Using a graphic designer to create graphics can be expensive. However, in this day and age of social media marketing, the graphics you create have a huge impact on how many people see and interact with your content.
Aside from pictures shared on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, there is also the matter of the “open graph” images you use on your website.
Note: “Open graph” images are the ones shown on Facebook, Twitter etc. when you share a link from your website. The large image and the title becomes one big clickable block. If you use a good image or graphic, it has a huge impact on the percentage of people who click through to read the page or blog post.
Of course, one of the benefits of our day and age is that there is loads and loads of information out there for free, on basically any topic. Graphic design tutorials for various platforms are all over Youtube, making it easy for anyone to learn the basics.
Fair enough, knowing the basics will not turn you into a professional graphic designer – but it will help you to create presentable graphics without paying through your neck.
In fact, there are a number of free tools you can use to create great-looking graphics for your blog, website and social media posts. Here are the two of the most popular ones:
Operating from Australia, Canva has become a household name among bloggers everywhere. While they do have paid versions, their free version is just fine for most people.
Canva allows you to work with the basic elements – like picking the size of the graphic you want to create, or using custom dimensions, resizing, flipping and rotating, brightness and contrast, and semi-transparent overlays.
Of course, Canva also has a huge library of photos, graphic elements, frames and even simple GIF animations. They also have a host of different templates for each of the standard design layouts – which include not only graphics, but also video, presentations, business cards, logos and a lot more.
As you would expect, they also have a substantial font library. You can change the colors of the background, text and most of the graphic elements, and – to some extent – manipulate the colors of photos too.
Canva is the tool which combines ease of use and simplicity with a reasonable range of versatility. It’s quick and easy to figure out (for most people), yet once you get to know it you are able to do quite a bit with it.
Also noteworthy is the fact that Canva has its own “graphic design academy”: A series of videos which teaches you the basics – and some intermediate techniques – in simple, easy steps.
As such, whether you want to learn Canva yourself, or whether you want to delegate graphic creation to one of your employees, it is a logical, user friendly option.
We use Canva for creating everything from simple graphics to slideshow videos (with voice-overs) and Powerpoint presentations.
Click Here to have a look.
The GIMP – or Graphic Image Manipulation Program – is a free stand-alone software you can download and install on your PC, Mac or Linux machine.
In sharp contrast to Canva, however, GIMP is a tool for more professional users. In fact, there is a modified version called GIMPshop which has functionality layout similar to that of Photoshop, which is an expensive professional tool.
Using the GIMP or GIMPshop you can manipulate vector graphics in all weird and wonderful ways, allowing you to do the most amazing things.
You will also find a host of tutorials for it on Youtube.
However, considering the amazing flexibility it offers, you should expect a much steeper learning curve. That’s not to say that it isn’t worthwhile using or looking into – that will depend on the industry you work in, and the prevailing standards for graphics used by your competitors on social media.
Just keep in mind that, whether it is you or an employee who is tasked with mastering the software, it is likely to take a while before it is possible to create really good graphics. However, once mastered, the GIMP is capable of much more than Canva.
Click Here to download a copy.
There are a number of free graphic creation solutions out there. At the end of the day, however, picking one comes down to two things:
1. Do you have time for a steep learning curve? Or do you want it to be simple?
2. Do you really need the advanced features of professional image manipulators like the GIMP? After all, if you use a bit of imagination, you can do quite a lot with Canva.
Both can be used for free – so it’s just a matter of deciding which one will work best for you.