I shared with you last week that I was going to start doing articles on “Do It Yourself” Christianity. This is my first attempt at trying to teach you some of what I have learned over the last five years of being an influencer on the internet.
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You may ask why I chose to talk about Christian pictures. Well in all honesty for two reasons. One is because I am smack dab in the middle of optimizing this website for Pinterest and Pinterest is a very visually orientated platform. Secondly, because I have realized over the years that our society has become very visually orientated as well. Christian pictures and memes, if done right, can compellingly communicate a message.
My goal is to help you share your faith in ways that are authentic to who you are, and with methods that will influence our culture. Instead of just sharing somebody else’s expression of faith, you will learn how you can do it yourself and share the things that God is doing in your life.
If you are a Christian blogger or webmaster, or a pastor or church leader like myself, then hopefully what I share with you will help you build your presence on social media for your blog, website, or church’s social media accounts.
I have had numerous Christian pictures that I have made that have had tens and even hundreds of thousands of shares. Each time that happens I have seen a boost in followers on my Twitter, (Yes you can post pictures on Twitter) Facebook, and now I see good results on Pinterest.
For those of you that have just discovered this article through search or have never heard of me, my current Facebook following is 155,000 or more, Twitter is somewhere around 8,000 followers, and in 1 month that I have been actively using Pinterest I have grown my followers from just over 500 to over a thousand.
Now there are many Christians who have more massive followings and are more gifted and talented than me. I am not setting myself up as an expert. I have just decided to share with you what I have found that works.
So, let’s get into the nuts and bolts of what I have found that will help you become a creator of viral Christian content and not just a sharer only. (a little take on James 1:22)
Step 1 – Use The Right Picture Size For The Right Social Media Platform
One of the things I have learned is that what works well on Facebook does not always work well on Pinterest. And what works well on Pinterest does not work well on Twitter. You get the idea.
When you are creating your Christian pictures to share, you need to use the right size to get the maximum effect. Here is an image I created just for you so that you can know what size works best.
Feel free to right-click and download that picture for future reference.
The sizes for Facebook and Twitter are taken from their websites. Facebook and Twitter will resize or crop your pictures to fit. That makes your photos not always look as you intended on their feeds. The Pinterest size is based on research of what size gets the most clicks and interaction. Pinterest allows you to post any size picture, but this size is what experts say works best. (Update: Pinterest now says it wants vertical images that are 600×900 pixels)
Step 2 – Choose The Right Background Image For Your Picture
When I first started out blogging, I didn’t know what I know now. I just did a Google image search or a Bing image search and found a picture I wanted to use. I didn’t know about the different types of use licenses out there and the risk I was taking by doing this. I do not recommend that you do this!
Instead, there are places where you can get free stock photos. Use the pictures you can find in these places. Here is a list of the ones that I use at times.
If you need more options, here is a list of 21 free stock photo websites.
I have chosen a picture from Unsplash this time to use as the Pinterest image that will go with this article. I have resized it down to 750 x 1135 before putting it on this website so that the file size is not nearly as large as the original. I did that for all of you that are using mobile devices to read this article so that the page will load faster for you.
Here is the image that I have chosen.
Step 3 – Add Your Message To The Picture
Here is where it starts getting fun. Not only do you get to choose what you are going to say, but you can show your style in how you say it. It now starts to get to be a personal reflection of who you are.
The first thing you need to do is decide what you are going to say. Obviously, in this picture, I am going to use the title of this article as the text for what I am going to say. However I have created hundreds of pictures that are not about my articles, Here is an example.
You can use Bible Verses, Christian Quotes, Article Titles, or like I did in this one, a song lyric you love.
So once you choose what you want to say, now you need to use some program to place it on the image. When I first started, I used Microsoft Paint. Honestly, it didn’t produce outstanding quality pictures. Over the years I have learned a few things that should help you choose a better product than Paint.
If you are doing this to post to your own personal social media accounts and not using it for your website or if you are starting with your website then here are a couple of websites that will help you make much better pictures. Both of them have free plans and upgraded plans.
Now if you are a serious picture creator, I highly recommend that you step up to a professional level. About three years ago because of what I was doing on my websites, I was asked to be the graphic designer for a local newspaper in Gillette Wyoming in their advertising department. My good friend Nick De Laat who is now running for the Wyoming State Legislature turned me on to Adobe Illustrator. He purchased my first subscription. I instantly saw the benefit of using a program designed for making images rock.
So what you will see from now on is what I do with Adobe Illustrator. I am sure that much of this can be done with Adobe Photoshop as well, and you can subscribe to that if you desire for around ten bucks a month, but I chose the much more robust program giving me access to the entire line of Adobe products.
Before you go and use any old font, I want to give you a couple of tips on your font choice. Your font choice communicates emotion to your message. Many times scripture texts are received better with italic or cursive fonts. Article titles do well with bold or brash fonts. Make sure that whatever font you use is large enough to read. This also means that as much as you might want to put a whole chapter of the Bible on your picture, it won’t work. Your font would have to be too small. Brevity is king when it comes to making a meme.
Also, there is a trick that I just recently learned. It is called using Font Pairs. Here is a picture to give you an idea of what I mean.
Notice that they are using two different fonts. In this case Bookman and either Century Gothic or Avenir LT Std. They work well with one another.
When you are making a Christian picture, try using a font pair. Currently, on the Pinterest images, I am using Georgia and Museo Sans. Georgia was already in Adobe Illustrator, and I was able to get Museo Sans from Adobe Typekit for free since I am an Adobe subscriber.
So now I am going to add my text to my picture.
Now you will notice I did a couple of other steps in this picture. I added a background behind the text, and I added our watermark to the bottom right of the picture. I did both using the transparency feature in Adobe Illustrator.
I also used a color combination that would pop out at people by using the yellow color against a blue background.
Learn by doing. Take some time to play around with the different programs. You won’t break anything. Try out what each option does. That is how I learned. If you are using Photoshop or Illustrator, there are great resources on the Adobe website, YouTube, and just by searching for your question on Google or Bing.
So, although I am sure you might have questions, there you have it. You can now make your Christian pictures to share on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and wherever else you hang out on the internet. I hope to start seeing some of you start sharing your inspiration across the web.
Finally, if you would like a bigger selection of Christian pictures to use, especially if you become a power picture creator, then the cheapest place I have found for Christian images is DepositPhotos. They have almost 1/2 million photos in their religion section.
Once again, let me give you all the resources I listed.