Let’s talk about beautifying your blog, the simple way. As we all know, images can make articles look interesting and increase their worthiness of social sharing. That doesn’t mean that you need to sprinkle them everywhere or use expensive designing software. Today, I’ll be showing you how to use Stencil and why you should incorporate this tool as part of your content creation moving forward.
Stencil at a Glance
Also known as GetStencil, this nifty app was first launched in Toronto to assist with online image creation for bloggers and small business owners. Since its inception in 2013, it has been favored by more than 120K global users.
The nature of the tool is very intuitive. On the left hand panel of the dashboard is the image depository and on the right hand panel is where the editing process takes place. When an image is selected, it would expand immediately into the editing canvas (on the right), allowing adjustments like filters, positioning as well as adding text columns.
Once satisfied with the end result, you may save, download or share the images. There are basically three user plans to choose from;
- The Free – Access to basic features and edit up to 10 images per month.
- The Pro – Access to more features and edit up to 50 images per month.
- The Unlimited – Access to unlimited features and edit as many images as you want.
Now, you’re probably wondering, isn’t this the same as Canva, another popular freemium graphic editing tool? Well, for the most part, they are, but there are some features within Stencil that may offer a better edge for you.
Why Stencil Rocks?
1 – Their stock photos are amazing and well suited for a variety of niches. With more than two million images to choose from, the options are endless. And since they belong to the creative common licenses, you can use them either for personal or commercial purposes without the need for attribution.
To find an image that is most relevant to your blog, filter using the photo categories or search with specific words like ‘car’ or ‘apple’ and the directory will pull out the relevant images. Besides photos, the stock also contains well over one million icons so if you are looking for favicon inspiration or ideas for any type of creative project, this is a good place to start.
2 – In order to make content more appealing for social sharing, they need to have images that are optimized for specific channels. Fortunately, each of these dimensions already has their own presets inside the Stencil’s editor.
So whether you are designing a Pinterest post or an eBook cover, you can always switch the dimension just beneath the image with a click of a button. I find that this sequence of editing is more convenient, especially if an image is reused for several presets.
That puts the image in a stationary position while switching the dimension frames instead of having to choose different frames and then upload the same image over again.
3 – Social sharing is made easier with Stencil as they provide integration with 6 different channels (Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Buffer, Instagram and Direct Linking).
You just need to include the URL of the content relating to the image, view either in desktop or mobile, and then click to share. This method makes sharing more convenient than having to go back to the original blog posts and initiate sharing from there.
4 – This creative app also comes with a browser extension that allows you to create images and quotes outside of the editor space. For example, when you find a photo you like on free sites like Photopin, you just need to preview and right click on the image to select the Stencil function.
Within seconds, the image will be transported to the actual editor, bypassing the download-upload route that we so often use with other programs. Again, the same method can also be used if you are a big fan of creating quote-based images. Just go to places like Goodreads, highlight the sentence, right click to select the Stencil function and quote will be brought over to the editing space.
So easy, right?
5 – Another thing good about the app is that they are constantly adding new images and features AND you’ll be notified of these changes on your dashboard. Just click the bell icon in the upper right and you can find all the new updates that have been made recently.
6 – Now, how about earning some extra money using Stencil? This app comes with an affiliate program which offers 30% in recurring commissions. Here’s the breakdown of what you can potentially make through their subscription referral.
- Stencil Unlimited (Yearly) – $43.20
- Stencil Pro (Yearly) – $32.40
- Stencil Unlimited (Monthly) – $6.00
- Stencil Pro (Monthly) – $4.50
This program is best suited for heavy users and niche bloggers who knows how to generate traffic online. You can write a product review, comparing Stencil with its competitors or create videos to show the step-by-step on how to create an engaging image using the app.
As you can see, the commissions aren’t bad. You just need to have a PayPal account, sign up through their official page here and you’ll get access to their promotional materials, tracking and a dedicated support team.
What Stencil Lacks
Since Stencil is a lightweight app, the editing features can be quite limited for the super creative so you may need a more sophisticated software for that. And while other programs can edit illustrations and charts, this app only caters for photos and icons at this point of writing.
Plus, it only works online and works best on a desktop or tablet devices. There’s no app that allows you to work offline or store your work to be done later.
So, Is Stencil Worthy of Your Time?
Stencil is essentially made for speed so that users can create and share images faster in the least complicated manner. That alone, in my opinion, is good enough for most of us budding bloggers who are inexperienced and often times, have too much to juggle on our plate.
With ample amazing stock photos and editing convenience, I find that their price is pretty fair too. Even if you are not a heavy user, the free plan is quite a good deal to start with. Despite some of its shortcomings, I still find that it’s a good online tool that can improve one’s overall blogging productivity and potentially make some extra money along the way.
I hope that by showing how to use Stencil, you’d be enticed to give this tool a try. For more tips about growing your blog, please take the time to check out my recommended training platform here.