Kaylee and laptop with captionNot all photos are ready to be posted straight from a camera to your organization’s website or social media account. They might be the wrong proportion or have too much detail. Taking three minutes with some image editing software can help a lot… if you can do what you need to quickly and easily.

I happen to like full-featured software. As in, software that does lots of things. But in software, more features = takes longer to learn. Some of my clients don’t share my interest in learning full-featured software. So I think I’ve been recommending too much of a good thing. You want simple image editing? I’m suggesting PicMonkey.com.

PicMonkey enables you to do the most common edits you need before posting images on the web. PicMonkey is an online editor, so you have to be on a browser on your computer (not a phone or tablet).

Let’s review the main steps to making your organization’s images work better on the web, in the order you should do them:

1- Crop — get rid of what we don’t need to see (background, extra faces) so that your subject can pop. Crop images to the correct proportions before you post them to your Facebook header or other social media sites. Here’s an excellent guide to the correct sizes for different social media environments. I hope you also have standard image proportions for your own website: if so, crop for that as well.

2- Brighten — images by non-professional photographers often benefit from a little more brightness. In PicMonkey, use their Exposure –> “Auto-adjust” button. (In most of the full-featured image editors this is “Auto Levels.”)

3- Proper file size — PicMonkey has three preset file-size settings. You want to balance image quality (so the picture looks good) with smaller file size (which helps the image load faster).

Adding text — PicMonkey is fast and easy for laying text right on your image then adjusting placement, size and color. Add some clever or insightful text to your picture and off you go with something highly shareable on social media. (If you are adding text: crop and brighten first, then add text, then save the proper file sizes).

Why PicMonkey? Because it’s simple enough to learn fast, and does the basics well. There are lots of other online photo editors, but most of them are “free” because they have horrible (horrible) privacy policies. These “free” products place tracking cookies on your computer so that they can collect data on you that has marketing value. PicMonkey.com has reasonable privacy policies and just-enough features. They’re ad-supported, or you can pay for an ad-free version with more features. Maybe someday they’ll ad a free-for-nonprofits license…

And if you want suggestions for full-featured image editing software for PCs and Macs:

  • The Adobe Creative Suite (even with a TechSoup nonprofit discount it’s still not cheap, but it’s the standard).
  • Irfanview for fast image previewing on PCs, and plenty of editing tools. Free.
  • GIMP which is comparable to Photoshop. Mac and PC. Free.
  • I’ve had Inkscape recommended to me as a full-featured vector editor for both PCs and Macs. I haven’t used it much, but it seemed solid. Free.

You don’t need to spend a lot of time and money to make your organization’s photos look better. But get used to taking a few minutes with an image editor and you’ll notice the difference.

Image: my dog Kaylee, who I help with her blog. In this case, Kaylee dictated text and I added it using PicMonkey.com.