A picture says a thousand words… or at least, it can be processed 60,000 times faster than words. If you want to get your audience’s attention, it’s time to get visual. Images with Tweets are 94% more likely to be retweeted, and blog posts featuring images break up the text and make your posts even more engaging. We’ve put together an all-star list of tools, user-friendly and free, that will get you designing and crafting imaginative images in no time at all.
Canva makes it easier for beginners to start creating beautiful visuals. Upon creation of your account, you’re taken through a tutorial which helps you get to grips with the basics… like putting hats on monkeys. Canva gives you complete creative control over the text, objects, and colors in your projects. The tool offers image, background, and layout options that can be quickly accessed from your left-hand sidebar, which makes building visuals as straightforward as possible.
Canva is free to access and, with an extensive library of images to choose from, takes the hassle out of sourcing images to use. You can also upload your own images to use, or for $1 you can purchase premium images from their library if one particularly catches your eye. The Canva team make it super simple to create visuals based on the social media channel you're planning on posting to, when starting a new project, you're able to select which image size you need (i.e. creating a Twitter header), or you can enter your own dimensions.
Infographics are all the rage, but without a designer to construct them, marketers find themselves between a rock and a hard place. Piktochart simplifies the infographic process and gets you creating stunning data-driven visuals in no time. You can build your own infographics from scratch, or choose from a selection of ready-made template themes. Both Piktochart’s interface and library are incredibly user-friendly, making it a great tool for amateur designers. Choose your background, font size, colors, and simply add images by scrolling through your left-hand sidebar whilst in the editor.
BeFunky is an online photo editor which allows you to easily edit photos, add filters, and create collages of multiple photos. Getting started is as simple as clicking the button and uploading your photo from either your computer, Facebook, webcam, Flickr, Photobucket, Picasa, or Sample. BeFunky is a pretty nifty tool that produces quality results for anyone who wants to quickly touch up a photo without downloading and installing software, allowing you to upload and start editing in seconds.
Recite This is a really easy tool to help you add more visuals to your social media posts or blogs if you don’t want to get too complicated with designing. Recite This allows you to enter your own text, be it an inspirational quote, a headline for your next blog post, a list of tips, or stats for your audience. Once you’re happy with your text, you can have an entire visual created for you using that text. Recite This will offer up a suggested theme and you can choose another until you’re happy with the creative. Your posts just got a lot more engaging.
Pictaculous is the tool you needed the last time you tried to 60-Second Makeover your home. This handy visual tool can help make sure your infographics and other visuals don’t burn people’s retinas, by suggesting colors that suit an image you upload. Your very own personalized color palette. We tested it out with a picture of this fox… they go perfectly together right?
Skitch is one of those handy tools that can be used for almost everything, whether you want to capture a screenshot or you need to screen grab data for your next big management report. Skitch is a free download which lets you click and drag over the area of your screen you want to capture. Skitch also comes packed with annotation features, which lets you circle important information, add arrows pointing to particular areas, and add text boxes. As an Evernote product, you can save and store all your images on your Evernote account, or save them to your computer.
If you’re in need of somewhere to source Creative Commons - a not for profit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge - images for your content, Compfight has access to the Flickr API to help you quickly source images that can be used free of charge, as long as you credit the original source. It’s also possible to purchase licensed photos easily for around $1 each. Enter your keyword into the search bar and choose from a range images. Make sure you filter for ‘Creative Commons’ images (find out more about licensing of Flickr images here).
Making GIFs to share on social media needn’t be a chore. Now that Twitter allows you to upload and share GIFs, there’s really no reason not to create them, p.s check out the great ways GIFs can be used in your marketing. Make A GIF makes creating GIFs from YouTube videos simple.
Your end visual will have a ‘MakeAGIF.com’ watermark, but when you don’t have a Graphic Designer around for your GIF-making purposes, it’s a great tool to have on hand. Here’s one we made of a hungry chipmunk.
The social image resizer tool provided by Internet Marketing Ninjas saves time and energy when optimizing your images for the different social media channels. Just upload your image, select which social network you’d like your image resized for, drag the selection box and position it on the image, and click ‘Done Editing’. Your image will be the perfect size and you can download it straightaway at no cost.
Slidely lets you create slideshows, galleries, or collages. Sign up for free with an email address or social media account, then connect your accounts to get images, browse the categories on Instagram (such as most popular) or upload your own images. We created this video in seconds by choosing some popular images on Instagram recommended to us, selecting a song from YouTube, throwing on a filter, and hey presto, done. Share, embed, or save. It’s a straightforward and great way to showcase photos from a conference or event without professional video editing skills. Do the same for collages and galleries of images to share with your fans.
Searching for that perfect shade for your image or website that you just can’t seem to find? If a particular color somewhere on your computer catches your eye, Instant Eyedropper can grab the color and give you the code you need, just by dragging and dropping the tool. It´s a free download and will sit in your system tray until the next time you need it.
GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is photo editing software which you’ll need to download and install. It comes with a surprising amount of free complex tools and features, a budget-friendly option for amateur designers looking to improve their skills or anyone wanting creative freedom for their designs. If you’re not so hot with designing but want to give GIMP a try, they offer a full user guide and tutorial section which walks you through creating simple shapes and building your design knowledge (bonus: their user guide is available in multiple languages).
Technically not on the free list, but if you have a little budget to spare and want your design work to be handled by a professional - without hiring a full-time designer - Visual.ly offers a service for brands which lets you submit a brief, get connected with a design team to fulfil your wishes, and create original visual content for your marketing needs.
What other tools do you use to create stunning visuals for your social media posts? Let us know your recommendations in the comments.