First let me say before introducing you to the following online tool, nothing can replace the skills and benefit of working with a branding specialist and/or graphic artist. If you have the funding I would recommend, no I would urge you to work with someone who has an education and has spent time perfecting the skill of beautiful, effective and professional graphics.
I can assure you the investment you make in a professional for your look and feel will come back to you 100’s of times over.
But if you are boot-strapping it there are online options that were not there a few years ago. An online tool like the one I am going to tell you about has made it possible for entrepreneurs to design visually stunning graphics with limited graphic design knowledge.
Get clear on your brand – before designing anything, make a list of your brands colors (2-3 main colors are preferred), also make a list of the fonts you will use and where, logo, headlines, body copy, quotes. Remember to only use the same 2-3 fonts for these places and be congruent in your choices of fonts across your website, blog, email marketing and social media sites.
Good graphic design starts with continuity, so having a clear idea of your fonts and colors will help you with keeping that continuity throughout your site. Keep it simple. In graphic design, less is more every time.
If you plan to create Pinterest pics from your blog images, keep the same continuity idea in mind as you create them. Always use the same font size and font type on your image captions. It will make your Pinterest page; blog page and Facebook page (where you will be reposting your Pinterest images) easy on the eyes and will show your professionalism and that you have an understanding of your brand and good graphic design.
A few places you are going to want to have beautiful graphics that represent your brand are: on your Facebook page both in the cover image and on your timeline, on your website in the header images and the images within your website body, on your blog as well as in any email marketing you plan to do.
What to use it for: Facebook timeline and cover images, images for your blog, images for Pinterest with captions, collages for your website, header images for your website, in your email marketing, evites…and whatever else you can dream up!
Picmonkey is one of my favorite online graphic tools. You can export your beautiful new creations as different types of files…gif, png or jpg. It is considered a “Freemium tool”, which means you get some of the functionality free and then you have the option to upgrade to get the advanced tools. But the free version of this tool is definitely worth checking out. It has many, many options to create intriguing graphics for your marketing efforts.
The font options in the free version are fabulous. And the paid version has even more goodies to fall in love with. For each holiday, Picmonkey adds in special treats like Halloween stickers, creepy eye filters and tooth decay filters. The fun you can have designing with just point and click really are extraordinary.
All the “fun” options are a very good reason to have your brands colors and fonts chosen before you visit a site like Picmonkey or you can end up over designing with no continuity, and that is a dead giveaway of a DIY website or marketing piece.
Even graphic artists who are used to the many options of a program like Photoshop will find using Picmonkey fulfilling because of the array of brush tools like eyeliner, lipstick, nip/tuck and eye brighten. You will have the power of the best photo retoucher right in your hands. A word of caution, do not over retouch.
Most audiences love real people. With that in mind retouch should be used to make the subject look MORE like themselves, not less. Many fashion magazines today do not share my thoughts on this lol, but authenticity wins every time in marketing. Keep that in mind when making retouching decisions.
How To Use It:
Visit Picmonkey.com – click on “Create a Collage”
Change the size to the correct width and height for the piece you are creating, they have pre-made options for Facebook and Pinterest, Yay!!!
Click upload and navigate to where you have your images stored on your computer and upload them.
Be sure to save your Picmonkey creation to your desktop in an easy to find place.
Then go back to Picmonkey and click on edit image.
Click on the name of the file you just named and saved to open up the collage.
Then using your brand’s color scheme: add stickers, frames and textures, create effects with the many brushes and add text with the fonts provided to make a stellar graphic.
Save it to your desktop again.
Finally upload to Facebook, Pinterest, your email marketing program or your website/blog!
Before designing anything study the look and feel of sites and brands that you love. What is it about them you love? Where do they place their headlines? Where do they leave white space (undesigned space is just as important as the space you design)? Have a clear plan for your graphic sketched out before starting your Picmonkey graphic.
Do not over design and keep consistency throughout your website, Facebook page (any other social media sites like Pinterest), blog, email marketing and all your marketing pieces.