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Create Multiple Images for Your Blog Posts (without Losing Your Mind)

How to create images for your blog posts and have them look good on different platforms! LifeSpring Writing

I blog because I’m a writer, not because I have a desire to present lovely images to my readers. When I reluctantly began adding images to my blog posts, my designs were all over the place. What I included depended on what images I could find and my mood that day.

When blogging friends told me they were getting a lot of traffic from Pinterest, I decided to create vertical images for my blog posts. I did that for a while, but those images never showed up well on Facebook or Twitter. How was I supposed to decide what size and orientation I should use for my images?

The first time someone told me she created multiple images for each blog post, I thought it sounded like a lot of work—but I also realized that it might be the solution to my image dilemma.

For a little over a year now, I have created two images for each blog post I write.

Why Two Images?

The image at the top of my blog post is horizontal (image 1). It captures my readers’ attention without them having to scroll down to see the whole image or find where the text begins. This image serves as the featured image and works well on Facebook and Twitter.

At the bottom of the post I have a vertical image (image 2) that can be pinned to Pinterest. I put it at the bottom so it doesn’t interfere with anyone’s reading experience, yet it is handy for anyone who wants to pin it.

By creating two images with each post, I make it easy for my readers to share my posts in a way that looks clean and appealing.

Creating Two Images

I create both images at the same time using an online photo editing program, either working in two separate browser tabs simultaneously or using a program that automatically resizes for me.

The specific image dimensions are based on guidelines from Facebook and Pinterest. At the moment, Facebook recommends 1,200 x 630 pixels and Pinterest recommends 600 x 900 pixels.

Image Editing Programs

I’ve used Canva, PicMonkey, LunaPic, and Pablo.

Canva has both free and paid versions. The paid version offers robust branding features (including colors, fonts, and logos), unlimited storage of images you’ve created, and automatic resizing of images to work with different platforms. The free version allows up to three brand colors and provides limited image storage. You still have access to many templates, fonts, and design elements. For most bloggers, the free version offers enough flexibility to get by just fine.

PicMonkey has two paid options. (They discontinued their free level in 2017.) PicMonkey is an excellent option if you like creating your own designs from scratch. The higher tier version offers more image storage capacity and more image formats. One nice feature with PicMonkey is that when you upload an image, you can use an eye dropper tool to identify the code for any color in the image so you can use the color in other ways in the image. PicMonkey has good tutorials on how to make double exposure or turn a photo into an illustration.

LunaPic is free and offers unique effects that I haven’t seen elsewhere without paying, including animation. (See this post for an example.) It isn’t as intuitive to use, but I often find myself there if I want to do something fun with an image I’ve created elsewhere.

Pablo is free and very simple to use. It offers a resizing option and allows you to use your own images and logo. It doesn’t have much flexibility. For instance, unlike the other programs I’ve mentioned, you are more limited in text colors and cannot create an image that consists only of words. If you are looking for something very quick and simple, though, it might be a very good option for you.

I’ve used PicMonkey and the free version of Canva for most of my blog post images. These don’t offer options for automatic resizing, so I work with two browser tabs open at one time, creating the Facebook image in one tab and the Pinterest image in the other.

Design Elements

Whether I am working in a program that resizes or am working in two browser tabs at once, I use the same design elements for both images I am creating.

Picture

I use the same photo or illustration in both the horizontal and vertical image in each post. Some people create several different vertical images to appeal to more people on Pinterest, but that just isn’t something I want to take time to do. I like my images to match–although different styles of images certainly would appeal to a wider variety of potential readers.

Color

I have three colors that are part of my brand. I have a file where I’ve listed the hex codes for these colors. I often use them in my images.

If I am using a photo in my image, I often pull a color directly from the photo. The Chrome browser has an Eye Dropper extension that allows you to grab the code for any color on a page. If you use PicMonkey, you can use the eye dropper tool within the program. Pablo will generate color options pulled from the image you are using. If I want to use more than one color in my image, I will paste the code into a color palette generator to determine other colors that will work well.

Text

The words are the same on both images. I provide both the title of the blog post and my blog URL. I used to include a question or teaser quote as well. It’s a good idea because it invites readers to click on the pin to learn more, but I decided to give that up in favor of simplicity.

Font

Many experts will tell you to use only two fonts in your images. I don’t follow that so well. I alternate between three different fonts for the blog title. The URL always appears in a different font that never varies.

Template

I have several different templates I use for the horizontal image and several for the vertical image. Some photos simply do better in some templates than in others. Having limited options to choose from prevents decision paralysis while providing the flexibility that I need depending on the photo I use.

Putting It All Together

With two browser tabs open in the image editing program I’m using, I decide on my templates and then put all these elements together, moving back and forth between both tabs. I input the same color code for the background in both images, paste the title in, select the font, add the photo or other design elements (such as shapes or lines), and that’s it.

At first it seems a lot to pay attention to, but after a few times, it’s easy to see that producing two images at once really isn’t much more work than producing one. I could easily add a third browser tab to design a square image for Instagram, too.

