You don't need to be a graphic designer to create great images for social media sites. Even if you don't have a creative bone in your body you can make great images, and you can do it all in a fraction of the time that an expert might take. The secret lies in the tools you use. Graphic designers start from scratch using expensive tools that take years to master.
Smart small business marketing mavens use free and inexpensive tools to create results that only look like they took expertise to create. I've picked five of the best tools for your social media toolkit so that you can spend less time making better images.
5 Graphics Tools for Making Social Media Images
Top of my list is Canva.com, a slick online design site and that's currently in beta. Founded by a bunch of Aussies, Canva's designs encompass the entire range of social media needs including blogs, Facebook covers and everything in between. Canva provides the design space, all the images and great-looking text elements for you to combine. You can also upload your own images.
Canva is ridiculously easy to use and the results look excitingly fresh and clean. The site offers most of its generic content for free, and additional premium items cost one dollar each. Most people will get good value by combining free content with an occasional premium element when needed. Canva outputs designs as PNG images or PDFs, and you can also collaborate with others by sharing the project link.
Figure 1: Still in beta, Canva is a one-stop site for creating awesome social media imagery.
One of the confusing things about the range of social media sites out there is how big your images should be and what imagery you need or can use on each of them. If you already have your images and just need a little help to size and tweak them, then head to Social Media Image Maker.
Click to choose the site you're interested in, such as Facebook or Google+, and then choose the type of image to create—such as cover or profile image. Click the Create button, and then drag-and-drop your image into the pre-sized box. Move and crop the image, and then apply different effects to it. When you're done, download the completed image—ready for you to upload to your chosen social media site.
Figure 2: If you're not sure what size to make your social media images, Social Media Image Maker can help.
Sometimes instead of one image, you'll want a collage of images. PicMonkey offers an easy way to create a collage for your social media needs. At PicMonkey, click Collage and then upload the images you want to use, or import them from Flickr or Dropbox. Click the Layouts option and select a collage layout such as a Facebook cover. You can now drag-and-drop your images into the layout on the screen.
You can adjust exposure, resize images and add a background color to the layout. When you are done, download the image to your computer or save it to Dropbox. The basic tools in PicMonkey are free, and you can upgrade to a wider range of features from $2.75 per month.
Figure 3: Create collages for Facebook covers and other social media needs at PicMonkey.com
Pinstamatic is a Pinterest-specific tool for creating content for that site. You can turn an interesting quote, a sticky note, a website or a music track into a Pinterest pin. For example click the Quote button and type the text of the quote and the author's name. Click your choice of text options to apply it as a format to your quote. Click Preview to see the pin before you post it, or click Pin to pin it direct to a Pinterest board. While limited to Pinterest, Pinstamatic is an easy tool to use to create smart looking pins without all the design work.
Figure 4: Pinstamatic helps you create attractive content for Pinterest pins.
If you need to create blog post images or graphics for Pinterest pins, then consider ShareAsImage.com and its Chrome browser extension. You can select a photo from the free images provided, upload an image from your computer or find one on the Web or Flickr. Next add text over your image, apply a photo filter, and then you cn save and download or post the result.
Figure 5: Create and post images from online content using ShareAsImage.
Some of the site's content and features are free, but much of it's restricted to Pro users ($8 a month). If you don’t mind including the site's watermark on the images, then you can get by with the free version. But most people choose the for-fee version, which lets you add your own watermark and gives you access to more features and content.
When you next need to create a wonderful image for your social media marketing, these five sites will help you create great looking content.
Helen Bradley is a respected international journalist writing regularly for small business and computer publications in the USA, Canada, South Africa, UK and Australia. You can learn more about her at her Web site, HelenBradley.com.
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