Articles abound promoting courses and camera purchases to conjure your blog’s brand. Think twice; free tutorials and wallet-friendly tools finesse this goal.
Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes.
Branding Your Blog: the Why and How
Let’s keep this simple. “Branding,” within the blogging context, translates as visuals and voice. And there’s more, but those two form the skeletal outline.
Visuals: Branding with Images
Copyright-friendly images from Pixabay and elsewhere lend visual interest. Tweaking them provides a measure of uniqueness. Uniqueness, in turn, separates one blogger from another. Think: red can = Coke, knee-jerk separating Coke from all others on the shelf.
Voice: Branding with Personality
As regards a blogger’s voice, proper English remains desirable. But let’s face it: a colloquialism may the tale more efficiently. Example: I can write several paragraphs explaining why I dislike a particular product. But I can also reduce the rationales to a sentence or two, followed by In Living Color,. Because the latter zooms to the point quicker, I grab it.
For the younger set, unfamiliar with the now-classic tv show In Living Color, this snippet explains the Homie phrase:
Both approaches get the job done. The latter coaxes a smile, and folks tend to stick around when they find something enjoyable. Plus, I honor my personality. There’s a gazillion things out there ready, willing, and able to decimate a positive perspective. Employing humor tames the onslaught. Humor keeps my preferred perspective front and center. As hubs loves to tease: Babe, if you were any more laid back you’d be in reverse mode!
Original images carry the requisite of a camera.I’ve noticed many bloggers advocate a dSLR purchase. But hey, do you really need a dSLR or expensive camera to present eye-candy images? As a general rule, no. It depends on the category of images you prefer.
Bird photography serves as my Xanax.
Birds move blink fast, appear as tiny specks in the lens, and vamoose if you get too close. The combo spells zoom camera. Add: feather details mandate a high IQ (image quality) camera. Years ago I rewarded myself with a Nikon p900. It prompted the sale of my beloved full-frame and standard Sony dSLRs.
But when it comes to snapping pics of ianimate or slow-moving objects (e.g., my bullet journal), my phone’s camera (iPhone 6+ or Nexus 6P) satisfies.
Aside: Apple killed my every x-years upgrade habit. Sloppy quality control + manipulative games = Pam jumped off the hamster upgrade wheel. The Nexus gifts Project Fi with its $25-ish monthly cell phone bill. One day, it or a comparable Android will supplant the iPhone completely. The iPhone remains, for now, primarily due to my Apple Watch and CarPlay.
Bottom-line: these days, when it comes to blog images, mobile apps sport the label of blogger’s BFF.
Photography Apps for Assisting Branding Endeavors
Many told me I “must” use a (bloated) Adobe product or similar insult to my time and energy. Not to mention the hit to my wallet. Fortunately, momma schooled me: Just cuz everyone’s doing it doesn’t mean you should jump off the bridge too. Result: without exception, every image I touch takes a similar route:
🐥 Cam SD card → Apple camera plugin doohickey → iPad → apps → blog
📱 iPhone pic → iCloud → iPad → apps → blog
🛠 All original and tweaked images auto backup to Google Drive, ensuring easy access regardless of device. Because I use my ChromeBook for many WordPress Admin chores, such as drag & drop image resizing and placement manipulation, that across-the-board access looms as essential.
The (Easy) iOS Apps Sparing Excess $$ and Time
Since all my editing is confined to an iPad, I’m unable to provide hands-on Android details. But many of these apps also await your pleasure in the Google Android Store.
✅ Snapseed ($0)
SnapSeed: tweaking a pic with branding in mind
This gem will pull details outta a stick pen. How did I learn its nuances? A few Saturday mornings with a few images, experimenting by tapping feature icons.
Example: One bird shot, taken during the Golden Hour, coaxed a huge grin. But the bird’s too-dark neck area lacked detail. Three SnapSeed options cured the ill. The entire process, start to finish, ate a mere 2-3 minutes.
- Selective: Tap the target area. Place two fingers on the screen. Pull them together to target the bird’s neck. The highlighting shrinks, covering only the precise area to be affected. A tap and hold on the screen reveals a mini-menu. Its options range from brightness to structure. I choose the latter. I then twirl the visible circle until I see my preferred result. Structure = details = ooooo baby!
