Learn about some of the apps and programs that give conscientious entrepreneurs the power to create high-quality visual and written marketing collateral.
Visual marketing is hot and getting hotter. The social media research firm Social Media Examiner states that 41% of marketers believe visual images (photo and video) are the most important form of content for their businesses. Blogging used to dominate the marketing landscape, but this year it fell to the number-two spot behind visuals (Social Media Examiner 2017).
John Medina, PhD, molecular biologist and author of the New York Times best-selling book Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School (Pear Press 2014), supports using visual imagery to make a lasting impact. He states that when people hear information, 3 days later they remember only 10% of it. Attach an image to the info, and that 3-day memory retention shoots to 65%.
You might be limiting your growth potential if you’re not using visual marketing to help your products and services stand out. This article features apps and programs that can help you take a do-it-yourself approach to visual-driven content marketing.
Should You DIY?
“If you have the budget, you might find that it’s worth delegating some of your content creation to an agency or design company, but it’s certainly not necessary, especially if you’re operating on a small budget,” says Amanda Vogel, MA, social media consultant for the fitness industry, blogger at FitnessTestDrive.com and IDEA’s fitness technology spokesperson.
There are plenty of apps that can take the guesswork out of developing quality content, Vogel adds. She regularly creates her own collages, photo posts and short videos.
“A lot of apps and platforms even offer pre-made templates you can use to create and personalize your material,” she says. “This eliminates the guesswork of figuring out what type of designs and color schemes might work best. It’s easy to upload your own photos into these templates, or use stock photos that are either free or really low-cost.”
There are too many photo and visuals apps to feature in one article. Here’s a rundown of some of the more popular options.
FotoJet is a self-described “free online graphic designer, collage maker and photo editor.” You can create business cards, Facebook cover photos and ads and Instagram posts, to name just a few. FotoJet’s photo editor allows you to resize images, add filters or text overlays and improve image quality. The app also features tutorials to get you started. With a paid subscription, you can access a comprehensive clip art library; advanced editing tools and extra fonts, effects and overlays are some of FotoJet’s other paid-subscription tools.
“As a social media consultant and blogger, I use Canva almost every day to create graphics to post on social media, cover images for videos, PDF ebooks, brochures, blog cover shots and more,” says Vogel. “You can use Canva to add your logo to graphics and images or take a still image with text overlay and turn it into a gif or video with moving text.”
Canva offers two primary membership types: Forever-free, or $12.95 per month. The paid subscription is helpful to those who require branding options.
“I pay for access to the professional platform, but I find the free version is almost as good,” Vogel says. “Canva is the number-one platform that I recommend to fitness pros for creating DIY social media graphics and marketing material.”
PicMonkey is another tool for editing photos—for example, you can brighten eyes or whiten teeth. You can also build collages, design cards and do even more.
According to Vogel, the web version allows you to create simple graphics and edit photos, while the mobile app is good for photo retouching. Unlike the other programs, PicMonkey does not offer design templates. PicMonkey offers both free and paid subscriptions.
If you’re interested in offering your audience a bit more in-depth education, you might give Visme a try. The app focuses on data-driven content in the form of presentations, infographics, charts and the like. Choose from a multitude of templates and customization options. You can also add animation to your project. Visme is free, but there are project and storage limitations. To unlock extra features, upgrade to a paid Visme plan.
You’ve got the tools to dress up your photos, but where do you get the photos? Pexels offers a library of more than 30,000 stock images licensed under the Creative Commons Zero license. That means that they’re free for personal and commercial use.
Pictures hold the top spot when it comes to favorite marketing tools, but video is gaining ground. Social Media Examiner reports that video is a top priority among today’s marketers.
Filmora is a free video editing app that’s accessible on your desktop or smart device. Use it to spice up your videos with filters and overlays, text and tiles, motion elements and transitions. You can also add tunes to your video; Filmora features a limited library of royalty-free music. A paid subscription unlocks more features.
Magisto takes video editing to another level. Upload your footage, and the app analyzes it to assess visuals, audio and story. Magisto then uses your selected themes, effects and music to create a movie. The website states, “Our algorithms are able to determine which are the most interesting and share-worthy moments, as well as determine the most effective way to edit these moments together to tell your story.”
The free option gives you very little customization control over your end product, and it does not allow downloads, though you can share videos to social media sites. Paid upgrades resolve those restrictions. The upgrades also allow you to add text and logos, and they grant you access to stock photos and commercially licensed music.
Photo and video have superseded written posts, but don’t count words out yet. Blog posts remain popular among marketers. A mix of well-selected words and images can make your messages stick.
Hubspot’s Blog Idea Generator (www.hubspot.com/blog-topic-generator)
One of the toughest parts of creating blog posts, infographics or other information-based content is coming up with an idea to present. Hubspot’s free Blog Ideas Generator can help. Fill in the fields with nouns, hit Enter and several titles will appear to inspire you for your next post. For example, the words fitness, nutrition and myths reveal the topics “20 Myths About Fitness” and “What Will Nutrition Be Like in 100 Years?”
Hemingway App (www.hemingwayapp.com)
Will the blog post or article you’ve written make sense to your readers? The free, web-based Hemingway App analyzes your content for readability. Copy and paste your content right onto the web page, click “Edit” and the app goes to work. It highlights difficult-to-read sentences, passive-voice construction and excessive adverbs, and it offers alternatives for certain words or phrases. You’ll also receive a grade and an estimate of how long your post will take people to read.
Hemingway App won’t make any corrections for you. You’ll do all the heavy lifting to incorporate Hemingway’s suggestions and clear up your message to make it palatable to a larger audience.
Yes, You Can DIY!
Creating high-quality DIY marketing collateral is no longer out of reach. With a good app and a little time, you’ll develop plenty of attractive, engaging visual and written content for your social media channels.