of humor since my readers know how bad I am with stuff like that.

  2. I have a love/hate relationship with graphics. I hate having to spend time tracking down great images but I love having great images on my site! For my header, I asked a friend to design a logo and, with virtually no brief at all from me, she came back with something amazing! I wonder if she does whole websites…? Thanks for this great post.
    Susan recently posted..Biannual Blogathon Bash – Sunday check-inMy Profile

  3. I create my own bc I’m cheap… but I think I do a decent job. You can check out my website to see the logo 🙂 I like Fiverr for small jobs as well. Not too big of a risk!
    Samantha G. recently posted..Water Part III – Zing AnythingMy Profile

  4. What is the brand concept you wish to convey with your graphics Amanda?

    I ask because your Facebook page says you’re a writer, so I would expect to see a picture or stacks of pictures that illustrate you’re a writer.

    If you were to make a cover image (pretend you can) what picture/scene would you create?
    Bonnie Gean recently posted..Video Sunday – Episode #28My Profile

    • Hmm… I’d have to think abou that. I know that I should probably change that. I don’t really think of myself as a writer anymore. I think of myself as a blogger or online entrepreneur. I don’t take writing clients anymore and writing has become a smaller and smaller part of what I do.

  5. I love playing around with graphics and tend to waste a lot of time with them – doesn’t mean I am any good – I just like playing LOL It’s really something I should outsource – with everything is spur of the moment though and that would take planning. At the moment if I need a picture for a blog post – I buy one and add the text to it and that’s it – done.
    Ana recently posted..Quick Relationship Tips: At The End Of The DayMy Profile

    • It’s the main thing I outsource. I can handle writing on my own, can set up my blog on my own, I can even fix small bits of code… but I’m horrible with graphics.

  6. At this time I have not created a paid for graphic for any of my blogs or FB. I feel I haven’t ironed out my message enough to create a graphic. Many years ago for my Personal Training business I made a graphic way to early and wasted so much money. Now I work on the message and providing value before the graphic. Don’t know if it is right or not yet that is what I have done. Will have to think more on this now after reading this post and comments. Thanks Amanda! Best Regards, Wendy
    Wendy Bottrell recently posted..The Future of Genetically Modified FoodMy Profile

  7. Hi Amanda,

    I use images a lot, and yes they are important. For the flow of the page and they invite the reader in.

    Check out Kozzi.com they have some great free images. If the budget will allow, you can get 30-40 images for around $18. (depending on the size you download). They have “buy credit pkgs”

    It is a membership site, but it’s free to join, and it was worth it to me since I am an image freak.

    If you join up through my site, that would be much appreciated since I am an affiliate. Shameless plug I know, but they really do have great images.

    Thanks Amanda, for letting me speak my mind.

    Donald
    Donald Thomas recently posted..Psychographics: A Money Making Solution (Beyond Market Demographics)My Profile

  8. Hi, Amanda…I just took a look at your Facebook cover too. I wasn’t sure what the photo is–is it a hand holding a piece of paper?

    Anyway, it occurred to me that maybe a cover of some type of “adventure” might fit for you, since you said you’re getting away from writing and considering yourself more of a marketer.

    How about a photo of somebody kayaking, or whitewater rafting, or climbing a mountain–something to give the “adventure” feel that ties in with your theme?

    Your own avatar photo would still work fine with a cover like that.
    Becky recently posted..Summertime pillow designsMy Profile

  9. Yes Amanda!

    I think having an attracting, eye-candy blog is paramount to keep the visitors in the first place… and engage them in many different ways than it is possible only with text.

    With a well chosen image, you can have the reader INSTANTLY understand an idea/topic better and make them want to read all the nitty-gritty, after that.

    When you choose an image to illustrate a blog post, for instance… try this:
    Step 1 = extract the main topic/word/keyword/thought that you want to convey with it…
    Step 2 = copy/paste it in Google search
    Step 3 = select Images for Google results
    Step 4 = browse a few of the (only) image pages returned by the search
    Step 5 = evaluate what you see:

    Was there ANY image (or a few images) that were so powerful, visually, that they instantly told a story related to your topic?

    Example:

    Say you write a post about tattoos – take a look, there are hundreds of juicy pictures with tattoo designs, tattooed people, etc…

    Imagine how nicer your blog post would look like, having THAT image to help ‘sell’ the topic?

    Cheers,
    Steve ✉ Master eMailSmith ✉ Lorenzo
    Chief Editor, eMail Tips Daily Newsletter
    Steve eMailSmith recently posted..Email Marketing with the Human TouchMy Profile

    • That’s very true, though using Google images isn’t really a good idea since they are almost always copyrighted. Instead I head to some of my favorite stock photo sites to buy an image.

      • Absolutely!

        I totally agree, Amanda – I never use them myself, either. I was only saying – go, look at them and get your ideas flowing; get inspired!

        Once you have an idea about that now, you can head to your preferred stock website and look for similar things, or some that you can combine, or even ask an artist to make them for you (if you have the budget for it)

        Otherwise, if you don’t, free royalty images (usually for a very, very low fee, like $1/piece) would still do.
        And even completely free of charge, free royalty images that only require an attribution link back to the author’s portfolio.

        Personally, I get all of mine here:
        * http://www.dreamstime.com/free-photos#res807942
        This is the collection of free royalty ^ AND ^ free of charge (at the same time) images, that you can browse through, use keywords, etc…

        They also come in different resolutions; I choose the ones that are proper for web publishing, but there are also images suitable for printing, etc…

        Hope this helps.

        Cheers,
        Steve ✉ Master eMailSmith ✉ Lorenzo
        Chief Editor, eMail Tips Daily Newsletter
        Steve eMailSmith recently posted..The POWER of ChoiceMy Profile

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