How to Create Better Blog Post Images with Canva

In the writing world words are the thing. So when people tell us writers we need (nay, require) better blog post images we recoil in shock. What now!? But I’m a writer! I cannot! Even!

How to create better blog post images with Canva

Create better blog post images with Canva

And a few years ago I would have commiserated with you. Because there was a learning curve if you weren’t a professional photographer—you have to learn design and of course then you had to figure out Photoshop (and pay for it).

If you gave up on taking photos yourself then you entered the world of stock photography and, a few years ago, the cost was high and the competition was low.

But the story is tres different today. There are so many tools available to non-designers and non-photographers it’s time to accept your need for better blog post images and hop on the bus.

Elements of a Brand Worksheet

By the way, good graphics start with a solid brand

I’ve created a worksheet to outlining the elements of a great brand, available for download. This is a free resource but it’s part of my resource library and you’ll need a password. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Then once you’re in the library, navigate to the blogging section and look for the worksheet called “Brand Elements.”

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For creating better blog post images I recommend Canva to anyone who asks. It’s a free design tool for non-designers—and it’s so easy to use. It’s in the cloud so you don’t have to download anything and you can use it from anywhere, including your mobile.

You can design your own graphics if you’re inclined, or you can take suggestion from their huge template library.

The first thing you should do is figure out a few image templates you’ll use over and over in your blogs. This cuts down on decision fatigue and helps keep your blog brand consistent.

Don’t freak out! This is all a part of creating better blog images. Templates are your friend. And remember what I said earlier? Canva has a massive template library! You’re going to be fine!

When building your templates you may get tripped up on fonts, images and colours. Since we’re not design trained I suggest we don’t trust our instincts.

At least, that’s what I suggest to myself. Here’s what I do instead.

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Create better blog post images with canva

Fonts

First, you need to choose a font, which is no easy feat. There are bajillions of fonts to choose from.

In the link I dropped I’ve offered a few ways to narrow it down but here are the main points: choose something readable and stick with it.

Now, when you’re creating images you may want to use a couple different fonts—risky stuff! If you want to spice things up font-wise, use Canva’s free font combinations thingy. Select your main font and let Canva show you what will pair well with it. Done.

Images

While you can create graphics without photos there is still a decision to make here—will you be an exclusive image-only blog? Or just graphics? Or a mix of both? Figure out how you want your site to look and go from there.

If you’re going with photos, Canva has a large stock photo library—some of which are free to use. There are many, many options online for stock photography these days so you have options if you want to use photos but can’t/don’t want to use your own.

Even if you’re not planning on using many photos I still recommend finding a photo style you resonate with (be it nature, lifestyle, flat lay, etc.) as it will help you in your ongoing branding and in colour selection.

Extra credit: If you’re looking for unique, free stock photos, allow me to recommend Sage Media & Marketing.

How to Create Better Blog Post Images with Canva

Colours

If you’ve chosen your website or blog branding colours then this isn’t a decision you have to make—stick with your branding.

However, if you haven’t done this yet it’s time to pick a palette. And, since we’re not designers, how does one know what colours go together?

I use Canva’s colour palette generator every time I need one. And I don’t just use it for my blog images—it’s how I chose my living room colours and how I decide the palettes for my knitting projects!

When you find your inspiration image, one that you feel represents the essence of your blog and/or brand, upload it to the colour palette generator and watch it do its magic. Because it’s magical.

As a writer, the subject of website images can be overwhelming. The goal of today’s post is to help simplify it—yes you should have images on your blog and yes, I think you can create better blog post images.

Here are the highlights.

  • Use a program like Canva
  • Remember, templates are your friend
  • Build a visual brand using fonts, images and colours
  • Stay on brand!
In the writing world words are the thing. So when people tell us writers we need better blog post images we recoil in shock. What now!? But I'm a writer!

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

* indicates required
In the writing world words are the thing. So when people tell us writers we need better blog post images we recoil in shock. What now!? But I'm a writer!
In the writing world words are the thing. So when people tell us writers we need better blog post images we recoil in shock. What now!? But I'm a writer!

3 Simple and Helpful Keywords and SEO Tips for Writers

At some point in your writing career you’ll face keywords or SEO (search engine optimization). SEO is a marketing skill, which writers may or may not have.

Keywords SEO Tips

I say it’s a good idea to become acquainted with the concept as it will make you more valuable to your clients.

