Hey what’s up guys and dolls, hope you’ve all had an awesome productive week!
Thanks to everyone who checked out my last post, my personal review of Maxwell Ivey’s awesome motivational book which is now available not just from his website, but also on Amazon.com.
If you’ve already purchased his book, be sure to give him a 5 star review on Amazon, if you missed that post you can check it out here. Leave a comment or grab the book itself if you haven’t yet.
OK one or two of you have been emailing me to kindly compliment me on the use of my custom designed featured blog post images, thanks a bunch, I really love getting positive feedback like this, it tells me that I’m doing something right 🙂
Anyhow this got me thinking, why not share a cool post explaining exactly how I create those cool featured images for my blog posts, including the tools that I use, so that you can perhaps do the same for your posts too?
Well… here it is folks, the complete guide to creating amazing, eye-popping custom blog post images.
Before I dive into the nit gritty details, I want to share with you some positives as to why I think you should consider creating and using featured images in your blog posts, or at least the benefits of using them, that is if you’re not already doing so of course.
- To truly make your blog posts stand out, not just on your blog, but also on social media sites, bookmarking sites, blog communities and everywhere else you might end up promoting your posts.
- To provide visual information about your blog post, visual content rules…
- To promote social sharing.
- For brand promotion (Especially if you include your blog logo into your images like I do, we’ll talk more about that later on).
OK so as you can see there are some awesome benefits of using well crafted customised featured images.
You don’t need a degree in creativity
You don’t have to be a creative or qualified graphic designer to create amazing featured images for your posts, it literally just takes 5 minutes of your time when creating your bog posts, and is absolutely worth the effort.
Now let me share with you some of the tools that I use to create my featured images, most of them are completely free to use you’ll be glad to know.
(Update: I now use a software called Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo for the Mac to design my custom featured post images. If you use Mac, I’d highly recommend you check these apps out available from the app store.)
OK so here’s what I use.
- PhotoScape (Free image editing software for Mac, though the PC version has a lot more features to offer, I use both myself)
- Affinity Designer (Premium professional graphic design software / app for Mac.
- Affinity Photo (Premium progressional photo editing software / app for Mac.
- ClippingMagic (Premium online tool for removing the background from images, especially those selfies…)
- TinyPNG (Free online tool for optimising and compressing PNG images before uploading them to your blog posts, there’s also TinyJPG if you prefer to use JPEG images)
- Canva.com (An amazing free and premium online design service for creating attractive custom images for your online projects)
- Pixabay.com (The best place on the web to find free high quality photos to use in your blog posts)
OK so really that’s all I use to create my amazing custom featured post images, you’ll find the links to each of these tools and services below. You don’t have to use every single one of these by the way, for example you could easily just use PhotoScape and Canva.com.
So now I want to share with you the steps I take to create each of these cool images for my blog, like the one featured above for this very post.
5 Step Process To Creating Awesome Featured Images To Make Your Blog Posts Stand Out!
Step One: Getting In The Frame
Sometimes I love to add a picture of myself into each of the featured images I create for my blog posts, I believe doing so helps to make my posts more personal to my readers, it kind of gives the genuine impression of ‘yeah, there’s actually a real human being behind these blog articles‘, and I love that idea. However sometimes if I find a really nice stock photo that I want to use, perhaps something on Pixabay, I’ll download it to use in my custom images.
If you’re not too comfortable with the idea of using an image of yourself in your featured blog post images, don’t sweat it, you can leave it out and use a nice background image instead.
OK so let’s just go with the flow that I’m adding a photo of myself onto a background image for my custom image, so the first thing I’ll do is take some good old selfies. For that I use my trusty iPhone, no need for expensive photography gear, but if you have a good camera then make use it by all means.
Tips for taking selfies:
- Make sure when you’re taking photos of yourself that you look half decent and presentable, remember you are representing your brand, content and so forth, so comb your hair 🙂
- Also make sure you’re taking photos with a clutter-free background, the less clutter the better it is for editing later on.
- Additionally ensure there’s plenty of natural lighting in the room, I’m no photography expert, but I usually take photos of myself close to a window, if not outside.
My home office window faces the sun throughout the day, so there’s plenty of light coming through and it works perfect for me.
Once I’m done taking a dozen or so decent selfies, it’s time for me to upload them to Facebook… No I’m just kidding, we’re not going to do that today, let’s move on to the next step of editing them.
Step Two: Editing The Frames
So once I’m done with taking photos of myself, boy that does sound silly doesn’t it? Anyway once I’m done shooting, I’ll then upload them to my desktop for editing.