- Lens Blur: Tapping on the bird produces two ovals, one inside the other. Two fingers narrow or widen the inner oval. I situate it to embrace the bird and little else. A tap and hold yields a popup menu, with options including Transition. That feature reduces or enlarges the coverage area of the outer oval. Another tap’s Blur selection permits further image manipulation. These steps transform a distracting background into a pleasing blurred background. My eyes guide me to completion, i.e. do dis look good?
- Tune Image: My adore-it option = Ambiance. Moving the slider to and fro changes tonal aspects throughout the image, conjuring the overall look desired.
Other options thrill as well, such as curves, HDR, and Brush. Brush involves painting exposure, lightening or darkening as desired.
I love Golden Corral, an all-you-can eat mecca of culinary joy. But I favor certain goodies. Pixelmator acts as the app equivalent of that luscious scenario. Let’s say I pinpoint a local bird for a photo shoot. He’s perched atop wires. Waiting for him to move, as darkness descends, risks losing the shot. So I snap the shot, knowing this app awaits me. To eliminate the wires, I use its Retouch → Repair feature. It seldom disappoints.
iWatermark ($2, Classic version)
iWatermark: make your marks, select your mark
Cliff Notes version: those lacking self-respect steal. Because the lazy don’t invest time to learn positive skills, stealing supplants the need for talent. iWatermark empowers the creation of virtually any watermark desired. It won’t stop a thief, but the retouching required to remove the watermark precludes sale quality. I prefer “transparent,” because it’s adequate to provide truth but in a subtle manner.
Many prefer Canva. I tried it, finding the learning curve too onerous to handle. With WordSwag,I had several tweaked images within my maiden hour. Check out the sample image to the right.
Among its options: one tap sizing for a Twitter card, Facebook cover, Pinterest pin, or the more standard xx by xx. I’ve yet to make it through all available fonts or styles. But playing around with this stellar app cemented my branding idea.
A considerable amount of time will be invested in the branding mission. I plan to revisit old posts for the visual upgrade. I’ll alo indulge content refreshing. As usual, I’ve established a deadline. I chose the second quarter generally, targeting Memorial Day. Why? Tying milestones to holidays makes ’em easy to “feel” as the holiday approaches.
Note the red and blue markings. This app. In other images scattered throughout the site, some of my handwritten notes are blacked out or otherwise indecipherable. This app. Some pics may show arrows. This app.
— Annnotable’s feature selections, within the purple area —
No app handles annotation needs as quickly, effectively, and comprehensively as Annotable.
WordSwag offers fancy text with size manipulation. Lotsa other gems await you, including backgrounds, layout options, and more. But sometimes my concern begins and ends with providing an info tidbit directly within the image. Two examples:
This owl image fronts an article posted a year ago about a service called 33mail.
This second example reflects employment of three text-related apps: iWatermark, Annotable, and TitleFx. In the Blue Jay pic, Annotable gave me the colorful rectangles.
Unlike other apps, TitleFx permits multiple variations within a single image. See the text within and underneath the purple rectangle. While I rarely use that different-look nuance within TitleFx, it’s handy for this illustration purpose.
One pic eliminates excess verbiage. Welcome to my iPad Photography page:
My iPad Photography page, housing my branding faves
About that one blacked-out item → An app I use daily transformed into an SaaS model. The “upgrade” presented no new features. Nor did it address any known glitches. Because I love the app, I initially intended to subscribe. But the development team told a series of blatant lies during the transition. This confirmed the sleight of hand was anything but an aberration. I continue to use the now-Classic version. My rationale sources not in the SaaS vibe, but due the lying. Simply stated, I don’t reward massive customer disrespect. (Exception: Internet provider, per monopoly. Grrrr!) For that reason, I refuse to provide any hint of publicity for the app concerned.
Call to Action
Blogging taps my curiosity bone (always something to learn). It quenches my give-back thirst. As I learn, I share. I’m grateful for many things. Passing on helpful info constitutes the rent I pay for continued breathing. “Branding” = formal acknowledgment of each person’s quest: stand out from the crowd in a polished positive manner. The blogging platform cements that mission in a definitive manner.
Have you conjured an overall scheme or plan for your blogging endeavors? What do you intend to accomplish? What’s on your gotta-learn list to achieve those goals? Are those plans documented? Bullet journal, notebook, OneNote, EverNote … whatever, but plan, write it down, and execute! So sayeth wisdom.