In June 2016, over 56 million blog posts were published using Wordpress alone. Then there's the millions of posts on other platforms, infographics, videos, social images, and other forms of content. 

In other words, the  content landscape is completely saturated, and getting eyes on your content is only getting tougher. So we have to take whatever steps we can to capture and captivate our audience, and increasingly, making content look great is a real priority.

That's all well and good if you're a designer or if you have one on your team ready to jump into action every single time you want to publish a post. But what if you don't? And what if it simply isn't feasible to hire a designer to produce a visual for every single piece of content you want produce.

There's no substitute, of course, for skilled graphic designers. But thanks to technology and some impressive tools on the market, anyone can now create a reasonable looking visual without a pro on hand. Here are some of those tools.

1. Canva

A firm favorite for a few years now, Canva lets users create social images, blog covers, banner ads, and a whole host of other visuals completely free of charge. There are options to pay for added features and assets. And in 2015, the company launched Canva for Work as an affordable platform for managing consistent, professional looking branded documents.

2. Piktochart

Infographics and reports are made a whole lot easier with Piktochart. It's essentially a drag and drop infographic creator. If you have an eye for design, you can start with a blank canvas. On the other hand, if (like me) you have a somewhat lacking creative eye, you can use a template.

Piktochart's free package will suffice for most users, but those looking to make it a more integral part of their marketing might opt for a paid package, offering larger upload limits and other features.

3. Pexels

There's little as off-putting as bad stock photography. Overused images of people in headsets staring at computer screens or suited men around a boardroom table are incredibly inauthentic.

But we need stock photos of some kind from time to time. And we don't always have the budget to spend big bucks on photos to accompany every blog post, particularly if we're posting several times a day. 

This is where Pexels comes in. Here, you can find genuinely great looking stock photos to use completely freely (without attribution). No catches.

4. Flaticons

Essentially the Pexels of icons, Flaticons is home to 2,500 free icons and has the functionality to allow users to create their own as well.

These are incredibly handy for infographics, presentations, and reports.

5. Venngage

Venngage is one of the more advanced infographic creators available online. Again, it offers users the ability to customize one of many existing templates. You can access limited templates in the free account or many more with one of the low cost premium accounts.

6. 99Designs

OK, so if you really need a pro (and we all do sometimes) and don't have one to hand, 99Designs is a great way to source one. You create a brief, choose one of the 99Designs packages, and launch your brief as a contest to the site's design community. They respond by submitting their own designs.

You can receive dozens of entries, which might give you several different interpretations of your brief. You simply pick your favorite and that designer gets the prize money while you take complete ownership of the design.

When to Go for a Pro

Quick blog post visuals, small content projects, and similar offerings may not always need professional designers when such great resources are so readily available. But let's bear in mind that tools like these are used a lot, so if you need something truly unique, custom design might be the better way to go. And similarly, if you're expecting a piece of content to generate revenue directly, there might be a business case for investing in the design.

But it's great to have options like these for those projects that don't have the budget!

Published on: Jul 15, 2016