I don’t know about you, but sometimes, I feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of software options out there in the digital universe.
Whenever I look for a new marketing tool, I’m confronted with a flood of search results from companies who all claim to have the best, easiest, coolest, [insert superlative here] option to help me achieve my goals.
I’ve found that visual content creation tools are especially challenging to assess. There are a ton of programs, but not all of them are simple enough for design n00bs to use. I can do basic layouts in InDesign and graphics work in Photoshop, but I’m by no means an artist. And yet I have to create visuals all the time for my content program.
For those marketers in a similar predicament, I wanted to share a few tools I’ve found that are easy to use and produce great results.
Custom Image Creation Tools
PicMonkey is a cloud-based image editor that makes it easy to create customized, on-brand graphics for social media and your blog. For marketers without any experience with Photoshop or Illustrator, their simple editing panel is very intuitive and easy to use.
Canva is the marketing world’s image creation darling right now for a reason: It’s easy to use, affordable, and has a huge library of photo options available so you can curate, customize, and export all from one platform.
Pablo, the free social media image creation tool from Buffer, is dead simple to use. Just pick a photo (or upload your own), apply a few effects, choose which networks you’re creating content for, and add some text. You can even use a quote from Pablo’s quote generator without having to research your own.
Screen Recording Tools
It’s true that QuickTime doesn’t have any fancy editing capabilities. But if you just need to create a simple how-to walkthrough video or a quick intro for a new blog series, QuickTime does the trick.
This freemium Mac screen recording tool provides a bit more sophistication than QuickTime. Not only can you create recording presets, but you can also include a talking head narrator, stitch clips together, create time lapses, and record audio separately.
GIF Creation Tools
Flixel is an awesome tool for creating cinemagraphs (e.g., images with one animated portion). It’s easy to isolate still frames and apply effects to create the exact subtly-animated video of your dreams. The final output is pretty magical—think moving portraits from Hogwarts!
GIFMaker is one of my favorite tools for creating a GIF out of still images. Just upload your files, put them in order, select your animation speed and output preferences, and export. It’s great for blogs, email, social media, and other use cases where you don’t need a super high quality file.
If you need to make a quick, lower-res GIF for social, GIPHY has a great video GIF creation feature. Just drop in a YouTube/Vimeo/Vine link or video file, select the desired time range, and bam! You’ve got a fun GIF that’s also indexed in GIPHY.
Interactive Content Tools
Admittedly, this one is a bit self-serving. But even before I started working at Ceros, I fell in love with the beautiful interactive content that people are creating with it. The platform gives full creative control to the marketer and his or her design team, eliminating the need for custom coding or agency contracts. Plus, if you’ve ever worked in InDesign or Photoshop, you’ll feel right at home in the tool.
I’m crushing so hard on Rapt Media’s interactive video creator. Their builder empower marketers to provide a truly personalized, choose-your-own-adventure style viewing experience that keeps people engaged. Plus, they have one of the best marketing demo videos I’ve ever seen. No joke—you will literally laugh out loud if you watch it.
Bonus Tool: Interlude Eko
Eko is another up-and-coming interactive video tool that allows for non-linear branching logic. They started in the music community, but are now also working with big brands to develop highly personalized, dynamic video advertising and games.
The Bottom Line
There are a ton of marketing tools out there for visual content creation. These are the ones I’ve used as a marketer without any serious design training, and I’d recommend them to other content creators who are in the same boat.