Image of a desk with a pennant and books

Welcome to Blog 101, session four is focusing on free or low cost photo editing and image creator apps.

I can and do regularly use Photoshop in my day job for quick tweaks to artwork (I am not a designer at all!) but I don’t have the application at home and neither the advance skills needed to make use of the program. Here are four tried and tested programs that are free that I use.

Canva

This is my favourite program for creating social media images for my posts. The templates are wide and varied from social media images to adverts to printed media or you can create your own custom dimensions. The templates make it very easy to upload your images and overlay them onto your template. Canva gives you great design ideas and tonnes of different fonts and you can get a precise colour by typing in the hexcodes.  If you are creating a poster using canva and wondering if it prints well, my previous manager has created a 60×40 inch poster before and it has printed fine.

Picmonkey

I often resize my photos using Picmonkey. Again this program is easy to use with its resize, text overlay and has templates like Canva. You can add more effects with the photographs itself such as light effects. Less tools seem to be available free unlike Canva.

Fotojet*

I was recently contacted by Fotojet to try out there online graphic design maker. It very much reminded me of Canva albeit a more stripped down version. Again there are lots of functions such as templates to create social media images, create your own custom templates and background. I will write a more comprehensive post about this program separately. It does what it says on the tin, you can edit and create images and the program is easy to use however I think if I had to choose either Canva or Fotojet I would choose Canva as there are more design options.

VSCO

VSCO is an mobile phone app where if you are a bit bored of the Instagram filters and want to move up in the world it is the equivalent of the cooler older brother or sister. I mainly use VSCO for the filters and to resize images normally to put straight on Insta or Twitter. Favourite filters include HB1 and HB2, X1 and A6. A while ago it underwent a massive redesign and it looks pants now and I feel made the app harder to navigate.

Which low cost image and design programs do you use and recommend? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Instagram, one of the world’s hottest social media networks. Over 60% of its users log in daily and the platform has over 400 million active users. Interestingly at work we have recently introduced a Instagram and my assistant has been busy working away on building our profile, which got me thinking about increasing my own profile.

I have been busy working away on my Instagram for over a month now trying to increase the number of followers, improve my content but also increase engagement. I did my research and found ways to do this of course so I decided to try them out and see if it is true, so lets see how I got on.

Instagram stats before
104 posts
951 likes – average 10 per post
34 comments – average 1 per post

Instagram stats so far since me changing things up!
31 posts
827 likes – average 27 per post
47 comments – average 2 per post

I understand that this isn’t a like for like comparison – however you can see that I am reaching just as many likes over 31 posts in a month then I did for 104 posts over two and a half years! The same goes for comments!

So what did I do…

Theming my Instagram

My Instagram was never themed, the purpose being that I didn’t want to limit the content on my account and I just used my account like I would Facebook or Twitter. However when I noticed some of my images of natural landscapes were doing really well engagement wise, I switched focused so my Instagram was all of that topic. It has so far worked increasing my engagement which you can see above. Theming doesn’t have to be on topics however it can be image colour (blue, pink and white seem to be popular).

Using hashtags
To spread your message out further using hashtags is a must. I use tagblender and just copy and paste all of the hashtags relevant to my images and add a few of my own in. This certainly has increased my reach and my engagement.

Liking other people’s images
By clicking on the hashtags I easily found other people’s images along the same theme. I liked the pictures that I did greally like however I don’t think that made any difference in increasing my followers or engagement at all.

Being consistent
By posting images everyday I don’t think it made much difference to the engagement however I noticed that I was losing followers. I do tend to post everyday but don’t worry if I miss a day or two.

Editing my images
Even me who can be quite lazy with my personal social media liked more or less to at least have some good photos. I use VSCO had a read on the best presets to use and it does make a difference.

How do you increase your followers on Instagram? Let me know in the comments below!