Graphics can be a total pain in the ass. The last thing you want to do after spending hours typing up a blog post is spend another hour or more creating graphics to go with said blog post. It’s exhausting. I literally used to spend hours on one post – and most of that time was spent fighting with graphics. I was agonizing over if something looked good or how to actually get the effect I could see so clearly in my head when I could have been spending that time reading or writing more blog posts. I would see countless other people throw up these stunning graphics no problem. And I wondered what the hell I was doing wrong. Why was I not good enough?? I know if I’ve been there, you probably have too. But hopefully you don’t have to be there as long as I was. (Maybe I was just extra challenged, but I was stuck in graphic hell for a long time…)
I dragged myself out of graphic hell when I discovered Picmonkey and Canva.
These two tools have become essential to my every day blogging life. I have no idea what I would do without them. Both programs are similar, but I tend to use them for different things.
I started using Picmonkey before I ever even knew Canva existed. When I discovered Picmonkey, I thought my life had changed forever. It had, but I still had a long way to go. Picmonkey is perfectly capable of helping you create every graphic you need for your site. I personally like Canva better for most things and I’ll get into the whys in a second, but I still use Picmonkey regularly.
I use all my own original photography on my blog and Picmonkey helps me edit every single one. They definitely beat out Canva in this respect. Canva doesn’t really allow you to edit your photos. You can add filters to them, but actual editing isn’t available. Because I use my own photography in my graphics I always start in Picmonkey. It takes me less than five minutes to make some minor adjustments to my photos. Mostly I just click Exposure – Auto Adjust. Sometimes I’ll play with the brightness. But other than that, I’m done. If I’m editing photos for Instagram I’ll also add my IG handle to the picture in here as well. Super easy to do, just go the font section (Tt) – choose your font and add the text box wherever you want.
So this is for logo stuff. If I want the background of my image to be transparent, meaning there’s no color behind the image, I use Picmonkey. This is super valuable for anything logo related. I also used this feature when creating my own social media buttons. You can easily select transparent canvas in the canvas color section. There’s just a little box you have to check. Then you can upload your logo, add anything you want to it and save. Remember when saving transparent images, it must be saved as a .png not .jpg. If you save it as a .jpg you’ll end up with a white background.
And that’s pretty much all I use Picmonkey for. Sometimes I’ll use it to make weird sized graphics because Canva doesn’t allow you to change the size of your canvas. They just have a bunch of different pre-set sizes. But even though I don’t use it for much anymore, I definitely couldn’t live without it.
Blog Post Graphics
I use Canva to create all of my post specific graphics. These are the graphics you all see at the top of every post. I have an easy template I use where I can just copy – edit – save. Takes me less than five minutes to accomplish this. I even use this for my review images. And I edit this for every single post. Meaning I don’t just have a standard Top Ten Tuesday graphic. I edit the graphic per the topic at hand. That way when I pin it, it doesn’t look like I have 100 pins of the same thing. Once you get a template down it’s super easy to edit, save & post.
Social Media Headers
Canva has pre-sized templates for both Facebook and Twitter headers. So once again, in less than five minutes I had uploaded my logo, slapped it on the pre-sized header and was good to go. Your Facebook & Twitter headers should match your blog header. This all goes back to branding which I’m pretty sure I beat into you guys. I feel like I never stop talking about branding. Sorry not sorry. It’s important.
You know those cool graphics you’ve seen some bloggers make that are like “What to Read After the Hunger Games” or something similar. Then the graphic asks the readers a series of questions which takes them down this flow chart until they figure out what their next read should be. Well Canva makes it super easy to create these. I’ve done one or two myself and they didn’t take long at all, maybe 15-20 minutes and that was mostly because I was figuring out what information I wanted to include on the infographic.
I make all my blog post graphics optimized for Pinterest, but you don’t necessarily have to do that. You just have to have at least one image that’s optimized for Pinterest so your readers are able to pin. In fact, you should make graphics that are optimized for every single social media outlet. Each one has a different size, but you know what’s great? Canva has all this figured out for you already and has pre-sized templates for you to use! You don’t have to include all these different sized images in each post. You simply use them when you share your post on the various social media outlets.
You guys have probably seen all the bonus freebies I include in my posts. Sometimes it’s a checklist, or a worksheet or even a guide. I create all of these in Canva. No fancy Adobe program needed, just Canva. Which is free in case I forgot to mention that. Making PDFs is so easy with this program. Your readers love freebies so by creating them, not only are you pleasing your readers but you’re also helping yourself grow your email subscription list.
You can also use Canva to create desktop backgrounds which I’ve done with different books I’ve reviewed. I actually use a combination of Picmonkey and Canva to do this. I make the largest size in Canva first, then I save the image and open it in Picmonkey and resize it to all the different sizes I need. I also make the mobile background in Canva and then resize in Picmonkey. The combination of these two programs is perfect for me.
Other Benefits of Both Programs
Both programs have a good selection of fonts, but Picmonkey actually lets you use your own fonts. You can download and install fonts on your computer and then in Picmonkey there are two headings under fonts “Ours” and “Yours”. All the ones you downloaded will be under “Yours” for you to use in any graphic.
Canva has loads of free stock photos built right into the program so you just select and add them to the background of whatever graphic you’re making. Beware though, there are a bunch of paid options. They’re normally only $1.99 which is great and easy to pay for (many stock photo websites make you buy a whole package), but be careful when using these. You can only edit the graphic for 24 hours after purchase and then it’s done. So you can’t ever use that stock photo again. There are plenty of other places to find free stock images that you can download, save to your computer and use over and over again.
Now you guys know that I wasn’t kidding about these programs changing my life. They have literally taught me how to fake being a graphic designer and have saved me countless hours. It took me years to figure all this out and I certainly don’t want that for you. So I created a FREE 8-day course called “Create Your Own Graphics” where you’ll learn the basic of creating your own graphics including how to pair fonts, how to figure out what looks good and what mistakes you’re making with your graphics. Sign up for the course here and get learning!
Do you guys use Picmonkey and Canva? Do you feel like you’re using them to their full potential? What’s one thing you struggle with the most when it comes to graphics?