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Why You Should Create Your Own Graphics for Your Blog

This guest post is by Naveen Jayawardena of sleepWRITER.

When I decided to start a blog on sleep habits, I wanted to try something different. As any aspiring blogger, I was trying to stand out from the crowd. And I did it by creating my own graphics.

Now I run my blog exclusively with “home-made” graphics. My readers love it and I enjoy making graphics as much as writing posts.

The alam bully, who features on Naveen's SleepWriter.com website

I am not a professional graphic designer. So I can assure you that most people can learn how to make graphics with a little practise.

I am a self-taught amateur graphic artist. And I started out from scratch. And I will tell you how to do it yourself.

I use “home-made” graphics for each and every one of my blog posts. If you are wondering whether this is worth all the trouble, then consider these benefits you can get from using graphics:

  1. Graphics blend in with the blog design more easily than photos. I have limited my blog design to few colors and could not have achieved this without the use of graphics.
  2. It’s much cheaper than buying photos or graphics.
  3. It introduces your own, unique voice to the your posts via graphics.
  4. You can come up with the right picture for the posts every time.
  5. You can explain difficult concepts with infographics.
  6. Making graphics is fun. Drawing a few sketches after writing a post can help you relax and think creatively.

How do you start?

If you’re an absolute beginner, I suggest you start simply. Don’t worry about your graphics not being lifelike. The idea is to create your own style, with which others can identify your graphics.

You can draw something on paper and scan it, or take a picture of it from a digital camera. This is a very basic method of using graphics. You can draw cartoons and add lists in your own handwriting.

At some point you need to learn to use graphics software. I use Adobe Illustrator, but there are plenty of other software packages that can do a good job. I suggest you stick to one and learn it well.

You can learn from books, web tutorials, video tutorials and by attending classes. There is a range of brands under each category, and most of them cover the basics. I used video tutorials but I feel that having someone to show you the ropes can help you learn faster. Take time to learn the basic functions, and remember that learning keyboard short-cuts can save you a lot of time in future.

Once you have the basic skills in place, you can explore on your own. But if you are serious about graphics, then there are plenty of online tutorials that teach you, step-by-step, how to create advanced graphics. I use online tutorials to sharpen my skills and also to learn new “tricks.”

To create good graphics, you need to be a good observer. Look at the graphics on stock graphic collections and libraries. What techniques are they using? Can you replicate them? Look at the graphics and cartoons that appear on newspapers and websites and learn.

Once you are confident in making graphics, then you can adopt your own style and technique. When I write a post, I also think of the graphics which can go with it. If I don’t get a good idea for a graphic, I finish my writing and visit again with a fresh perspective for a graphic idea.

What are the drawbacks?

It would be unfair if I told you only the good side of creating your own graphics. I have encountered few disadvantages of using graphics for my blog:

  1. Detailed graphics take time. This can affect your posting routine. But with practice, you can create them faster. You can recycle old graphics to save time.
  2. It takes time to learn to make graphics. It took me few years to master the art of graphics and I still learn. It is not a quick fix.
  3. It may not suit all types of blogs. But it is worth a try.

Graphics can be a nice addition to your blog. I hope I inspired at least a few of you to bring your inner artist to your blogs! Please do share your own experiences using graphics on your blogs.

Naveen Jayawardena is a doctor by profession and blogs during his free time. You can find plenty of graphics and sleep tips at sleepWRITER.

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Comments

  1. Steve/ ESM says:

    You know I have considered this several times and just did not take the time to follow through. I was always in a hurry to push my article out and get done. Click, drag/ drop,pop , done.

    I do agree that designing the graphics or image to match up with the subject of the post can be an added benefit for the reader as well as the webmaster.

    I will start, I have the software, I will make the time.

    Thanks for the kick in the #%$.
    Steve

    • Thanks Steve! Wish you good luck with your graphics. If you already have the software, just give it a try. You will find that it opens up a whole new medium of communication with your audience.

  2. This is a fun idea, but not very practical for the professional blogger. Why take all that time to learn a skill that you can get done on Fiverr for $5. I have to think that’s a better use of time and resources. The exception would be if you really enjoy graphics and want to add it to your skill set, which I think is the case for the author.

