As anyone who’s ever seen me try to decorate a cake will tell you, I am not a graphic designer. At all. And if you’re wearing a lot of hats in your small- or medium-sized biz, I’m guessing you’re not a designer either (unless you run a design firm, in which case you don’t need this post). But not being a graphic guru is bad news for both of us, buddy, and I’ll tell you why.
Gmail grid view.
Now, I’m not saying that those three words should cause you a bowelquake of panic. But I am saying you should check it out.
Let us make with the checking.
The grid view is in the trial stages, but will soon be available for everyone using Gmail. It will allow users to toggle back and forth between a regular view of their Promotions tab, or a sexy little grid perfect for showcasing images.
Yeah, you see where I’m going here. You’re picking up what I’m putting down.
But wait, as the infomercials say. There’s more. Adweek says that “today’s customer expects a constant stream of high-quality images, photos and illustrations.” Author and all around social media yogi Jeff Bullas points out that social media is now irretrievably a visual world. And Dan Zarrella crunched the numbers on over 400,000 tweets to prove that pictures get those luscious retweets that are the service’s language of love.
Where does that leave you and me? Well, if you pay for a new stock image from a site for, say, every other tweet or status or blog post, that leaves us broke.
Time for some lateral thinking. Time to demystify. Time to check your pockets.
You got a phone? Yeah, you got a phone. You know what’s on that phone? A camera. You know what’s all around you, all the time? Art. Yep. Art. As my dear friend Kent used to shout as he ran through the halls of our workplace, “Look up! Look down! Look on the surfaces! ART IS EVERYWHERE!”
Yes, Kent is fantastic.
But back to the point. If you have a smart phone, you literally can hold more processing power in the palm of your hand than NASA had at mission control when we landed on the moon. You trying to tell me you can’t make yourself some killer visuals with the kind of power that would make a classic Bond villain salivate while he stroked his fluffy white kitty?
We’ll never replace graphic designers. And we shouldn’t want to replace graphic designers. I’m not advocating this approach for creating logos, or designing your color palette, or building a suite of images to go along with an ad campaign. But if you need a pic to make you post pop, here’s what you do.
Think in thirds. Either vertically or horizontally. Put something groovy in one of the thirds that isn’t the middle. Take a pic. Boom. You did the thing.
Not feeling it? That’s ok. Take more. Take tons. Pixels are free. Wanna jazz it up? Download one of the roughly 8734987364 free photo apps and play around with it. Take a pic. Boom. You did the thing shinier.
Or maybe you just want some background texture, mm? How about a pillow?
How about a moody noir pillow?
How about a coffee table?
You can point your camera at half a hundred things in your office alone. Want to visualize improving? Snap a pic of the buttons in the elevator going up. Gritty realism to symbolize hard work? Shoot a cool angle in the parking garage. Aiming sky high? Darling, there’s sky right outside your window. For free.
Then you head over to Buffer (You are using Buffer, right? Because it’s pretty phenomenal.) and their new gift to folks like you and me: Pablo.
Y’all, I am so into Pablo.
Upload the image of your choice, or use one of theirs. Add a line from your post, a relevant quote from someone in your field, even the title of your white paper. Ultra boom. You did the thing like whoa.
Look, I really just want you to engage is some of that lateral thinking I’m always going on about. Because even if you’re busy baking cupcakes or installing radiators or manufacturing ukuleles, you don’t have to let your social media be devoid of awesome images. You got this, ok? And if you don’t, well, you know who to call.