We all know that effective marketing means you have stand-out in someone’s social media newsfeed. If not, they won’t slow down and read what you have to say. In today’s world, that means creating graphically rich content. These are variously called memes, picture quotes, pins, or posters. In this article, we will use the term meme since it is the most commonly used term, albeit not totally accurate by a strict definition of the word.

An engaging meme can go viral and get thousands of views. But you are competing with lots of other content out there. If you are not a graphic artist or consider yourself technologically inept, you may feel that you will be forever limited to forwarding the work of others. However, if you want your brand to stand out, you need to create original content. Also, if you have an author page on Facebook, the algorithm that determines who sees what is posted on your page scores original content higher than forwarded content.

Fortunately, Adobe, the company that created Photoshop and other industry-standard graphics software with steep learning curves, also has a series of free, easy to use, web-based programs you can use to create videos, web pages, and social media posts in just a few minutes. I’m going to show you how to use Adobe Spark in this post.

1. Surf to http://spark.adobe.com You will see this screen. Click on the plus sign.

2. That leads to this page. Click on the link to create social graphics

3. You will then be taken to a page where you can enter the text you want to use.

I’m creating a meme for my writing school, The Writing Academy. I’m challenging potential students with the thought “If you don’t write it, who will?” So, I’m going to type that in. I want this to be a Facebook post, so I can just click, and the program gives me the optimum size for the post.

By clicking on “More Sizes,” you can find 15 additional formats for other social media such as YouTube, Etsy, and LinkedIn. They also have a preset for Facebook Page and Profile covers.

4. When you click continue, your words will appear on a generic background with a series of themes in the margin to your right. Each theme can be modified somewhat.

Mostly, right now you just want to choose one which frames the words in a way that fits your mood.

By clicking either on the icons in the middle of the artboard or by clicking on the links above the pictures, you can jump to adding pictures, changing the color scheme, or adding more text. You can also adjust the text font. Right now, I happen to like this contemporary looking sans-serif font. So, I’m going with that. I also like the semi-transparent box behind it. However, you can scroll through many different themes.

5. But I do want to make some changes.

I want to add another textbox with my URL in it, and I want to change the colors. Creating a new text box is as simple as clicking the “T+” icon. The box appears, and I drag it to the bottom center of the page. It is in a lighter shade in the color palette that goes with this theme. But I want something different. There is a list of color palettes. I choose one that appeals to me and the mood I want to create.

I can click on the palette multiple times to see different combinations.

6. Now, I am ready to add a background photo. I click on “background” and get this screen.

I click “Replace photo” to get a new picture to replace the generic one I have.

I can now upload a photo from my computer, download one from cloud storage from Adobe Creative Cloud, Lightroom, Dropbox, or Google Photos. I can also use some stock photo by clicking on “Find Photos.” That’s what I’m going to do.

I found a picture I liked and clicked on it. Looking at the picture, I realized the text block would cover the face of the writer in the picture. So, I resized the text block by clicking on it and dragging the “handles” (white dots on the corners of the text block) to adjust the size. Then by clicking on the box in the center, I could drag the box where I wanted it. I left the URL about where it was, but I adjusted the size just a hair.

So, here’s the finished version:

7. Next, I can click on the button at the top to share. I get this box.

I can click to download to my computer. This is the best option. It downloads as a .jpg file. I can also create a link to share to social media, but it is better you take the time to upload the meme directly to your news feeds.

Since they sometimes use examples of projects created with Spark, you can select to allow your project to appear in search engine results and be featured on the Spark website. If you prefer not to allow it, you can just turn that off.

If you are not a paid Creative Cloud member, there will be a small #sparkpost brand in the bottom corner of your finished product.

Spark is great, and I use it all the time, but, like any template-driven program, it is limited. And, there is the matter of the branding. However, you can learn how to create posts and e-book covers using simple and FREE online software in my new SavvyAuthors Workshop, DIY – Design-it-Yourself beginning January 9.

Biography

Terri Main has more than 40 years experience writing for publication. She has written novels, short stories, nonfiction books, magazine articles, video scripts, even a radio play. She is also the education director of The Writing Academy ( http://the-writing-academy.teachable.com ). In addition to writing, she has also taught written and oral communication for more than 30 years at all levels from beginner to graduate level. She lives in Reedley, California, with her four cats. “Hey, what’s a mystery writer without a few cats?” she asks.