Spend any time on the Internet and you’re bound to come across some great images, infographics, and other visual content. You’re probably thinking that yeah, it looks great, but their graphic design budget must be huge. In some cases, like major corporations, you’re probably right, but for smaller operations there are a few tricks of the trade that can keep your costs low, or even nonexistent, for your online content marketing needs. The secret is finding the free services and programs that turn visual content creation from a chore into a pleasure. Here’s eight of the best that we’ve found:
Canva designer tools make it easy to create stunning layouts with their abundance of fonts and graphics. With hundreds of beautifully designed templates to choose from, you can get more engagement and wow more followers. Share interesting quotes and texts, promote an event or attract customers by using the social media post template. Canva’s already prepared social media graphics allow you to quickly round out your online presence. Create Facebook covers, Twitter banners and Google+ covers, or make your photos and art stand out through Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest graphic templates. And another bonus, your account will save your inventory of design work so it’s simple to update for your next social media post.
It may have an, umm… unfortunate name, but Dumpr is an excellent tool. As a basic photo editor (and alternative to high-priced programs like PhotoShop), Dumpr adds a number of creative options, such as the ability to add cartoons and art with only a few clicks or transform your photo into a seemingly hand-drawn sketch. Just beware – playing with Dumpr is very addictive.
Not everybody is born with innate graphic design knowledge – for most of us, coordinating colors is something best left to the pros. If you’re in the majority of being clueless about colors, you might want to take a look at Pictaculous, an online and mobile app. What Pictaculous does is let you upload a photo and automagically returns a color palette that complements the image perfectly, meaning no more train wreck color combos, a definite plus in our book.
PlaceIt (Free, Monthly fee for advanced features)
Using a screenshot to illustrate your point is a common practice, but how can you jazz it up a bit? The answer is PlaceIt. Free for the basics (the paid option is a good idea if you’re planning on constant content creation), PlaceIt takes your screenshot and gives it a deeper context with a high definition background image, such as displaying the shot on an iPhone screen or desktop computer.
Tagxedo (Free) and Wordle (Free)
Want a nifty word cloud? Tagxedo and Wordle both have you covered. Of the two, Tagxedo has a more robust set of features and can take existing content like hot news stories or a Twitter feed to generate the most commonly used terms. In terms of speed, creating a word cloud may be the quickest way to incorporate visuals into your next piece of content.
One of the most compelling forms of visual content is the infographic – a way of taking data and giving it a visual representation. While these things look like a ton of work, there’s a way to get it done on the cheap and quickly. Infogr.am is made specifically for that purpose. Add your data, label it with text, and you’re ready to publish. Infogr.am is also actively developed, with a new video creation service in the pipeline.
Just need a quick pic to add to already-existing content? Maybe Compfight is what you want. This service searches through a load of Creative Commons images that make it easy to provide correct attribution to use it for your own purposes. Compfight also generates HTML code to make using the image a snap.
PowerPoint Templates (Free)
You probably remember PowerPoint from boring business presentations, but this software can actually be used for good as well. If you’ve already got PowerPoint installed, then browsing through the many freely-available templates can take a huge amount of the work out of the equation. In addition to Microsoft’s own official PowerPoint templates, a quick Google search will turn up countless results.
The next time you’ve got those visual content creation blues again, take a look at one of these programs and you could discover that adding stunning visuals is a lot easier than you think.