You know you’ve seen them. Those blogs or social profiles with super rad graphics, and you’re like ‘Woah Nelly! I just wish my content could look even the slightest bit like that!’. Visual content comes in all shapes and sizes, and I’m not just talking about infographics. It can be as simple as mixing type and photos perfectly, or as complex as creating an interactive calculator that estimates the cost of your services.
But creating your own visual content is easier said than done. You might know how to market your products and services, but visualizing your message is a different story. With so many font choices, space options, and facts to explain, what are the best ways to get your point across? And once you’ve nailed that, where can you go to quickly create visual content worth bragging about? Get your paper and pens out, there’s some good stuff coming up!
Dos and Don’ts For Visual Content
If you’re creating visual content, I have a few simple design tips for you.
Mixing Fonts: Don’t mix more than two fonts, one is enough, two is plenty, and three or more is just too much. I’d suggest sticking with one.
Hierarchy: Make sure the most important information is the first thing you look at. If it’s not, then something needs to change.
Mixing Many Colors: Try to keep it simple. The more colors, the more annoying. Never use more than 5, and make sure they don’t clash. I suggest using 2-3 very contrasting colors. I always love black and white with one bright color.
Space: White space is good! When there’s too much going on, it’s so easy to get confused and lost in all the information.
Simplicity: Goes hand in hand with space, make sure to keep things simple. No need to get more graphics involved than necessary.
5 Desktop Apps for Visual Content
Need to do some quick content visualization, but lacking advanced designer skills and software? Try some of these desktop applications for visual content.
PixTeller: At first glance, PixTeller looks a bit like Pinterest, and you can even “repix” a design. With this site, you can upload an image and use someone else’s design over your photo, or you can create your own image. You also get to choose your background color, write out your text, or insert one of their icons (they offer thousands).
Canva: Canva is a really awesome tool for marketers. They provide templates for Twitter, Facebook, or blog posts, and you can even create a custom image size if you need a specific size that they don’t provide. Canva provides pre-made layouts that you can select and edit, along with photos that you can use and purchase from them, or you can keep it simple and upload your own photo. They really make everything extremely simple to create, and offer many different stickers and icons to add to your design.
Pixlr: They offer three different editing programs: Pixlr Editor, Pixlr Express, and Pixlr O-matic. I suggest Pixlr Express, since it offers lots of adjustments, filters, overlay effects, borders, stickers, and even your own type.
PicMonkey: This is a very nice, simple app that offers a lot. They are similar to Canva, in that they offer specific sizes for different uses. They also have a lot of photo editing tools that Canva doesn’t provide. You can touch up your photos and add text or stickers to them, and it’s a really easy app for all skill levels.
Piktochart: Now, this app isn’t exactly for editing photos, but I do think it will come in handy when you need some graphics. It offers templates for infographics, reports, banners, and presentations. It’s a really great resource if you need something with more information. I highly suggest you roam around their site a bit.
5 Mobile Apps for Visual Content
There are tons of free or inexpensive mobile apps, making it easy to spice up your boring photos with text, filters, doodles, and more.
Photofy: This free app allows you to crop, add filters, as well as overlay designs, stickers, text, and frames. It’s really easy to use, and has a huge amount of designs from a variety of design partners.
A Beautiful Mess: This $0.99 app was made by two of my faves, Elsie & Emma of A Beautiful Mess Blog. This app is really fun and easy to use. You can add custom filters, text, doodles, and frames to your images.
Rhonna: For $1.99, Rhonna allows you to add text over your photos, and the app has a huge amount of overlays to put on your photos. There’s also frames, masking, filters, and cropping. A very scrapbook-esque feel to the app it’s masks.
Studio: I really like studio. It’s a free app that offers it’s own social media sharing platform, and editing includes filters, text, shapes, frames, textures, and many doodles/overlays. You can also download many more “packs” or you can “remix” your photo, meaning you can take the same design someone else used on their photo, and use it on yours.
PicsArt: There is a bit of advertising on this app, but it’s cool because you can start with a blank slate, with just a background instead of a photo. You also have the option to edit your photo with frames, lens flare, clip art, text, or drawing on your photo. This free app really offers a lot, and while it also has its own sharing platform, it isn’t the most user-friendly. Still worth a look though.
5 Free Stock Photo Sites
Not all stock photos are super cheesy, and some are even free.
Death to Stock: Every month, Death to Stock will email you a pack of photos following a theme. You also have the option to pay $10 for an extra pack of photos each month, and you gain access to all the photos online, whenever you need them.
IM Free: Awesome site, easy to search through categories, great photos, and even some templates and icons.
Free Refe: Hosted off of a tumblr website, there is no way to search through these, but they do have some really good photos.
Picjumbo: This site has no search bar, but it does have categories you can navigate through. Great photos on this site.
SumAll: Mostly illustrations, but they’re dang cute, and pretty useful. They do have a few photos, and most of their work is targeted toward marketing businesses.
5 Premium Stock Photo Sites
If you need more stock photo options, here are a few paid resources we really like.
Stocksy: My absolute favorite! $10 a photo, and really great photographers contributing.
iStock: iStock has a ton of images, and even vector illustrations, video, and audio. Thier prices are all over the place, but you can buy images for $10+. However, one of their great features is that you can search by price. They even offer free photos to members!
Veer: This site has images, vector illustrations, and fonts. Their prices are about the same as iStock, starting at around $2. A really great, huge selection.
Dollar Photo Club: Very cheap, you pay $10 for 10 photos a month. If you only download 3 a month, then you get 7 rollover images for the next month, so it’s extremely reasonable. They have good photos too, some of the bad “stock-esque” photos, but mostly good ones.
Thinkstock: Thinkstock offers photos and vector illustrations with a nice selection. They have many photo packs that you can purchase, the cheapest one being 5 photos for $49.