Would you like free writing tips? Sign up for my weekly tips & tricks, from one writer to another at robynroste.com/writing-tips.
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Finding Keywords for SEO

Most freelance writers spend time researching different topics online, which is good news because finding keywords involves the same skill: research. And, in fact, there’s a good chance you’re doing keyword research as part of your regular workflow.

Brainstorming writing ideas, building content calendars or working on branding all involve some aspect of SEO.

This can be as simple or complex as you make it. I like to keep things simple.

Keyword Tips

1. Answer questions your audience is asking

Think about the audience you serve and the types of questions they’re asking. Then take those questions and answer them.

If you take the time to figure out what questions your target audience, customer or reader is asking, the more you increase your chance of them finding your answers. It’s amazing stuff.

2. Figure out three or four main topics for your website

If you understand editorial planning then you already know this. If not, think about the main themes or categories of the product or service you’re writing about. Then break those main ideas down into smaller topic ideas or sub-categories.

Continue breaking the ideas down into smaller and smaller ideas until you’re as focused as possible. You now have a HUGE amount of on-topic keywords to build articles and content around.

3. Look at what others in your industry/niche are writing about

Browse their websites and see what topics they’re addressing. Is there anything missing? Can you offer more information about one of those topics on your site? Can you go deeper on any of these themes? See what your competitors are doing and improve on it.

If you don’t know who your competitors are you can open up an incognito browser and Google your theme or topic. See who ranks in the top (not counting ads) and check out the articles. Ask these same questions and see how you can improve on what’s already ranking well in search.

One last tip: Tech Tools

If you’re stumped for ideas online tools like Wordstream’s Keyword Tool or Google Trends will help you brainstorm ideas. They will also give you a good indication of how many people are searching for the term so you don’t waste your time answering questions no one is asking.

A few years ago my website was quite random and unfocused. I spent a lot of time writing about whatever struck my fancy and not much time wondering what people would like to read.

One day I realized I was ranking as the number four search in Google for “DIY Chocolate Bubble Bath.” I thought that was pretty great until I realized I have no interest in the topic, offer no services or products on that topic and no one ever actually searches for that topic.

Oops.

Finding Keywords Conclusion

The closer your keywords are to the actual topics you cover and services you offer the better your SEO ranking will be. Part of your website’s value comes from how long people spend on your site.

If you show up in search and people click on your link only for them to leave a second later, this tells Google the search result wasn’t relevant to the user and over time your ranking will go down until it disappears altogether.

There is a bit of a learning curve to figuring out keywords and SEO but if you keep it simple and think about what your audience is searching for online, you’re on your way to optimizing your writing.

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Most freelance writers spend time researching different topics online, which is good news because finding keywords involves the same skill: research. And, in fact, there's a good chance you're doing keyword research as part of your regular workflow. 

Brainstorming writing ideas, building content calendars or working on branding all involve some aspect of SEO.

This can be as simple or complex as you make it. I like to keep things simple.

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

* indicates required
Most freelance writers spend time researching different topics online, which is good news because finding keywords involves the same skill: research. And, in fact, there's a good chance you're doing keyword research as part of your regular workflow. 

Brainstorming writing ideas, building content calendars or working on branding all involve some aspect of SEO.

This can be as simple or complex as you make it. I like to keep things simple.
At some point in your writing career you'll be asked about finding keywords or SEO (search engine optimization). Understanding SEO makes you more valuable.
At some point in your writing career you'll be asked about finding keywords or SEO (search engine optimization). To be clear, SEO is a marketing skill, which writers may or may not have. So you're off the hook there. That said, it's a good idea to become acquainted with the concept as it will make you more valuable to your clients.

How to Choose Fonts for Your Website | Quick & Easy Tips

Can we just agree fonts are important and move on to figuring out how to choose fonts when you know they matter but you can’t tell what works and what doesn’t?

How to Choose Fonts for Your Website When You're Not a Designer

How to choose fonts for your website when you’re not a designer

Why are fonts such a big deal? I know they are but I don’t “get” it. But I understand, at least, that it does matter. So I’m here to tell you fonts matter and I could try and tell you why but I’d only be plagiarizing because I don’t understand it.

OK so let’s just do this. When choosing fonts for your website choose it for readability over anything else.

Ugh, no fun right?

But think of it this way: website visitors are fickle. If they drop in and have to squint to read your words, they won’t bother. So choose function over form in this case.

But don’t think that means you can’t do something funky—it just needs to be legible.

Would you like free writing tips? Sign up for my weekly tips & tricks, from one writer to another at robynroste.com/writing-tips.
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There are four basic types to consider when you choose fonts.

