Do you find yourself constantly hunting for stock photos for your blog?
Perhaps also spending a lot of time creating the main illustration image as well as other graphics for your posts? Oh and let us not forget – the need to create social media images on top of everything else.
Welcome to the club!
Pictures are attention-grabbing, they make articles easier to read and on top of that – they can drive traffic to your blog.
We know we need them, but we also really need to cut down on the time we spend on these tasks.
Fortunately, we now have access to free or cheap tools, like Canva and Stencil, that makes it easier and faster than ever before. I am on their paid plans, but they both offer free forever plans to get you started. How great is that?
Earlier I used the free versions but upgraded to have access to more pictures and functionality. I will do a complete Canva vs Stencil review and comparison later on, but today I will focus specifically on how I use Stencil to accelerate my blogging.
Up until recent times I would have to:
- Take a picture or go to a stock photo site, find a picture and download it.
- Open the picture in Photoshop, crop and adjust, add text and other elements if needed (quite time-consuming).
- Export the picture and download it to my computer.
- Upload the picture inside of WordPress or wherever.
Today I can do ALL OF THOSE TASKS WITHIN WORDPRESS. That’s right, without ever leaving WordPress I can create as well as add a picture to any post or page.
So how does it work?
I am so glad you asked! First, you need to do these two things before we can start making magic:
If you haven’t already, head over to Stencil and sign up for a new account. It is free, but if you do opt for a paid plan they offer a 7-day money-back guarantee, so either way, you’re good.
Get the plug-in
Download and install the Stencil for WordPress plug-in, just as you would any other plug-in. Activate it.
Before we go on, let me hit you with 3 time-saving tips that I use:
Pro tip 1:
When you create a custom size in Stencil, it will be available for you later to use over and over again. If you need graphics for your blog in specific sizes for screenshots, quotes, infographics or whatever it may be, simply create these sizes and give them a descriptive name for later.
Pro tip 2:
Create templates for graphics you create often so that you just need to pull an image over, change a couple of lines of text and you’re good to go. The templates you create you will find in the dropdown of templates as “my templates”.
Pro tip 3:
Add your logo or website address to the Logos/Watermarks section. You can have multiple versions, and easily turn on and off which one should be active. The logo or website is then automatically applied to your design – but you can easily hide it for the entire account or just the individual picture.
Let the fun begin!
1. Inside of WordPress – open or create a post where you would like to add an image.
2. Click the Add Media button, just as you would when adding any other picture to your blog.
3. Choose the new Stencil tab that is now available to you.
4. Go to Templates in the blue left-side menu, a drop-down menu will be available above the templates to let you filter them further down. Pick any right now, we will adjust the size if needed in the next step. Bonus points if you already created your own template!
5. Below the image, it will tell you the size of it. Click on it, and find multiple sizing options. If you are not happy with any of them, go to custom and simply type in your preferred width and height.
6. Add text and images to your design. There is a myriad of stock photos and icons to choose from, and even over 100 000 quotes to quickly add to your design. When you are on a paid plan all of it is included, so you don’t have to worry about picking an element that you are then asked to pay for when you download the graphic.
7. When you are happy with your design, click the “add to Media Library” button. It will prompt you to pick a file name – do take advantage of this opportunity to help your SEO – and the dimensions. Click “Add to WordPress Media Library”.
You will then be taken to the familiar media library, where you can add a description if you want, and then hit “Insert into post”.
That’s all there is to it! You have now created and added your graphic to the blog post without having to switch between multiple programs, downloading and uploading and so on.
To really speed up the process I highly recommend taking the time to create your own templates and sizes, as mentioned earlier.
I find that Canva has a far better selection in templates than Stencil does and that that is where Canva truly shines. Stencil has a lot more stock images and graphics available than Canva though, and you don’t have to worry about using a graphic you need to pay extra for – it is all included.
The feature that really does it for me though is the WordPress plug-in that lets me grab images directly from Stencil and into my blogs.
Before I discovered Stencil I approached Canva about a way to at least send images from Canva straight to WordPress. They got back to me really fast about it, but there seems to be no immediate plan for such a feature.
Watch a quick video on how I created a simple graphic with Stencil:
I will create a more elaborate guide on how to make the most out of Stencil from a design-perspective, this post has mainly been focused on the functionality.
I hope it helped you get a clearer picture of what you can do with Stencil and if it is a tool that might suit your needs as well!