Visual content generates up to 94 percent more views and increases engagement by up to 37 percent, according to a report by MGD Advertising. To make your social media posts stand out and drive more engagement and clicks, you need to create visual elements for every piece of content. Even if your content piece is entirely text, you need an eye-catching and attractive graphic for the accompanying Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and other posts, and to allow the post to be pinned on Pinterest. But tapping into a graphic design team for each blog, post, and pin isn’t always in the budget.
Fortunately, there are numerous free tools you can use to quickly and easily create images, even if you are creatively and graphically challenged. Following are seven tools that I use to find free images, edit those images, add text overlays, and create sharable quizzes.
Photo Pin allows you to search for Creative Commons photos and images. That means you can use them freely in your Web content, as long as you cite the photographer. PhotoPin makes it simple to do this by including code that you can copy and paste directly into your blog or site.
Search by keyword and sort by recency, relevancy, or interestingness. You’ll get a nearly endless list of images to choose from. Double-check the license on each photo, however, to ensure you are using and attributing it properly.
Example of beautiful photo found on PhotoPin from the search “hotel.”
Unsplash is a Tumblr blog that is updated every 10 days with 10 new high-res images that you can use for free through Creative Commons Zero licensing. Creative Commons Zero means that you can copy, modify, and even use for commercial purposes without asking permission.
The images are stunning, mostly landscapes or close-ups of everyday items. Because it’s on Tumblr, there is no way to easily search images, but a recently added grid view makes it slightly more efficient to scroll through older photos.
One of hundreds of beautiful photos available for free on Unsplash.
New Old Stock Photos
New Old Stock is another Tumblr blog filled with hundreds of vintage photos. These photos are in the public domain – they have no known copyright restrictions because the copyright has expired, the owner failed to adhere to restrictions, or conditions or the owner has granted Creative Commons licensing.
As with Unsplash, New Old Stock is difficult to sort through because there is no search functionality. But if you’re willing to spend the time scrolling and appreciate the classic aesthetic, you’re sure to find a gem.
Vintage photo found on New Old Stock.
Pinwords lets you easily add text overlays to photos or images. The options are limited – there are only six different text themes and only some can be recolored. But if you’re looking for an extremely quick and no-frills approach, this should be your go-to.
Text overlay added to image using Pinwords.
PicMonkey is a comprehensive photo-editing tool for design novices. You can upload a photo from your computer or Facebook, and modify in a variety of ways, such as cropping, recoloring, retouching, resizing, adding text or shape overlays, texturizing, and adding frames. Several of the editing features are free, but some require a paid upgrade to access them.
Polaroid frame, filters, and text added with PicMonkey.
Canva is an exceedingly simple tool that allows you to create various graphical elements with easy-to-use drag-and-drop functionality. You can choose from flyers, presentations, Facebook covers, posters, business cards, or several other content types, or choose custom dimensions. Canva offers a selection of layouts for each content type, and several options for adding text, editing format and colors, and adding backgrounds.
If you couldn’t find an image you liked with PhotoPin, Unsplash, or New Old Stock, Canva also has more than 1 million photos that you can purchase for only $1.
Text and graphic added with Canva from a text template.
PlayBuzz lets you create custom quizzes or polls using your own questions, images, and outcomes. The concept is the most difficult part when creating a quiz. You want the topic to be interesting and unique enough to motivate people to take it and share their results with others. Tapping into nostalgic cultural topics or making quirky, non-sequitur connections are two popular methods for creating intriguing quizzes.
Once you have your concept, PlayBuzz prompts you through the process of creating results, adding questions, uploading images, and including captions in a straightforward manner. The final quiz can be embedded in your site, and shared on social media channels.
Example of a custom quiz created using PlayBuzz.
If you are a social media professional with limited funds, limited time, or both, these seven tools will help you efficiently and cost-effectively create beautiful graphics that assist in increasing engagement and driving traffic to your content.
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