Serif

These fonts have “feet” at the ends of their letters. These are known as more traditional fonts and it’s argued they’re easier to read in print.

Serif fonts have "feet" at the ends of their letters. These are known as more traditional fonts and it's argued they're easier to read in print.

Sans-Serif

These fonts don’t have “feet” at the ends of their letters and it’s argued they’re easier to read on pixel-based screens.

With no "feet" at the ends of their letters, it's argued sans-serif fonts are easier to read on pixel-based screens.

Script

These fonts are easy to recognize: cursive. These are interesting but can be difficult to read on a screen.

Script fonts are easy to recognize: cursive. These are interesting but can be difficult to read on a screen.

Decorative

These fonts are meant to grab attention and are not practical.

Decorative fonts are meant to grab attention and are not practical.

What I recommend when you choose fonts

When choosing fonts for your website try and stay with serif or sans-serif. Wondering what your options are? Check out Google Fonts. There are tons of options and they’re all web friendly. Pick out something you like in the safe zone and then, if you want, let’s move to the next step.

IF you want a secondary font, then you need to do something called font pairing. I find this part mind boggling, but others seem to understand it. If you know what you’re doing then go for it! But if you’re like me, wondering how to choose fonts for your website when you’re not a designer, stick to the basics. Serifs with other serifs. Sans-serifs with other sans-serifs.

There is an argument for having more than one font—it adds contrast.

Kind of interesting, right?

I have looked all over the Internet for helpful articles on pairing fonts for non-designers. One is for the visual learner—The Art of Combining Fonts, and the other is for ones who want a more scientific approach—Four Techniques for Combining Fonts.

People who are passionate about fonts will tell you they make you feel something and help form your brand personality. So let’s circle back to my original point: fonts are important. They are, trust me. Well, take my word for it. Well, just go with it.

Want to go deeper on branding? Check out Brand Your Blog A Step-by-Step Guide.

Can we just agree fonts are important and move on to figuring out how to choose fonts when you know they matter but you can't tell what works and what doesn't?

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

* indicates required
Can we just agree fonts are important and move on to figuring out how to choose fonts when you know they matter but you can't tell what works and what doesn't?
I'm here to tell you fonts matter and give you some quick tips on how to choose fonts for your website when you're not a designer.

How to Brainstorm Ideas for Writing

Before I got into the habit of writing and publishing on a schedule I couldn’t figure out how to brainstorm ideas. It was pretty hard in fact, to the point where I felt regular terror when I sat down to write.

How to brainstorm ideas for writing

The blank page would stare at me, judging. Sometimes there would be so much pressure I would crumple under it, give up and watch television instead.

And after enough time of that happening I would skip the pretending to write part altogether and go straight to television.

But this didn’t make me feel good about myself so after allowing the self-pity to continue for an awkward amount of time I pulled up my socks and learned how to brainstorm ideas for writing. And I’m pleased to say it’s something you can do too.

How to Brainstorm Ideas for Writing

This is a little exercise I picked up over the years and since making it work for me I have never sat down wondering what to write.

Writing is no longer a terrifying experience but something I look forward to and find pleasure in. I hope my brainstorm ideas and/or method helps you.

First, you need to know who your ideal reader is. This may seem like a strange step for brainstorming ideas for writing but trust me, this is a key step. Even if it’s a loose definition, think about the person (real or fictional) who would most be interested in reading your work.

Brainstorm Ideas for Writing Worksheet

By the way, I’ve created a worksheet to help you with this. Just pop your email address into the form below and I’ll send you the password for my resource library. When you’re there, navigate to the writing category and download the “How to Brainstorm Ideas for Writing Worksheet.”

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Answer these questions

  • What does your ideal reader tend to focus on?
  • On social media, what does your ideal reader like sharing about?
  • From what you can gather, what is your ideal reader most need/want/desire?

Once you know the answers to those initial questions answer this one: what problem are you solving for your ideal reader through your writing?

Through thinking about your ideal reader you should have a few words and phrases jotted down. Take a look and add a few more words to the page.

This time, write down everything you’d like to write about one day. It can be vague or specific, long or short. Just jot down as much as you can think of in a five-minute period.

Look at the list you came up with and compare it to your first one—are you seeing any good brainstorming ideas? Are you seeing some common threads?

Find four topics that match both what you want to write about and what your ideal reader is struggling with. Once you find four, write them down.

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This last step is the most fun

Decide how much you’re going to write and break down your topics into sub-categories.

