36 Visual Content Creation Tools the Pros Can’t Live Without

Are you wanting to create more visual content but don't know where to start?

I asked 19 visual social media experts about their favourite, go-to, can't-live-without visual content tools.

What follows is their best of the best picks, all wrapped up into a post for you.  

36 Visual Content Creation Tools the Pros Can't Live Without
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36 Visual Content Creation Tools the Pros Can't Live Without
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Busy? Pin this post for later (Hipster Box by Shutterstock)


Our 19 experts don't just “talk” about visual content online.   They create visual content on a daily basis.

They are in the trenches creating everything from images to infographics for their businesses, websites, blogs and social media channels.

They know what works and what doesn't when it comes to visual content creation tools.

They know which “go-to” tools they use daily.

They know which tools they simply can't live without.  And they have shared them in this post!

When asking the Pros to contribute to this awesome list, I made it very clear that they should:

  1. Pick the visual content tools they use daily (or most regularly) and not just the ones they think others won't mention (ie repeats are ok in this post)
  2. Not worry about listing a tool that may be already listed –  because they think the tool is not easy to use, or not mainstream enough, or is already a crowd favourite.
  3. Give a reason for choosing each tool – why they love it and use it regularly.

These are the top 3 responses from each expert, along with their reasons for choosing each tool.  There are 36 different tools in total, not counting the popular duplicates!

These guys may be Pros but they have one thing in common – they all want to create visual content quickly and easily. Many of these Pros are not designers, but they know how to use tools effectively

Syed Balkhi, Online Entrepreneur
Syed Balkhi top visual content creation tools
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Syed is an online entrepreneur and founder of WPBeginner, OptinMonster, among dozens of other websites. Over 400 million people visit his websites (yes you read that right), and I can safely say that Syed is one of the smartest guys I know when it comes to content marketing. Oh, and did I mention he is pretty savvy with design too?

#1  Photoshop

Unlimited power, no restriction. A bit old school, but this will never let you down. I find it more reliable than any other application in the market.

#2  InstaQuote

When I'm on the go or specially at conferences, I use InstaQuote to easily create quotes to share to my Instagram and Twitter followers.  iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch.

#3  Unsplash 

Instead of buying tons of image packs, I use Unsplash's free subscription service. It sends you 10 new images every day. All are high quality and they're released under CC0 meaning you can use them however you want, no copyrights. (editor's note:  currently it's 10 images every 10 days).

Jenn Herman – Social Media Consultant & Instagram Trainer 
Jenn Herman top 3 visual content creation tools
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Jenn is a globally recognized Instagram expert and founder of the award-winning blog Jenn's Trends. If you want to keep up with trends in social media management then be sure to follow Jenn for awesome advice! 

#1 Instagram

I love the Instagram app for its ability to turn an average photo into something beautiful. Use the filters and photo editing tools to enhance your photos and create unique, branded content for all your marketing needs. Available on iPhone and Android. 

#2  PhotoGrid

PhotoGrid is an app that I use to share to Instagram but you can use to create graphics to share anywhere. This app allows you to import non-square shaped photos onto a square background, edit backgrounds, add borders, and add text overlays to images to create compelling calls-to-action and motivational quotes to your own images for unique and fresh visual content. Available on iPhone and Android.

#3 PowerPoint

This usually gets a laugh or an aha moment. I love this simple software that most of us are comfortable with to create all my own personalized and branded content. It's easy to use, manipulate, and create your own designs without needing fancy software experience or training.

Zach Kitchske, Head of Communications, Canva
Zach Kitschke - top 36 visual content creation tools
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Zach is Head of Communications for Canva, an online platform that makes graphic design simple for everyone.  He has been featured regularly in publications such as Inc., Mashable, TechCrunch, Forbes and The Next Web talking about visual content. Of course Zach uses Canva (a master uses his own tools, as do many of the experts contributing to this post), but Zach has some other great tools to share too:

#1  Canva 

Canva makes it super easy to create graphics that get engagement on social media. With hundreds of layouts for Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Google +, it shouldn't take long at all to create something that stands out and looks great online. There's plenty of other design types for marketers too, from email headers to blog graphics!

#2  Chrome Eye Dropper

This is a fantastic free plug-in for Google Chrome that allows you to get the HEX color code for any color from a webpage. Very handy when you see a color you like and want to use it in your designs.

#3  Designspiration

Designspiration not only has stacks of great design inspiration, it also has a cool feature that allows you to search by color palette. By doing a color search, you can pick up to 5 colors you like and see all the designs that have used that palette. It's a great way to get inspiration for new designs.

Ian Cleary, Razor Social

ian cleary razor social
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Ian is the founder of Razor Social where he helps companies get better results on social media through the smart use of tools and technology.  He's also pretty smart himself and is my go-to guy when it comes to Tools. Be sure to check out his Tool Directory on Razor Social. 

