6 Free Visual Content Creation Tools You’ll Actually UseShawn Forno 12.05.2017
We get that sometimes a full blown animated explainer video might not be the right choice for your business or brand. You might not have the budget for a professional animated video or the time and energy to work with a studio to produce the perfect video. And make no mistake about it—high quality professional animated explainer videos take time and money. But just because you’re not in the market for a video doesn’t mean you can’t get serious about creating stunning visual content for your sales, marketing and social media teams. Here’s our guide to six of the best online visual content creation tools. Most of them are free, and the ones with a membership are worth the price of admission.
Get started making better content for your website, landing pages, newsletters, social media posts, and blog with these easy to use visual content creation tools. You might be surprised by the response you get from your target audience.
The Best Free Visual Content Creation Tools Online
Canva is amazing. This free to use online graphic design platform is one of the most intuitive, easy to use, and approachable tools I’ve ever encountered. You just create an account, pick from dozens of already formatted templates for everything from eBooks to twitter banners, and start designing. It’s honestly bonkers.
Canva comes preloaded with thousands of searchable images (that’s a big deal), fonts, templates, backgrounds, and all the tools you need to make each design your own. It’s fully customizable—change the opacity, size, shape and look of any element in these designs while also adding and building out your own campaigns for seamless (and consistent) branding across campaigns. And you don’t have to be a designer to use Canva.
You can use the free graphics and templates to make professional looking visual content assets in minutes without downloading a single .png file. However, if you are a designer (or like to mess with settings), there are plenty of buttons and features to satisfy you. And you can upload your own photos, logos, images, and graphics to add to existing designs or start from scratch. Canva also offers an optional suite of $1 add ons in practically every graphics category. If you can’t find the perfect image in their free options, it’s only a few bucks to get the look you want.
Canva is easily one of the best visual content creation tools online today. If you’re not using it, you should be.
Piktochart (pic-to-chart, get it?)has the same clean look and easy to use feel as Canva with a tight focus on infographics. I’ll admit that while Canva has infographic templates available to use, they can be tedious to use when you want to include a significant amount of data. Piktochart is the solution to creating information rich infographics that people will actually want to look at in minutes.
Simply choose from hundreds of templates, adjust the font, color, layout, and design, then add your content. Input your data and numbers and watch as Piktochart turns that excel spreadsheet nonsense into graphs, charts, and pies so delicious people will want to eat em. Nom nom nom.
Chrome EyeDropper Plugin
If you never went to graphic design school HEX color codes won’t make any sense. When I first started working with visual content creation tools for my early blogging jobs I spent way too much time trying to match branded colors. Then I found the Eye Dropper plugin for Chrome. Now when I see something like “#e95a34” I know that it actually looks more like this:
With Eye Dropper, you can easily grab and duplicate any color from any webpage online in seconds. It’s incredibly useful for keeping your branding consistent and borrowing color palettes from sites you like. I routinely snag color from all over the web and honestly wouldn’t know what to do without this genius, simple little tool. What’s even cooler, is that it suggests complimentary colors so you can design with a little more grace.
If you’re a social media marketer (or just want to be Instafamous), Wordswag is the best way to make your branded photos stand out online. This easy to use platform has been touted by some of the biggest names in the visual content marketing space.
Sue Zimmerman, author of Instagram Basics for Your Business simply says:
“Have I said enough about this one yet? The Word Swag app for iphone lets you add awesome text to your photos in seconds. Bam. And now the updated version has added a library of over 290,000 free images you can also use as backgrounds to create Instagram posts and more that differentiate you from everyone else in your space.”
They no longer offer a free version of the Wordswag app, but if you’re serious about creating efficient effective text based social media graphics, it’s worth the $4.99 to get this powerful, easy to use visual content creation tool right on your phone. No muss, no fuss.
Ok, so technically a free stock photo site isn’t a “visual content creation tool,” but that’s kind of the point. Sometimes all you need is a high quality image to get your point across or capture people’s attention in the feed. The royalty free stock photos from contributors on Unsplash is our favorite resource for quality visuals.
We use these images for a lot of our blog content. In fact, the header image at the top of this blog post is from Unsplash. These images also make their way into our social media posts from time to time. The best part about Unsplash is that the images are text searchable. You can find exactly what you’re looking for in minutes. Plus, you might stumble across a great image you’d have never searched for. Unsplash is a great tool for anyone on your content management team.
Professional Visual Content Creators
Not everyone is cut out to use these “easy to use” visual content creation tools. Graphic design is super hard. That’s why people go to school for years to learn it. It’s ok to let the pros take over. If you don’t have a creative bone in your body, but you need cutting edge designs that really speak to your brand, you can try 99designs. This freelance design marketplace is centered around connecting brands with designers for the design you actually want. And the results are off the charts.
Choose the deliverable you want (infographic, Facebook page, social media page, web design template), and let the pros go to work. You set your budget and then choose from dozens of finished designs. That’s right. Dozens. Sure, Fiverr is cheaper, but even with peer reviews you don’t really know what you’re getting, even after you send your vague rambling design notes. Making a graphic design is a difficult process when you have to interact with the designer. Skip the whole ordeal and let professional designers wow you with literally dozens of designs to choose from.
With over $200M earned for their designers, 99designs knows what good graphic design looks like.
Best Visual Content Creation Tools
The internet is visual, mobile and faster than ever before. Written content is always going to be a huge part of your inbound marketing strategy, outreach and SEO. But it never hurts to create stunning visuals to capture people’s attention. You know what they say about a picture being worth a thousand words right?
And if you ever decide to make the leap to video, download our free eBook to see if animated explainer video is right for you.