Graphics and Picture Editing Options For Bloggers
This is actually the second time I've written this article. I accidently deleted it the first time. But maybe that's a good thing because I'll trim it down this time around…. just highlighting some options for bloggers to create nice headers and image graphics for their articles.
I'm going to mention 6 platforms that I know something about, two of which I know a lot about. The other 4 I know something about but I don't actively use. None of them are Photoshop because I think Photoshop is overkill for the average blogger (like me).
The six programs are:
First of all, to qualify my parameters, my primary use of these programs is for article headers. I've been blogging for a long time but only in the last year or so have I bothered to add immages/graphics with any degree of sophistication. All the popular blogging programs (Blogger, Typepad, Squarespace, Wixler, WordPress, et.al) have options for pasting in an image.
But that's about as sophisticated at it get.
There are a few WordPress plugins, e.g. ImageSuite, which provide photo libraries and sometimes also allow some degree of editing of the photos. I have ImageSuite but I seldom use it.
For the last several months I've been using a program which used to be called ShareAsImage. Recently they changed the name to GetStencil. Anybody who reads my articles on Markethive…that's what I usually used for the header.
Stencil has a free version with limited resources and it also has monthly and a yearly plan. The 'Pro' plan is $15 @ month but I have the yearly plan which saves me about $5 @ month as I recal. I like Stencil primarily because it has a bookmarklet for my browser. You can also get an extension for Chrome and Firefox.
Stencil gives me a huge choice of pictures and template designs to chose from and modify to my heart's content. It is not, however, as good for sophisticated designs of such things as invitations, business cards, menus, resumes, etc. Other programs are better for that. Another feature it has that is nice is that you can 'share' your creations on the top 5 different social media sites.
Also, I could not find a YouTube channel for them but they do have good video tutorials on their site, here.
Next comes snappa.io. Snappa is very similar to Stencil. The overall look of the site is just slightly different. I've even seen some of the same pictures in their library that I've seen in Stencil. I think what accounts for that is that they both pull from Pixabay.com, one of the larger free picture resources online.
I actually used Snappa a lot before I started using Stencil. The price is about the same but the resource library seems to be a little smaller. It does not have a bookmarklet. I also could not find a YouTube channel for Snappa but their site video tutorials are here.
Next comes PicMonkey.com. I like PicMonkey but it's actually more of a photo editor than a graphics creator although you could put one of your creations on top of a blog article if you wanted. Their front page says, "Sparkle up a photo, make a splashy design, or find a sweet template to customize. It's your day. I also like it because it has excellent tutorials and creativity blog posts.
You won't find tutorial videos directly on their site. There they prefer text tutorials. But they do have a good YouTube channel and here's one of their very good tutorial videos. And one more nice thing about PicMonkey is that its very inexpensive…only $5 @ month. And they'll even give you a big discount if you pay yearly….making it easy to keep a membership in addition to one or two others.
Pixlr.com is perhaps the most sophisticated of all these sites for functionality. Both it and PicMonkey provide a 'layers' functionality too. Pixlr goes at everything from a 'picture editing' angle. It's not focused on flat graphics per se but you can make them.
Pixlr can seem a bit complicated because (1) it's a product of another company called Autodesk and (2) it actually has several different products (for different image editing purposes) underneath the one Pixlr brand name. But the main product, Pixlr itself is only $15 a year (it's a downloaded desktop app).
Canva.com touts being 'amazingly simple' and that might be true because, other than Photoshop, it's been around for several years. I also remember that it was one the first very successful new-breed of sophisticated but consumer and marketing oriented graphics creators. But I should qualify that it's more of a marketing graphics designer tool than just a photo editor. It might be overkill for article headers like I use Stencil for.
It's kinda hard to see what it costs because they hide it but I know it's about $15 @ month. I'd say it's worth it though and they do offer a 30 trial so you can see if you really can utilize it.
Youzign.com came after Canva and is very similar. In some ways Youzign is more sophisticated. That's because apparently the people who produced Youzign are in tight with most of the other internet market tool creators (guys like Josh Ratta and others) and it seems like every time the other guys come out with a new program, Youzign annouces that it integrates with Youzign and has a big sale to offer it to you.
It's hard to say what the price is because (1) I don't use it (apparently I have a basic account still) and (2) they seem to have so many different variations of it. But….I know it's a very powerful program. Maybe just a bit more than the average bloggr needs (unless he/she write really high-end content).
So that's it except for a couple more points.
Point #1: You still need good sources of photos. Fortunately most of these programs come with large libraries of images. But…there are plenty of free sources of images if you know where to look.
Point #2: one excellent source of information about free image sources and other/similar image editing and/or design software is a fellwo named Robin Good.
I first discovered Robin Good back when I used scoop.it a lot (before they got so expensive and un-grandfathered the people like me who signed up with them when they first came out. Robin is a big-time curator and aside for having several scoop.it sites that he maintains, he also has this resource list which I think is an almost endless source of please to browse.
Now…that's it for this article. I still like my Stencil but have a couple new sites I want to explore now too. But you can't go wrong with Stencil or Snappa for good article headers.
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