With the constant evolution of tools and software, everybody now has the power to create graphics literally at their fingertips. The days when Photoshop was the only available tool (albeit not really accessible with abysmal pricing for a license which mere mortals were seldom able to afford) have long gone.
Although this is not a bad thing per se, this also means that now everybody and their goblins can create graphics. And unfortunately, sometimes I see graphics that look like… well, everybody’s goblins created them.
And to be totally honest with you: These graphics don’t do yourself and your business any good. They make you look awkward and unprofessional, no matter how awesome your message is. It’s natural that our eyes are drawn to interesting visuals. So you don’t want people to turn away their heads before they even read you message.
But what makes DIY-Graphics really bad? Read on to discover the most common mistakes I see daily (and learn how to do it better – because I’m your digital fairy godmother, after all).
Mistake Nr. 1: Overfiltered Selfie
Yes I know. We all want to look perfect and polished, but unless you are an amazing natural beauty with perfect facial proportions & flawless skin all the time, probably the only way to achieve this is to pay some pros for a photo shoot where they also will do you hair and make-up (or get a fairy godmother for a Cinderella-makeover).
Now, not everybody has the money to do this, so you snap a quick selfie with your phone (maybe even with a nice hairdo and some makeup on), but before you post it, you use that fascinating magic that is called “filtering”. So you filter, And filter. And filter even more, because the more you filter, the more “perfect” gets your image, right?
But after all the filtering is done, you end up with a face that has nothing left of its natural texture, looks blurry and your skin seems more like something you’d expect in a wax-figure exhibition than a human face. Instead of that authentic glimpse of yourself you end up with something that looks like the Kardashians’ very ugly stepsister.
But what can you do to fix this when you don’t have the money for a professional photo shoot and can’t find a fairy godmother to help you? How about doing your own glamour shoot?
How to get the best result out of your selfies
The best light to take your glamour-selfie in is natural light. Avoid harsh sunlight because it will cast ugly shadows of you are not careful. A place in the shade is perfect, or even an overcast day.
Select your background with purpose: If you want to add yourself onto your marketing graphic, white makes it easier for you to do so (and to cut yourself out with an image-editing program). But if you are the main focus of the image, something nicely textured like a wall of brick, a hedge or a fabric sheet will add some interest to the image without distracting from your gorgeous self.
Avoid too busy scenes, this might look cluttered and will distract people from yourself. Also watch out for things that might look like they stick out of your head. Use angles from the up, never photograph yourself from the down.
Mistake 2: Inconsistent branding
We are all in this game to get noticed, visible and build trust with our prospects. But it’s nearly impossible for people to recognize you if you’re not branding yourself cohesively. Be consistent here and put some effort in your visuals. Choose one color palette and stick to it, the same goes with fonts. Try to keep the images, patterns and textures you chose fitting to a theme. Create a branding kit that you use again and again. This way, your visuals will not only be consistent & cohesive, but you’ll also save a lot of time!
If you have a hard time making up your own branding suite but are not ready to hire a designer yet, I have a great offer for you: My “Bippity Boppity Brand” pre-made branding suite templates. You can check them out in the SHOP.
Mistake 3: Wrong image proportions when resizing your graphics
Each social media platform has it’s own preferred image formats & dimensions. As per writing of this article, Facebook has 940 pixels x 788 pixels (although you also can get away with anything square) , Pinterest pins display best at 735 pixels x 1102 pixels, Instagram & google plus both share 1080 pixels x 1080 pixels – and there are other formats for other networks like LinkedIn. Not only the pixel dimensions are different, but also the ratio / format of the images. They’re either square (1:1 ratio), landscape (it’s wider than high) or portrait (it’s higher than wide).
You can’t just resize any image to any format. Start with the basic format needed and adjust your image size from there. It might even be necessary to crop your image to get it to the right format. Always keep the proportions, you don’t want your image to be squished or distorted.
Mistake 4: Weird placement of text
When you are placing texts on your images, there are some best practices you want to consider. First of all, is the image the main focus or will it be the backdrop? If you use an image of yourself, be careful not to make the text compete with the image – better keep it short. Also, leave enough space between the text and yourself.
If the image is just the backdrop, you can be pretty bold with your text. You can play around with different font sizes, for example. But don’t try to cram too much text on the image – after all, that’s what your post is for.
Wherever you place your text, be mindful of the margins – the space between the text and the borders of the image (or the borders of the space you put your text in). Keep the same margins throughout the image.
Mistake 5: Over-used stock-photos / elements
You know them. The girl holding her vintage camera. The girl holding the sparkler. The hands forming a heart in front of a sunset. That DARN CANVA SWIRL. I’m not telling you that you shouldn’t use stock photography, but I want you to be mindful when picking your images.
A little fun story: This can happen to the best. So a German Political party used the stock video footage of a family on a bike trip in their TV-ad for an upcoming election. Too bad a company who sells butter and margarine used the same video material in their TV-ad campaign. The Twitter-Storm that followed this discovery was very entertaining, but I doubt it got the political party more votes. Although maybe the other company sold more of their products.
If you need more pointers for sourcing stock-photos, you can always visit my resources-page here. I’ve listed some free and paid options I regularly use. But remember: When a photo is free, it’s more likely that several other people will also use it (Yes, girl with the sparkler, I’m looking at you! Again!)
There is more to say on the topic, but if you keep these five mistakes in mind (and avoid them), you’re improving the quality of your self-made graphics a ton.
With love, sparkles & pixiedust