(and decide when you want to pay for a service)

Have you ever tried to experiment with free graphic services? It seems like they change what they offer month-to-month. Check out the four services I’ve tried (two were free, and two cost money).

Have you ever tried to experiment with free graphic services? It seems like they change what they offer month-to-month. Check out the four services I've tried (two were free, and two cost money). #blogger #beginner #write28days #graphics #getstencil #relaythat

Thousands of Blog Photos

“How many photos do you have now,” Pedro asked as he saw me bent over a cactus flower with my macro lens.

“Um, over 50,000 and under 100,000?” I guessed.

“What do you do with all of them?”

“I use a lot of the good ones for blog posts,” I said. “Digital photography saves so much money,” I assured him. “Just think how much it would have cost to take that many on film!”

He shook his head and wandered off while I took more photos, aiming for the perfect lighting and framing.

Have you ever tried to experiment with free graphic services? It seems like they change what they offer month-to-month. Check out the four services I've tried (two were free, and two cost money). #blogger #beginner #write28days #graphics #getstencil #relaythat

Back before I knew much about blogging, I used to throw a photo or two from my extensive collection at the start of each blog post. Sometimes, the photos went along with the post, sometimes, they didn’t. They never had words on them.

But once I started to understand more about graphics and their importance on blog posts, I decided I needed to change things up. I started to experiment with different free graphic services.

Ever since I took a digital photography class 15 years ago, I’ve known just enough about Photoshop to know what it can do. And feel frustrated that I can’t do it consistently. I had the program on my computer but felt like every time I sat down to experiment and create a blog graphic, it took more time than actually writing the post.

Something had to change. I started asking around my different blogging communities and discovered two free graphics programs.

My Experiment with PicMonkey

When I first started using PicMonkey, it didn’t cost anything to use the basic program. It had 10-15 different fonts and styles and allowed for customization. Of course, after using it for a while, I wanted to unlock some of the funkier fonts. I paid for a year-long subscription in order to do this.

Nowadays, PicMonkey has a phone app and even the basic plan (which used to cost nothing) costs $7.99 a month. I haven’t used it since my subscription ended (four years ago), so I can’t talk much about the changes they’ve made. It worked for beginners, and I found it much easier than Adobe Photoshop for editing images.

Canva One-Ups PicMonkey

About a year after I started my experiment with PicMonkey, I discovered Canva. Canva has a free membership, where you can pay as you go if want to purchase certain graphics. They have plenty of free graphics, and their paid ones used to cost under $2.00. After a quick check, I discovered that Canva has changed their pricing considerably.

You can still use free photos, but if you want to download a photo or graphic with a fee, it now costs $10.00. Or, you could pay $12.95 a month and have unlimited downloads on the pro plan.

Canva has tons of free templates for everything from business cards to t-shirt designs. And every imaginable sized template for social media, too.

I still use Canva occasionally, because the other three graphic design programs I use can’t do certain things (easily). The downside I discovered for both PicMonkey and Canva, had to do with resizing images. If I wanted to resize, I had to upgrade to a monthly (or yearly) plan—which meant paying anywhere from $90-$160 a year.

Even Better than Canva: Get Stencil

I found a screaming deal on Get Stencil about three years ago—I paid $49.00 for a lifetime membership through AppSumo. They still have the deal every year or so—if you’d like to receive a notification when they do, drop me an email.

I love Get Stencil because you can resize your images—even on the free account! The ability to quickly resize images saves a lot of time on my workflow. I liked the ease of use, the selection of free photos and icons, and especially the ability to resize images.

I created all of my little Self-Care Sunday graphics using Get Stencil, and I can easily go back and edit them.

Relay That Takes the Cake

You may notice a trend here, but after about a year of using Get Stencil, I saw another AppSumo deal for RelayThat. This graphics design service promised to help you brand your graphics. Since I struggle with branding, I spent $49.00 for a lifetime membership to this new program.

While I can’t say that I’ve really ‘branded’ everything, I have come up with a workflow and assets that I like for each of my different kinds of posts. I write about self-care, do weekly book reviews, post recipes, and write the occasional Granny Geek type post.

(affiliate link)

I love how I can easily choose a brand style, save my brand colors so they show up on all of my graphics, pick different combinations of fonts, and move things around if I need to. Uploading your own photos takes very little time, and they integrate easily into Relay That’s design program.

RelayThat takes the cake for easy-to-use graphic design programs for bloggers. #blogger #graphics #branding #write28days Click To Tweet

Experiment Until You Find What Works for You

You’ll want to experiment until you find what works best for you and fits your budget. I do use Photoshop for my recipes, but if I haven’t used it for a while, I ended up wasting time trying to remember what works.

Whatever you do, make sure you use graphics on your posts! And don’t forget to insert your snippet in the metadata in order to make your graphics do the best job possible at helping you grow your blog.

Tomorrow we’ll talk about building better relationships with your readers in order to grow your blog.