In 1895, John Deere launched the magazine The Furrow, providing information to farmers on how to be more profitable.
More than a hundred years later, the magazine is still in circulation, reaching 1.5 million readers in 40 countries. It was instrumental in the growth of Deere & Company founded by John Deere. This is one of the earliest examples of content marketing, at a time when the concept did not even exist.
Content Marketing has come a long way since then.
But there is one problem. Just like any marketing channel, as more and more marketers starts using it, content marketing will become even more challenging to gain desired results. For example digital banner ads, which made an appearance in 1994, enjoyed 78% CTR(click-through-rate) and the industry average today hovers around 0.05%. Andrew Chen calls it the ‘Law of Shitty Clickthroughs’
As a marketer, this creates a challenging opportunity to create content that is engaging and innovative. A picture speaks thousand words. That explains why visual content like infographics, gifs and memes are the buzzwords in today’s world of content marketing.
In this article, we have put together a selection of the best tools that can help you create amazing visual content. These time saving apps save you many hours as you create stunning stories that are unique and arresting.
Images are the backbone of any visual content. Below is a list of sites which provide amazing photos that you can use for personal and commercial purpose without mentioning credits.
A project by Viktor Hanacek, this site has the most varied collection of photos. A well categorized tagging system makes it really easy to find a relevant photo. Photos are free to use. Victor also provides a premium membership.
Unsplash uploads 10 photos every 10 days which are free to use for personal and commercial purpose. You can signup to receive these photos in your inbox. Barring a few exceptions, most of the photos revolve around nature.
Gratisography adds new photos weekly. It has eclectic mix of photos of people, lifestyle, cities, funny situations and animals. Again, free to use without the need to mention credits. All pictures are captured by Ryan McGuire of Bells Design
Uploaded by a web designer Daniel Nanescu, Splitshire boasts a good collection of photos. Good thing about Splitshire is the categorization of photos under food, fashion, people, and some 10 other categories. Beside the free to use photos, it also offers a premium service for $5.50 a month where it sends exclusive (which aren’t shared on Splitshire) photos which are automatically uploaded to your dropbox folder
This site offers free aerial photographs and also some amazing biological and geological photos. This site is the only exception in the list which requires credits to be mentioned. Photos are free to use for commercial purpose as well.
Little Visuals uploads 7 photos weekly. These consist of nature based photography. You can even download the weekly pack as zip folder or receive photos in your email inbox.
If you are looking for photos on cities and lifestyle, Life of Pix is your place to go. Photos are uploaded by Leeroy, an advertising agency and contributors.
Stockup doesn’t provide its own photos but does a great job of bringing photos from places like Unsplash, Life of Pix and others. The coolest thing about Stockup is its real-time search feature. It can search for what you are looking from all the places it hosts the free images. That’s a good list at your disposal to get good photos.
When it comes to visuals, icons play a great role to represent action or an object. Icons are quick to recognize and invoke an immediate emotion which is quite crucial given the short attention span of the audience on social media. You can use icons to your advantage in the visual content you create for your marketing efforts without needing a designer. Here is list of some sites which have done some great work.
A global community of icon creators, The Noun Project is on a mission to create a visual language for the world. As of now it has 25,000 icons and new icons are added daily. You can download the icons for free with attribution. To skip worrying about attribution, you can go for premium account which starts at $10/month.
Ballicons is a set of scalable and beautiful icons in flat design. You can download a pack of 20 icons for free or you can purchase all 110 icons for $19. And this comes with a free upgrade. I have personally used them for slides and they take the appearance of the slide to another level. They also offer other packs Smallicons & Ballicons vol 2
PixelBuddha, the company Ballicons, was kind enough to offer a special 20% discount for Viraltag users. Just use coupon code ‘viraltag‘ while purchasing any of the above icons packs.
Rounds Icons boasts finely crafted 6000 icons. There are 6 different type of icon sets like flat icon, doodle icons, glyph icons, etc beside pack of 60 free icons. You can buy the entire bundle if you are a heavy user or just go for specific packs like flat icons pack which costs $65 for 1500 icons.
We have got a nice 30% discount applicable on all Round Icons products. You can use coupon code VIRALTAG30 while purchasing the icon packs.
Gifs are everywhere. It is hard not to come across a media which is not using GIFs. They are light, easy to use and users simply love them. We have tried to make it easier for you to create an gif using these tools.
GifYouTube makes it insanely easy for you to create a gif from a Youtube video. Pick Youtube url, put it on GifYouTube and select the video portion to convert it in to a gif. You can even browse through the gifs created by other users.
Recordit is a fast, free and lite weight Windows and Mac app to record your screen. What makes Recordit special is that it uploads your video while you’re recording so it’s super fast because of that. It can also create GIFs of your videos.
If you got a bunch of images which you want to convert to gif, use Gifmaker. You can create simple gifs like this easily.
