Graphics are a nightmare to me. It seems to me you have to be not only a techie but artistic to boot AND you have to pay a fortune for software like Photoshop.
Fortunately, there are a number of tools around that take some of the pain away.
Very often it only takes a few nice graphics to improve the appearance of a basic sales letter. There are a bunch of useful marketing graphics available at FreeMarketingGraphics.com that you might find useful.
Note that this is a Mike Filsaime associated product so it is inevitably just a lead in to a One Time Offer. So be prepared to be strong and keep your credit card locked up unless you really, really need the full package.
As soon as you start thinking of developing your own product then you will need some visual representation of it on screen.
It is a proven fact that people like to look at a picture of an ebook and are more likely to buy as a result. Despite the fact that they know very well that they are going to get a digital download when they hit the buy now button.
It’s just a quick of human nature, possibly because a professional presentation of the product leads people to believe that the product itself will be equally professional.
Rather like luxury products are always wrapped up in lots of expensive and oversized packaging which often might cost more than the product itself.
Anyway, that still leaves you with the problem of how to produce that wonderful image of your ebook, special report etc. You might like to try 1ClickCovers at www.AmazingOneClickCovers.com. Be warned, after you have bought it you will still need Photoshop if you are to take full advantage of it.
Many of us fall down when producing our own web sites because we don’t have any eye for graphic design. Even simple things like choosing colours which blend together can be difficult for the novice – and bad choices can be positively offputting without us really knowing why.
Free image manipulation
Open source software is increasingly making it’s mark and graphics is no exception. If you want to get into image manipulation but don’t want to spend any money then www.gimp.org is the place.
Gimp is an open source program, meaning it’s free, about which I know absolutely nothing. But I saw it recommended so leave the reference here for those with more time than I have to research it.
You might also take a look at http://www.pixlr.com/ which is a free online equivalent of Photoshop. If you can save yourself the hefty price of Photoshop then it is well worth the effort.
A friend of mine has just referred me to ZeroEffortGraphicsResizer. This nifty tool allows you to take any graphic of the web and resize it.
It is an online tool and cost you a one-off charge of a mighty $9.97. Money well spent as I had a long standing problem with one of my site headers where the header I had bought for the sales page was too small to fit the blog template – so I had to stretch it in my amateur way and lost quality in the process.
2 minutes with ZeroEffortGraphicsResizer solved the problem to my immense satisfaction.
This great tool is, of course, simply a front end for a graphics creation package from Quick Web Creations. Another great package that allows you to create good looking graphics with lots of modern effects.
The basic package at $27 allows you to create but not to save the parameters for future use. So if you want to come back to tweak them or create more in the same style then you will have to record all the parameters you use.
The solution, of course, is to buy the OTO upsell of the premium service. This costs you a monthly subscription and I baulked at that as I have no ongoing requirement.
All the same, for a quick and very attractive solution to one-off needs I think the basic product is well worth the price. If you need more than that then you need to be outsourcing the work to get a proper design job done.
Reducing image file size
If your problem is to actually reduce the file size then there’s a free product called Irfanview http://www.irfanview.com/ which will reduce the image’s qualiy and hence size. There’s a tutorial on how to use it at http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/topic42363.html.
Creating 3d box images
And if you want to create a 3d box image for your new baby product then try the free online tool at http://3d-pack.com/.
Graphic File Formats.
You are likely to be puzzled about why different file formats are used in different circumstances. Here’s the official description. Bear in mind that there are even more than these common formats that I won’t even try to describe.
A standard Windows image format. You can specify either Windows or OS/2 format and a bit depth for the image. For 4-bit and 8-bit images using Windows format, you can also specify RLE compression.
CompuServe GIF (Graphics Interchange Format)
Commonly used to display graphics and small animations in web pages. GIF is a compressed format designed to minimize file size and transfer time. GIF supports only 8-bit color images (256 or fewer colors). You can also save an image as a GIF file using the Save For Web command. (See To save a file in GIF format.)
JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)
Used to save photographs, JPEG format retains all color information in an image but compresses file size by selectively discarding data. You can choose the level of compression. Higher compression results in lower image quality and a smaller file size; lower compression results in better image quality and a larger file size. JPEG is a standard format for displaying images over the web.
