January 15, 2014

I've been talking a lot lately about the importance of visual marketing in 2014. I honestly believe we are seeing a shift to more visually based content - both in social media and blogging. The prominence of photos and videos cannot be ignored.

But let's face it, we're not all creative geniuses with the ability to create visual content from scratch. I don't want that worry to stop you from really taking advantage of the benefits of having kick-ass visual content in your strategy.

I have a number of tools I like to use but I know there are so many more options. So I reached out to some of my social media marketing friends and asked them to give me their favorite tools to create visual content. I actually got a longer list of tools than I expected!

Here is the list of tools and apps that we suggest you use to create visual content.

Afterlight - Recommended by Anton Ruis and Megan Corwin

Afterlight is available from itunes or the App Store for a small fee. This app provides 27 filters and 75 frames to apply to your images. You can also share easily to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, Email, Camera Roll & any other apps after editing.

Canva - Recommended by Brooke Ballard and Megan Corwin

Canva is an online tool and free to use. You can quickly and easily create custom Facebook cover photos, blog photos, presentations, and more. You can use blank templates or choose from their formatted templates. Simple search and drag-and-drop features make it easy to customize your images.

Grab - Recommended by Mike Allton

Grab is a MAC OS app that allows you to take screen shots. Screen shots can be individual selections, whole window, whole screen, and even timed screen selections. This is great if you want to create tutorials!

ImageWell - Recommended by Sarah Garrison

ImageWell is available on itunes or in the App Store for a fee. This app allows you to resize, crop, rotate your images, and store them remotely. You can also edit your images with built-in shapes, labels and arrows. It is a basic tool but for those who don't have Photoshop experience, this should be easier to learn and use.

Instaframe

Instaframe is available on itunes or Google Play and allows for easy photo manipulation. The tool is designed to create square images to share with Instagram but could be shared elsewhere as well. This tool allows you to quickly and easily create collages in a variety of formats and orientations. You can also add text, choose background designs and layouts, and add filters to your images.

Instagram 

I'm including Instagram on the list because, even though it is its own social media site, the ability to edit and create beautiful images is very useful in creating visual content. If you have an Instagram account you can create videos and photos that are professional and easily branded which you can share on other social media sites or include in your blogs and website.

Microsoft Office Picture Manager

If you have a newer version of Microsoft Office, you likely have the Picture Manager. If you open the tool, you will be able to see all of the files stored in your Pictures folder. You can also import/paste other images to this folder or search for images in other folders. The main reason I use this tool is to quickly reduce the size of images. If you have an image that is 2000 pixels in size, it is too big for social media sites and blogs. This tool allows you to quickly resize images to a smaller format (I typically use Web Large 640 x 480) which works well for upload speed. You can also edit colors, remove red eyes, or crop images with this tool.

Over - Recommended by Anton Ruis and Sarah Garrison

Over is another app that is available for iOS devices. This tool allows you to easily add text to your images. If you're looking to create memes from your own images or if you want to add inspirational quotes to your own photos, this is a great tool to use.

Photoshop - Recommended by Mike Allton

Photoshop can be purchased for any operating system and will allow you to really enhance your images. Through layers, editing, adding text, and combining images, you can really create your own unique visual content. This program is an Adobe product and doesn't come cheap. It's also worth investing in tutorials or training if you're not familiar with this tool. But if you learn it well, the options for creativity are limitless.

PicMonkey - Recommended by Brooke Ballard, Anton Ruis, Megan Corwin, and Wade Harman

PicMonkey is a free online photo editing tool. You can also upgrade to a higher level subscription if you choose. With PicMonkey you can edit images with crop and rotate features, and enhance your images with effects, overlays, fonts, textures, frames and touch up tools. You can also take multiple images and create collages. Or, create new images from scratch! The tool is easy to use and doesn't require a lot of time to learn how to use it effectively.

Pixelmator - Recommended by Sarah Garrison

Pixelmator is a photo editing tool that operates much like Photoshop. The tool is available for MAC OS devices. It is available on itunes for a fee, but it is considerably cheaper than buying Photoshop. The tool allows painting, retouching, navigation, and color correction as well as layers and other manipulations. If you're familiar with Photoshop this will be an easy tool to adapt to.

