REPOST from The Story Reading Ape Blog. Please click the link below for the original post to my latest guest post.
Also, I am actually back from my break so excuse that tidbit. I wrote this a couple months ago.
Also, I am actually back from my break so excuse that tidbit. I wrote this a couple months ago.
In May, I wrote a blog post tutorial on how to edit Mock-Ups in Photoshop for a professional looking 3D book cover image. I understand it went over some heads (Photoshop is not for everyone), but for those of you who are familiar with it already, be sure that you are hiding the layers you don’t want to use so your image looks more authentic.
Everyone is using Mark Monciardini’s Mock-Ups (Covervault) because they’re free. While everyone is using them, not everyone is familiar with the basics of Photoshop in ways they can get the most out of the experience. It’s like copying someone but because you don’t really know how to do it, it doesn’t have the same look. Mark is the real artist and we are all copying him pretty much. He has extended his expertise to us newbies by generously giving away his mock-up templates. Now anyone, with just a basic knowledge of Photoshop, can have professional looking 3D book cover images. But, make sure you are hiding layers you don’t need so your images don’t look the same as everyone else.
I’m going to use the wine bottle glass template as an example.
Here’s mine with Renaissance cover. It looks good but not very original. I did change something though. Can you guess what it is? No, not the cover. (Learn how to change the cover HERE) I changed something else.
You can do this with anything you don’t want in your image. Even the background. Don’t like the wine bottle look? Get rid of it.
Basically, whatever you don’t want in the image can be hid. You can now use the space to add text, a logo or whatever you want. While all this is optional, remember that if you’re going to add text to a mock-up that has a lot going on, we won’t be able to read it clearly if you don’t hide or delete those layers first. Let’s look at one more:
The point is that if you’re going to pay for Photoshop you may as well get as much from it as possible. To help your images to look more authentic, be sure to hide (or delete) layers you don’t want or need.
Below are some great links from This Mama Learns Blog to help us become better bloggers! I discovered her on Pinterest yesterday and her blog is super cute! I love the way she has branded her colors and incorporated her images all professional and fun looking. Below are articles I found helpful. Enjoy:
You’re running behind on your newly acquired content schedule.
You dash out the last few lines of your next post in a flurry of activity, half an hour after you should have been in bed.
Then you hit Publish.
*yawn* Time for bed.
Okay, you know there are a few things you probably should’ve done first, but you can do it later right?
What just happened here? This hypothetical blogger (ok, ok… it was me), just put an arbitrary schedule before producing quality content.
No one likes looking like they were born yesterday, right? First impressions count, so when people visit your blog, you want to have your best foot forward.
I made my first blog in 2011. It was about tween fashion (it seemed like a good idea at the time), it was eyes-bleedingly cyan and I think I used Comic Sans. Sounds like a candidate for ugliest website of the year!
Luckily, times have changed and the overall standard of new blogs has greatly improved.
But there are still a few mistakes that new bloggers make that give themselves away. Here are 5 things you can implement on your blog right now to make you look like a pro.
Keep Reading http://thismamalearns.com/how-to-look-pro-blogger
Ever launched a blog expecting to make a big splash but… nothing happened?
You were sending post after post out into the ether. No readers (not even your mom), no comments, no shares. Why?
It wasn’t that your content wasn’t good.
And it wasn’t that you weren’t blogging frequently enough. You were working your fingers to bone every day getting out another post.
Maybe you were even employing a bit of SEO and churning out awkward blog headlines like How to choosing a domain name (did I do that? oops!)
It doesn’t have to be this way. You can launch a successful blog and have readers from day 1.
Are you holding back from networking with other bloggers because you feel like your blog just isn’t ‘good enough’?
Have you joined a few Facebook groups (like I told you about in this post), but been too shy to speak up because you’re afraid you’ll get laughed at for not knowing the secret blogger handshake?
Do you read blogging tips about how to get more traffic and think YEAH I need to do that, but secretly you’re terrified to have people actually read your blog?
Let me let you in on a little secret:
I’ve SO been there.
Almost because there are some posts where I haven’t used images so to say all just wouldn’t be honest now would it? Yall know I gotta keep it all the way real.
So anyway, I’ve always enjoyed the look of a post with pictures. Even when I would get zero likes on a post and no feedback, I’ve always loved pictures. In the beginning, it was just the aesthetic of it, I really just liked the way my posts looked with them. Today, though I still like the way the post looks with pictures, I also use them with a slightly greater outlook on the post itself and with more of a strategic edge. For one, I’m trying to step my blogging game up and to do that there are a few basics that must be accomplished. It all started a couple weeks ago when I did a google search.
I didn’t understand how vital images were to search engines but apparently they’re a big deal. Here’s a story: One day, while searching Google images, I saw a picture that I just couldn’t pass up. It peaked my interest as I wondered what the post associated with the image was about. I clicked on it and guess what? The photo was linked to The PBS Blog! That’s right, it was mine and linked to one of my blog posts. As a result of this experience I started paying more attention to images and top blog sites and guess what? When you examine the top blog sites and your favorite blog sites you’ll notice that all of the top, trending blogs have one thing in common: images. They all have images to go along with the post. I’ve also been noticing how my post looks when shared across social media.