Another nifty tool that converts any gif into a HTML5 video which is usually smaller in size compared to the gif. And you can pause, slow down or speed it up. It can be useful in cases where you think videos will be more appropriate than gif.
Infographics is probably the most useful visual content you can create. It can be a great channel in your content marketing and SEO efforts. Though infographic have been in the market since a long time, very few marketers used it because they were expensive to create. Kissmetrics made the most of such infographics to achieve content authority on web analytics via it’s blog. It used to cost them $600 to create one infographics inhouse. Here are a few tools where now you can create infographics at a fraction of the that cost.
With over 100 infographic templates, Piktochart allows marketing professionals to create professional grade infographics. One feature where Piktochart stands out is its ability to create search engine friendly HTML interactive infographics. It offers a free plan with limited templates and its own branding whereas a monthly plan is priced as $29/month.
One of the early entrants, Infogram lets you create real time infographics using easy data import. It offers a free plan. Premium plans starts at $18/month.
Online visual editors let you quickly create designs without Photoshop or any other desktop software. Most of them provide a great support for creating content on various social media networks.
Canva lets you create designs in various sizes that will fit your needs, be it creating content for social media or blogs. Canva is free to use, but you can purchase premium images at $1 each. You can even checkout the Editor’s picks get inspired.
Picmonkey is a free web based photo editor and graphic design tool. It’s handy to create collages.
Placeit gives you a very easy way to create product mockups without Photoshop! It keeps adding tons of new stages. Monthly plans starts from $12/month and single download will cost you $8
We stumbled upon a bit less expensive options to Placeit, Cool Mockups. But you should know some of Photoshop to use it. You can download the entire pack of psds for $15 like this one for iPhone mockups. Currently it has mockups for Macbook and iPad.
Annotation and Screenshot
There would be a time in your work where you would like to put a screenshot of a website or an app in your content. Here are some free tools to help you get that done.
Offered by a popular note taking app Evernote, Skitch lets you take screen-shots, annotate it, point things and much more. And you can save the screenshots in your evernote folder.
This is a cool extension available on Mozilla, Chrome, and Safari. It lets you take screenshot of whole page or any portion of it. It also lets you annotate the screenshot in various shapes.
Having a proper dimensions for the content you upload on various social media networks is critical. But it is hard to keep up with the different specs. Here is a tool for that.
Social Image Resize is a free tool where you can automatically resize, crop photos and visual content as per optimum size for each social network platform. It supports most of the popular networks.
Keeping an optimum size of your visual content is important to make sure it doesn’t affect page load speed. Also, a few social networks keep a cap on the size of file you can upload. So keep an image compression tool handy.
TinyPNG uses smart lossy compression techniques to reduce the file size of your PNG files. The effect is nearly invisible but it makes a very large difference in file size. It is free to use and also has a Photoshop plugin.
We love videos and yet most of the marketers stay away from using it given the costs involved. We found couple of services worth featuring here.
It provides HD quality stock videos which are royalty free and available for commercial use. Smart usage of the such videos can make you stand out from the rest be it a new product video, new feature update or something else. Pricing starts from $50 a video for single use license.
Life of Vids is an initiative by the same guys who started Life of Pix. It provides free stock videos which requires no credits and are free to download.
Here is one free stock video
Getting your message across to your audience visually, be it a quote or valuable info, is a great way to grab attention.
Share As Image is a pretty awesome chrome extension that lets you turn text into an image. Perfect for the moment when you come across a great quote and want to share it with your network. It also offers preset sizes optimized for most of the popular social networks.
Share As Image has offered a nice 25% discount for all Viraltag users & readers on yearly plan. Just use coupon code: VIRALTAG14. Valid till 31st Dec, 2014.
It’s hard to ignore memes these days. It can be a great light hearted content for your potential customers.
Few sites which can help you create
Created by widely popular image hosting site Imgur, Memegen makes it super easy to create memes. Just pick an image from existing popular photos, put up the text and create. You get an url to share and you can even embed it as well.
Imgflip is another quick tool to create memes easily. You don’t have to create an account. In Imgflip you can even customize the font of the text in meme. Something which is not available in Memegen and other meme generators.
Quizz is a new kid on the block. Quizzes like this Can we guess you real age? has 5 million shares. This opens a great opportunity for marketers to create relevant quiz for the audience. Here are few sites which can help you create such quizzes.
Closest rival to Buzzfeed, Playbuzz thrives on user generated quizzes which you can embed anywhere you want. All this for free.
That’s all! Hope these tools will help you to create new type of visual content and stay on top of your game.
Also you can find out on businesses like Salesforce, Kissmetrics, Grammarly and more used visual content effectively.
Do share your thoughts on your favorite apps that work for you to create visual content.
Sign up for a free trial of Viraltag to day and start streamlining your social media visual content strategy.