With two images for each post, I can easily share my posts on social media and know that they will look good.

How to create images for your blog posts and have them look good on different platforms! LifeSpring Writing

Image credit | Free-Photos at pixabay.com

3 Things I Did to Boost My Blog Traffic

In order to boost my blog traffic and serve more women, I had to be intentional about how I blogged. In this post, I share the three parts of my growth strategy.

I’ve been blogging at The Forgiven Wife for a little over five years now. In that time, I’ve written around 750 posts.

Like many bloggers, I want to know that people are reading what I have spent time crafting for them. Blog traffic is one way to measure that.

Fortunately, an increase in blog traffic isn’t the only measure of success. If it were, I may have quite in 2016, when my blog traffic dropped by 13%. During that year and in the first months of the following year, I watched my numbers dip and rise each month, dip and rise again, with no real change in my average daily traffic. My biggest referrers were Facebook and search engines.

I saw success in other ways, but I also knew that some of my long-range ministry plans would work better if I had a broader readership base. I wondered if there was anything I could actually do to boost my traffic other than hope I had a post go viral.

Background

Prior to the summer of 2017, I wasn’t particularly strategic in my writing or promotion of my blog.

  • I was posting somewhat sporadically. In any given week, I might post one, two, or three times. Or I might skip a week or two altogether. My readers didn’t know when they could expect to see a post from me. (I didn’t, either.) The only consistency was that on the first Sunday of each month, I posted a round-up of links to other blogs that I thought might encourage my readers.
  • I was using my social media when it suited me, but I was not being intentional about it. When I published new posts, I shared them to Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. I had a plugin that tweeted out links to my older posts. I had started sharing one of the links on my monthly round-up post on Facebook each day—if I thought about it.
  • Since fairly early in my blog, I’d been including an image with each blog post. Sometimes they were square images, sometimes vertical, and sometimes horizontal. I went with what I was in the mood for, varying font, colors, and style. I’d heard that Pinterest was a good way to boost traffic, so I sometimes added my post images to Pinterest but mostly hoped that my readers would do that for me. Shortly before I put my growth strategy into place, I had started to make all my images vertical so they would work on Pinterest (even though that meant they didn’t look as good on Facebook or Twitter).

In other words, all my posting and promotion were done on the basis of inspiration rather than intention.

My Growth Strategy

In the summer of 2017, I began to implement a growth strategy.

Since that time, I have seen a change in my traffic—and it’s been good. Although I did see a few dips in with the rises, none of the dips were as low as my monthly traffic during the year before I’d put my growth strategy into place.

My high points have increased steadily. My traffic last month was more than double what it was the same month last year. My overall traffic for the year is 42% higher than it was this time last year.

Although last month’s traffic was probably a fluke, the fact that I have continued to see a steady increase has been encouraging.

What turned my blog traffic around?

The most important change I made was to be intentional in how I blogged.

My growth strategy consisted of three strands:

  1. I posted regularly.
  2. I developed a social media schedule.
  3. I overhauled my images and how I use them.

All three of these strands work together in a cohesive strategy.

Regular Posting

I now publish to twice each week (Tuesday and Friday) and continue my first-Sunday-of-the-month round-up post. I’ve missed that target only once in the past year.

One of my goals with regular posting was to demonstrate reliability to readers. I knew this would be important in achieving my long-term ministry goals, and the consistency and reliability helped me feel more confident in what I was doing.

Social Media Schedule

I now have a robust social media schedule, with regular posts being shared to Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

After a few months of trying different approaches, I have landed on a schedule that works well for me.

In addition to new posts being shared to Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ and my plugin that shared old posts to Twitter, I now post links three times each day:

  1. Every morning I share one of the posts from another blog that I included in my monthly round-up post. Although that doesn’t direct anyone to my site, it does show my readers that I am concerned about them and not just about getting more clicks to my blog.
  2. In the afternoon, I share a post from my archives. Specifically, I share a post from the same month in previous years. That way, if there are any seasonal topics, they come at the appropriate time of year. Also, it gives me a built-in way of making sure that I am drawing from a variety of my past posts and not just the ones that I tend to think about more often.
  3. On weekday evenings, I share a post from the previous month in case readers missed that. On the weekend, I re-share the posts from that week.

This means that each day, my followers are seeing something from another writer, one of my older posts, and one of my more recent posts, along with what I’ve published that day. I use a social media scheduler and typically schedule a month’s worth of posts in advance.

I also try to ask my Facebook followers a question several times a month to promote engagement and to make social media another means of ministry and not just a place to share links.

Overhaul of Images

This has been far the most time-intensive part of my growth strategy—but it has had a significant impact.

One Post = Two Images

As I prepare blog posts, I now include two images—a horizontal one for Facebook and a vertical one for Pinterest. Both images are coordinated to include the same colors, fonts, wording, and image elements. I also use a fairly limited number of image templates and fonts as a means of branding.