    • Barbra, I think the old saying you get what you pay for rings true in many cases. Plus, no one in the US can afford to work for $5 and still eat, so I’m sure you’re aware you’re most likely outsourcing to a foreign country, right? Personally, when I need to outsource something, I prefer to do my part and help out the US economy instead of a foreign one, and hire someone stateside.

    • Yes Barbra graphics isn’t for everyone. But I’m sharing my own experience with graphics. I have worked with professional graphics artists and even they fail to convey the message of the writer completely. You may buy graphics for $5 or less, but the graphics you create are priceless :)

  3. Justin Mazza says:

    Hi Naveen,
    I would love to be able to create custom graphics as well as charts, graphs and other types of images. I would have to see if the time commitment is worth it though.

  4. Tim Barnes says:

    I’m just started experimenting with infographics on my blog. I am must starting to learn how to use them properly. I know that it will take time to learn but I have time. In my case, it is just having the patients to learn a medium of which I am not all that familiar. In college, my minor was theater and not the visual arts. I was taught to design huge sets for a stage and not an infographic for a smartphone scene. I have to learn what is important to include and what is extra.

    • Tim Barnes says:

      Boy, the grammar is attrocious. I guess that happens when you try to edit a comment at the same time you are typing it.

    • Hi Tim, don’t worry too much about visual arts. If you love infographics, then you probably have the ‘artist’ gene within you. I studied medicine, and that’s has nothing to do with art. But I enjoy drawing. I checked your infographics. They are quite good. Maybe you should squeeze in more facts and details into your infographics. Good luck for the future!

  5. Stephanie says:

    Naveen – I agree and for my site it’s screen shots mostly, so it makes sense, but your graphics are impressive! Well done! Nothing amateurish about them!

  6. Mike Scotty says:

    I often create custom graphics that define the point I’m trying to make. Visuals can really clarify a point. I try to find something off the shelf first and admit to being frustrated when I cannot find a graphic to illustrate the point and need to create my own, but it really helps get the point across. http://databasedads.com/blog-inbound-marketing-real-estate-seo/

  7. I would really like to create my own graphics…I already pretty much mess with the pictures I use on my blog. But I don’t think I can make that commitment to learn. Too many things on my hands right now. I love the alarm bully by the way. :)

    • Thanks Sharon! Alarm bully is also one of my favourites. I created it to for a blog post to help people avoid being bullied by their alarm clocks. Don’t think I could get the same message across by using a photo

  8. Love your point about how creating one’s own graphics reinforces the unique voice of the blog – very true. Some people are much faster at creating graphics and images, while others will toil over it for hours. It’s worth a try though – learn the software program and work it for a few weeks or a month to see if it’s a skill that can be developed and in reasonable time.
    If doable, then the pros out weigh the cons.
    :)

  9. Doctor Stock says:

    I’ve always had an interest in this, but decided at this point not to create my own. I’m not artistic, nor do I have a good software program, etc. I wonder if it’s really worth my time. For now, I guess not… but I like the points you do raise.

  10. Jenny Shih says:

    I create my own graphics so that they fit well with the theme of my site. It’s been fun for me to do and I’ve found an easy way to do it that is also fun. (No graphics programs required!)

    • Dion Lynk says:

      They fit quite well coach! Simple, clean, and cute.

      • Jenny Shih says:

        Thanks, Dion. The superhero video on my home page started it all. The funny thing is that video was created before my site even existed. The vibe I go for is professional but playful. As entrepreneurs we can take ourselves too seriously, so the crayon drawings are to remind us that it’s supposed to be fun!

    • Steve/ ESM says:

      I spend $1500 for software. You use crayons. Your site looks great and very clean.

      That’s just wrong!

      I’m really going to get to work on this subject.

      Nice work Jenny; Alis volat propriis

      Steve

    • Hi Jenny!
      Your crayon graphics are very impressive. It’s just the right case-study for my blog post. Keep up the good work!

  11. Dwayne says:

    Hi Naveen. I wanted to make my entire site by hand but decided it would be easier for me to use a premium wordpress theme. It looks great but I do use Adobe Illustrator for my logos. Maybe one day I will try to “handmake” another site and hopefully it will get easier. Great post.

