Okay, so setting a GIF as a featured image on a blog post is a bit over the top. But promo images are all part and parcel in the indie author’s marketing wheelhouse. As writers and not graphic designers, it’s hard to dedicate the time (or money if you’re outsourcing) to pretty pictures when words need to be written. But in a dwindling world of organic visibility, it pays to be on trend when it comes to marketing.
Now I’m no expert when it comes to graphics. I’m just an author muddling along trying to attract some eyeballs, but I have been experimenting with GIFs in preparation for a big promotional push I’m planning later this month.
Because the competition is fierce out there
Those lovely static 3d mockups aren’t quite as impressive now, and social media is increasingly embracing video in feeds. I don’t spend a lot of time on Facebook. But when I scroll? Inevitably I pause at a food prep video and watch people make things I have no intention of ever cooking. Same thing happen to you?
Now when I first looked at ways to animate a promo image, I looked at a blog post from Derek Murphy which mentioned glitterboo.com so I raced straight over. This online tool was pretty nifty, and for a yearly subscription of $8.99 you can add as much bling as you like to pictures you upload.
Here’s the result of one I was planning around with, and it came up pretty well. I could have spent more time on it and added different glittery things, but I set it aside to get some other things done. Now if you only want to invest fifteen minutes and a few dollars, there is nothing wrong with this option. And with what I know now, I could have made this image look a lot cleaner with the book image sitting over the top of the sparkles.
But I wanted… more!
Well actually, I saw an ad on Instagram which caught my attention. I thought I’d give Pixaloop a try, and after spending time sending images back and forth from my phone to laptop (annoying, but more on that later) I ended up with this.
Bling on a big scale. And that hypnotic loop in the background was what I was looking for when I began this venture. And yes, my book will be free in a few weeks time!
So don’t do what I did.
Pixaloop is a mobile app and I imported the promo image and began playing around with the filters. Then I dug out a forgotten stylus to try and get the lines clean around the book image. Then I started grinding my teeth and looked for a PC equivalent. More frustration. I went back to the drawing board and imported just the background image into the app and chose the overlay I liked.
See how dark this is? The overlay brightened it up, but you still want it to be sitting back in terms of focus for the overall image. I used the same background from my book cover and turned down the brightness. I did this in Affinity Designer, but there are other image tools you could use to do this.
So Pixaloop itself is free… with the option to go premium and get extra features. I did not go premium, and the basic elements are pretty decent. There are some tutorials on how to create what effect, moving water, overlays, sparkles etc when you set up the app.
Oh hold on, wait a minute, I could only export a video and not a GIF on a basic plan? No problem, ezgif.com had me covered. There’s a surprising suite of features there, all free, to convert video to GIF, compress files, resize, and so forth. All of which were super simple to use.
So next came the trickier part.
Which may be difficult to achieve without image editing software. But not impossible. If you haven’t checked my post on Affinity Designer, see if this doesn’t sway you to try out their 90 day free trial. What I needed was a transparent overlay to stick over the GIF, also done on ezgif.com.
The 3D book mock up came from diybookcovers.com which is an awesome resource, completely free. The Amazon logo came from a google search (images) and was a transparent file to start with. So the only thing I added was the ‘free on’ (I changed what was pictured below) and saved the image as a transparent png file.
And now I have a promo image which is a little more pause-worthy!
I’ve had to do more playing around with sizes and am trying to navigate the world of Facebook ads. But that is a whole other topic. You may also want to know how I got them onto my website, particularly as a featured image which doesn’t support GIFs.
So maybe that was a touch of pride. I couldn’t bring myself to write a post on sparkles and have the featured image come up static on my feeds. But it is important to note you can host your GIFs on places like gifyu.com free and use the URL’s to post them on your blog. Using them as a featured image required the Featured Image From URL plugin, and as I said at the start, I think that’s a little over the top. But if it floats your boat, I’m not judging.