Whether you’re a website newbie or an online pro, everyone needs photo-editing tools that are straightforward, simple, and — if possible — free. Humans are a highly visual species, so eye-catching blog images are important for just about any web presence today. Used correctly, these tools can make your pixels and prose pop. Images can also catch a reader’s attention, and help break up text into chunks that are easier to read.
Properly editing your images can transform your site — and, by extension, your blog or online storefront — into a powerful digital marketing tool that’ll attract supporters. Here, we’ve identified three photo-editing strategies and outlined how you can use them to craft game-changing creative imagery.
A little change can go a long way
If “layers,” “masks,” and “clone stamps” sound like gibberish, then you’ll be glad to know many of the services available today are intuitive, straightforward, and require no design background. For most folks, a simple image change — which you can often accomplish with just a couple of clicks (or taps) — is all that’s needed to make a photo ready for its online debut. To make your blog images stand out, keep the following three changes in mind:
- Play with it: Do you have a horizontal image for your site that might work better if aligned vertically? Just because your image starts that way doesn’t mean you can’t change it. Just click and rotate!
- Cut it: Let’s say you have a full-size image of your latest kitchen renovation, but you just want to feature the new cabinets. Cropping lets you cut unnecessary details from an image, giving you just what you need.
- Filter it: You can also apply filters to instantly change how a photo is perceived. Think about how you want your users to feel when they visit your site. A black-and-white filter can help your subject stand out, while a sepia filter can create a retro feel. Want to add a little energy to an image? Try a Technicolor filter.
In addition to iPhoto or Microsoft Photos, which come preloaded on most computers, free photo-editing software like Photoscape and Pixlr can help you turn a photographic flop into a winning shot. Even better? Many of these photo-editing tools allow you to instantly upload and share your images to Facebook and other social media platforms.
Fantastic photography — for free
Luckily, there are free photos galore available online. And if you think “no cost” means “no good,” think again. There are now countless websites available for downloading beautiful images that don’t look anything like traditional “stock” photography. Still, it helps to follow some easy dos and don’ts — this will ensure your website looks polished, professional, and original.
- Do avoid photos that seem artificial (most people don’t smile broadly while staring at their computer!), or staged (when was the last time you high-fived your beaming coworker at a water cooler?). Opt for pictures of real people in natural poses, or images that contain interesting (and believable) objects and backgrounds.
- Don’t use an image you’ve seen somewhere else.
- Do choose photos with an aesthetic that aligns with your business. If you run an antique shop, you might consider focusing on images of mid-century interiors rather than images showcasing contemporary designs.
- Don’t forget to look for photos featuring people of diverse backgrounds in order to welcome as broad an audience as possible.
You’ll find fantastic photos free of charge at Unsplash.com, Pixabay.com, and Picjumbo.com. Something else to keep in mind when you find the right pic? Even if it’s not required, consider giving credit and linking directly to the photographer and/or the site that provided the image — this helps other people find quality photos and acknowledges the efforts of the folks who give us these great shots.
What’s in a word? A lot, potentially
Often, adding just a few words to an image allows for branded, easy-to-share graphics that can reach audiences near and far. While incorporating words or graphics into an existing photo might sound tricky, don’t worry: most photo-editing sites are packed with step-by-step tutorials to help you master everything from adding text to creating banners and collages. Want some inspiration? PicMonkey.com provides some great examples of how you might combine words and images.
Take a peek at Fotor.com, BeFunky.com, and Canva.com for tools that’ll help bring your images to life with words. Once you’ve figured out the basics, you can add your logo, company name, or tagline to an image to help build awareness of your business or brand. Create discount coupons with these tools for your coffee shop, or announce a special event like your salon’s grand opening — remember to include information about restrictions, expiration dates, event hours, and your location. Pair your ideas and messages with carefully selected images to make them really resonate with your audience.
Even if you’ve never cropped or rotated an image before, it really pays to get familiar with some of the easy-to-use photo-editing tools available today. Once you have a tutorial or two under your belt, you’ll be ready to add interesting photos, compelling graphics, and targeted messages to your website and marketing materials — making them more eye-catching, appealing, and effective.