We eat with our eyes, as the saying goes. If food doesn't look appealing then we don't want to eat it. The same applies to content – if it's not visually appealing then we don't stop scrolling to take a further look. This post will help you create a branded template to use in your blog content (and other places). It's a big post, with bonus materials so, you might want to bookmark it or share it so that you can find it later.
Start With Your Brand Elements
The first place to start when it comes to visual content is your own brand. This means knowing the following
- The hex colour codes of your brand colours
- Your main font
- Your secondary font
- Where you keep your logo (ideally a transparent version)
- Brand icons
Visual Content Success Roadmap <—- Download, print and add to your blogging challenge binder. If you've not joined the blogging challenge already you can do so here: https://www.sarkemedia.com/30dayblog
You might want to include a mood board if you have one.
Having this in one place speeds things up when comes to creating your branded template.
Creating Your Own Branded Template
We love Canva. We've used it since it launched, and have recommended it as part of the 30 Day Blogging Challenge since 2012. The small monthly fee for additional features is well worth it. However, as a small business owner, you may also prefer to use Photoshop or similar. For the purposes of this guide, we're going to use Canva as most people can access the free version and create a gorgeous branded template in no time at all.
Step 1 – Create Your Account on Canva and login, or sign in if you have an account already.
Step 2 – Create Your Branded Template
Once you're logged into Canva.com you will see the home screen:
You want the area that says “create a design” (arrow 1). Go to arrow 2 and click until you see the option for Facebook post (arrow 3).
Click Facebook post.
You're now ready to start creating your branded template.
Arrow 1 – Click to change the template name from “Facebook Post Untitled” to your website's name and the word template. The ones for this site are called “Business Success Dojo Template”. This makes it easy to remember.
Then choose a template that you like the design of. Remember, we're going to change the colours and the images, so don't focus on these. Click on the template and it will appear in the white space where arrow 4 is.
If you find the visual is too small to see, click the number with a percentage next to it (arrow 3) this increases the size so you can see better.
If you get stuck, just click help (where arrow 5 is).
It's now time to customise your template!
As you can see from the image above, my branded template needs some more work so that I can use it.
Click where arrow 2 is, and I can change the beige background to my brand blue. I do this by clicking the box where arrow 3 is pointing.
This opens the pane where arrow 4 is. Here I can add my brand colours, or if I have them there already select the colour that I want.
Each element on the image is clickable and can be changed to reflect your brand.
To change the font click the text (arrow 1) and then click the text where arrow 2 is. This will open a pane where you can choose your font. If you have a specific brand font you can upload this to Canva.
By clicking where arrow 3 is you can change the colour of the text.
I change the text at arrow 4 to the url of this website. Next, I click the image where arrow 5 is, and swap the photo of muffins to an image in my brand style.
Finally, I change the coloured bars to fit my branding and added my logo. Here's my finished visual:
As you can see it's very easy to adapt one of Canva's many templates to fit your own website and visual branding:
As you can see only the design structure remains the same as the original and I have a branded template that I can now use in every single blog post.
But Where Do I Get The Images to Add To My Branded Template?
Contrary to popular belief, you cannot just take someone else's image and use it. You cannot go to Google Images and choose anything from their either.
Images and visual content are protected by copyright law. The person who created the image has to be contacted and give their permission (preferably in writing) before you can use it.
- Shareasimage Pro supplies you with images each week, plus you can make your own quotes
- Unsplash will send you 10 gorgeous images to use how you like every 10 days
- Graphic Stock is $99 a year and where I get the majority of my images
- Yay Images is great for images you don't see everywhere else and if you have a tough niche.
- Free Digital Photos is a good source of internet marketing images
- Canva – a great tool for creating your own images and I highly recommend it, it has a range of free and paid images. The paid images cost $1 each.
- Dreamstime have a free and a paid section for images
- Free images used to be sxc.hu and I've used this extensively in the past
- Free stock range also has tutorials as well as a good range of images you can use
- Free photos bank has a range of gorgeous nature images
- I'm free shares a stunning range of pictures from icons to nature
- Pixabay has a cool range of images that can be run through Canva to be branded for your own site
- Can Stock Photo has an interesting range of images and a range of pricing plans
- Pexels has some stunning images that would be perfect for blog posts.
- Deposit Photos is becoming incredibly popular with each image costing less than $1. If you like the cute dogs then you'll find plenty of these here!
- Morgue File is another site popular with bloggers, again, these images can be used in a too like Canva to give them a unique edge
- Shutterstock is brilliant. They used to sponsor the images on Birds on the Blog and they have everything from celebrities to topical images.
- Fotolia has a free pic of the week range, and they've a very diverse range
- Nappy has a huge range of photos of black people. There's no excuse not to be diverse in your imagery. More sources of diverse images can be found easily.
- Stockvault has some beautiful images again, these would suit lifestyle bloggers really well.
- CreateHerStock has images of black female entrepreneurs.
Many of these sites give away images or charge as little a dollar for a great quality image.
Going forward, as part of the blogging challenge, your goal is to add your branded visual to each blog post you publish.
You see, people don't only type in text to get answers… They also use sites like Pinterest to find great content and they bookmark it by “pinning” the image in your post to one of their boards. This not only sends you more traffic, but it helps your SEO and overall visibility.
P.S This post contains affiliate links. These links, if you click and purchase, may earn us a small commission. This is just one of the many ways bloggers get paid when they create content.