I run content marketing for a startup. I love the fast-paced, open-minded environment of a startup, and I’m learning more everyday. One of my biggest challenges is creating visual content with few resources and a small budget. I love a good challenge, so I started seeking free tools and apps to do the job.

And I found them.

I know I’m not the only content marketer in this position, so here is the list of my tried and true tools that I use everyday. They have saved me time, money and boosted engagement and readership of our content. And believe it or not, they’re all free.

Canva

Make any visual piece of content for free with Canva (or for $1 if you want their stock images). I create social promos, webinar ads, blog images, and even Slideshare presentations with this free, easy-to-use tool. With Canva, I can create visual content on the fly. You choose the type of content (Facebook cover photo, social promo, presentation, etc.), the background, buttons, text, images, etc. Then you drag and drop. They even give you sample layouts and mini design courses to enhance your skills. I can’t even draw a stick figure, but check this out:

Canva

This was a blog image, a Facebook post and a tweet. It took me two minutes to create and had great engagement. Learn more at www.canva.com.

Place It

Place It takes any image or web URL and displays it on a phone, tablet or computer. It’s a sexier way of showing your product, screen shots and website because it’s contextual. It’s free and easy to use. Just pick the device you want (laptop, tablet, phone, etc.), the background (some backgrounds cost money but most are free) and your image or URL to display on the device. Here’s mine:

Place It

There are tons of options (including interactive functionality) so check it out at http://placeit.net.

Free Stock Photos

There are many great blog posts that collate resources for free stock photos (like this one), and I’ve spent over three years managing blogs and searching anywhere from one to 10 stock photos per day. Budget or not, there is no perfect stock photo site. The sites that have every stock image available are costly. And many of the free stock photo sites are limited and the quality is not great. However, a mix of a few sites for your image research will really serve your needs. I use a mix of:

  • Pixaby
  • Flickr (with creative commons)
  • Google Images (with creative commons)

I also use my Instagram account and tap into the Instagram accounts of my coworkers and friends. As long as you credit them, it’s a more personal and artistic way to get images.

Haiku Deck

Haiku Deck is a free, simple and visual way to create presentations. I create a lot of Slideshare presentations to engage our audience, but I don’t have time to spend hours or days on it. Haiku Deck lets me create simple, clean presentations in PDF or PPT format as well as directly uploading it to Slideshare. The site gives you simple fonts and text placements as well as free stock photos.

The result is highly visual and clean presentations created in minutes. Check this one out:

10 Guiding Principles to Sales Success from RingLead

Flare

I’ve found that most social share icons are boring or buggy. When I was looking to update my company blog with new and working social share icons, I knew they had to be easy to install, low or no cost, and functional. Flare offered all of that plus a unique design. Check it out below.

Flare

Here’s the link to get started. I use it for WordPress. Note the free version does say “powered by Flare” and it is not mobile friendly. However, it gets the job done beautifully.

Custom Tweet Buttons

Many tweet buttons have the Twitter icon and or they’re text link based, so if you want visual buttons that are not specific to Twitter, it’s hard to find. My company created these tweet buttons to match the design of our website. They’re also specific to the topic of our post, Salesforce hacks.

Here’s the button:

tweet button

Here’s the code:

Tweet This Hack

To use it, simply copy and paste the code into your HTML and change out the links and copy. Simple and free.

I originally found a lot of these tools from this Hubspot post, so be sure to check it out for more resources. I hope this post makes your day, week, or even year just a bit more productive. If you have some great tools to share, let me know in the comments.