#1  Canva

We use Canva for our main images in our blog and also for sharing content on social media channels. Simple to use and we use it every day.

#2  WordSwag

Love using this app to dress up any images we want to share from my mobile phone.

#3  Pixlr Web Editor

When you want to make more significant changes to your images Pixlr provides an easy to use editor with great features

Cynthia Sanchez, Oh So Pinteresting
cynthia sanchez oh so pinteresting
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Cynthia is the CEO and founder of Oh So Pinteresting. She has been featured by Social Media Examiner and Entrepreneur and is considered a leading expert on Pinterest.  She is also one of my go-to-people for updates on all things pinnable!    

#1  Pinterest

Every piece of content I create for my business, whether it's a blog post, a video or podcast show notes needs to include an eye-catching image. For my business, it's crucial that it's a pinnable image meaning that it will be a tall images as well as an image that conveys the message of the piece of content it links to.  I use Pinterest to monitor trends and for inspiration for layout and design ideas.

#2  Canva

Since Canva came on the scene it has saved me so much time and has helped me to significantly improve the quality of my images. It's easy to use and it saves my work so I can make changes to it anytime I want.

#3  PicMonkey

I love the collage feature of PicMonkey. It makes it super easy to create tall infographic-style image that are perfect for Pinterest.

Rebekah Radice, Digital Marketing & Social Media Strategist
Rebekah Radice
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Rebekah is the founder of Rebekah Radice, LLC and a founding partner of Imagine WOW; digital marketing agencies committed to helping business professionals align strategy and intention for breakthrough social media results.  There is a reason why Rebekah was listed as one of the Top Ten Content Marketers of 2014 and recently one of the Top 10 Social Media Blogs by Social Media Examiner.  Her knowledge of social media, content strategy and branding is Top 10, and it's no surprise she has a huge following.  

#1  Canva

Who doesn't love a tool that completely simplifies the graphic design process? I have been a fan of Canva since it's inception and next to Photoshop, this is my daily go-to tool.  Now that they've taken it from online to app, it's the perfect all-around tool.

#2  Over

Over is an app available for Android and IPhone and one of my original go-to apps. While I love Wordswag as well, Over keeps me coming back with features that give me far more flexibility over the design.

#3   QuotesCover

QuotesCover is a busy marketers dream!  This online tools takes the ease of Canva and marries it with the built in templates and fonts of Over and Wordswag. There are no design skills needed with QuotesCover. Simply add your text, choose your background and font and voila, you're done!

For those of you that are visual creatures, here is the SlideShare (or you can jump to the Cheat Sheet at the end of this post).

Nik Parks, Founder of Launching Creative
Nik Parks, founder of Launching Creative
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Nik Parks is the co-founder of Launching Creative and the host of the Launching Creative Podcast, where he helps creative individuals become business savvy creative professionals. The guy that spearheaded the Anti-Starving Artist movement, Nick is  super-creative and teaches other creative people how to earn money from their talents.  I wanted his input on this post!

#1  Palettab

I use this Chrome extension for inspiration. Every time you open a new tab, you're provided with a new color palette and a new set of font combinations””it's brilliant.

#2  Beautiful Mess

This app might be a bit too feminine for some brands but it's a wonderful way to spruce up your photos. It's filled with beautiful fonts and filters, which is great for photography challenged creative professionals like myself.  Available on iOS and Android

#3  Afterlight  

Some people (myself included) struggle to capture visually appealing photographs. Afterlight's scalable frames, textures, and tweakable filters can be a real lifesaver.  Available on iOS and Android

Aaron Lee, PostPlanner
Aaron Lee - 36 Visual Content Creation tools the Pros Can't Live Without
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Aaron is a social media manager, entrepreneur, and Grand Master of Customer Delight at Post Planner.  He's a.k.a. @AskAaronLee on Twitter and has a huge loyal following, which is no surprise as he truly is one of the most savvy social media experts on the net. When Aaron writes a blog post, just read it (just sayin') – especially if it is one of his posts on the awesome Post Planner Blog. It's no surprise that Aaron was ranked 5th on the Social Media Power Influencers list by Forbes in 2013.  

#1   Canva

Canva is like graphic design for dummies. It comes with great design options and will make you feel like a graphic designer.

#2  Over

This is my go-to app for my phone, I love the typography selections in Over. I use this to add oomph to my photos taken from my phone. It's available for iOS and Android.

#3 Photoshop

Old school but I have been using photoshop for YEARS. What I love is I can save templates (actions) and replicate designs in less than a minute.

Azure Collier, Content Manager at Constant Contact 
Azure Collier, Constant Contact