For example, if I have four main topics and I decide I want to write one blog post per week, then I need 52 sub-categories. That is around 13 ideas per topic. While this seems like a lot I don’t need more than a word or short phrase at this point.

I’ll list a few of my brainstorm ideas for the next few blog posts below as an example of what I mean.

But what if you can’t think of sub-categories? Or what if you have a few ideas but can’t get to 13? Here are a few suggestions for finding topic ideas.

This is a little exercise I picked up over the years and since making it work for me I have never sat down wondering what to write.

Writing is no longer a terrifying experience but something I look forward to and find pleasure in. I hope my brainstorm ideas and/or method helps you.

Brainstorm ideas for coming up with sub-categories

  • Pay attention to questions people ask you. If you hear a question you think your ideal reader would ask, write it down
  • If you’re in any online networking groups, take a look around and see the types of questions being asked and the conversations happening. Again, if you see something your ideal reader might be interested in, write it down
  • Go through your emails and see what types of topics the people you follow are addressing. Anything interesting in there? Is there a new angle or spin you can put on the topic and to help your ideal reader in some way?
  • Pick a topic from your list of “I’d like to write about this one day” ideas. Maybe it’s not a top four topic but it might make a perfect sub-category!

If you try these ideas and are still super stuck, here’s a helpful seven-step method to come up with brainstorm ideas fast from HubSpot.

This is the main way I come up with brainstorm ideas whenever I’m working on something new. I’ll condense the steps here for a quick reminder.

Steps for finding brainstorm ideas

  1. First, I put myself in the shoes of my ideal reader and think about what s/he would like to read
  2. Second, I write a quick list of everything I’m interested in writing about one day
  3. Third, I compare the first two lists and see where they intersect. I look for four main topics from this process
  4. Fourth, I brainstorm sub-categories to fit under the four main topics by looking at what people are already asking about, by watching what other people are talking about and by writing about things I think my ideal reader will resonate with

Have you tried this method before? I’d love to compare notes!

How to brainstorm ideas for writing worksheet

Make sure to grab the worksheet for this training. Just pop your email address into the form below and I’ll send you the password for my resource library. When you’re there, navigate to the writing category and download the “How to Brainstorm Ideas for Writing Worksheet.”

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Other articles on this subject

This is a little exercise I picked up over the years and since making it work for me I have never sat down wondering what to write. 

Writing is no longer a terrifying experience but something I look forward to and find pleasure in. I hope my brainstorm ideas and/or method helps you.

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

* indicates required
This is a little exercise I picked up over the years and since making it work for me I have never sat down wondering what to write. 

Writing is no longer a terrifying experience but something I look forward to and find pleasure in. I hope my brainstorm ideas and/or method helps you.
Before I got into the habit of writing and publishing on a schedule I couldn't figure out how to brainstorm ideas. Sitting down to write became terrifying.
Before I got into the habit of writing and publishing on a schedule I couldn't figure out how to brainstorm ideas. Sitting down to write became terrifying.

Platform Building Tips: 4 Simple Ways to Improve Your Brand

What are the most important things a writer can do to be smart and strategic about platform building (instead of being overwhelmed)?

No matter what kind of writer or author you are, this question is so important to ask.

Smart and strategic platform building tips for writers

What is a platform?

First I want to address this confusing term because it’s part jargon and part new word use.

The way I’m using the phrase today is defining “platform” as it pertains to a writer.

In many cases this is called an author platform. However, it can also apply to other types of writers.

Would you like free writing tips? Sign up for my weekly tips & tricks, from one writer to another at robynroste.com/writing-tips.
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At its most basic definition, a platform is the sum total of a writer’s ability to sell their work. It combines visibility with connections through established distribution channels.

The risk when pouring energy into platform building is you’ll either spend time focusing on areas that don’t pay off or you’ll put too much effort into one area and neglect other, equally important areas.

Here is an example of a well-rounded author platform:

  • Social media followers and existing contacts/fans/readers/email subscribers—30%
  • Knowledge and expertise on your topic—25%
  • Personality and follow through—25%
  • Previous work (articles, books, etc.)—20%
Elements in a well rounded author platform.

Social media followers and existing contacts, fans, readers, email subscribers—30%

Knowledge and expertise on your topic—25%

Personality and follow through—25%

Previous work (articles, books, etc.)—20%

Extra reading: Learn more about author platforms

Extra credit: How to Set Up a Basic Author Platform from Kirsten Oliphant

So now we come back to our original question: how can a writer be smart and strategic about platform building, instead of being overwhelmed?

