Standing out in the crowd has become even more difficult. With so many great blogs emerging daily and creative minds joining the social media sphere, how do you really get noticed any more?
Rich media content works great for visibility but visuals have also become more creative and sophisticated over the years.
With that in mind, embracing a concise (yet not noisy) visual content strategy is a must, both in your content and social media marketing efforts.
Now, how to create catchy images that don’t take hours to design, yet look good? How to stand out without making it an overwhelming commitment?
Your creativity and imagination is the first thing you’ll need. Now, assuming we all have that (to different extent!), let’s move on to the tools that can help you create amazing rich media content in minutes:
Finding great images to use is not easy, especially if you want to avoid stock image disaster. Here are my favorite resources:
1. Flickr (I search Flick using Compfight) with “Commercial” option enabled in the right sidebar.
2. Smart Photostock: You’ll never find a tacky overused stock image there.
3. MorgueFile: Original non-stock-style photography.
Here are some more image sources previously covered by Kathryn: Where to Find Photos for Your Blog
Another sound idea is to simply take your own photos: That’s no longer difficult.
Visual quoting tools
Putting next on the image makes your content even more engaging ad convincing (if you do that right, of course). Here are some tools to utilize for beautifully done visual quotes:
5. Recite This has awesome and unique templates. I’d suggest using it from time to time to add something new to your streams.
6. Chisel is another neat one. The reason I really like it is that it has a handy bookmarklet, so you can highlight anything on the page, click the bookmarklet and create the visual quote almost instantly! Other than that, it’s quite basic. (Which makes it time-saving as well: Sometimes I spend too much time playing with options, so it’s nice to have only few of them sometimes.)
Awesome editing tools
7. Canva is one of my recent discoveries that is quickly becoming my favorite online editing tool. It lets you create all kinds of creative and annotated mashups giving you a huge collection of ready-to-edit templates. I love the tool!
8. PicMonkey has some awesome tools you can keep playing with for ages. They allow you to edit images (add exposure, filters, text, etc.) as well as create great-looking collages.
9. Speaking of collages, Fotor.com is another great option to create one awesome visual using a few images. They let you do shape collages, photo stitching, photo montages, etc.
10. You no longer need to be a video geek to create awesome videos. Animoto (Freemium) lets you collect your awesome images (you created with tools above) and throw them into the creative video. You can choose a template and a music track to play your images. Here’s an example of what you can do with Animoto.
11. Another great way to re-use your awesome images and visual quotes is to compile them into a presentation. With Haiku Deck that also doesn’t take long. You can even create presentations on the go (it’s very iPad-friendly). Here’s an example of a deck that took me 15 minutes to create!
12. Snagit (paid) is my preferred tool for making screencasts and annotated screenshots. It’s easy to use; yet it provides the best-looking screenshot annotating tools I’ve ever seen.
13. Gyazo GIF is one of my recent discoveries. It’s a freemium tool allowing you to create animated GIF instructions. You simply record what you do on the screen and the tool generates the GIF. Another tools I am using for creating animated GIFs is Gifbrewery (It lets you convert any video into a GIF, edit and annotate it) but I believe it’s Mac-only.
[GIF instruction of how to secure your membership on TopMarketersOnly, the forerunner to Area 51, made with Gyazo:) This took me two minutes to create!]
Whatever you create using the above tools, don’t forget:
- Cross promote your visuals across several social media channels: The more the merrier! Images boost your engagement everywhere you post them. The only social network where you don’t want to overuse images is Twitter: Not all Twitter users have got used to visual tweets yet!
- Re-package! If you were creating awesome visual quotes for a few weeks, don’t forget to collect them and put together an awesome deck to upload to Slideshare. Or turn your collection into an awesome creative video using Animoto (to upload to Youtube and Vimeo).
- On Image Overload? Try These 4 Easy Steps to Create Social Media Graphics
- 6 Ways To Use Images To Increase Online Conversions
What are your favorite creative image editing tools? Please share them in the comments!
About the Author: Ann Smarty is the founder of MyBlogGuest, co-founder of ViralContentBuzz and Brand manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. Ann is an active blogger, huge proponent of Google Authorship and a very active Twitter user.