I love using the free photo editing tool called PhotoScape for Mac. It’s also available for PC, in fact the PC version is far better and offers a lot more design options, elements and stuff like that.
(Update: The Mac version of PhotoScape just got revamped and it’s now just as awesome as the PC version!)
If you don’t have PhotoScape you can get it here. If you prefer to use your own software, perhaps you have Photoshop of Affinity Designer, then thats fine, do what ever you want.
OK so when it comes to editing photos of myself at this stage, I’ll usually just crop them down to a normal size, usually around 600 x 600 px, I’ll then sharpen the images a little bit and add some auto-enhance.
Once you’re done with editing your photos too, save them somewhere on your computer. The next step is removing the background.
Step Three: Removing The Background
OK so now I want to remove the background from my selfies.
The way I do this is by using an online tool called Clipping Magic, you’ve probably already come across this one before, if not then do check it out.
This isn’t a free tool but it costs almost nothing to use to remove backgrounds from your images, especially if you don’t have the software to do it yourself.
If you have a batch of images you want to remove backgrounds from, you can signup for one month and then cancel your subscription shortly after.
The service is amazing and will help you remove any background from any image using a wide variety of editing tools, even to the finer details of your hair can be isolated from the background. See image below.
(Update: I now use the tools within Affinity Photo to remove the background from my selfies)
Once I’m done with removing the backgrounds from the selfies I want to use in my featured images, I’ll download them to a new file on my desktop. You too can do the same too. On to step four…
Step Four: Creating Custom Background Images
Now if you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll notice I use some solid background colours, and some stock photos for my featured images.
One of the reasons I like to use some solid background, or even gradient coloured background is for branding purposes. My site colours are dark grey, blood orange and bottle green.
Tip: If you wish to create a solid coloured background for your featured images, first use the screen-capture tool in PhotoScape to snapshot your blog, then select, crop and resize a piece of the coloured area from your blog that you want to use to create your background image with.
Did you get all that?
As for the size of the background images you create, that depends on how wide the actual content area or column is on your blog (the column where your blog content is placed), it varies in each theme.
The width of my content column for example is around 725 px, so I’ll usually make my featured image background no bigger than 700 px wide by 300 px high. See image below.
Step Five: Bringing It All Together
OK so in this step we’re going to get a little creative, now the fun really begins. We’re going to combine our selfies with our background images and add some fancy texts too.
To combine the PNG selfies with the backgrounds removed into my custom sized backgrounds, I’ll use PhotoScape or Affinity Designer again to do this.
Here’s a fun image I created earlier, I’ve dropped three different photos of myself with the backgrounds removed, each with different hair styles notably, and pasted them into one of my orange solid background colours.
Tip: I recommend you create templates so that you can use on other posts with different texts and titles. For example, my templates only contain an image of me and my blog logo. This saves me a ton of time when having to create a new custom image for each blog post.
Once you’ve combined a chosen image of yourself with your background featured image, save it to your desktop.
Now it’s time to add some fancy eye-catching texts to represent your blog post.
I use an awesome online tool called canva.com to do this, this is a free and premium online service. You simply upload your images, add some awesome styled-texts, change the text to what you want and hit download, it’s that darn well easy.
You can even use Pixabay and Canva together to create some stunning featured post images. See image below.
(Update: I now combine all images and texts using Affinity Designer for my blog post images. See image below)
Right, there is one final step I want to share with you before finishing… Optimising your images…
Step Six: Optimising Your Featured Post Images
Before uploading the finished featured images for my blog posts to my blog, I’ll always optimise them first.
For this I’ll use a free online tool called TinyPNG since most of my featured images are in that format (PNG).
If you prefer to create images in JPEG, then use TinyJPG to format your JPEG files.
I created a very simple video showing how to use this tool below. Be warned though, this is an old video, I recorded this about a year ago, back when I was blogging over at Magnet4Marketing, but the process hasn’t changed at all.
Once your featured image files are optimised, download them from the TinyPNG website and upload them to your blog posts.
That is it my friends, that’s all there is to it… It may read like a lengthly process, but it really isn’t once you get into the habit of doing it.
Note For Genesis Framework Users
The featured image option is usually located in the right hand side of your editor, at the bottom. Enabling this will allow your visitors to see your featured images in the archive pages of your blog.
Did you find this tutorial useful?
I do hope you’ve enjoyed reading through this tutorial post, I’d love to get your thoughts on using custom featured images for your blog posts.
Is this something you’re currently doing now? If not, after reading this post today, are you likely to start creating and adding some eye-catching custom featured images to your blog posts?
Let me know what’s on your mind. Enjoy and have an awesome week ahead.
Your blogging friend, Fabrizio.
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