Learn… Do… Teach…   I heard these words this week in relation to a challenge to share knowledge with others.

black and white image for communication metaphorI’m working on a project to get back to teaching basic (employable) skills to young people and those who are having a hard time being employed. This also applies to small business owners who have to be all things, and ofttimes feel overwhelmed.

The Learn…Do…Teach concept was a message to me to take action, to not wait until I have it perfectly put together. (I have to tell you, that’s my greatest frustration!)

Before I go any further, though, let me take a moment to say a special thank you to Margo, Naomi and Caitlin. If I can paraphrase one of Naomi’s favorite phrases that I think applies to each of you: “She is kind, she shows up and she is always reaching for the unexpected.” You have each been a source of more encouragement than you know! Thank you… 

So as part of this journey, I had the opportunity to prepare a blog post on creating images for blogs, helping new personal business owners develop skills to feel confident in posting blogs that will get attention. Long time readers may recognize some of these images that I used as examples.

Here is what I wrote… see if this would be helpful to anyone you know.

It’s part of a larger video series I am recording along with an e-book (you see what you started Margo!). This seems too big at times, but after what I have watched Naomi do,  I can clearly hear Caitlin’s voice in my ear saying, “Don’t you turn back now!”  😉 What a wonderful and supportive group of friends!

From Simple To Stunning: Creating Beautiful Images For Your Blog ]

From Simple To Stunning:
Creating Beautiful Images For Your Blog

So you’re thinking of starting a new blog for your business.. Great idea!

Garuda Mask - Indonesia:  Fearsome image? It All Depends on You

Fearsome image? It All Depends on You

Personal businesses need all the help we can give and a blog is a terrific place to start. But there are blogs… and then there are BLOGS! And images are often the difference-makers.

Quality images increase the chances of being found, increase chances of being ranked higher in the search lists, and make the blog material pop as well. It’s just smarter to use sharp images.

This is where most new business owners get stuck

Ok, I hear you.  You don’t have professional video or photography equipment so you rely on your cell phone to take pictures. Assuming you can easily get them from your phone to your computer, you feel like they’re good enough, right? Some people do.  Yes… and those would be those yawn-inducing blogs I mentioned . They lack focus and punch.

No.. the facts say really sharp blogs use images they have customized for the post topic and mood. And you can do it too!

But, But,Wait!

What? You say you don’t have photo editing software? And, if you had the money to buy all that technical stuff you wouldn’t need to start a blog in the first place?  Hmmm. Not to worry my friends.

What if …I told you there is a way to tweak any photo with just what you already have?

  • That you could go from simple to stunning with what you already have in your hands- and in under 10 minutes in most cases?
  • That a few moments spent on customizing a photo image could make the difference between visitors who browse ‘one & done’-style versus those who like what they see and read more pages, and become your engaged prospect?

What If?

  • Tools

There are dozens of choices out there and many people will have different preferences. In fact, I own Photoshop (in Creative Suite 6) but don’t often use it for this because it’s too cumbersome for small projects like a one-off image for my blogs (I now have 4 blogs to manage so I want quick and easy!)

For most images I can improve the look with just two products, two that were already on my computer when I bought it 5 years ago. Yes, even though I also have a newer laptop (and an iPad Air, so don’t feel too sorry for me just yet!) I still use my PC and these two simple programs to get the job done.

The first is Windows Photo Gallery (as an editor); the second is standard issue MS PowerPoint (for making and framing composite images as pictures).

My cell phone uploads the photos I take straight into my desktop folder (either manually from the SD card, or via Bluetooth to my Dropbox account). From there I open Windows Photo Gallery, select the image I want and begin. I should note that when I’m looking to enhance photos, I look for .jpg rather than .png files… more about the difference in a later post.

  • Techniques

Take a look at this sample “Before” image of the 4 friends- not blog material on its own, but it turned out to be useful as working material.

Girls day - uncropped Before imageBy taking this simple photo, and using Windows Photo Gallery, I could cut out (crop) everyone else and create a useful head shot for the profile shot used on this actual blog.

(If I had taken a little more time, I could have taken off 20 pounds and 10 years, but that’s a different post!)
Once I have used the tools in the Gallery (retouching to remove a piece of hair in my eye, tweaking the brightness, the shadows and color tones with the slide bars back and forth until I liked the look) I can then save a copy- meaning the original is unchanged- and select it (ctrl+c or right mouse click, copy) to carry it over to PowerPoint for the next tweak. (The Gallery is fairly easy, just adjust lighting and color to see how you like the effects, so I won’t go into a lot of detail here).
In PowerPoint I open up a new file (presentation) to get a blank page. Once there, use ctrl+v or right-click/paste to drop the image onto the editing space. (If it’s large, drag the corners in to reduce it.) From here I use the picture tools to choose a border or frame for the image. In this case I wanted something different so I chose the oval black frame- there are lots to choose from. What this is most useful for is accreditation- whenever I need to give credit to a photographer whose work I am using. For that I get a text box and drop the URL of the photo, change the text color to white if I have a black frame, font size 11, and drag the box to the edge of the frame to where it shows up.
One tip I would mention here is the shadows that come with the frames. These can be removed by using the Picture tool (usually pink, sitting above the main tool bar if you have clicked to select a picture). Select the Picture tool-> Picture Effects-> Shadow-> No Shadow. Otherwise the “shadow” appears as a gray spot taking up text space and not really connected to the photo in your blog.

Here’s the After version. I didn’t have any casual head shots to use and this worked out just fine. And it took just a few minutes to do. Profile Photo Jonelle Hilleary - summer iGlobalFreedom.com

..Don’t let the technical details stop you from posting great blog posts. ….Using a few …simple tools- ones you may already have – with a couple tips and techniques can really …help your blog images go from simple to ..stunning.
It may also mean the difference in getting readers interested in what you have to say, the products you want to promote and the leads you want to nurture.
Here are a few other examples of the difference you can make with editing.  These 4 images were all created using these same two programs. The star is just 3 PowerPoint shapes layered and “filled” with a stained glass window image as the fill color. The taxi driver and the “classified” leather coat images were made for this post on cultural identities (how do you photograph that?) for which I needed several images . The young girl is a stock photo from a set I own, tilted and updated with a “marker” effect in Windows Gallery, a click of a button.
(Please feel free to ask about details or discuss other questions via the comments boxes below.)
photos detailing editing techniques

As they say, there is more than one way to catch a fish, but the best way is the one that gets the fish in your pan in time for dinner!  



2 thoughts on “Learn…Do…Teach

  1. Hi Jonelle. Congratulations on your new project. I know it will be a great success!
    And thanks for these helpful tips – I would have never thought of using powerpoint for photo editing. But I will be looking at it next time I need to work with a photo. I think this is the kind of thing many people would be happy to learn about. Best of luck. -Margo


    • Thank you so much Margo, I appreciate your encouragement! I’ve had lots of people tell me that about PowerPoint… I may need to do a little power point demo on all the neat things it can do as an image builder! 🙂

      Congrats on your book! I’m getting two- on for me and one for my daughter for Christmas! I can’t wait that long for my own copy…

      Liked by 1 person

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