In the world of digital media, nothing is more important than what catches the eye. Stock imagery is notoriously staged, and Photoshop has an intense learning curve. But you're in luck!
With all of the free graphic design tools available online, you can take advantage of the wonderful world of visual media when competing for eyeballs. Creating imagery today no longer requires a degree in graphic design.
Here is a round-up of the best resources for creating impactful and original imagery.
Sure, you can slap a stock photo up on your website, or even one you shot yourself. But in this day and age you’d be better off taking a moment to edit your images before posting. A 2015 Picmonkey survey revealed that people are more likely to notice and engage with edited images that have improved features like color and focus. You can use smartphone apps or online software to edit your images easily and share or publish them on either platform.
Image via PicMonkey
Start with amazing photos—VSCO Cam and its tools for iOS and Android go beyond the preset filters of Instagram. VSCO Cam is free to download and use, and helps you learn about composing a photograph before you even take it. It also has easy-to-use editing tools for manipulating the basic features of an image like exposure, temperature and contrast, to start with the best image possible. The basic filters are free, but you can also purchase additional filter packs within the app.
Snapseed is another free app (from Google) that helps you enhance your photos. Like VSCO cam, Snapseed requires a little fooling-around time to get used to their functions, but there are plenty of tutorials and blog posts by users who've gone before you that can help you shrink your learning curve.
Picmonkey is free and easy online photo editing tool that allows you to touch up your images, create collages and add text or graphic elements. It’s free to use and includes a dizzying list of choices. Start with the preset dimensions for creating Pinterest images and collages to put your photos to good use. The “Royale” paid version ($4.99 per month or $33 a year) includes even more filters and graphics options. The site’s blog and tutorials contain a gold mine of information for novice photographers and editors and can help you with anything from your Facebook cover design to business cards.
Phonto and Word Swag
If you want to easily add some eye-catching text to a photo for your Instagram or Facebook feed right from your phone, Phonto is a free app for iOS or Android that lets you do just that. There are 400 fonts to choose from, and you can change the color, style, size and perspective before you save and share. You can also choose to lay text over graphic backgrounds instead of photos to create a Pinterest-worthy inspirational quote.
Image via Word Swag
At a loss for words? The popular Word Swag ($4.99 for iOS) has even more design features and includes a quote library if your own thoughts just aren't enough.
With the advance of technology and the increased speed of the Internet, using GIF (graphics interchange format) files in business marketing has grown in the last several years. The GIF (pronounced “JIF”) is best used for short animations. You can convert photos or video into an embeddable file for your website or Facebook, Google+, Tumblr or Twitter.
You can also utilize these files to make an official statement in response to a media inquiry. For example, when Google was asked about changes to YouTube, they responded with a GIF as their official statement.
MakeaGif is a free tool for creating GIFs and has a friendly personality. From its support page: “Here at MakeaGif we don’t believe in limitations, you’re a unique snowflake capable of anything!” You don’t need toregister for an account, but doing so will unlock more features. This site is turnkey—just click your source (photos, video file, webcam or YouTube link) and the tool with convert your material into a 5 second .gif. You can also share GIFs from their extensive library of files created by others.
Similar to MakeaGif, 5SecondsApp lets you use your photo to make or share a GIF from your smart phone.
You can use Flixel by Cinemagraph Pro to create and share files for only $1.99 a week. A cinemagraph is an image in which only part of the frame is moving. To make one, you essentially create a GIF, freeze the frame, and select just one area that shows the video looping. This format has been around for a while but lately it has been growing in popularity as a social media marketing tool.