Every marketing professional has to create graphics from time to time and certainly I'm no exception. However, in the spirit of bootstrapping my business and trying to save money where possible, I'm always on the lookout for a bargain.
In my opinion, it's tough to beat the Adobe Creative Suite products. However, the price tag for CS is a bit steep. Thankfully, there are some excellent options that are either free or represent a great value for the frugal marketer. Here's a look at the ones I like. If you have others I missed, please chime in below in the comments.
Also, for disclosure purposes, I have no affiliation whatsoever with these products and I haven't received any compensation for my reviews/recommendations. However, if any of these companies would like to send me a check or any freebies, just email me ... :)
Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo ($49 each)
I'm going to start with a couple of paid options here, but I believe that Affinity has produced two products that are in the ballpark with Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. I don't think they're quite as robust as the Adobe products, but they're darn close. They don't seem to be quite as intuitive to me as the Adobe programs, but that could just be a function of having much more experience with Photoshop and Illustrator.
That said, I think the images you can produce with these two programs would rival anything being produced by Creative Suite. Considering that for $100 you can put two powerful graphics editing programs at your fingertips, I think it's well worth the tradeoffs for my business.
Also, Affinity has announced plans for its next big rollout -- an InDesign competitor that's due to hit the market sometime early in 2017. Count me in as a beta tester when it becomes available.
For all the complaining I do about the cost of Adobe's Creative Suite, they have produced a gem of an iPhone app called Adobe Post. Did I mention that its free? Well, it is and it has become a go-to tool for me.
The app helps anyone produce great looking graphics in minutes, sized for the platform you plan to use. You can do a "remix" of an existing graphic or create your own unique creation using your own photos or some really good stock freebies. There are some options to purchase stock photos, but I haven't found a need to do so yet.
The best thing about Adobe Post to me is the fact that you are in complete control of the design - within the limits of the app of course. You can change fonts, colors, and designs on the fly. You can save the design, email or text it, or upload it directly to the social platform of choice. It really is amazing that an app this robust is free. If you haven't tried it yet, I highly recommend Adobe Post.
I recently came to find Canva, and so far, I have found it to be a great tool with even better potential. Canva has a "freemium" model, meaning some of the functions in the app work for free and others have a cost associated.
Thus far, I haven't paid for any elements, but I have a feeling I'll break down and purchase something eventually. It's not that I don't think the paid elements (most of which are $1 each) aren't worth it, it's that the free ones have worked just fine so far.
Canva is in the same vein as Adobe Post, but is a web app rather than a mobile one. As such, it has a little more flexibility. You can create not only social media graphics, but also things such as flyers and other graphics using your own custom size. You can upload your own photos or use the stock photos provided.
Canva has excellent text elements and other goodies to make your graphic work stand out and look professional. In minutes you can create a cover photo for a Facebook page and create a flyer for your kid's school play that look equally good. I'm just getting started with Canva, but at this point I can give it a hearty recommendation.
So, there they are. Four graphics tools I think are worthy of your consideration, especially if you're like me and trying to build a quality business for the minimal amount of money possible. These tools make me look good for my clients and don't break the bank, which is a win-win for sure.
I'm sure, dear reader, you're using some other tools that I haven't tried yet. Please weigh in and let me know what you like or what you don't. Let's see if we can start a good, old-fashioned conversation about this topic in the comments ...