An easy way to create graphics for your site if you are not a designer

Do you ever feel frustrated by the trend lately that in order to really stand out as a professional photography business you need to have impeccably crafted graphics pretty much all over the place? 

And I know I'm not alone here in that Photography is enough to keep my mind full...there is no time left over for learning how to be a graphic designer as well!! 

I've had my fair share of frustration in this department over the past few years. I know that in order to present myself the way I want too and utilize other visual elements into my site (in addition to photos) I would need to figure out a way to at least do a little bit on my own so I wouldn't have to find, hire and wait for a graphic designer to help me out every time I needed something. 

I recently found an AWESOME little resource that has made all of that even easier, and I can't wait to share it with you! 

I have a few different places on my site where I wanted to have some category buttons (or icons): In my sidebar and on my archive page. I tackled the sidebar buttons first since those seem to be pretty standard on a lot of high traffic blogs. 

Another way you can create "buttons" is to simply have photos with text overlaid that says the category. This is also a very common option that a lot of people use and it works the exact same way. I wanted my buttons to be a little heavier on the branding and text since I focus on a lot of educational content. 

Adobe Illustrator

About a year ago I decided to try and learn a bit about Adobe Illustrator. My brand designer Lauren from Elle & Co. uses it for all of her work and I also knew I wanted to start incorporating a blog graphic on pretty much every post I would write so I knew I would need to dig and and learn the program a little bit. 

Granted a lot of what you can do in AI, you can also do in PS, but AI is meant for designing rather than photo manipulation, so I knew it would probably help me accomplish what I wanted to accomplish in a shorter amount of time. 

It totally has. 

I have a current template set up with all of my blog graphics already created with my standard branding and all I have to do is add the text. I can create a weeks worth in about 10 minutes. 

But that's not the most exciting part!!

Category Images

I'm a huge fan of using photos or images and link throughs to other parts of my website. Overall I feel it gives your site a more professional feel to have someone click on an image as opposed to underlined text. 

When it came to creating category icons or buttons to include on my sidebar, I was stumped. I knew I wanted something in my branding, and I knew I wanted it to be an image but that was about as far as I could get. 

I attempted a few different iterations within the past few months. 

First, I created these buttons:

I had these buttons in my sidebar in a stacked gallery, linking through to my category pages for a while. I still like these (especially for a first attempt, but something about them wasn't floating my boat. 

Next for my sidebar, I created these:


I like these much better and feel they are a fun way to easily and visually describe the different categories that I blog about and in the sidebar they are all clickable and link to the category pages. 

To create these I created images that were 400x50 in Illustrator, filled them with my branding color and then added the type. Easy Peasy. 

Creating Graphics

In addition to my sidebar, I decided I needed some graphics on my blog archive page in order to help readers get to exactly what they want as quickly as possible. I knew I wanted some sort of icons but I since I'm not a designer there is no way I could create my own. I looked around Canva which is also a fun resource for creating your own graphics but wasn't finding anything super exciting. 

Enter the Noun Project

Creating blog icons and graphics | Blog graphics when you are not a designer | Cinnamon Wolfe Photography

This was exactly what I was looking for!!! I saw someone else mention it in a fb thread and the second I clicked over, it was like an answer from heaven. All sorts of icons and graphics at my fingertips. You can download some for free (but you can't alter them) and others you can download for $2 each and change the color and use where ever you want! Brilliant!

I quickly searched through the massive database and found icons that would represent all of the main categories that I blog about. For a total of $14 I got all of them, changed the colors to match my branding (you can do that in AI or PS) and then uploaded to my site and linked to my category pages. 

The entire process literally
took me less than 10 minutes. 

And please don't get me wrong and think I am saying that you shouldn't ever use a designer because in all honesty that is so far from the truth! I have so many things planned for the future that I will absolutely need to have professionally designed and I can't wait to get started on it. 

But for some smaller needs, resources like The Noun Project can help you with minor projects that include icons. I can't tell you loud enough how excited I was to find this awesome resource for creatives!  

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