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How to Create the Best Web and Social Media Images


It’s Image Month on Big Brand System!

Today’s article and the one coming later this month will share the most up-to-date guidance for creating the best images for Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter … and your own website.

Today’s turbocharged image process

Images add nuance and meaning to your marketing.They always have.

So what has changed recently?

Back in olden times (when my career started), you had to hire an expensive photographer and pay them hundreds or thousands of dollars for a single image.

Stock photography existed, but getting a stock image was time-consuming and costly.

Finding an image to use in your marketing took many days. Today, it can take just seconds.

It’s much easier (and faster) today to find high-impact images to use with your marketing. When you know where to look, that is.

Why images matter now more than ever

Words — whether spoken or written — have more impact when accompanied by an image. Images can communicate emotion well beyond what’s in your headline.

Images communicate emotion without adding to the word count you’re asking site visitors to absorb.

Here’s an example of an image I art directed for this post by Henneke Duistermaat on Copyblogger:


The word “seductive” in the headline could have sent readers off in a distracting direction. Yikes! I didn’t want that.

So we found an image that represented seduction in a humorous way. We drew attention to the article and made sure it drew the kind of attention we wanted.

That’s what a well-chosen image does. It draws attention to your content — it’s an “ad” for your words.

Podcasts and images

If you run a podcast, images are effective ways to draw attention to episode content.

Here’s an example of a beautiful podcast image from this ProBlogger podcast episode:


Video and images

When your content is video, a well-chosen “splash” image that represents what your video offers can make the difference between someone clicking “play” or passing your video over.

In this example, The School of Life YouTube channel has created “curriculums” within its channel. Each topic features a different colored background on the splash screen. In one short glance, you can see which topic the video belongs to:


Crazy, huh? Even video content — which is inherently visual — needs images to convey meaning, organize the experience, and draw attention to it.

Images are social objects

On social media — especially visual platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest — images become social objects people interact with by liking, commenting, and sharing. Social media images enable us to feel more connected to the people we do business with.

My friend Andrea Vahl has a long-time habit of sharing “good morning images” from her morning runs.


Prerna Malik of Content Bistro (and a writer here on Big Brand System) uses branded social media images to promote her written content.


Here’s how to get started with images (even if you’re not “artistic”)

Want to make image creation fun?

Use a tool that’s fun.

I am convinced that this is the key to helping people get more fluent in the language of images.

When the tool you use to create them is simple, inviting, and fun … you’ll want to create images.

For the average website owner, Adobe products like Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign are overkill. They’re  professional-grade tools. Powerful, but exceedingly complex — especially if you don’t use them every day.

Here’s my evidence: I have been using Photoshop since the 1990s, and there are still things I don’t understand about it. :-/

If you plan to create a handful of images each week or month, I recommend my favorite online image creator, PicMonkey.

PicMonkey is free to use. They have a “Premium plan” that gives you access to more fonts, filters, and the option to save your work in a form that’s editable later.

PicMonkey Premium is just $3.99/month if you pay yearly, or $7.99/month if you pay on a per-month basis. They have a Supremium level that gives you a bit more store — but I don’t think it’s necessary.

Compare this to Photoshop which is $10/month from Adobe. It’s slower to use (in my opinion) and you will probably end up like me: a 20+ year user who still doesn’t know what all the little knobs and dials do — and that’s after using it as a tool in my graphic design business!


Yes, I know about Canva

The other image creation powerhouse is Canva. Canva is admittedly slick.

Canva for Work is $12.95/month ($9.95/month if you pay annually). Canva offers more than PicMonkey:

  • You can design for print
  • You can create graphs
  • You can discover font combinations

The more expensive Canva option — Canva Enterprise — allows you to set up a workflow for team members and manage the approval process.

It’s powerful. Complex. But here’s the thing:

Super powerful=confusing and intimidating.

I think Canva is too complex for our needs here. I believe PicMonkey is the best image editing app for most of your needs.

PicMonkey has a friendly interface that’s fun to use. And you’ll spend less to use it — that’s always a good thing!

This is why my latest free ebook show you how to use PicMonkey to create five branded images you can use right away.

[FREE EBOOK] How to Create 5 High-Impact Brand Images

When you sign up for the interest list for The Image Lab — my upcoming course — I’ll send you How to Create 5 High-Impact Brand Images for free.

The Image Lab will show you a simple, step-by-step method to create the best:

  • Website images
  • Facebook images
  • Instagram images
  • Pinterest images

And I specialize in teaching non-artists, so don’t worry if you have no design training. In the ebook, I walk you through everything step by step. You may even discover that image creation is fun. (Can you believe it?)

In this free 16-page ebook, you’ll get instructions for creating five types of images with a free PicMonkey account:

5-Brand-Images-COVER-3D-400pxThe colored overlay style: this is a simple technique that helps you stay “on-brand” and makes it easy to add text to your image.

The unifying filter style: this style shows you how, in just a few clicks, you can make a group of images look visually related and cohesive.

The collage style: display many images in one compact group and tell a big story in a quick glance with this versatile, fun style.

The texture and frame styles: (two in one!). Add interesting textures and frames to make your image pop.

The watermark style: After you’ve created your high-impact image, add a watermarked logo or website URL so you direct people back to your website.

Drop your email address into the form below. I’ll send the ebook direct to your inbox. And when The Image Lab opens up, you’ll find out first (and get it for a big discount).

10 thoughts on “How to Create the Best Web and Social Media Images

    • Suzanne, I had someone with only a free account test the tutorials in the ebook, and I’m happy to say you can!

      Royale offers you a wider choice of fonts and effects, but the free version is plenty for most things.

  1. I tried and really liked Canva. Used it for quite some time. And took a shot at PicMonkey. It also was good.

    Then bumped into Get Stencil and found that easier than both and with more flexibility than both. New features being added fairly regularly. And it is super fast…because of their templates and their dashboard features and navigation, I can get a great image put together within minutes, sometimes just a couple!

    (Not an affiliate)

    • Thanks, Stan! I checked out Stencil a few months ago: looks like they’ve added some features.

      Here’s a question: does it allow you to retouch photos? If so, I’m not seeing where.

      Let me know?

    • Sounds like you’re a Canva fan, Sammy!

      The good news is that the core content in the Image Lab materials will be design guidance that you can use in whichever program you prefer. Things like how to choose the best images; how to maintain brand consistency with your images; how to add visual interest to an image; etc.

      Tools come and go, but the design principles I’ll teach are evergreen and can be applied with whatever tool you prefer.

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