Just because you’re a blogger, it doesn’t always mean you’re a highly skilled designer. I get it, I’m no designer. I run this blog and like to think I’m a creative person. I just don’t have the design background a lot of my fellow marketers have. No Photoshop, no InDesign, and no DSLR over here.
So what’s a blogger to do when it comes to graphic design for articles? Do you need a full time designer at your beck and call? Do you need to bite the bullet and shell out the cash and time to invest in “big kid” design tools?
Not any longer. In fact, I create the images for this blog using only free design tools! We talked previously about 6 free tools to make your writing more powerful. In this article, I’m taking you behind the scenes to show you how to make your graphics shine too.
If you need free design tools and you’re really not a designer by trade, I have 8 tools right here just for you.
It’s inevitable that the time you need to know a random hex code that appears on your branding is at 2am the night before a big launch. And it’s always during that moment that you realize it’s the one color that wasn’t listed in the files your designer turned over to you months ago. When you don’t want to guess at something as important as your brand colors, head to Image Color Picker to nab those all-important hex codes. You can upload a file or choose from a URL. Stop stressing and get that design done in peace.
You know those times when you really want to put your website (or any website, for that matter) on an iPhone or MacBook screen but you don’t have Photoshop? You might be tempted to spend the $5 on Fivver to have someone do it for you but with PlaceIt you can do it for $0! Grab a screenshot from a URL or upload your own image and PlaceIt will build the display image of your dreams. I played around with one for ConvertKit… check it out!
Occasionally known as Death To The Stock Photo but formally ‘Death To Stock’, this site is a haven from cheesy boring stock images. Death To Stock goes the distance with unique images your blog is craving with everything from office scenes to motorcycles to shots from a helicopter (truly). You can upgrade to a paid account to get storage of images, even more photos, videos, fonts, and more as they are released. As they say, “too many extraordinary brands, bloggers, and creatives struggled to find images that fit their vibe + tribe.” If that’s you, this site is your solution.
Surprise: I make all of our blog images with Canva and Pixlr! When Photoshop is too cost-prohibitive or even just too time-prohibitive to learn, Pixlr and Canva can hop in with most any image editing you need. In fact, if you’re looking to accomplish a certain type of editing (for example, desaturating an image), you can Google “desaturate image Photoshop” and follow those directions almost step by step in Pixlr Editor… or click on the video below to see exactly how I build the images for our blog.
Canva is a great place to find icons, add headers, and save a web-ready version of your final product. It’s even stocked with standard canvas sizes you’ll use all the time (like social media graphic and Pinterest image sizes). You can use these two apps as standalone options or combine their forces for the ultimate free image creation tool. Here’s how I use Canva after the image is edited in Pixlr:
An alternate design tool with many of the same features is PicMonkey. PicMonkey does allow you to use your own fonts with a free account and many people use it over Canva for that reason.
Of course, we can’t mention design without a little ambience, right? Spotify offers a free account (that only plays on shuffle, FYI) and it’s chock full of great tunes to design to. In fact, I’m currently writing this and listening to a playlist called Study Vibes and it’s jammin’. You can choose from playlists with lyrics or without so you get the best environment for your own design needs.
Preview for Removing Backgrounds
If you’ve ever struggled to remove a background from an image with a free tool, this one’s for you. Now, it’s a Mac only solution since we’re using Mac’s Preview app but it’s a good one. I made you a video of how it works:
Sometimes the fonts you have on hand just aren’t working for your image. Or maybe you’re re-designing your blog and want to find all new and fresh fonts. No matter the case, fonts are a vital part of any brand and Google Fonts provides hundreds of free, open-source fonts available to anyone. The best part about the Google Fonts site is that you can see the font in action before you waste time downloading something you ultimately won’t like.
An alternative to making them from scratch in Canva, Piktochart is ideal for creating infographics for your blog for free. With a few clicks you’ll have a piece of engaging shareable content that’s pleasing to look at and pleasing for your blog.
Sure, the paid tools are powerful, but free is just as do-able with these resources at your fingertips. What are your favorite free tools for design that we didn’t mention here? Drop them in the comments below!