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Creating Compelling Images

This post is regularly updated, so make sure to bookmark it! 

Having compelling creative is the best thing you can do to improve engagement with your content – be it a blog post, Facebook campaign, tweet, or anything in between.

According to Twitter, photos generated an average 35% increase in retweets. And I bet half of those weren’t nearly as well thought out as yours will be!

Having good creative is crucial, but for many the idea of developing these images can be overwhelming. I’m here to tell you it isn’t as hard as it looks.

You don’t need a graphic design guru, an entire social team, or advanced design chops of your own. Thanks to the advent of several amazing (and free!) online tools, even the busiest small business owners can up the efficacy of their content with great creative.

Let’s get started.

There are two parts to creating amazing creative:

  1. The Overlay
  2. The Image

There are plenty of tools to get this done, but let’s started with my favorites. My favorite tools for applying overlays at the moment are Canva or Fireworks.


Canva is quickly becoming the #1 tool of choice for marketers, bloggers, and small business owners who want professional looking graphics without hiring a graphic designer.

It’s almost absurdly easy to use. When you create your account (Facebook or Google sign-up available for the super time-crunched), the app opens its “23 Second Guide.” The entire process is four steps:

  1. Search Canva’s “Image Library”
  2. Size/edit image with super simple editor
  3. Add text (selecting from many FREE or paid fonts in their library)
  4. Download file format of your choice

You can get more advanced if you have time, but when you’re scheduling your tweets for the week and want to experiment with the impact of creative on your engagement, Canva is one of the easiest ways.

Fireworks from Adobe

The other tool I use is Fireworks from Adobe. Fireworks is similar to Photoshop but designed specifically for creating images for websites and apps. Don’t be intimidated because it’s an Adobe product. Just because it has the capacity to be used for complex design projects, doesn’t mean it can’t serve your needs for creating easy, engagement-boosting creative.

They have an amazing library of tutorial videos for beginners and those getting started. Check them out here.

With Fireworks, you’ll need to find your own image, but don’t worry! There are a bunch of great templates available on Creative Market and Graphic River (Envato Market) that can help you create a standard template for images. Once you’re setup, your everyday creative will be speedy.


Admittedly, finding a great base image for free is a bit more tricky. Google search offers an option for finding royalty free images that can be used. If you’ve never refined your image search with Google, here’s how it works:

  • Search for your image, i.e., “bear holding ice cream cone”
  • Click on “Search Tools”
  • Click on “Usage Rights”
  • Select your from “Labeled for Reuse” or another option
  • Find your image!

If Google doesn’t have what you’re looking for, here are some additional sites where you can find that next great image for your Instagram post, blog post, or social media campaign:

Unsplash is a great resource for those awe inspiring, high resolution photo. The site ads 10 new photos every 10 days and offers a “do whatever you want” free license under Creative Commons. A lot of these photos are large, saturated, landscape images.

ISO Republic provides high-quality images for creatives with free use for personal and commercial uses.This site has a great mixture of texture images perfect to add a text overlay on.

Pixabay features photos, videos, vectors, and more for private and commercial use. This site has a similar offering as Shutterstock or one of the larger, paid sites.

The Stocks works as an aggregator, pulling together the inventory of other royalty-free photo sites.

Death to Stock Photos was started by two photographers who noticed the terrible trend of cheesy stock photos across the web. You can sign up to have free photos sent to you by email.

Image Sources has a large library and a search option so you can filter for photos that are royalty free.

Please let me know if you have any other fabulous free photos sources or tools I can add to this list! I will keep it updated as I find more easy ways to find photos and create your own compelling creative.

I can’t say this enough; it doesn’t have to be difficult to create fantastic creative that will boost the engagement on your blog, social media campaign, or other online property. Experiment with Canva or another tool and see for yourself!

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