When I first started blogging, I thought it was all about the interesting articles. I did my best to provide useful information in my posts. However, I noticed that readers used to quit my blog in less than a minute and there were not too many of those who returned.
Having shown the articles to my friends, I got great feedback from them. Although they liked the text, they said the blog lacked the visuals: pics, videos, audio, infographics, etc. That’s one of the essential things that tract readers and help them decide if they want to read the post.
Since that time I’ve not posted a single article without visuals and I’ve tried dozens of tools to make them look attractive and worth sharing. Here are the best ones I’ve found.
Freemake Slider Plugin
If you use WordPress platform for your blog or site, you should definitely give a try to Freemake Slider Plugin. This free utility organizes photos and videos in a beautiful and compact way. Instead of posting ten videos or pictures one by one overloading your blog, you can have them in a presentation-like style.
Install the plugin into your site, open it from your WP dashboard and start creating your photo gallery.
First of all, add the pics via the Add Image button. After that select a border style that will look cool on your site. There are about 30 patterns to choose from.
Then, choose the width and height of your presentation, select arrows, thumbnail, and so on. The plugin is highly customizable. Thus it’s not difficult to make it suit your blog.
When you are done, preview the gallery and click the Save & Publish button. You will get a ready shortcode. Copy it and paste into your post right into the place where you want your presentation to be. Please turn your view style from Visual to Text.
Follow the same procedure for videos. You can upload either video from your PC in MP4 or add YouTube/Vimeo links. YouTube playlists are also supported, but you need to create an API to use this option.
Snagit is a powerful tool for Windows and Mac users. Although, it’s not free ($49.95 VAT excluded), for me it’s worth paying for.
With this tool, I trim my photos, rotate them 90 and 180 degrees, and resize without quality loss. In case you are an owner of the image, you can put a watermark on your pics with your me or your blog address. Just go to the Image tab, click Watermark and customize it to your needs.
Please note that you should have a ready logo in GIF format.
Whether you want to correct image colors, click the Color Effect tab. Choose the Color Correction option and move the slider to change contrast, saturation, hue, brightness, and gamma. To continue editing, add a border to your image, round the corners, or apply filters and effects.As soon as you think your picture is ready, save it and upload onto your blog. Alternatively, Snagit lets you export images in Photoshop, Excel, Word, PowerPoint, or send via email.
When you’re writing about software and post how-to guides about apps and web services, you can’t do without screenshots. They will make your post more professional and understandable for your readers.
Awesome Screenshot is a nice little tool for capturing web pages. With the help of this browser extension, you can add captions, comments, or annotations to your screenshot as well as blur private information.
When the image is ready, save the result in just one click. The extension can be added to Google Chrome, Safari, Opera, and Firefox.By the way, Snagit editor mentioned above has all the same features for taking various types of screenshots. However, if you want something light and free, Awesome Screenshot will be a good choice.
MEF Music Editor
In case you want to insert a music track into your post, one of the best options to stick to is to use the SoundCloud player. However, it is great if you want to share a track of a popular musician or any personal audio as is.
To edit a song or even record it, go for MEF Music Editor. MEF Music Editor has a splendid user-friendly design. With this simple but powerful tool, you can record voice with a microphone, apply many filters, cut unwanted pauses and parts or exchange their positions, reduce noise, and even convert voices. The editing is intuitive; thus, there is no need to be a professional to change or create a music track.
The only little drawback of this tool is that it’s not free. To use MEF Music Editor, you should pay $29.90.
Handbrake is a free video converter that you might need to prepare video for your blog. Why do you need that? Well, in case your video is too heavy, it will take ages and megabytes of bandwidth to buffer.
Readers with slow or limited Internet connections won’t wait for your video to load and will barely return to your website again. Also, don’t forget that your video should play fine from all popular browsers and devices. So before you upload a video to your website, take some time and optimize it for a smooth online playback.
Here is where you should try Handbrake. It allows you to convert any video to MP4 format that is supported by the majority of devices and browsers. The software also has a “Web Optimized” option that provides the best settings for a streaming video.
Whether you are tech savvy, choose all the settings like codec, framerate, bit rate, and output file size manually. If necessary, add additional audio or subtitles tracks. Then run the conversion process.
When your video is ready, upload it to WordPress in a usual manner or with Freemake Slider Plugin.
Hope you found these tools useful, and they will help you create astonishing visuals for your website and bring you a lot of new and returned readers.