Free visual media tools and useful stock photos

If you are seeking free stock images for your website, newsletter, brochure etc., the website for Chasing Heartbeats Photography contains links to a generous number of 46 stock photography sites (mostly free), including a brief description of each. Well worth a visit. (If you are asking, there is nothing in it for me.)

More and more brands are embracing content marketing, especially when it comes to visual media, so the move is a wise branding choice. However, PR and marketing pros are often not designers, and not all brands, boutique firms or communications consultants can afford the price tag that comes along with a top-flight design professional.

Here are five free tools that can help boost your campaigns without breaking the bank:

1. Death to the Stock Photo. Stock photos are an excellent foundation for photo quotes or social media posts with a powerful fact on top of an interesting picture. They also can work well alone in blog posts that need a boost from visuals.

However, many stock photos look strange or forced, and a bad photo won’t help to entice readers to look at and share your content.

Death to the Stock Photo is a free monthly service that provides images that don’t look like obvious stock photos for social media, blog posts and commercial use. “We aim to be just like coffee for the modern creative,” a welcome message on the site reads.

Other sites, such as New Old Stock and Unsplash offer high-resolution photos that you can edit in any way you’d like, free from copyright restrictions.

2. Canva. This tool is a design do-it-yourself dream, with more than one million stock photos, graphics and special fonts that can be purchased for $1 each to easily design posters, fliers, social media posts and other visual layouts.

Not only does the website offer an easy way to create visuals for practically any branding purpose, but Canva also became a social network in November 2014. Users can now follow contacts or find new people based on the designs they share.

3. Infographics can be great for understanding huge amounts of information.

Smaller brands and individual communicators can keep up with the infographics trend while staying within their budgets through tools like The website offers users a variety of templates to create the perfect infographic, along with an option to create one from scratch.

Remember to keep things simple when creating infographics. Even if you can fit a ton of information, colors and fonts within the image, that doesn’t mean you should.

4. Adobe Color CC. Just as you don’t want to use cliché or clashing fonts in your designs, choosing the right colors is imperative to making your visuals something audiences want to look at.

Formerly Adobe Kuler, this tool can create a color theme for your visual designs. Users can use the color wheel or upload a graphic to get color-theme suggestions, create their own themes or search the database to see popular user creations.

Though themes can be saved and transferred over to Adobe products and apps, each five-color theme displays the codes for each hue that can be used in practically any other design tool.

5. EZGIF. For brand and community managers, GIFs can be even more powerful than photos. Nevertheless, creating these looped animations doesn’t have to be hard work.

EZGIF has tools to crop, resize and optimize existing GIFs—users can upload files or the link to the GIF—and a GIF maker.

Now you can have the perfect reaction GIFs for online banters with customers as well as animations that spice up your blog and other social media posts.

Pixpa. If you are a keen photographer and would like to find out where you could sell your images, you should read Pixpa’s great resource on selling stock photography. Pixpa also explains how to set up a photography portfolio website quickly and is where many pro photographers and artists sell their images.

Top photo (scenic): Chasing Heartbeats Photography

Second photo: Joe Vittorio Photography.

Kim Harrison

Kim J. Harrison has authored, edited, coordinated, produced and published the material in the articles and ebooks on this website. He brings his experience in professional communication and business management to provide helpful insights to readers around the world. As he has progressed through his wide-ranging career, his roles have included corporate affairs management; PR consulting; authoring many articles, books and ebooks; running a university PR course; and business management. Kim has received several international media relations awards and a website award. He has been quoted in The New York Times and various other news media, and has held elected positions with his State and National PR Institutes.

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