Today, all bloggers know the importance of visuals. While great content is important, it’s not enough anymore. You need great visuals to capture your readers eye, to draw them in, and to keep them interested throughout each and every post. But, perhaps the most important visual of any post is the feature image.
A feature image will typically have the title in it, and is the image that you share though social networks to promote your post. A great feature image can stand on its own and determine whether people are going to click through to read your post, or just pass by.
If you’re going to use feature images for your post (which I do and strongly recommend) you need to establish a template. You want every feature image to be strong enough to stand on its own, unique enough to be interesting, yet similar enough that it stays on brand. When someone scrolls through Pinterest and comes across one of your images, they should immediately recognize it as yours.
Not to mention that building a template means that every time you write a new blog post you just have to change a few things up and stick in the new title. Then you’ve got a great image for each post, and it just becomes another streamlined part of your blogging process. You can create a feature image using whatever design program you ordinarily use. I use Adobe Illustrator for mine, and creating a new image for each post has become and quick and easy process. Here are a few things to consider when building your template.
It’s well established that your feature image should be portrait oriented (taller than it is wide) so that the images appears bigger on Pinterest. I use a ratio of 3:4, and my final images that I insert in each post are 800×1067 pixels. You need to establish a size that you like, and then stick with it forever.
You need to decide what kinds of backgrounds you are going to use. Will you use solid colours, various patterns, or images? I chose to use all three. What?! You say. How can you do that and stay consistent? Well I believe that the other components of my feature images are strong and standardized enough that changing up the background is easy and doesn’t affect the branding of my images.
I use solid colours most of the time, and add a pattern or a background image when I feel one is appropriate or relevant. You can do the same if you stay consistent with the other elements of your image. If you’ve created a brand board already then you should be able to just vary through your brand colours with your images like I do.
I should also mention that sometimes I add small graphics to my images when appropriate. For different series that I write I use a graphic of a compute with various images on the screen, and sometimes I add other small graphics if they are relevant or appropriate for the content. In this case I alway use a solid coloured background so the images don’t get too busy.
First you need to decide what text you’ll be putting on your images. Will you just put your title on? Will you be creating a subtitle or a quip to add onto the images? Think about what you want people to know when they are seeing your image outside of your post. You want them to know the title, but is that enough? Maybe some of your post would require a subtitle while other’s wouldn’t. If you feel they might, then you should work a subtitle into your template. It’s always easy to delete the subtitle when you don’t need it, but it’s more difficult to add the subtitle in when you haven’t worked it into the initial template.
Again, if you’ve created a brand board then you should already know what font you’ll be using in your images. It should be your display font in the feature, and then you can add on your supporting font in the subtitle if you’d like to.
You also need to think about what variants of your font you want to use. For example, my display font is Bebas Neue, and I use variants of it (Book, Bold, etc.) throughout my images. I typically use Bold for the most important line of text, and then Book to support it.
Lastly is what colour you want your font to be. If your background colour is changing like mine does, it only makes sense for the font colour to change as well. You should stick within you brand colours for your font as well, so that they’re always consistent. I don’t use any set pairings of background and font colour, but I usually just scroll through the font colours and find the one I’m feeling that day. Of course, size is also something to consider, though you’ll probably determine that once you start working on the layout.
You need to brand your images with your name and potentially your logo if you can work it into your layout. I use both in my images, in the same spot, though I sometimes vary which logo I use. I wrote a post a little while ago on Why One Logo Won’t Work for You and Your Brand and this fits into that theory well.
If I use a solid coloured background I use my white logo with a slight opacity so that you can see through it. However, if the solid colour I’m using is grey (one of my brand colours) then I use the coloured version of my logo so the image isn’t too boring.
This might be the most important element of the image, and is what will take the longest to perfect. You need a layout that will work no matter what the title. Do you want your text at the top, middle, or bottom of the image? Do you want it centered, justified, or aligned to the side? Where do you want to put the logo? How big will the font be? How much of the image will it take up? How much spacing will there be between lines of text? Will you add any other graphic elements to the image?
All of these are very important questions, and need to be answered at the beginning when creating your template so that they are consistent from then on. It might take some time, but it will be worth it once you establish a template that you love that is quick and easy to adapt to any post.
Once you create a template, maybe ask for some opinions on it in Facebook groups or other communities. Take some time away from the image so you can get a clear head, and then look back at again. Think about whether that image would catch your attention if you were scrolling by it on Pinterest or another social network. Place a few different sample post titles in the image and see if they all work. If all of these tests go well, then you’ve got it – a feature image you can use for every post, and always be proud of.
If you want to take a look back at my feature images and how they’ve evolved you can look at my archives. I established my template when I launched my blog, so it hasn’t shifted much, though the images did change slightly when I adjusted my brand colours a little while ago. But as of right now I love my images and am always proud to share them.