You need social media visuals. You’ve mapped out your social strategy, hired a photographer to take high-quality photos, and are eager to grow your social media following—but something is missing. You want your social feeds to have some variety, not just plain photos posted each day. You’d like your images to look like a designer spent hours adding your logo, perfecting proportions, and adding flattering filters. To help you realize your content marketing dreams, here are a few of our favorite free tools for creating engaging social media visuals that POP.
Our #1 go-to for making social media visuals is Canva. While we mix it up with some of the tools you’ll see below, Canva is the easiest to use for the layman, and packs a serious punch with hundreds of free design elements, templates, and a handy sizing tool that allows you to create designs the right size for most social platforms.
If you’re into design and have a good understanding of color theory, the elements they provide with their free membership will be all you need to make eye-catching images. But, if you have no clue what you’re doing and can’t figure out what looks good to your audience, their pre-made templates are super for dropping in a photo, editing text, and being on your merry way to a more engaged social following. You’ll find templates for Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, blog headers, and more. Bonus: if you end up loving this tool, their paid memberships provide access to stock images and much more. The only complaint we have about Canva is that it sometimes glitches out when downloading your design—a real time-suck if you’re on deadline.
We weren’t paid to say this. Scouts honor. We just really love this tool.
2. Pixabay & Pexels
These are our two favorite image search engines for finding royalty-free stock photos. We use Pixabay and Pexels when our clients don’t have a great picture for a topic they want to discuss. We also re-imagine these photos through crafty editing—often you can make even the cheesiest stock photo look original by adding effects and design elements. When layered with fun graphics, an attention-grabbing text overlay, and a filter, your audience would never guess that your designs use stock.
If you’re feeling kind-hearted, these sites allow you to donate to the photographer who shot the photo you’d like to use. Good karma is a win, in our humble opinion!
Crello is pretty similar to Canva, so when we can’t find a template we like or need some added variety, we look to this design tool. They have plenty of free templates, but it isn’t as easy to customize the template to your liking. This tool is also not as intuitive to use, so it may take you a bit longer to figure out how to manipulate images and text.
That being said, Crello is still awesome! We find that it has more crisp, minimalist designs that some of our clients prefer. It also has much cooler “background” options that are great backdrops for text, like quotes—but they’re only available to paying members. All-in-all this tool has some great basic options but is much more appealing to the paid tier.
4. Adobe Spark
Like Crello, Adobe Spark has its limitations, most of which you encounter as a free user. Their templates are impeccably designed, as you would expect from Adobe. The catch? You have to upgrade to remove their logo from your designs. If you’re not concerned about removing their logo, there are plenty of options for designing sleek, professional-looking social media visuals with this tool. It’s only $9.99 to upgrade and add your logo, colors, and plenty of other bells and whistles. If your needs are simple and you just want to add a logo and brand your images, Adobe Spark may be perfect for you.
5. Gimp Photo Editor
Gimp is a powerful image manipulation tool that is useful for resizing, retouching, enhancing, and transforming images. It can be used to design icons and create artistic visuals, but it’s not for the faint of heart. The GIMP interface, while easy to learn through online tutorials, can be overwhelming for the beginner.
GIMP is open-source software that can be used from your desktop after you download it. As far as we know it does not feature an accompanying mobile application, which is not ideal for digital nomads who want to post on-the-go. It has many of the features you would find in pricey options like Adobe Photoshop and a similar learning curve. If that doesn’t scare you, this is a truly amazing free tool that can take your images from amateur to enthralling.
No matter how amazing your images are, adding design elements and branding can take your social media to a whole new level. For engaging social media visuals that keep your audience coming back for more, try these 5 free tools! Too busy (or lazy) to make your own visuals for social media? We got you. Reach out to us for help.