This may be a familiar scenario:
You’ve written amazing content. You’ve edited and perfected an article. But before you can publish you need images to accompany your post on your blog and social media.
You cry out in protest “Dammit Jim, I’m a marketer, not a designer!”
Your deadline approaches, marching forward to the uncaring tic-toc of the second hand on the clock by your desk. To prove you’re the real Content McCoy you need professional and aesthetically pleasing images now.
Actually, you needed them yesterday. Sadly, that second hand only goes in one direction.
Well dry those braintears, fellow marketers, it will all be over sooner than you thought possible.
Bypassing Marketing Image Tool Overload: The Top 3
Massive collections of image creation tools are all over the internet, including this huge one from Sprout Social (36 tools overall!). The problem is that when faced with such an enormous list, our brains get overwhelmed very quickly.
To make matters worse, learning new tools can be a time consuming and arduous task, especially when you’ve got a deadline looming. Seriously, who’s got time to try 36 separate tools?!
Fear not, overworked marketers!
For the sake of time and your sanity (and at the expense of mine) I’ve reduced the list down to just three tools (all of which I’ve tried myself) that will have you generating lovely images before your next coffee break!
Pablo: Social Media Images From the Buffer People
Buffer started in 2010 and launched Pablo in March of this year. They’re having a great year so far and they’re not afraid to tell you about it.
After a quick sign up I was off and running with Pablo. The options were easy to comprehend; the layout very simple to use. No design degree was required to navigate the straightforward interface.
Basically, if you can edit a Word document you can use Pablo and post to social media within a few minutes.
Editing options allow for four text colors, a handful of fonts, a few fonts sizes, and a few font customizations like bold and italicize. You can also add secondary text for a little contrast.
I was able to add text to the free stock images provided and also uploaded and added text to my own. It was incredibly easy to put text over the images, which made it easy to incorporate them into my tweets. Within five minutes I was posting my images to Twitter. You can also share to Facebook or download the image to post on other social media channels.
Pablo has one serious limitation: images are not saved in your Pablo account unless they are scheduled with Buffer. This requires you to make the image, schedule it, or lose it.
This marketing image tool is not a one stop shop, but it sticks to fulfilling your images needs for Facebook and Twitter, making it a quick go-to tool for images.They can then be conveniently shared or scheduled for Facebook and Twitter with Buffer.
I looked in to my upgrade options, curious if I was missing any image creation capabilities. It turns out the paid features apply to Buffer, not the image generation possibilities of Pablo. Still, I greatly appreciated the straight forward billing page and for the transparency regarding where your $10 a month subscription fee goes.
Using images made in Pablo allows you to say more in the image than you can in the 140 character tweet, or use the image as companion to your posts to get clicks on social media.
To test Pablo, I channeled my anticipation for the next book in A Song of Ice & Fire, the source material for the TV show “Game of Thrones,” by making some images with text over them.
It was so easy I got a little carried away. Here’s one of my creations with Pablo. Here’s one of a handful of images I was able to post within a few minutes:
- Easy to use
- Fast results
- Free with Inexpensive Upgrade
- Limited Editing Options
- Cannot save work and come back later
Canva: a One-Stop Shop for your Marketing Images Needs
Canva launched less than two years ago and has nearly 4 million users. It’s popularity is due in large part to its powerful range of options.
While Pablo is more a niche tool for social media images, Canva can be used for any and all marketing images. The trade off, of course, is that more capabilities make for more to learn.
One section of their website indicated it only takes 23 seconds to learn. After a quick sign up and guided tour I was off and running. It took me about 15 minutes of clicking around to generate my first image.
The first step is to pick the type of image you want to create: logo, printed materials, various social media icons, blog headers, etc. You are then taken to their bank of templates for that particular image style.
One of the best features of Canva is that they have templates that are appropriately sized for common image needs, like Facebook header images, presentations, blog images, and more:
The templates are easily customized, but are pretty sharp looking right out of the gate.
There are one click social media sharing buttons and the ability to download as an image or pdf.
Canva comes stocked with over 1 million stock images, which vary widely in subject matter and quality. Some are free to use, but the majority cost a dollar. You can download a copy of any image without paying, but images made in free account it will have a very obvious “Canva” watermark.
I will definitely spend more time learning and using this tool in the future. It has lots of options and capabilities to meet a majority of my image needs for all marketing endeavors.
Using Canva felt like pulling back the curtain on nearly every website and marketing email I’ve seen in the last 6 months because so many of these template looked familiar.
Here’s what I was able to produce during my first session:
- Easy interface allows me to get right to making an image based on my need.
- Comprehensive range of templates and options
- Huge library of images, many of which are free and none of which cost more than $1
- More options = more time to master
- Required to pay for images when using click-to-tweet feature.
Not really a con when I consider it only cost 8 quarters. Let’s be honest: designers deserved to be paid for their work. While these programs are a great time and money saver nothing can fully substitute the work of a good graphic designer.
Anyway, so I have time to go take a coffee break because making an image in Canva was easy.
After utilizing the one-click sign up with Google I was greeted with the option to create an infographic, chart, banner, or presentation.
Similar to Canva, Piktochart offers a nearly infinite amount of templates.You have oodles of options for editing the text, background images, charts, and a slew of other elements of your infographic.
Even though I have never made an infographic before I was able to turn one out in less than 15 minutes. It was cool.
Here’s what I was able to create:
I was initially overwhelmed at all the options, but Piktochart is prepared for that. I was guided through a quick tour of the application to accelerate my familiarity with what was available.
Once you’re done you can easily publish to social media, or if you “level up” your account (sounds more fun than upgrading or paying) you can publish directly to SlideShare. Paid accounts are $15 or $29 a month.
(Be wary when trying out this feature, as I have a colleague who found that all live links get removed from a presentation during the transfer process.)
- Great Templates
- Easy to customize
- Wide variety of icons and images
- Have to pay to remove watermark
Finding the Right Tools For Your Marketing Images
There is no “best” tool, only the tool that gets your marketing images up on social media and blogs as fast as reasonably possible at the best level of quality. All the tools have their own particular strengths, and there’s no reason you can’t use different ones for different needs.
I am not endorsing one over the other, but instead suggesting that you use the one that best meets your current needs. All allow you to look sharp and while continuing to stay agile.
So go grab some coffee, and get to making images. You’ll be done before you need another cup!
You can also check out how these images looked when shared on Twitter via @GriffinAtWork.