Today’s NaBloPoMo post sort of bleeds into my “official” work life, where I hock my writing, social media and graphic skills for daily ad jobs.
The need for good graphics in the blogosphere, as well as the entire social media network, is undeniable. However, not everyone has an expensive designer at their beck and call. So like most good makers, many people try to come up with their own graphics. Sometimes they work. A lot of times they don’t. Here are a few tips that might help you when you know just enough to be dangerous, but find yourself struggling with the final result.
Design first at a very high resolution and size.
Once you have finished your creation, you can always shrink the display size, while maintaining the integrity of the detail. Higher resolution and larger image size does mean more data, but the payoff is better images to work with. For social media work, I generally ask my clients to send me files between 200px and about 500px wide. I usually work with 800ppi, mostly because it’s better for book covers and printing (other freelance work I do too) and I like to do things well, but once – with built-in options. I can always shrink a photo. I can’t always expand it. At minimum, use 400ppi if you want a crisp, easy to read result that has enough play in it to be manipulated as you need it.
Simplify the text content when it comes to graphic ad copy and memes.
For instance, when you’re designing a click-through banner or graphic, too much information on the visual will not increase the likelihood of someone clicking the link. In fact, it almost guarantees the opposite. You want just enough info and a good visual. The goal for this kind of ad is to get people to click-through to your site for more info, or for people to share it. Too much info is a distraction from these goals. When it’s an ad, like a banner, the temptation is to put everything on that graphic. But you can choke people with information if you overwhelm them. Whatever link you are sending banner clicks to will have room for way more information anyway. The graphic’s job is to funnel people to that page. Then let the landing page take over once the clicks make it through. Here’s an example of a banner ad I designed. See, not too much to it, but it definitely has appeal.
Btw, this is just an example of an ad I’ve designed to illustrate the above point. It is not a live ad, nor do I sell ads on my blog here.
Avoid fru-fru fonts in ad work.
I’m an artist. I get it. We right-brainers love those cool fonts. But they are not always best for digital marketing and should be used sparingly. When I create a banner ad for someone, I’m trying to capture the attention span of someone flipping through the website it will be displayed on. Think of the speed necessary to communicate your main offer in a glance and the general energy and mood your market prefers. Marketing art is not the same as marketing insurance. People buy each for very different reasons. Crisp lettering is important. Colorful is helpful. But not too much or your message might be lost.
Use good software.
Today’s graphic demands are pretty substantial. Good tools help make great things. That doesn’t mean you have to get the most expensive thing. I used to use Photoshop for everything. Today, I mostly use Gimp, which is a free open source program sort of like PS. It takes time to learn, but it can do quite a lot.
If you don’t have great software to design with, for smaller, simpler things try using http://PicMonkey.com. Pic Monkey a nice quality free online tool that saves at high res. Just remember to save your original file in .png for better quality and save at least twice the size of your final desired result.
I hope these tips help! If you have questions, let me know in the comments. Later!