Ask KJ: Making Your Own Graphics

If you’re new to indie publishing, you might be thinking any combination of the following when it comes to graphics:

  • Graphics? What are you talking about?
  • I can just copy and paste graphics from the Web, right?
  • Can’t I just hire someone when I need a graphic?
  • I’m an author. Words are my thing. So why do I need to know how to make graphics?

How do I know? Because these were my exact thoughts after publishing my first book. :/

So before I tell you about some awesome, easy-to-use graphic makers/photo editors (Canva, Pablo by Buffer, and PicMonkey), let me start by sharing my answers to the above questions.

As an indie author, you might need graphics for the following purposes:

Facebook posts, Instagram posts, Twitter posts, teasers, quotes, promos, events, etc.

(By the way, if you don’t have ALL of the social media accounts mentioned above, as well as a blog, you should. More on that another time.)

It’s best to NEVER copy and paste an image from the Web.

Unless you are 100% certain an image is in the public domain or copyright-free, do NOT use it. Again, you must be 100% certain. Otherwise, you could get hit with a copyright infringement claim. Not that these claims are always legit (read about the one I got hit with HERE), but it’s always better to err on the side of caution.

Here’s an article that explains the difference between royalty-free and copyright-free images: Definition of a Royalty Free Image

And here’s where you can find plenty of copyright-free images: Flickr: The Commons

Of course you can hire someone to create graphics for you!

And even after you learn how to make your own, you still might want to hire a professional. For example, I hired Okay Creations to create logos for me, and my social media headers were included. But if you consider the cost and the time you’ll put into explaining what you want for smaller jobs, you’re much better off learning how to make your own stuff. Plus, most design professionals aren’t sitting around waiting to make graphics for people, which means your graphics won’t be ready immediately.

An author doesn’t NEED to know how to make graphics, but it sure does make life easier!

You’re absolutely right, you should be spending the bulk of your time writing. But if you invest some time in learning how to make your own graphics, I guarantee you’ll thank yourself in the long run. There were times when I spent hours upon hours trying to edit an image or create a promo graphic, now I can accomplish either task in 10 minutes or less.

And now, on to those awesome graphic design websites I promised!

Of the three I use regularly, Pablo by Buffer is the most basic image-editing site I’ve encountered. (Thank you to Rachel Thompson of BadRedhead Media for introducing me to it!) Simply choose an image and add your text. Boom. You’re done. You can make a graphic in less than one minute!

With PicMonkey and Canva, you can create anything your imagination dreams up. However, while these two offer many more features than Pablo by Buffer, they require a lot more practice for efficient use. Also, certain features require payment.

All three sites offer templates to accommodate various social media requirements.

Don’t forget: If you upload a photo to one of these sites, make sure you own it or that it’s in the public domain (copyright free).

Canva

What I use it for: complex graphics with lots of layering

CDRPromo Canva

Pablo by Buffer

What I use it for: simple quote graphics

pablo

PicMonkey

What I use it for: less complex graphics that involve minimal layering

(Not as easy to navigate as Canva, in my opinion.)

CDRpromo2

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