Updating Old Posts

It was easy to create images as I prepared new posts, but what about the hundreds of posts in my archives? I knew I would need to update them, but it was an overwhelming task. I used my social media schedule to help me. Each month, I shared one post every day from the same month in previous years. This meant I was sharing 30 of these posts a month—and these were the posts in which I updated the images.

It was tedious work, but I got through it. I would often do images for four or five blog posts in a sitting, using the same template but changing the image content and colors.

Every month for a year, I created new images for 30 posts, and since I was doing two images per post, that meant 60 images. After one year of doing that consistently, I had good share-able images on most of the posts in my blog archives.

Pinterest, Pinterest, Pinterest

Now that I had Pinterest-friendly images on all those blog posts, it was time to share them to Pinterest!

When I sit down each month to schedule my social media posts, I also pin the posts to Pinterest using the vertical image. The Tailwind app makes this so easy. (Sign up with my affiliate link here.)

I also pin my posts to Pinterest whenever I have them open for any reason—when I’m linking in one of my new posts, when a reader asks me for help finding something, and even when I read something elsewhere that reminds me of a post I’ve written.

Pinterest has become the #1 referrer to my blog, with more than four times the referrals I get from Facebook and even more than I get from search engines.

Ministry Impact

My blog’s mission isn’t to get more readers. It is to help women.

Although blog traffic doesn’t measure success, it does introduce more women to the ministry they can find on my blog.

I have heard from many women who have found my blog during the past year because they found something on Pinterest or because a friend shared one of my Facebook posts with a link to one of my older blog posts.

My growth strategy has helped these women grow as much as it has helped my blog.

In order to boost my blog traffic and serve more women, I had to be intentional about how I blogged. In this post, I share the three parts of my growth strategy.

Image credit | rawpixel at pixabay.com

Finding Readers for Your New Blog: 4 Tips (and 1 Really Important Reminder)

How can you find readers for your new Christian blog? Check out these tips! Blog coaching with LifeSpring Writing.

Congratulations on your new blog! You’re a writer now.

Your next step is to get some readers. What are some good ways to help people find you?

1. Invite people you know.

Many bloggers begin with an audience of their own relatives. Eventually, a cousin shares your site with a co-worker, who will share it with her sister-in-law, and so on. When you blog about faith, you can also let your pastor and church groups know about your website.

2. Add your blog URL to your online profiles.

If you participate in discussion forums that allow you to put a link in a signature, add it—especially if it is a forum related to your niche (your major blog topic). Add the link in your Instagram bio and to your Twitter and Facebook profiles. Some curious folks will click on it to see what you have to say.

Set your blog up to automatically share your blog posts to your various social media accounts. This not only reminds people of your blog, it lets them know what you’re saying. Many people prefer to share their posts to social media manually so they can personalize the introduction a bit, but there’s nothing wrong with letting the system do it for you.

3. Connect with other bloggers in your niche.

Pay attention to who else writes about your subject. Follow them on social media. Like their blog posts and links on social media. Share their posts on your own social media accounts.

If you notice that they handle something particularly well (for instance, talking about their personal trials or responding to angry comments), email them and ask for advice. If the blogger publishes guest posts, offer to write one in exchange for a link to your blog.

4. Comment on posts on other sites.

Reading other blogs can show you what the hot issues are and also where the gaps are in your niche. When you read those blogs posts, leave a comment. Most blog commenting systems have a place where you can include your own URL, which means that people can click on your name and land on your blog.

It is considered bad practice to share your own links when commenting on someone else’s, so even if you just wrote a fantastic post about the same subject, limit your comment to asking a question, thanking the blogger for the post, and affirming something the blogger has said. (You can do the same thing when you read articles on other Christian sites about your main subject.) If people like what you say, they will want to know more about you and they’ll click to your page.

One Important Reminder

The most important thing you can do to attract readers—and keep them—is to focus on writing good blog posts. Content that genuinely speaks into people’s lives will help you keep the readers you have and will encourage them to share with others.  It’s easy to get caught up in the bells, whistles, and bling of blog design and getting more traffic—but if you don’t have good content, none of the fancy stuff will matter.

All of these tips can help bring potential readers to your site. Your content is what makes them want to come back.

How can you find readers for your new Christian blog? Check out these tips! Blog coaching with LifeSpring Writing.

DIY Ministry Retreat for Bloggers

This DIY Ministry Retreat for Bloggers will help you renew, refresh, and reflect.

We often find ourselves in need of renewal, refreshment, and reflection. Although traveling to a workshop or retreat can be wonderful, that isn’t always an option for us.

This retreat is one you can do for yourself.

It can be done at whatever pace works for you. It was originally designed for a three-day retreat but can also be done in one day but could also be stretched over a period of weeks if you prefer. Take time between activities to pray about what you are learning.

If you would like assistance in working through this retreat or deciding what your next steps are, I am available for coaching.

Click to download the retreat instructions:

DIY Ministry Retreat

This DIY Ministry Retreat for Bloggers will help you renew, refresh, and reflect.

Image credit | Christianpics.co