This post is sponsored by Wondershare, the makers of PDFelement. All opinions are my own and reflect my honest first impressions after testing out the software. Thank you Wondershare for supporting me and my content!
Those of you that have been around for awhile know that I am all about working smarter not harder; I enjoy sharing my various tips and tricks for how you can be more efficient. If I were to name a
second third love to my cat and books, it’d be finding cool ways to get things done. And today we are going to talk about PDFs!
You might be wondering why I, a book blogger, am talking about PDFs today. As a data fanatic and a person who thrives on reports (and creates a lot of them for work), I was excited when Wondershare asked if I would be interested in trying out PDFelement and writing a post with my honest opinions. All the various possibilities started coming to mind, mostly about creating really pretty infographics with piecharts and data because I am extra like that.
I’ve been toying with the idea of including some more data and graphic-heavy posts on the blog in the coming months, but I’ve honestly been dragging my heels because I didn’t want to take up a lot of extra space or need to use HTML to format everything the way I wanted it to look. And then I had an idea. 💡 What if I designed something similar to the impact reports I have to do for work, but I create it as a PDF instead of using InDesign or Word (ew, don’t do this)?
What are PDFs and how can they help me as a blogger?
PDFs are an essential part of the digital age. In case you’ve been wondering, PDF stands for Portable Document Format and this file type is universally compatible regardless of the operating system or program that the file was created in. One of the greatest things about PDFs is that it greatly reduces the file size of documents, which helps when sending documents via email or uploading onto a website. And it’s that file size and design capability that I think will be useful to other bloggers like myself. Right now I tend to create my documents in Microsoft Word (which we all know doesn’t play nicely between operating systems) and then converting the final files into PDF. But what if there’s a better way?
What is PDFelement?
In short, PDFelement is an alternative to Adobe for viewing, editing, and creating PDF files available for Windows and Mac operating systems. I use PDFs all the time at work to send impact reports to donors, create interactive forms, and maintain the security of the digital information included in my documents. While I find Adobe to be great for viewing documents and creating PDF forms, in my experience I have not been able to design any of my impact reports directly. Which means that I fight with MS Word formatting and pray that when I Save As PDF it doesn’t go wonky (or doing it in InDesign). Because of this nightmare, I’ve not bothered with some cool things for my blog.
Cool Things You Can Do With PDFelement
I was pretty excited to see that everything that you are accustomed to doing with Adobe I am able to accomplish with PDFelement:
- Create new documents
- Edit and annotate PDFs for easy collaboration
- Fill out and create PDF forms
- The OCR function (Optical Character Recognition) actually makes scanned text editable (what is this magic?!)
My first impressions were pretty impressed, I must say! In looking at the features, I was most interested in creating new documents because of how much time I’d save if I didn’t have to fight with MS Word.
Creating a PDF Document Using PDFelement
One of the main reasons that I was excited for the opportunity to test out PDFelement and share it with you all is the ability to create highly designed reports and documents! Could my life be made infinitely better?! So in true Kal fashion, I didn’t consult any guides or tutorials and just dove right in to see how intuitive it is to use.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that there are a good number of templates available for common kinds of business-related documents: resumes, budgets, and various forms.
I did pull up one of the budget templates just to see how it looked, and honestly, it looks like something I would spend a bit of time creating in Excel but with none of the time invested. Winning!
Lots of options, but I didn’t see anything close to the two ideas that I had in my head so I decided to create a new document and start from scratch. I selected “New” and named the file, and a blank canvas was there for me to fill in. I’ve been thinking about making a media kit for Reader Voracious Blog and figured now would be a good time to give it a try.
For the purposes of this document, everything that I needed was under the Comment and Edit menus. I started by adding one of my blog’s images to the top of the document as a header, which was very easy to do by clicking the Add Image option and selecting the appropriate file. Once the header was in place, I started adding colored boxes by selecting the square shape in the View menu and text with the Typewriter option to bring a design together.
I was surprised how intuitive it was for me to figure out what I needed in order to create a first draft file. Look at what I was able to put together with minimal effort!
While I love the design and editing capabilities, I do wish I had a bit more control. For example, I wish that there were more fonts available to choose from (but there are a good number of nice ones to choose from!). I also wish I could add some padding between the border and copy within text areas, but I was quickly able to work around that by using the rectangle shape & typewriter function separately. My one frustration is that once I resized and placed an image in the document it was seemingly there forever (which is why the below example has a book genre piechart in it). It is likely that I am missing this, though, and overall PDFelement doesn’t have a steep learning curve.
I think that with a bit more practice, I will be able to create some really neat looking things using PDFelement and that is exciting for me!
How Book Bloggers Can Use PDFelement
I can hear you through the computer, friends. You’re asking me “this is really cool and all, but how does this help me?” PDFelement definitely has its rightful place as a contender to Adobe in the business world, but the fact of the matter is as book bloggers we tend to work specifically with our web-based content. But I genuinely do think that PDFelement could help book bloggers around their blog to make designing and sharing your content a little easier to manage.
Here are some things you might see me doing a bit more frequently on the blog:
- Creating cool infographics for your blog
- Review policies or disclaimers could be a bit more fun
- You could more easily include statistics and graphs into one file for your posts
- Organizing collaboration posts
- If you are a writer, this would be a great way to send out your chapters to beta readers for feedback and notes
- Creating marketing tools for your blog (like I did above)
One key thing I want to reiterate is that PDFs are smaller files, and you can actually embed them into your WordPress posts! I’ve decided to make use of this functionality by turning some of my guides into PDFs that can be downloaded and shared from my site, but also it be formatted to be consistent with my personal brand.
I am currently working on creating PDF versions of some of my other guides in the event that anyone wants to download them. If I ever decide to add my blog experience to LinkedIn, I will have these ready to easily upload as samples of my work that could lead to other career opportunities down the road as well.
I played around with PDFelement for a couple of hours and overall really enjoyed it! I especially liked being able to edit and annotate PDFs, as well as creating a designed looking document as a test. I can see myself using PDFelement to pull together statistics, data, and other fun bits into one document that can be uploaded to my blog to save space. I want to continue to play around and come up with some fun templates… what kinds of designed templates would YOU find useful? 🤔
PDFs are accessible and compatible across platforms regardless of the application or software that created the document and are a fantastic way to reduce file size and protect the content of your file. If you are a writer, I can see PDFelement being incredibly useful for receiving feedback from beta readers or agents in case you are wary about sending Word files. I love that the file remains editable in PDFelement for further tweaking and collaborating with others.
While you may not necessarily have a lot of use for your book blog (I doubt many of you are as nerdy as I am and wanting to create an annual blog report), PDFs are a vital part of sharing information online and you can only do the bare minimum with the free Adobe Reader. PDFelement is an alternative to Adobe and is actually much cheaper as well. If you find yourself needing to edit PDFs or create interactive PDF forms for either your personal or professional use, I recommend checking it out!