Content Marketing has now become a byword and a must have strategy for anyone who are into digital marketing. With thousands of content being published every day ranging from blogs, Tweets, Facebook updates, infographics and ebook and each and since each and every article is carefully devised to attract and engage customers, your content must have a little extra that should clearly demarcates your content from the rest.
There are a whole lot of practical ways through which one can make one’s content stand out of the junk. The one most important and time tested way to make any content stand out is through visual medium. Visual medium might be of any form, it might be pictures, graphics, infographics and video. Here are a few compelling statistics from researches done on the effect of visual collaterals on the overall engagement of the content.
40% of people will respond better to visual information than plain text. – Zabisco
Publishers who use infographics grow in traffic an average of 12% more than those who don’t. – Anson Alex
Photos and videos tend to drive positive engagement. – Simple Measured
In this guide let’s discuss briefly on various online tools that can help you create visual elements on the fly for your content.
Canva is a simple web based tool that helps you to create professional looking graphics and infographics with the easy to use WYSIWYG graphic designer tool. Canva aims at making the process of creating a graphic design accessible to everyone. Canva allows you to create small and content rich graphics for blogs, Facebook, Twitter, posters, flyers, presentations and invitations.
Canva provides you with whole new features that help you to turn your vague ideas and thought process into coherent and easily digestible graphics.
Easy to use and intuitive Drag and Drop Interface
1. Since Canva is a web application, to start using, you will need to create an account. You can also start using Canva by logging using your Facebook or Google account.
2. After login in you’ll be given a series of basic template choices on where you are going to use the graphics. The choices include Social media, presentation, poster, facebook/Twitter cover, blog cover, Twitter post, invitations and business cards.
3. Let us say we want to create a graphic for a Twitter post. On selecting Twitter post, you’ll be taken to a WYSIWYG editor where you can select the layout from a list of templates.
4. After selecting the template you can now edit the template based on your needs. Canva is so flexible that you can change both the background images and text with the click of a button.
5. You could also do all the granular design tweaks on fonts, text colour, text size and alignment of things on the graphics.
6. One of the best known feature on Canva is that you can access more than 10000 cheap (often bundled) stock photos that you could use on your graphics. Canva also allows you to upload and use your own photographs on the graphics.
7. After creating your design you can now export the design in both Image and PDF formats for easy sharing.
PicMonkey is a alternative to Canva. But the mail difference being rather than a full fledged graphic design tool like Canva. PicMonkey is a comprehensive web based photo editing tool that can be used to create interesting and engaging graphics for your content.
PicMonkey allows you to perform 4 basic image editing process, they are Photo Editing, Touch Up, Graphic design and creating a photo collage.
To create a visual graphic,
1. Click on Design, on clicking you’ll be taken to a WYSIWYG editor.
2. You can upload the photograph that you’ll be using on the graphic.
3. You could do all the basic image edits like cropping, changing background colour, rotate, adjust exposure and make tweaks to colours.
4. Since PicMonkey is image editing tool, you can now add filters to get the look and feel that might go well with the content.
5. You can now add text inside the image with the click of a button. PicMonkey gives you with a whole list of fonts that you choose to make your content stand out.
6. PicMonkey also has a collection of symbols and icons that you could readily use on your graphics.
Free Stock Photos
As the saying goes a picture speaks a thousand words, and one of the highly effective and most sorf after content marketing collateral is images/photos. Images just like info graphics when used in sync with the content produces effects that greatly improves engagement and readability.
The one problem with using images is that they are costly both in terms of money and time. You should have an in-house photographer or anyone in the firm willing to fill in occasionally as a photographer. The other easiest way is subscribing to a Stock Photo Database that would cost you anywhere from $10 to $50 for a photograph and not to mention a whole convoluted list of terms and conditions that one must remember.
This is where the Free Stock Photos database comes as a life saver.
Ever since Unsplash was launched a year ago, it growth as a community and an motivation for others to start free stock photo platform is immense. The story of Unsplash started as a side project by a fledgling design company is by itself an inspiration.
Unsplash is a free high resolution stock picture platform contributed by members in the community. Unsplash allows you to browse through the entire gallery of pictures and download it for free. All the images on Unsplash are free under Creative Commons Lisence CC 0 1.0.
To continuously update its database Unsplash allows anyone to contribute to the gallery by submitting images. Of all the images submitted the best 10 would get added to the existing gallery.
