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21 free, easy-to-use design tools and resources for marketers

Is it just me, or is picking out the art to accompany a blog or social media post sometimes more difficult than the writing itself?

Everyone, including me, skims over big chunks of text. Half the battle of a strong post is making sure that you display your (stellar!) content in a way that’s easily digestible and visually appealing.

What’s awesome is the plethora of free design tools out there that are super easy to learn and don’t require much tech-savvy, as is often assumed with learning new software. I’m a prime example. Not to mention it’s just fun creating your own graphics.

As much for my own benefit as for yours, I researched and gathered some great options to consider for marketers who a) need to be able to create quality, social media ready images quickly and b) are working on a budget. (Free is everyone’s favorite, regardless.)

Finding quality images

These options below take the pain out of worrying about copyright and image licenses. If you’re writing blog posts even just once a week, buying photos gets pricey real quick.

1 - UnsplashA community where photographers have generously donated their exceptional photos to be used by the public. Giving credit is encouraged, but not required.

unsplash

2 - StocksnapYou can sort photos by number of views, number of downloads, what's trending, and most relevant. You can also save your own favorites so you never lose track of a photo. (I found the featured image for this blog post here!)

3 - Snapwire

4 - Death to the stock photoBoth cool options if you want to sign up to have new images delivered straight to your inbox.

5 - Pixabay.com

6 - Pexels.comBoth decent go-tos for free stock photography.

Image editing software

7 - PixlrNoteworthy editing software that’s available as a mobile app, webapp, or desktop app. With Pixlr Express (the webapp), you can upload your own photos, paste in an image URL, use your webcam, or start a collage.

pixlr

 

8 - SumopaintA versatile photo editor that functions entirely within your browser. (You can download it to your desktop if you prefer.)

10 - BefunkyThis is a photo editor, collage maker, and graphic designer rolled into one - along with some great tutorials to get you started. It includes templates for everything from invitations, brochures, cards and posters, to social media posts and blog titles. (The blog title template discovery was my favorite.)

befunky

Creating graphics, infographics & charts

11 - CanvaCanva made the top of most lists I found on graphic design software, but I’m still mentioning it here because I absolutely love Canva. They have tons of free images, illustrations, icons and templates - all come pre-sized for common marketing posts and collateral, or you can create your own custom sizes. Easily upload your own images, too, to overlay with text or illustration.

canva

12 - Infogr.amData visualizations can be a pain - and Infogr.am allows you to make professional looking charts, infographics and maps in minutes.

13 - PiktochartAn excellent tool for creating infographics. The best part is that they have over 500 templates for you to choose from, and you can customize fonts and colors.

14 - EasellyAnother great infographic creator. Thousands of templates to choose from, or start with a blank canvas and drag and drop a theme to get started.

easelly

 

15 - VenngageHundreds of templates available for various types of graphics - reports, posters, promotions, infographics and social media posts.

16 - Google ChartsA diverse gallery of chart options, customizable to fit the feel of your website, and of course the huge plus of connecting to your own Google Analytics data.

17 - RawA very user friendly tool that allows you to easily (and safely) import your data, format it, and export the vector file to embed in your website. For the designers and developers out there - you can contribute to the project on Github.

Mobile apps for creating images on the fly

18 - InstaquoteA fun way to customize text. Various colors, backgrounds and fonts to choose from so you can design a professional looking quote in about a minute. (I've used this to post an inspirational quote or two.)

instaquote

19 - SnapseedPhoto editor developed by Google (another personal favorite). 24 tools and filters to choose from.

20 - Font CandyA great tool for overlaying or masking photos with creative type.

fontcandy

 

21 - PrismaA way to mix things up. Upload your photos and transform them into works of art after the styles of Van Gogh, Picasso, Levitan and others.

prisma

 

Creating your own professional, visually stunning marketing materials has never been easier. Design away, fellow marketers!

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Want to learn more about creating great content for social media? Join us at the Social Media Strategies Summit for hands-on training and case studies.

Breanna Jacobs photo

Breanna Jacobs manages GSMI’s conference production team and is the lead for the company’s digital marketing conference portfolio. She produces 8+ conferences per year, working directly with senior level speakers and collaborating with marketing and sales teams to drive event publicity and content marketing initiatives.

She’s researched and launched several new, successful programs from scratch including the UX Strategies Summit, Mobile+Web Developer Conference and the Brand Strategy Conference.

Prior to GSMI, Breanna was an ESL teacher, studied and taught abroad in Spain (Olé!). She graduated with a BA in Global Studies from UC Santa Barbara. She’s a runner, bookworm, and traveler.

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