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My Lazy Shortcut Tools & Techniques I Use to Create Referral Banners Simply On-The-Fly in My Spare Time

Due to the number of referral sites / blogs I author I've found it easier to employ a central banner rotator so that I can make one change or edit in my banner rotator and have it affect all the sites I have that banner zone displayed.

I would make a mention of AdButler (www.AdButler.com) here as being a really great ad rotator service but I recently found out that they stopped providing the service free for new users (and I apparently got grandfathered in and they're not charging me - lucky me)  Anyways, there are plenty of other such services and even scripts that you can install to do the banner rotation task on multiple sites if so desired (just Google it)

Getting back to the point of this post I have three main banner rotation zones to take care of my 20+ sites set up.  One 468x60 zone for other people's sites (usually GPT sites) and one 468x60 banner zone devoted to self-promotion of my own sites (468x60 banners a really popular and easy to find sized banner for most any site which has a referral or affiliate program)  The last zone I have set up is for 'skyscraper' 160x600 banners (these usually end up being placed in sidebars of my sites)

Yes, as mentioned 468x60 banners are usually really easy to find and are provided 9 times out of 10.  160x600 (or even 120x600 banner which 'would do') aren't.  As things stood before I started mass producing 160x600 banners on my own then I had the two 468x60 rotator zones packed with 30-40 banners in rotation while the 160x60 zone was stuck with only 3 or 4 that I could find already provided.


Let me first show you the results of my amateur (but still not bad looking to me) 160x600 banner rotation design (mash-up / Frankenstein ) creations and I'll describe what I did to achieve these afterwards:




Ok, yes, first off I will admit that on most of these I was forced to make hard trade-off decisions on font size and in most of these cases I'm a bit displeased with how small the text actually looks (but it IS still readable - but yes, still too small)

The first cheap lazy ass free shortcut utility is called Pixlr (http://pixlr.com/editor/)   Yes, I used to be a big avid Adobe Photoshop fan and actually purchased the application and updates for over a decade way back then but I've since found that Pixlr does just exactly what I need it to do, is powerful, has a bunch of filters and settings, produces quality results, is extremely convenient and fast loading (it's online), and get this, it's FREE!

When making banners such as these (for other people's sites) I try to take note of their site's color scheme and feel and I'll usually try to produce my banners with those in mind.  If the target site has a background image or uses a color gradient for a background then I'll take that image and use it as the banner background.

To conveniently create color gradient backgrounds for banners or web pages simply I choose the free online Gradient Image Maker from Dynamic Drive located here (http://tools.dynamicdrive.com/gradient/)  It's really easy to just choose your starting (Top color) and ending (End Color) colors for your banner and what size your banner will be (Gradient Width and Height) and then click 'Get full size image' and then BOOM, save that image (I choose PNG here for best quality) and then load it up in Pixlr for your background canvass for your new banner.

Then, just poke around the target site a bit looking for images that you can save and resize to fit on the new referral banner.  Also, check the referral banners they already have for useful starting material.
If they have animated (gif) referral banners that have images that would be ideal separately if only you could just capture each frame of the animation and place it in its own file.  Don't fret, I have found exactly what's needed in this case.  Check out the 'Split an Animated GIF Online' (http://picasion.com/split-animated-gif/) free online utility (from Picasion.com) I found the other day.  It even allows you to change the size of the resulting frame images (which I found just awesome when I had to take apart a couple of the CenterOfPrizes.com 468x60 animated referral banners - I just specified that I wanted the frame images to be 160px wide)  That way you can just simply grab whatever images you need!

Oh, and while we're on the subject of animated GIF images I want to mention another really handy free online utility that I use occasionally to easily resize animated GIFs   The one I recommend simply calls itself the Free Online-Image-Editor at (http://www.online-image-editor.com/)  This editor actually has a whole bunch of other neat features that I haven't yet explored fully - I only use it for resizing animated GIFs at this point.

If you don't want to just plainly type in your needed text (though Pixlr does have a few decent ways to spice up the look of text using filters and layer style options) for your banner then take a peek at the CoolText Graphics Generator (http://cooltext.com/)   This site is a graphics noob's Godsend (lol) though it also is extremely convenient for producing high quality exciting logos and text blurbs even if you do know what you're doing in graphic design work.

Ok, once you are done creating something that looks decent then you have a choice in leaving it plain edged, adding a static border, or (my favorite) adding some pa-ZING! to your banner by running it through the LunaPic - Add a Border (http://www161.lunapic.com/editor/?action=border) tool (that's my secret to adding those cool animated glitter borders)  This utility also has a bunch more options and features that I haven't fully explored.

If you're curious where why I needed to make these skyscraper 160x600 banners and where they're placed in live rotation just take a peek here - most notably (refresh the pages) at GetPaidTo.org GPT Mega Forum (http://www.GetPaidTo.org/) [upper right], Free Cash Online Top Site List (http://www.FreeCashOnlineTopSiteList.com/) [lower left], Free Cash Pro Earn Free Cash Online Simply & Legitimately (Blog) (http://www.FreeCashPro.com/) [bottom right], HomeCash.org (blog) (http://www.HomeCash.org/) [bottom right], etc etc...
Well that's it, the rest is all up to you.  Whether your editing existing images or creating your own referral banners from scratch I hop this humble article has helped you to discover some useful shortcuts.  Enjoy !

Questions?  Feel Free to Contact Me


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