There are three elements that will pull a reader into your article:

  • The headline,
  • A graphic with type, and
  • The first paragraph.

Of course, once you pull readers in, you have to keep them engaged. But if you can’t make the “sale” at the top, you have failed right out the gate. I’ve discussed headline writing not once, or twice but three times so here I want to talk a little about creating graphics.

I often create graphics for my own posts and I have clients who hire me to create graphics for posts.

When you decide to include graphics with your posts, they don’t have to be fancy. Just start by adding some type to a good illustration. I try to start with a free illustration and I often find myself turning to the public domain art at I use Apple’s Pages or Keynote in conjunction with Preview to do the work. Here are my steps:

  • Drag and drop graphic into Pages or Keynote and place type on it.
  • If using Pages export it as a PDF in the highest quality setting
  • If using Keynote merely select it, copy it, move to Preview and type command-n (new document), creating a new document from your clipboard.
  • If using Pages open the file in Preview.
  • Select just the graphics to get rid of the white space. Copy that area. (Sometimes when going from Keynote to Preview, this isn’t necessary; your graphic will come in without any “extra” space around it. When this is so, simply export it as a JPEG or PNG file and you’re done!)
  • Create a new document still in Preview (command-n). It will automatically create a new document from your clipboard.
  • Export as a JPEG or PNG file. (I prefer PNG because it allows you to turn white space into clear areas, which can make the graphic easier to insert into other documents, or webpages.)

Putting drop shadows or semi-opaque boxes behind the text often helps make it more readable. Both are easy to do in Pages and Keynote.

Note: I’ve migrated to using Keynote exclusively and one of the features I like is that I can simply open my the last file I was working on, select the image, then select Image>Replace and choose the new image. All my dimensions stay the same and I can just edit the type. This makes creating new graphics very easy and helps maintain a consistent look.

You can also combine words with an image in Microsoft Word. It’s not quite as user-friendly, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll speed through the process. The major points when working with Word are to set “Text Wrap” to “Through” so you can create a text box on top of the image. You can also do excellent type effects in Word.

To save your image as a JPEG or PNG file in Word you need to jump through a little hoop:

  • Create your graphic with type.
  • Group the elements – type and image – together.
  • Edit>Cut the graphic out of the document.
  • Immediately Paste Special>Picture (PNG) and put the graphic back into the document, then finally
  • Right click the graphic >Save as Picture and then select either PNG or JPEG.

There are many graphics programs that are much more powerful than the ones I’ve described here. However, I’m a writer first so my approach is to create something that will catch the reader’s eye, give a little information, hopefully pique interest, and allow me to maintain a brand “style.” You’ll see that often I put my URL on the graphic just to keep it in front of potential clients.

There are a variety of websites and apps that allow you to manipulate graphics and type. If you’re really clever and want to go beyond simple graphics to accompany posts, you can try to create the next meme that goes viral. Some sites to explore are:

  • Picfont
  • Canva
  • Giphy – if you want to create a GIF, which I’ve been doing more and more lately. You can, by the way, add type within Giphy.

There are some good posts on various mobile apps you can use. Nicole Nguyen wrote on the topic for Popsugar and Jackie Dove covered the topic well in a post on The Next Web. I’m assuming, however, that most bloggers will be doing this work on laptops or desktops. Am I wrong?