Can’t afford a designer, but have Facebook cover image envy?
Do you want to have an amazing cover photo that attracts new readers as well as keeps your current fans coming back for more?
Well you’re in luck!
As of July 1st, 2013, Facebook has relaxed their guidelines somewhat, allowing you to add more than just the ‘20% text maximum’ to your image, as well as any other info you think may entice your fans to stick around.
Add to that the option to use the free online photo editing software site known as PicMonkey, and we’re in Facebook-cover-image-making business!
Tips for Making the Most of Your Facebook Cover Image
Before we jump into the ‘how-to’ of crafting your cover image, let’s check out a few pointers for making a Timeline cover photo really stand out:
The colors, mood and tone that you use on your website and other promotional materials should also be echoed in your cover image.
Remember, everything that you choose to reflect your brand is woven throughout your author platform and reinforces the image you wish to represent. So take special care in choosing images that support the vibe or feel you wish for your readers to experience when visiting.
You can include your name (or pen name), images of your book covers, your ‘jacket flap’ author photo, a quote you’re known for, or your tagline or message.
Get creative! Find or take photos that help tell your story: a photo of your office or writing space, a collage of your writing inspirations, an image that represents an underlying theme that runs through your work, or maybe a vision board of your goals for the next 3-5 years.
2. Update Regularly
PicMonkey makes it super easy to change or create new images, so you can always have a timely image that attracts the attention of your fans. Plus, every time you add a new photo on Facebook -including your cover image- it gets updated in the news feed, so you’ll gain more exposure each time you switch to a new cover image.
Consider adding a new cover photo based on upcoming events, like book signings, speaking engagements, a course your teaching, or a webinar you’re hosting.
Specific book promotions or pricing discounts can be highlighted, an ‘on sale’ date noted, or make a splash by announcing your upcoming book launch.
If you offer freelance writing services, or additional services as a non-fiction author, spotlight a service or offering on your cover image.
3. Add a Call to Action to Your Image
Facebook citizens are generally well trained. As people cruise through content in their feeds, they tend to Like, comment or share things when they feel moved to, and especially if they are encouraged to. So cultivate this tendency by asking your readers to act.
Include a call to action on your cover image that asks people to do something. Add a button that says ‘click here for more’, ‘grab it now’ or ‘sign me up’ – just make sure you give them a reason to first! Perhaps they can get info on your new book, a list of freelance services you provide, grab a free copy of an ebook, get free chapters from your next book or some other opt-in freebie.
Here’s how it works. When a visitor clicks on your cover image (because you’ve asked them to with a call to action button), a photo light box pops up. To the right of the image, is a description box where you will have added text (see below) and a clickable link or URL that will take your visitor to the appropriate page (email opt-in, freebie download, freelance services page or whatever you choose).
Here’s an example of my Facebook cover image, before a “click”:
And here’s the text and link in the description box, after the click:
Cool, right? (Want the live version? Check out YWP on Facebook.)
Another way to add a call to action on your cover image is to add an arrow which points to the Like button. The arrow draws attention to where you’d like your visitors to look, and it’s a subtle invitation that hopefully they’ll choose to accept.
4. Make It Market for You
Your Facebook cover image is a great place to show your uniqueness and personality. It acts like a mini-billboard, so take full advantage!
Use images that are impactful, intriguing and emotional as well as convey what you’re about. Show off the quality of your published work with images of your well-designed book covers.
Feature a stellar review, add a fascinating line from your book or add your own inspirational, witty or enlightened quote. For freelancers and some non-fiction authors, a client testimonial could be highlighted.
Ensure your calls to action are clear, compelling and updated to reflect your current marketing goals. Don’t, for example, have a link to a book signing that has passed, or to a writing class that is full.
5. Design Tips
Since your profile picture will appear in the lower left of your cover photo once you upload to Facebook, center or right align images and text to ensure your image looks balanced.
Also take the time to check how your new cover image looks on a mobile device, as a considerable number of your fans may be visiting your page even while they’re on the move.
Steps for Crafting an Amazing Facebook Cover Image
Now that you have some ideas for crafting a Facebook cover image that gets noticed, here is a video to walk you through the practical steps to getting it done using PicMonkey:
(Can’t see the video? Click here. To get the best image quality, click play, hover over the video and then click the gear button in the lower right to adjust the settings.)
Note: If you are already familiar with PicMonkey skip to about 9:30 in the video to see some Facebook cover image examples I made.
Prefer a checklist to a video? Here it is:
Create your Facebook Cover Image Using PicMonkey
- Go to PicMonkey.com.
- Choose either ‘Edit a photo’ or ‘Create a collage’.
- If you chose ‘Create a collage, click ‘Layouts’ and then click ‘FB cover’ to choose the template you prefer. (Note that the size is already optimized for the Facebook cover image at 851 x 315). Click ‘Open photos’ to upload your images from your computer and adjust your background as preferred, then click ‘Edit’ to get to the editor section of PicMonkey where you can add text, overlays and make other adjustments to your image.
- If you chose ‘Edit a photo’, select a photo from your computer. Click the ‘Basic edits’ tool at the top left of the editor, and then choose ‘Crop’.
- Click ‘Scale Photo’ and then click the arrow where it says ‘no fixed proportions’. Scroll down to ‘Facebook Timeline’ and click.
- Drag the crop box to include as much of your picture as you can, adjust until satisfied, then click ‘Apply’.
- Edit your image: add text, overlays, and make any other changes to your cover image that you wish.
- Save the changes, and open your Facebook page in a new window.
Change Your Cover Image in Facebook
- Once on your Facebook admin page, hover over your current cover photo and click ‘Change Cover’ as it appears in the lower right corner.
- Click ‘Upload Photo’, and choose the new cover you just designed in PicMonkey.
- WAIT! Before clicking ‘Save Changes’, make sure things are balanced and that no text or important bits of your image are obscured by your profile image that will overlay your cover image once saved.
- If some tweaking needs to be done, go back to your open PicMonkey window and make the necessary changes, then save.
- Return to your Facebook page and go through the above process to upload your image, and when you are satisfied, click ‘Save Changes’.
Add a Clickable Link in the Description
- Click on your gorgeous new cover image.
- When the light box pops up, click on ‘Edit’ under ‘add a description’ and add your text/call to action along with your link (URL).
Bonus Tip: Your Profile Picture
Your profile picture can be a photo of you, it can be a graphic with text or–if you’re super creative–you can integrate it into the cover image, like in this example:
(If you can pull this kind of thing off, you’re awesome!)
The image size for your profile picture is 160 x 160, and you can also use PicMonkey to enhance this photo by following the steps above.
Here’s how to change your FB profile picture:
- Hover over your current profile picture and click ‘Edit Profile Picture’.
- Upload the new profile picture you created in PicMonkey (or another) from your computer.
- Select options and click ‘Make Profile Picture’.
Still need a little more inspiration? Here’s a few examples to get the creativity flowing:
Do You Have What it Takes?
That wasn’t too bad, right? Practice makes perfect, and you’ll find that each time you craft a new Facebook cover image, your design sensibilities will grow.
If you feel that this might eat up more time than you care to give up, try doing three or four covers at one time (after the first, you’ll be in the zone 🙂 ). As long as they’re not time sensitive, you can just rotate these every three (okay five?) months.
So here’s the challenge! Go forth and craft your ‘most excellent’ Facebook cover image ever and then share the link, along with your experience, below. Then I encourage you to check out each other’s links to get even more inspired!
Got more tips, tricks or advice? Share that too! I can’t wait to see your cover image awesomeness!