Pixlr 

Pixlr is an online photo editing tool very similar to Photoshop and Pixelmator as listed above. It is free to use and is an online tool so it can be used on Windows or Mac computers. It offers many of the same editing features and operations as Photoshop and Pixelmator. I use this tool for a lot of the images I create, including Facebook cover photos.

PowerPoint

I know that PowerPoint isn't a tool many people associate with visual content. However, it's something that most of us have access to and it allows for easy manipulation. You can add text, add creative filters, edit colors and crop images easily. Save files as JPEG or PNG after editing for easy upload. If you want to create images of a specific size (Instagram square or Facebook cover photo, for example), change the slide size to the desired pixel size for easy use!

Recite

Recite is available online and is free to use. It's a great tool that I've promoted a lot lately. This tool allows you to add any text to any of their pre-formatted templates to create visually appealing memes. Use these to create blog images, simple infographics, or to share inspirational quotes.

Skitch - Recommended by Sarah Garrison

Skitch is available on itunes for free. This tool allows you to quickly edit an image with simple tools like text and arrows. It can then easily be shared via email or social media.

Snagit - Recommended by Brooke Ballard and Amy Baumcratz

Snagit is a video and screen capture tool. They offer a free 30 day trial. Beyond just being a screen capture tool, you can also add arrows, circles, text, or call-out boxes to highlight important things. You can also choose certain areas to be the focus and the tool will darker or blur out the remaining areas.

Snapseed - Recommended by Amy Baumcratz and Megan Corwin

Snapseed is available on itunes and Google Play for a small fee and is also available for Mac and Windows at a slightly higher cost. This tool allows for easy photo editing, cropping and rotating, adding filters and frames, and allows for easy sharing via email or social media.

 

I hope that this list will help make it easier for you to choose some tools and to get more creative with your visual content. As I mentioned, I haven't used all of these tools but I trust the recommendations of the people I've listed above.

There are a lot of other great tools out there that I'm sure aren't covered here. So if there are any other tools that you love to use to create visual content, please include them in the comments below!

Did you find this helpful? Please share:
  1. I started using PicMonkey about a month ago (love it) and will be taking a look at some of these tools too. It is great being able to take my own pics and make them “social media worthy”. Thanks Jenn, and I will be sharing this article since I think many could benefit!

    1. Everyone I’ve talked to that uses PicMonkey absolutely loves it! Glad to hear you’re another happy customer, Kim. I hope you find some other tools to help make things even easier on you this year.
      As always, I appreciate you sharing and supporting 🙂

  2. Hey, Jenn! This is a great list (many that I’ve never heard of) and I’m looking forward to checking these out. I have used an App called InstaWord to create a lot of my graphics. I can’t remember if it was free or not, but am pretty sure it was affordable ($1.99) if it did cost anything!

    I had to laugh at myself yesterday about my IG comment. I had been browsing user pics for hours in search of something that I wanted to buy (to no avail) and it apparently burned me out! Lol! I saw your graphic and was more in tune with the actual picture and didn’t even realize what it said. After you replied to me I realized that what I was asking is basically what your post was about! I got a good laugh about that! 🙂

    Love your blog! Keep up the great work that you do!

    1. Hey Melissa! That’s so funny! I’m just glad the timing worked out and helped you find some new tools. I’ll have to look into InstaWord too.

  3. Thanks for this, Jen.
    I have a few other iOS apps that people might want to check out:
    Over – lets you add quotes, plus nice graphics too. And they have a great choice of fonts
    Studio – You can add text but also shapes, lines,”textures” – it’s complicated but amazing
    Unusual Effects – Retromatic (makes “retro” images), Comic Book!
    Phoster makes images that look like posters.
    Whew!!!

    1. Thanks Reid! So glad you found some resources here and I appreciate you adding a few more to the list!

    1. That’s great! I hope that these will make it easier for you to create great visual content this year.

  4. Ipiccy is another great free tool. Similar to Picmonkey but it goes a few stages further. So it combines ease of use with greater functinoality..

    1. Sounds great! Thanks for sharing that with us, Caroline! I’ll have to go check that one out.

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