One of the questions I’m asked most isn’t anything to do with how to build a profitable blog.
It’s this: “who designs the images for your blog?”
I wish I could say that I was some sort of graphic design wizard, but the truth is I’m not.
Far from it.
So what’s my secret?
A service called Design Pickle.
From spending hours creating images that looked lame. To spending minutes writing a design brief and getting a set of awesome images back the next day (like what you’ll see at the top of this post).
And I get more shares, backlinks, and engagement as a result. Incredible.
In this post, you’ll learn what Design Pickle is, my experience, examples of what they’ve created, how to get the most out of the service and more.
Let’s dive right in:
What is Design Pickle?
Design Pickle is a flat rate graphic design service.
You write up a brief, send it over to your designer and they email you back kick ass images.
I use them for all of the images on Blogging Wizard apart from logo’s and infographics.
So, all my featured images, Pinterest images and the custom images within some blog posts – that’s who makes them.
What else can they do apart from blog images?
They can create social media images, flyers, banners, t-shirts, brochures and do edits to existing images, etc. They can also do infographics if you provide all of the data & stats.
Now, there are some things they can’t do – such as logo’s, and branding. These are much more complicated and wouldn’t work with a service like this.
Design Pickle does offer unlimited designs. This means you can submit as many design requests as you like, and they’ll work through them as fast as they can.
Your mileage might vary, but I typically get 2 design requests delivered every work day.
Your design queue can be adjusted as needed, too, which is pretty sweet!
My experience with Design Pickle
I’ve been a customer for over 3 years and submitted 1800+ design requests.
When I first subscribed, we had a rocky start but that was my fault.
I soon learned that the designs I got back were only as good as the design brief they had to work with.
So, I knuckled down and wrote out a template brief that included as much information as possible.
This made it crazy fast for me to fill in but still gave my designer enough information to work with.
And over the years, I’ve had the same dedicated designer, John (he’s awesome). We’ve worked together for so long that he knows exactly what sort of images I’m looking for.
You only have to scroll through our blog archives to see plenty of examples. But here are a few favorites:
Note: Design Pickle created this image collage. The brief took 2 minutes to write and was delivered the next day. Nice and easy.
While we typically focus more on the cartoony images on BloggingWizard.com, we’ve been experimenting a lot with different styles of Pinterest images.
And it’s paying off – We’ve had 2,200+ repins in the past 31 days.
And based on examples I’ve seen for other clients, Design Pickle is capable of a lot more!
7 things I seriously love about Design Pickle
- Dedicated designer – Working with a single designer (unless they’re on holiday) means they learn what type of images I like. Great for consistency. My dedicated designer, John, is incredible.
- No contracts – I can cancel my plan anytime. But I get so much value out of this service that I don’t think I’ll ever cancel.
- The service is rock solid – Design Pickle have been going for a while now. I’ve been a customer for over 3 years. The processes and support team they have in place is incredible. I’ve signed up for services from other providers that offer similar “unlimited” style offerings and one in particular just wasted my money because they didn’t have the kinks worked out in their service. This isn’t the case with Design Pickle – they know what they’re doing and they deliver.
- Huge number of design assets – Working for so many customers means access to more design assets. This saves time for everyone and the upside for the customer is more high-quality imagery.
- Choice of which file types you get delivered – You get to choose which file types are delivered. If you want editable files like PSD’s, AI files, etc – you can select which you want. You’ll also get the “ready to use” type files like PNG, JPG etc. And you can specify which file types when submitting your request.
- Unlimited projects – I run a bunch of different websites, and that list is only going to increase. But that’s not going to be a problem 🙂
- My branding assets are kept on file to save everyone time – Whenever I launch a new website, I send the branding assets (logo files, etc) to support and they get them saved. So I just need to specify the project in the subject line of my email and they do the rest.
How I use Design Pickle right now
Since I’m asked about my images so much, I wanted to share a bit more on exactly how I use Design Pickle right now.