  12. I went to college as an artist. This is an interesting article. At the same time, I know that my available time of creating content, making comments, interacting through social medias, and some other blog activities are taking most of it. Though I love visual art, I still cannot see myself adding this chore to my blogging errands. At the same time, it is an interesting new angle that I never spent time considering. Thank you for sharing your article….

  13. Dion Lynk says:

    Since content is king, graphics and design is the crown that he wears! Doing it yourself is okay for certain things, but not for everything that require an aesthetic prowess (ala Graphic Design). Like most things in life, you must hire a professional for best results!

    • Yes Dion some blogs would be better off by handing over graphics to a professional. But there are limitations when using professionals. It can take more time, may not reflect the writer’s opinion completely and costs more.

  14. Curtis says:

    Love the idea of using custom graphics, but agree that you need to weigh the time it takes vs hiring a pro. Thanks for the post.

  15. sesame says:

    Because my blog content is visual oriented, and so this aspect is important. I use a mix of pictures and graphics in my blog posts. My readers love them because they tell me so. It’s not too difficult if you know photoshop or illustrator and simply employ some of the free vectors and tweak them to fit into your theme. So this year, I introduced something simple – use of a banner for each picture to depict the theme of the post. It helps others pin the post up on Pinterest too. ;)

    • Joanne says:

      I love that you mentioned Pinterest, Sesame. You are so right! That’s actually one of the reasons I searched for and found this blog post. With everyone clamoring to get referral traffic from this new-ish platform, including an image or several images is one of the first things bloggers should do to make their posts pin-able. Now I have a few ideas, thanks to this post, on how to get started as a beginner. Thanks for this post!

  16. Johnny says:

    Hello Naveen!

    Do you use a certain software? Yes, drawing can be fun, but it’s just a matter of time to do it. I still prefer to buy or use my own photos. It’s not that expensive, but I will keep your suggestion on my mind. Maybe one time I will also do it. :-)

    • I use Adobe Illustrator. I’ve been using it for a while. I know it takes time to learn a software, but there are simpler software where you can draw much easily. You can also make sketches and scan them.

  17. Naveen, I wouldn’t use the word “should” here. I would say – “How you could benefit from using your own graphics in your website”. But you didn’t provide any benefits, you only highlighted the How, not the Why.

    I mean – you are not serious, when you are saying, that it’s cheaper to create a graphics than to buy it from website like the mentioned Fiverr? Assuming, that creating a picture like you’ve used in your guest post, would take 30 minutes from me, and that it could be acquired for $5 in the internet, this would render my hourly income as $10.

    While I would definitely prefer my own materials, like photos, when composing an article, usually it’s not the case. I would emphasize the relevance of the image to the text, instead. For example, in this article the image is irrelevant to the article, unless this alarm clock is bullying me for making $10 per hour and not being able to buy an image for $5.

    • Hi Dimitry,
      I have enumerated the benefits of using your own graphics at the start of my post. I agree it can’t be applied to each and every blog. I believed that I had answered my own question posed at the title.

  18. Tushar says:

    creating own graphics for my blog will surely be fun, i believe and the most beneficial part is, as you say, i will get the exact pictures for my blog without wasting time in deciding which suits best

  19. Liane @ BDT says:

    I started learning graphic design too from self-customizing my blog before! It’s a learning process and I agree that it’s hard at the beginning. But continuous effort goes a long way. Right now actually, I became a graphic designer. And it’s all thanks to the practice I got from designing stuff in my own blog! :)

  20. I was just thinking about this very topic this morning. Then somehow ended up on the ProBlogger website and saw this blog post.
    Thank you for that extra push!

  21. Daniel Roach says:

    Speaking from experience, making your own graphics is something new bloggers probably want to avoid. Once you’ve been blogging a while and you have your rhythm and work systems all set, you might be able to expend your extra time on custom graphics. In the beginning though, this type of work will hold you back from doing what’s important and actually growing your blog.

  22. Fisodent says:

    We are currently facing this issue and so far have gone for photos instead but we will be hopefully creating our own graphics soon!

  23. Louis Blythe says:

    I have been wanting to create more custom graphics but I never seem to be happy with the end product. Really need to pay a graphic designer!