Note that if you have an image that includes text then if you try to change the size of the image online the text will become blurred. In this case you should use PNG format.
Produces images with better compression, quality, color management, and metadata capability than JPEG. JPEG 2000 also supports transparency in layered images and retains any saved selections. Photoshop Elements saves images in extended JPEG 2000 (JPX) format, which is a more comprehensive file format than standard JPEG 2000 (JP2). You can make files JP2 compatible by selecting an option in the JPEG 2000 dialog box. (See To save a file in JPEG 2000 format.)
Photoshop (PSD) The standard Photoshop Elements format. You should generally use this format to save your work and preserve all your image data and layers.
Photoshop PDF (Portable Document Format)
A cross-platform and cross-application file format. PDF files accurately display and preserve fonts, page layouts, and both vector and bitmap graphics. (See To save a file in Photoshop PDF format.)
Note: PDF and PDP are the same except that PDPs are opened in Adobe Photoshop® and PDFs are opened in Acrobat.
Photoshop EPS (Encapsulated PostScript)
Used to share Photoshop files with many illustration and page-layout programs. For best results, print documents with EPS images to PostScript-enabled printers. (See To save a file in Photoshop EPS format.)
PNG (Portable Network Graphics)
Used for lossless compression and for display of images on the web. Unlike GIF, PNG supports 24-bit images and produces background transparency without jagged edges; however, some web browsers do not support PNG images. PNG preserves transparency in grayscale and RGB images.
As I understand things, .png files will be considerably larger because they retain seperate layers unlike .jpg and .tiff. Most of the free graphics that I have downloaded from time to time are in .png and I have been told this is so that they can be converted to other formats as required while still being editable should you wish to do so.
TIFF (Tagged-Image File Format)
Used to exchange files between applications and computer platforms. TIFF is a flexible bitmap image format supported by most paint, image-editing, and page-layout applications. Most desktop scanners can produce TIFF files. (See To save a file in TIFF format.).
You can often get away with a blog with your own unique header. That’s what this site is, a Semiologic blog with a header created with Website Header Wizard (see below). I have been increasingly impressed by the range of software that David Watson has been producing. Especially the way he is addressing the specific problems encountered by internet marketers.
I’ve just bought his latest product, Website Header Wizard and it took me all of about 2 mins to produce a high quality header for my new website. It’s right here:
so you can see for yourself. It’s not perfect by any means but by golly it was quick and easy.
The software comes with a package of 500 new, high quality header graphics that you can set to any of 5 different sizes or you can set your own custom size.
This is important if you are using anything requiring a specific width. On to the graphic you can add any text in all the usual available fonts with shadow, different colours and in any location you choose.
That’s great but what comes next is even better. The Image Grabber can use any of your own images that you may have which are uniquely specific to your market, niche or product.
From that image you can set a window to the available header sizes and move your window around the image to find a view that suits. Then grab that particular section of the image.
So from any one image there are innumerable different header backgrounds available. Naturally, it’s better to work with a high resolution photo with lots of pixels when ‘grabbing’ a section as it gives you far more image real estate over which to wander with your grabber as you can resize the header window at any time.
Not got any relevant images of your own? Then use one of the royalty free image libraries such as www.istock.com , www.sxc.hu or www.bigfoto.com to search by your keywords for beautiful, high quality images to use either for free or for peanuts.
I bought credit points with istock.com and am buying quality images for very little! 3 weeks ago I paid an Elancer $50 to create 2 images for me – I won’t be doing that again. And no matter how helpful contractors might be there are a limited number of alternatives an outsource worker can offer you.
So you have three different way of sourcing images for your headers and they are all going to be hiqh quality and relevant. The best ones will obviously be those that you know are unique to your site.
This product is another arising from David’s own personal problems as he got into internet marketing himself and searched for solutions. And as a programmer turned marketer we are seeing real, sensible solutions to the problems of the individual entrepreneur in the products that he offers.
I’m dead happy, I’ve bought it already and am using it within minutes. What do your graphic’s look like? Or maybe you don’t have any? Check out the link: