So here’s the situation: Content marketing is no longer optional. It’s mandatory for businesses looking to not just make sales but to create customers. Your customers are self-educating, no nonsense consumers, and they expect to have complete control and access during their buying decision journey. Therefore, the only way to give them what they want is through content.
Related: What the Heck is Content Marketing?
Lots and lots of content.
And not just blogs and white papers, but infographics, quote graphics, PowerPoint presentations, videos, podcasts, and (coming soon) virtual reality!
To stay ahead of your big competitors, you need to produce large volumes of this content.
And, most importantly, you’re just one marketer—not a Swiss Army Knife. You’ve got creative talent in your blood, of course, but you’re no Photoshop wizard or Illustrator savant. How can you expect to design heaps of content that also meets your high expectations?
It’s enough to make you throw your hands in the air.
Well, that’s how I felt too. But like most marketers, we’re savvy enough to know it’s now about working harder, but working smarter. With the right design tools and resources, we can still accomplish our goals before 5 PM without the need for a time machine.
With that said, I want to share with you some of my favorite design tools and resources I use every week (if not daily) to get the job done.
Three excellent tools to help you create custom designs, edit photos, or design your own logo.
I have to start with Canva. It’s one of my favorite design tools out there—and it’s free (though there are premium versions). It’s extremely easy to use and provides you hundreds of templates so you never have to start a design from scratch (though you can if you want).
Canva allows you to quickly build social media graphics like profile pictures, ad banners, and image posts, each pre-sized to the required dimensions of the social network.
You can also build infographics, certificates, and even resumes. If you need something designed, you’ll likely find a template ready to go.
Canva also provides free and premium stock photography and artwork, or you can upload your own.
If you purchase Canva for Work, you can upload your brand assets, such as logo, color pallets, and fonts. You and your colleagues can build new graphics as needed while adhering to your brand guidelines.
Think of PicMonkey as an easy-to-use photo editor. With the free version, you can upload any image you need tweaking—from your computer, from Facebook, or from OneDrive and Dropbox. You can then touch up your photo by adjusting the brightness, contrast, and shadows. You can crop, rotate, and add textures, text, and overlays.
What’s more, PicMonkey comes with an app for your phone, so you can make photo edits wherever you are.
If you upgrade to the premium version, PicMonkey offers a ton of templates you can use to build designs. You can build collages, covers, and of course social media graphics.
Need a logo for small projects or events? LogoGarden is the tool for you.
Now, speaking on behalf of a marketing agency that develops logo designs, I would not recommend using LogoGarden to launch a new business’s brand. Nevertheless, one-off events that need some independent branding can benefit from LogoGarden’s tool—especially if that event is on a tight budget.
What’s nice is that LogoGarden provides detail tutorial videos to help you through the process, so even though you’re designing the logo yourself, you’re not totally on your own.
Tools are great, but to really get started, you need a repository of design resources like photography, graphics, and mockups.
Stock photography resources like iStock and Shutterstock are excellent, but they’re also expensive. Unless you have very specific photography needs, it’s just not worth the cost.
Enter Unsplash. One hundred-percent free, stock photography. More importantly, the photos are beautiful, professional, and diverse. I rarely come up short when looking for a photo to fit my needs.
The only thing Unsplash asks in return is to give credit to the artist when you use their work.
2. Noun Project
Icons make everything better. Why do you think emojis are so popular?
Therefore, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include the Noun Project on this list. I use this website at least once a week. The website acts as a search engine for icons, and they have a lot.
Recently, the Noun Project announced its site has more than a million icons. If you simply have an inkling of an idea for what you need, the Noun Project’s search engine will find it for you.
Icons come in all different styles, so you’ll have no problem finding one that fits your needs.
You have the option to use the icons for free—just give credit to the designer—or purchase the icon for unlimited, commercial use.
Photos, graphics, and icons are all wonderful, but sometimes you need something a little more realistic. Like when you need to take your design and apply it to a real-world scenario.
For example, let’s say you’re promoting a new ebook as a lead generation offer. To make your ebook more enticing, a common approach is to mock it up as a real book. You can use a resource like Pixeden to find the templates you need to achieve this.
Pixeden provides hundreds of mockup templates. From hardback books to iPads and iPhones to business cards and even to milk cartons, you’ll find just about any mockup template for your campaign.
What’s Your Favorite Tool or Resource?