When a new blog post is completed I’ll decide whether we need an in-content image to backup any of the content. If it does, I’ll write up a brief and submit it to Design Pickle via email.
I’ll talk more about the briefs in a moment, but it will generally include a detailed description of what I need, required image dimensions and links to image examples for inspiration.
I then have three templates for three different design briefs:
1) Featured images
Each set of featured images are focused around a single design concept, using “flat” styled images. They’re cartoony, but not 3D.
I ask for the image to be delivered in several different sizes:
- 700 x 300 pixels – This features a flat/cartoon-like graphic overlayed onto a background. The image dimensions are what I use for my featured image in WordPress
- 1200 x 628 pixels – This image is the same as above. And is sized specifically for when content is shared to networks like Facebook and LinkedIn. We use a plugin called Social Snap for our share buttons that allows us to upload other image sizes for certain social networks.
- 1080 x 1080 pixels – This is the image we use for sharing on Instagram.
- 735 x 1102 pixels – This image is different than the others. I ask for the text to be overlayed onto an image, with the same cartoony graphic as the other images below it. It also has the Blogging Wizard logo. This image is used for sharing on Pinterest only.
What’s great about ordering these different dimensions is that I have an entire set of consistent images that I can use for the blog and popular social networks.
2) Extra Pinterest images
While consistent images are great for branding, they don’t always perform as well on Pinterest.
So, I submit a request for extra images that I’ll share directly to Pinterest. These will still have our logo on and be the usual 735 x 1102 size, but they’ll look completely different.
In my request, I’ll send 3 different titles for the post and example images for inspiration.
This gives me the ability to experiment with different designs, and schedule pins throughout the year for extra exposure. And since the lifespan of a pin is longer than any other type of social media content, the results can be great.
3) Detailed Pinterest graphics
Pinterest is a traffic powerhouse so I’ve been working on upping my Pinterest game.
Infographics typically do well but they can be costly which makes scaling tricky.
Here’s what I do instead:
I create a short and snappy headline based on the original post title. Then I look over the post to find some information that could be used in a standalone graphic.
Depending on the size of the post, this could simply be a list of each of the tips in a single post or it could be the sub-headings within a section of the blog post.
The great thing about these types of images is that they add immediate value for the reader, and can encourage sharing even more.
Now, each of these brief’s counts as a single request. So for each post I’m submitting 3+ requests, depending on how many in-content images we need.
And some won’t need any – I like imagery to be as purposeful as possible.
It’s also worth noting that we will sometimes use in-content blog images on social media to promote the post.
Note: As I build out our Instagram strategy, I’ll be making changes to this framework. I’ll likely expand my design requests for each post to include quotes and tips from blog posts.
A few other ways I use Design Pickle
I mainly use Design Pickle for design work on new posts, but there are a few other ways I leverage their services.
For example, I had a logo for one project that wasn’t high enough resolution – they converted it to a vector graphic and delivered a much higher resolution image.
Then there’s the editing of old images on the blog – particularly infographics.
I had an infographic created for my post on how to get more Twitter followers. Since then I changed the Blogging Wizard logo. I wanted to make the branding consistent so Design Pickle were able to edit the logo and make a few other tweaks for me.
Outside of editing existing images, they create some stellar graphics that I use when updating older content too.
In my post on SEO tactics, I discuss the importance of going over old posts and updating them.
This can help you get a nice bump of traffic – especially from search engines.
Most of the time people update the content only, but what can help push things even further is fresh imagery. Particularly imagery that other people will want to reference in their articles (that means backlinks + more traffic for you).
Recently, I did a complete rewrite of my post on how to choose a niche for your blog. I wrote it years ago and it was in drastic need of an update.
To accompany the rewrite, I had Design Pickle create a fresh set of featured images as well as some in-content images too.
This included a custom graphic to back up one of the points in my post:
At the end of the post I added a list of niche ideas. So instead of displaying this as text, we displayed the information as an image instead.