I’ve discovered that images look really nice when blog posts are shared. I’ve recently been exploring Pinterest and having an image I already used in the post makes it super easy to share content. Otherwise, I find myself searching through images on my blog offered as suggestions by the Pinterest app. I love Twitter as yall already know (I’m at @ahouseofpoetry FYI…plug), and I just hate when that blank white space is there with no pic. I feel so incomplete, so that’s another plus of using images in your post. And not to mention Facebook too which gives a nice preview but I’m sure we all knew that.
Images used in blog posts are also linked with that blog site and will show up in search engines like mine did. Recently, I’ve even taken it a step further and stopped ignoring the tagging part of the image. You know, you up load an image and there’s the title, alt, description, caption, and all that. Yea, I pretty much ignored that for a long time.
“The Title, Caption, Alt Text, and Description fields for images in WordPress are the most ignored and underutilized features that can improve your content and bring more people to your site. Images play an important role in web publishing, and WordPress makes it easy to add images to your content in several different ways. What you probably didn’t know is that taking a few extra minutes to fill in the “Attachment Details” for your images can improve their communicative value, create better user experiences for your visitors, and bring more people to your site.” – Morten Rand-Hendriksen
Only recently did I start to fill in the blanks here. Usually when I read about this stuff it just sounds like Chinese so I’ll let Morten explain:
“The alt attribute or “Alt text” is mandatory for images on the web but is often ignored because it seems unnecessary. This is unfortunate because the alt attribute is both important and powerful. The alt attribute is the text that displays when an image does not display. The general rule of thumb when applying alt text to an image is to describe in text what the image is communicating.”
Thanks Morten. For the image to this post, my alt text simply describes what’s in the picture: “Notebook, coffee cup, pencil.” < But I think this is wrong, hmm. I’ll figure it out.
“The alt text is there to describe image content and relate it to your overall content. While most visitors don’t see the alt text, search engines do and they index the images based on them. And as we move into a world of wearable devices that don’t always show images the alt text will become more important than ever before.”
(I’ve also discovered that this helps with people with special needs who can’t “see” the image).
Unsplash – Images are licensed free to use. For that, unsplash pics make up the bulk of my post images.
Canva – Canva helps me add my own unique touch using my own images. Usually seen during my EC Quote Friday Posts and my Guest Blog Posts.
Google Images – If you use Google Images, be sure your post is in accordance with the Fair Use Act. Because this blog is not monetized and contains educational content, images that are used from Google are according to Fair Use. See my Copyright Page to learn more.
My Own Pics – I also use my own pictures which you’ll be able to tell are mine because I’m not a professional photographer. At all. Not even close.
Photoshop – I LOVE mock-ups! In fact, that’s what I used for the pic to this post. If you want to create your own professional looking images for your business or blog, Photoshop provides a great way to do this using mock-ups. You can then use these unique images on your blog. All it really takes is a $10/ mo account and there’s a lot you can do even if you don’t want to upgrade. I’m still working on a basic Photoshop tutorial. Stay tuned.
Bitstrips – I also use bitstrips to cartoon myself and use them as blog pics. I fell in love with this last year (2015) when Colleen of Silver Threading (now Colleen Chesebro dot com) had me on her blog for the first time. She always uses silver cartoons and taught me how to use them. Since then, I’ve been obsessed with them. Now my cartoon mini me is incorporated into my blog which helps out a lot when I need a quick image and can’t really find one that’s available. It also adds a unique touch.
OK, you may want to sit down for this one.
A couple weeks ago (or was it last week?? LOL), whenever it was, I had a blogger to comment on a post I wrote asking me to go into more detail concerning photos in a blog post. I never consider myself a “blogging pro” or “advice giver” so her question made me feel very positive about the post as feedback often does. Here’s her question and my response:
This morning I did not intend on writing this post, but after scrolling through the reader I experienced something that validates just how important photos are in a blog post. I scared myself away from my own post.
Yesterday, I wrote a post that included a picture of Flavor Flave. When I scrolled through the reader this morning I was shocked to see that photo front and center on my timeline associated with that blog post (go ahead, take a look). I startled myself because I would not have chosen for that picture to be the one used to feature the post. As I opened with “We all have our favorites…” needless to say Flavor Flave was not a good look. I do not nor have I ever been a fan. I do not take back my thoughts in the article and using the photo in the post did look good when I drafted it because it represents what I was speaking about, but it did not mix well with my opening statements or as an advertisement for the post in the reader.
Did I say advertise? Yes. It may not seem important at the time, but photos in blog posts tend to act as promotional items for our blogs before people actually click to see what the post is about. I wouldn’t say to stress out about it, but whether or not people are clicking to tune into our blogs have a lot to do with the way that people think in general and we all know by now (c’mon, say it with me) “Pictures are worth a thousand words”. Just keep in mind that the first picture used in the post will more than likely be the photo that stands front and center as representative of your post. My little experiment proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that image choices is not just about what looks good, but it is also about strategy because the photography tends to set the mood for the article itself. The photos you use in your post can have the potential to downgrade the quality of the article if it does not blend well with the written content.
Experiment: Conduct your own experiment. Write a blog post and use an image, any image. Go back to the reader and see which one shows up! If your not too chicken to risks a few likes and views, this can help you to see how the pictures in the post shows up when people are actually scrolling through the reader.
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