Tips for platform building

As you can gather from my example, your biggest ROI from platform-building activities comes from your circle of friends and followers.

But these people can’t just click “like” on your chosen online profile. They need to be fans—active, engaged, wallets-out fans.

Here are my top four suggestions for platform building (for growing and maintaining your following) without letting it take over your life

Platform building tips

Tip 1: Get clear on why you want a following

To some writers the “why” is obvious. And perhaps it makes sense through the lens of platform building. But still, think about WHY you’re trying to attract people to you and your writing.

There are no wrong answers here, but it’s important to know what your goal is so when things get hard or you get busy, you can stay laser-focused on your objective.

Think about why you want a following and write it down. Then figure out how to get this following. Do it! It’s worth 30% of your platform!

Extra reading with worksheets: Four Decisions Every Writer Needs to Make

(Or go direct to the worksheets in my resource library)

Tip 2: Make strong, authentic connections with your followers

Making connections with other human beings may seem like a big ask for writers who are introverted or shy.

But in today’s world, “if you write it they will come” isn’t a thing. We have to figure out how to build relationships with others. We need them in our tribe just like they need our writing.

It’s a symbiotic relationship but it doesn’t happen without effort or by accident.

How you do this will look different for every person because you have to work with your strengths.

For some people, making connections means you publish high-quality articles in publications your ideal followers read.

For others, this means gaining a following through speaking at events or hosting workshops and showcasing your expertise on a topic.

Another example of how a writer can build relationships is by going all-in on a social media platform and building a huge following of loyal fans by showing up and doing the work.

This could mean:

  • Following your ideal readers
  • Engaging in discussions with your ideal readers and your existing followers
  • Leaving thoughtful comments on other people’s posts
  • Joining and becoming an active member of the community (or starting one)

While the “how” varies from writer to writer, the important piece to keep in mind is it must be true to who you are.

How do you best connect with people? Lean into that. It’s the only way these relationships will be authentic and genuine.

Extra reading: Make Stronger Connections with Your Ideal Clients

Tip 3: Optimize your online channels for your audience

Whether it’s a social media profile or your personal blog, it’s important to put due care and attention into your online presence.

As a writer, you’re the brand. How you present yourself online matters.

Make sure your profiles are consistent across the web and that your “about statement” reflects who you are as a writer. When you’re in platform-building mode, this isn’t the time to be cute or vague. State who you are in a clear way and write it for your ideal follower.

The same goes for your website. Ask yourself if your site or blog is an accurate reflection of the type of writer you want to be known as. If not, fix it. Get it up to snuff or make it private. Make sure it’s attractive and loads quickly and is easy to find.

Don’t assume people are aware of what you do or even understand it. Do you know the details of your entire network?

Lay everything out for your followers like it’s the first time they’ve ever stumbled across your site or profile.

Optimize your website and social media channels for your audience. It’s time to put yourself out there by making yourself discoverable.

Remember, if you don’t take control of your brand story someone else will.

Extra reading: Five Tips for Optimizing your Social Media Profiles

Extra credit: How to Avoid Social Media Overwhelm

Tip 4: Have a strategy

You want to be consistent and smart about strengthening your platform, right? OK great. So you need a strategy. Even if you’re a pantser who doesn’t plan.

I’m serious!

Without the structure of a strategy (or at least the framework of a general direction) it will be too easy to let platform building go by the wayside when urgent things crop up.

Because this is a long game, which means it’s always important but rarely urgent.

Which means you have to build these activities into your schedule and make it a part of your daily life.

Here are a few things to think about when creating a platform building strategy:

  • Who do you want to connect with?
  • Where are your potential friends and followers hanging out?
  • Which channels or networks will have the biggest payoff for you?
  • Where are you the most comfortable, the most yourself?
  • You can’t be everywhere so which networks will you focus on?
  • What can you do or post consistently to build your visibility, credibility and authority?
  • How can you serve your followers and build relationships with them?
  • What scheduling tools or services can you use to help you execute your strategy and stay on track?

Extra reading: Five Step Social Media Strategy for Writers

Platform building is a lot easier if you have a road map to follow

Yes, the plan has to change sometimes so it also needs to be a bit fluid.

But it’s easier to adjust something in existence than it is to sit around wondering how on earth you’ll increase your influence so you can attract that agent or get a new client.


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What are the most important things a writer can do to be smart and strategic about platform building (instead of being overwhelmed)? Great question!

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

* indicates required
What are the most important things a writer can do to be smart and strategic about platform building (instead of being overwhelmed)? Great question!