I’m a graphic designer in addition to being a writer. In fact, in another life (otherwise known as the day job), I am a Marketing Manager, where graphic design is a big part of my day. And as an author, I discovered pretty early on how handy my marketing background would come in. It’s been great to have the flexibility and freedom to design every aspect of my marketing — from my website to my bookmarks to my ads to anything that goes anywhere. And yes, let’s face it. I’m a control freak. The idea of letting someone else do it gives me hives.
But that comes at a price. Creating graphics can be time-consuming. And sometimes, it’s just not the best use of my time to build just the right graphic with just the right shading and just the…well, you get the idea. (Yes, I’ve been known to obsess over whether shading in one corner of a book cover design is at the correct angle of light.) So you could see how when the idea is to push content out — be it work on my novel or work on a post for this blog or for the Romancing The TV blog, perfection is an enemy. Quick and good enough need to rule.
So in comes PicMonkey.
And hmm. I also use Mailchimp. Do you suppose there’s a theme here? Something of, So Simple, even a monkey …. Yup. Thought so. Well, in this case it’s pretty darn true. I am fairly certain I could show my 9 year old in ten minutes and have a graphic genius. That also means that it can help save me time. And ultimately, that’s what I love about technology.
Why do I need it?
Well, for instance, I need to create a featured image for this post. Normally, I’d take to Photoshop and try to cut it down to size, go find a font, make that work, add some shading, add a few other details and before I know it…I’ve lost 25 minutes on a featured image. Not only does it waste time, but it makes a simple blog post a LOT more work to do. And this is part of what I reviewed when I decided to figure out why I resisted putting anything on my blog. So, instead… I’ll use Picmonkey to make sure it looks good, it’s good enough and it takes me less than 5 minutes to do.
First step – logging into my picmonkey account. It’s easy enough and the “Edit” button is right there. Or if I prefer to touch up a photo, design something different or create a collage. But for me, mostly I use this to create quick and dirty images. So “Edit.”
From there, I upload my image:
Once my image is loaded, I can choose from a variety of options. I can add some effects to it, such a dark edges, mood coloring or anything I want. There are a lot of options to choose from and they are very simple to use. For my image, I want to add the title of my blog post. So I’ll click on the Text options —far left, the “Tt”. Once you click on that, you’ll get the text menu and you can click the “Add text” button.
I’ll type in my text:
Now I’d like to make a few adjustments to position the text and maybe change the color so it stands out more.
I can select from their solid selection of fonts. (And being the font crazed woman I am, the font selection alone can take me 25 minutes sometimes. This forces me to choose pretty quickly. Again, saving time. I adjust the color, position it a little. Add some more text so I can include my website. And done. Now I can save the file — to my computer or directly to Dropbox. (Another tool I love.)
And the image is saved and ready to upload to my blog post. (See above.)
All in all, this took me just a couple of minutes to finish. I’m a big fan of customized graphics – I make them for a lot of things when branding is priority. But even something like picmonkey can help you brand — by the selections of image, font and colors you choose, you’re still setting a tone and a feel. But for me, it puts a task in perspective. If it’s something like a blog post featured image, it shouldn’t take me an hour to make it. Now, the next book cover design I make… that’s a different story.