As more small and medium business people add blogging to their social media arsenal, many bloggers or content marketers struggle to find images that represent their content and show it off to it’s best advantage. Along with that, there is the need to get legal images while understanding copyright laws and it can become a pretty time-consuming task (especially if they are not particularly handy with a camera). While “selfies” have their place in a social media mix, blog posts do benefit from quality images, ready for sharing by other people.
I’ve had more and more people asking for tips on where to get quality images that don’t break the bank and that still meet copyright requirements, as well as being “aesthetically pleasing” and I’ve come up with a list of amazing content creation tools that take the pain out of adding pleasing images to your online presence. Oh, and there’s also the need for images that will work for “design challenged” content creators. I think this list will have something for everyone regardless of skill level without breaking the bank. so, without further ado (and in no particular order), here’s the list:
I’ll start the list with Canva – the super easy to use, simple social design creation tool. Using the libraries in Canva, you pull together layout templates, fonts, stock images, buttons and more using a drag and drop tool. You can select from pre-designed templates for things like Facebook covers, profile pictures, post images (and more), Twitter, Google+, Pinterest images and more or you can custom size your own images to meet your needs. While the tool is free to use and contains a number of free stock images you can use, there are premium images for a fee available (only when the image is published). You can upload your own images for free into Canva to create your amazing images. http://canva.com/
Pixaby is next, with it’s free images that you simply download and use for either personal or commercial use. There is a varied number of images (though not overly extensive), with no need to show attribution for the images you find here.
Getting a free membership to the site is all you have to do to get access to the varied categories and to start downloading quality images for your blog and social media needs. This is a great starting point if you’re not concerned with design and just want to select images to showcase your work.
Once you’ve downloaded your Pixaby images you can customize them further by bringing them into something like Canva or PicMonkey to add effects, text and more making for an even bigger win.
Another favourite site is Little Visuals. You can sign up to receive a free zipped file containing 7 hi-res images delivered to your inbox every week. These images can be used any way you want, without attribution, as explained in the Creative Commons license you’ll easily find on the site.
A nicely designed site with clean lines, the images you’ll find here have a stylized look and feel covering categories such as landscapes, abstract concepts, buildings, textures and more.
PicMonkey is another simple to use tool that provides some basic design tools such as touch up, text, overlay, frames, textures and themes, along with cropping tools to name a few. With the basic pre-designed templates for Facebook, Twitter and other images sizes you’ll be well on your way to creating your own custom images in no time. Once you’ve completed your work of art you get to save it to your local hard drive or share it on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks as easily as saving a file. A great intro tool.
Unsplash must be one of the simplest websites you can download images from. A free subscription will give you 10 new images every 10 days and any item on the site can be downloaded by simply clicking the download button. The free hi-res images are all free to “do whatever you want” (direct quote) as outlined in the Creative Commons licence displayed on the site. If this very clean image style is something you want to use for your web presence this is a great option. http://unsplash.com/
Free Digital Photos provides simply imagery from a number of categories that can suit your basic needs. When using images from this site, however, you must properly attribute the picture to the creator and the website. It’s always a good idea to confirm each and every image is properly attributed so you stay on the right side of copyright laws. There’s lots here to help you get your message across. http://freedigitalphotos.net/
Another content type that is extremely helpful in getting your message across are infographics because visuals are so much easier to take in than text for your attention-stretched readers.There are a number of tools that create amazing infographs and range from free to premium priced and that need different levels of design know-how.
Top of my list? Easel.ly because it’s very forgiving if you’re design challenged and it has a simple interface for you to work in. Not only that, it’s also free. What’s to like? It comes with a number of templates, allows you to upload your own graphics, there’s lots of shapes and objects to pick from and you can also customize everything. After a short and simple signup process you move to a “drag and drop” area that makes creating infographics easy even for beginners. http://easel.ly/
Pikochart Although not quite as easy to use as easel.ly, this online service provides a functional space with good visual elements such as layouts, fonts, backgrounds along with a library of scaleable icons and free templates. Their plans range from a basic free plan (will meet most of your needs), to a pro plan that expands on all the areas of the offering. http://piktochart.com/
Another content “type” that is popular and easy to create is customized quotes. You can bring your flare to your favourite quotes and post them to your favourite social networks. This type works very well on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest (to name a few). You can create these custome quotes using several of the tools we’ve already outlined in this post or grab one of the quote generators available. One thing to remember is make sure you add your branding!
Quozio is a very simple tool. You provide the text of your quote, add the quote owner, then continue on by picking the background. Decide where you want to post it or download your new quote and you’re done. It doesn’t get much easier than that. http://quozio.com/
Recite This is another very simple to use quote generator. It really doesn’t get much easier than this one either. Enter your quote text, then see how it looks on the various templates available. Pick the template you want to use, click create and decide where you want to post your new quote. Easy, quick and effective. http://recitethis.com/
This is intended to be an intro to the the various content creation tools that are available to bloggers and web site owners these days and it’s definitely not exhaustive. How many of your own favourites would you add to this list?