On subscribing for a free email newsletter, Unsplash sends you 10 free stock images to your mailbox every week.
Death to Stock Photo
Death to Stock Photos is yet another free stock photo platform that when subscribed sends you with the best royalty free stock images to your email every month.
All these images can be used for both commercial and non commercial purposes on websites, blogs, presentations, social media, and invitation and even on print media.
Death To Stock Photos also has a premium account that when subscribed gives you extra pack of stock photos, complete access to all past photo packs and complete access to the galleries where you can search, find and download images at any time you want.
Unsplash and Death To Stock Photo inspired and gave rise to lot of other free stock photo galleries, the following are worth mentioning.
Placeit is a free, easy to use online product mock-up and template platform. Placeit has a huge gallery of photo templates on various devices like iPhone, Mac Book and on various locations and settings like office, park, and coffee shop.
Creating product mock-ups has never been this easy. All you have to do is download template and add the screenshots of your product on to the template. Placeit also says the dimensions of the screen grab that you need to have to make it fit in the template.
Placeit provides you with template depending on what they call as stages these include,
1. Video: Where you can have the screen recording of your application inside a template. All you have to do is click record, record the screen for up to 30 sec and seamlessly attach them on the template.
1. Still Shots: These are normal devices templates where you could directly attach your screenshot.
2. Swap Background: As the name suggests this is where you could easily swap background and add your custom background.
3. Workflow: These are templates where you could easily add and explain a workflow.
Placeit also has two paid plans where you can subscribe monthly and get access to the templates or pay once and download a limited set of templates.
Graphic River is an online marketplace where graphic designers can sell their works to clients, in this case content marketers. The market place includes visual elements like vectors, print templates, web elements, icons, textures, infographics, presentation templates and fonts. With more than 300,000 graphics elements on the market place it is one of the most comprehensive place for anyone who in search of visual elements.
Using the Graphic River marketplace is so easy; you can now search using keywords, filter results based on ratings and pricings.
Visual representation of how the product works, the look and feel of the interface and workflows are best explained through screenshots and video capture. Snagit is one such tool that helps you to captures high quality screenshots and screen recording that can be readily used on your content.
The three basic utilities of Snagit are as follows:
1. Capture high quality screenshots. Screen grab almost anything from your screen, be it an entire page or part of the screen on web page and even in applications.
2. Snagit has some of the best picture editing tool that helps you to do all the basic edits like crop, rotate and resize images.
3. You can now easily annotate screenshots with the help of gestures like arrows, lines etc.
4. Snagit is not just a screenshot capturing application, but also a screen recording app, that helps you to record in real time all the actions you perform on the screen, be it on the operating system, or web page or even in applications.
1. Editing the video that you have just grabbed is so simple and all the basic video editing actions like trimming can be performed with greater ease with Snagit.
2. Sharing the screenshots on social media or email or syncing with Google Drive is now easy with a click of a button.
Skitch just like Snagit is a simple screenshot capturing tool, but the main USP of Skitch is it is integrated with Evernote. Evernote as you are aware of isthe most powerful note making tool, and with Skitch note making has become easier and faster too.
The essential Features of Skitch are,
1. Screen grab anything on your screen, be it web pages or any other applications.
2. Annotate, draw attention and highlight important parts with nifty content editing tools.
3. Share it on social media, email colleagues and sync with Evernote.
4. The best part of using skitch is it is also available as a iphone app, so you can now screen grab anything on your phone, and since you are using Evernote all your screen grabs are in sync across devices always.
The Noun Project
The Noun project is one of the biggest marketplaces just for icons. Since it is a carefully curated database of icons the quality of icons are always of the best quality. Its immense database allows you to search and find icons for any search term. Accessing the database as such is free and you can download all icons that is listed as public. The project also has paid plans that allow you to download licensed icon designs. Various developers list their icons under various Creative Common licences; do take a look at the terms and conditions of the licenses before downloading.
Below is a list of icons that are available for the search term iPhone.
Since most of the time a content marketing team works on the fly, it is imperative that the team should not entirely rely on a specialized graphic designer for all the content related visual work. All these tools that are mentioned above are easy to use and intuitive too. The learning curve for all these tools is so low that within few hours any one can be up and running with the nitti gritties of the tool. If you think we have missed any of the tools that might help content marketers to create amazing and captivating visuals do let us know in the comments section.