Online tools to create great graphics (without a graphic design degree)
Including visual imagery in your online content is a powerful tool to communicate your message. Visual images make blog posts scannable and shareable, increasing your reach online.
But including someone else’s original visual content on your website can be tricky if not done properly. We have talked before about citing imagery in your blog posts and using images that reside in the public domain to avoid copyright violations. Whether you are using infographics, photographs or videos, anything you borrow from another source must comply with copyright laws lest you want to receive hefty fines for improper usage of another’s work.
Search the Creative Commons
There are several options to source approved visual content. You can opt to use stock photography from online sites, or you can browse catalogs of free photographs and visual images approved for use in your content.
If you still cannot find the right image or infographic to appropriately convey your message, you may decide that creating your own artwork is the better option.
Wait. Create my own artwork? But, I’m not an artist! I don’t know PhotoShop well!
Have no fear, dear reader. You don’t need to have a degree in graphic design to generate your own visually-appealing graphic content. In the Internet Age there are abundant online resources available for you to create photos, videos, charts and more.
5 Tools for Creating Actionable Visual Content
We’ve rounded up several free and easy-to-use online tools to help you create the kind of visual imagery to pique your readers’ interest (without piquing the interest of copyright attorneys).
We have told you before about Canva, an online design site offering hundreds of templates for creating images pre-sized for Facebook cover pages, Twitter pictures, presentations and blog graphics. By dragging and dropping images, icons and text from Canva’s free library onto the blank canvas, you can design the exact visual image you need. The site’s tutorials walk you through how to edit and create like a pro.
If you want to insert icons into your web content to add a little pizzazz to your blocks of text, Iconfinder offers you a searchable database to locate the perfect icon for your needs. With 40 categories of icons ranging from brand logos to holiday images to technology items, you are sure to find the perfect add-on for your content. Most icon packages are available for download for free so you can include a little flair in your written content and webpage design.
If a static graphic doesn’t meet your needs, Recordit.co lets you create animated screencasts by recording a quick video and turning it into an animated gif file. Available for download or via API connection, Recordit.co allows you to customize almost every aspect of the video recording is customizable, including the size of the graphic, the speed and quality of the video and the custom text shown throughout. Post your video to Twitter for additional shares.
Infographics are a great way to share statistics, information and processes. But creating them can be a challenge if design is not your forte. With sites like Easel.ly, you can organize your information visually with free infographic templates. Users can choose from a library of templates or upload their own background image in order to build the graphic. The intuitive platform makes it simple to customize the perfect design for your data. When your image is complete, download a web, print or PDF version to share your infographic across multiple channels.
Videos are some of the most easily shared content. With Vimeo, you don’t need expensive professional video-editing software in order to film and post quality videos. In Vimeo’s Video School, you can practice the basics or hone your photography skills through tutorials. To enhance your video, Vimeo’s Music Store contains approved music you can add to your film. If filming a video yourself still seems daunting, Vimeo provides a library of licensed videos you can rework or share yourself. Just make sure to follow the site’s usage guidelines!
Size your images appropriately
Now that you have created eye-catching and engaging visual content, you need to ensure that it is easily viewable and shareable. Your image or video should be sized correctly for each platform so that the imagery you worked hard to create is not cut off or cropped incorrectly.
Mainstreethost provides an easy sizing reference for each of the most popular social media platforms:
Courtesy of: Mainstreethost’s Blog
Include your logo
With any image you create, readers should be able to identify the source even as your image is shared across the Internet. Create brand awareness with your visual piece by including your company logo somewhere on the graphic or designing your image in your corporate color palette. Including a company mascot or a hashtag for a relevant campaign will help as well.
You don’t have to be a graphic design aficionado to create captivating accents to your written content. Using one of these free online resources will help you develop the right visual image to correspond with your written content, increasing the overall effectiveness of your blog post.