  24. Caylie Price says:

    I love simple infographics but my creative skills are seriously lacking. Can anyone suggest a free, online program for making them? I’d have some ideas of what I want to include in them just not the technical know how.

    Thanks, Caylie

  25. Michael says:

    I totally agree with the points that you have made here. I think it is important to have your own graphics, in part, due to have a chance to be able the colors match the site. Having that is essential for making it easier for us to be able keep things simple.

    However, sometimes buying can save us a little time and allow us to post more if we so choose. It’s something that can help us to stay on top of our own blogs and communities surrounding them. We have to choose what works for us best!

  26. John says:

    Definitely something for those with the design ability already developed within their skills. I’d say that for a beginner starting out blogging it’s more efficient to use other sources for graphics as you’d be able to focus on content and networking which will certainly help you grow faster than a unique custom made graphic.

    Not that they’re a bad thing and I’d totally love to use custom graphics on my own site, but the time required to learn how to create them as vastly outweighs the gain.

  27. Simon Duck says:

    I’ve always wanted to learn more about graphics, I have spent hours doing Photoshop tutorials etc and never had a reason to carry on doing them, maybe the answer is to do a graphic for all of my posts!

    An objective I will set myself for February i think!

    Regards,
    Simon Duck

  28. Mike Martel says:

    Love the idea of signature graphics. Any suggestions of applications or ways to create them?

  29. David says:

    Naveen,

    I really like this idea!

    I can see it work for very well for part-time bloggers (like me) and, personally, I think it just adds to the uniqueness of one’s own blog.

    Thanks

  30. Definitely worth a shot. Are there any free design programs I could use to get started?

  31. I created my own header for my blogspot blog.

  32. Drewry says:

    this is very true, because creating your own images and graphics can not only get potential traffic web image search results for years to come, but can also have the ability to potentially increase advertising revenue for your site, by way of joining image advertising programs, and allowing a 15 second advertising snippet to show in the center of the image, while viewers glance at the advertisement briefly in the image, in addition to reading your site content.

  33. alex says:

    Using graphics in almost every project. Makes the design eye-catching, creative, interesting.

  34. I will try to make my own picture for every of my post.. thanks

  35. Brad Dalton says:

    I use paint.net which was originally created as an upgrade for MS paint. Its like a basic version of Adobe Photoshop with many of the same features but far easier to use and free.

  36. Drewry says:

    to those who want to understand better of how to “reduce server bandwidth” and “reduce memory usage on your dedicated server”, please see the referenced link below for creative details :-)

    http://www.drewrynewsnetwork.com/f26/reduce-server-bandwidth-memory-usage-now-hosting-photos-elsewhere-online-2507.html

  37. AstroGremlin says:

    My drawings are being held back by a tragic lack of talent. I’m better with a camera.

  38. dalia says:

    Naveen, your graphics are beautiful!

    Basically, i agree with you on a subject, but don’t forget that not many of your fellow bloggers have the ability/time to create original illustration.
    But if one is able to do so – yes, that is absolutely preferable.

    Best regards.

    • Thanks Dalia!
      I know it’s not easy to start creating your own graphics. I use graphic software but old-fashioned drawing would do just fine. But I agree with you, it won’t suit everybody.

  39. BRENTLY says:

    Thanks for the info. I have been so caught up trying to use the right wording I never thought about using graphics!

  40. Dave Rowley says:

    Hi Naveen,

    I like the look of your graphics, it certainly helps to give your blog it’s own distinguished look.

    I run a creativity blog and made a rule at the beginning that I would create all my own images. And while it really slowed me down sometimes, it has also helped me to refine my illustration skills.

    Which is great because I put most blog post illustrations in my Etsy store now, and sell quite a few.

    • Hello Dave,
      Your blog is a perfect case study for my blog post. The best thing about writing this blog post was the opportunity to get to know many bloggers who drew graphics for their blogs. Keep up the good work, your unique style in graphics really does make your blog extra special

  41. Sukanya says:

    A really nice info Naveen.

  42. Spot on with this write-up, I really feel this amazing site needs a lot more attention. I’ll probably be back again to read through more, thanks for the info!