It’s a big image so I won’t include it here, but if you’d like to take a look, it’s at the bottom of this post.
Both of these custom post graphics are linkable assets. This means they can be leveraged for link building purposes! And used in social media campaigns.
Note: To get images like these, it does require a subscription to Getty Images. This is managed by Design Pickle directly, so you just pay an extra $25/month. Well worth it, in my opinion.
How to get the most out of Design Pickle
The designs that are delivered are only as good as the brief you submit.
And to save you as much time as possible, you should create a template for each type of image request you want to submit.
Here are some good things to include in your brief:
- A detailed description of what you need
- Links to examples for inspiration
- Your target audience
- Color’s to use, or not to use
- Image sizes (you can request multiple sizes if you like)
- Any other notes you think will help your designer
The more information you include in your brief, the less likely you’ll need revisions. And that’s a good thing because your designer can be working on new designs instead of fine-tuning existing designs.
I also recommend submitting requests in batches. All this means is gathering up your requests and submitting them back to back.
Batching, in general, is a great way to improve productivity.
How much does Design Pickle cost?
This service is a flat rate so pricing is simple. At the time of writing this post, their monthly rate is $399 (or 20% off with annual billing).
And for the images that I get, a Getty Images subscription is required. It’s handled through Design Pickle, so you just pay them $25/month. so, $424/month in total.
Each month, I get over 40 requests delivered. That’s usually 2 requests per work day.
So, we’re talking less than $11 per request. And each request may contain multiple images if they’re for the same project (e.g. how I order featured image sets for blog posts).
For more time-consuming images, I always limit those to 1 image per request. And if I include too many images in a single request, my designer will let me know so we can break them into multiple requests.
You’ll get the most mileage out of Design Pickle if you can provide a steady stream of requests. I need quite a few designs each month, so I’m able to keep my design queue full.
And even if I didn’t, sure, graphics would work out a bit more expensive. But the reality is that they’ll still be a better price and better quality than if I were to get them from elsewhere.
Who is Design Pickle for?
Design Pickle is a great way to offload simple design tasks. And it doesn’t come with the interviews, HR, and drama that hiring a new team member sometimes comes with.
This means you can claw back some of your time and spend it on growing your business.
Ultimately, you need to be able to justify the cost, like with any purchase. But you also need to be able to submit enough design requests for it to be worthwhile.
And I’m getting requests completed for under $10 each is because I fill up my design queue – there’s always something for my designer to work with. And if my design queue was only half full, it’d still be worth it.
I bootstrapped the launch of my blog and did all of the design work until it was making more than enough money to cover costs like this. It’s purely a case of waiting till the time was right for a service like this.
It’s also worth noting that if you can’t convey what you need in an email, Design Pickle probably isn’t for you.
For example, they don’t offer logo’s and branding and for good reason – these are specialized services that are more costly. They can do infographics but you’ll need to provide data/stats and give them an extra day since they’re more time-intensive to create.
I offset Design Pickle services with several other services. For example, I hire a designer on Fiverr for my logos called Obus – he is incredible.
And for infographics, I sometimes use PeoplePerHour because I can get content repurposed into a few extra formats at the same time.
Design Pickle is like having a part-time graphic designer, but it’s way cheaper and comes with none of the challenges that hiring a team comes with.
Someone else takes care of that 🙂
After being a customer for 3+ years and submitting 1,800+ design requests, I can say without a doubt that choosing Design Pickle was one of the best decisions I’ve made in a long time.
True, Design Pickle won’t be a good fit for everyone. You’ve got to be able to justify the cost and need enough design work to make it worthwhile – if you can tick both of those boxes – you may be on to a winner here!
I used to spend an hour making each set of featured images and the result wasn’t great. I still have some of them saved in Canva (cringe).
Now, I spend a few minutes writing a brief and the quality of the work delivered is incredible.
This means I get more time to spend growing my biz – exactly what I should be spending my time doing!
Will I continue using Design Pickle in the future? You bet!
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