DIY graphic design image

The Best DIY Graphic Design Programs for Social Media

Images just might be more important than the words you choose for your social media posts. The brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text. That’s right. 60,000 times faster…no that’s not a typo. When they said a picture is worth a thousand words it’s because a well chosen picture can give you more information in less time than any other form of communication. When you look at a picture you instantly see the mood, weather and situation, whether or not your assumptions are correct. If someone had to describe all of that to you, it would take a minute or more, wouldn’t it?

Because images are the darling of social media (just under video), the last year has seen a plethora of DIY graphic design programs pop up. In the days of being able to do everything yourself, graphic design was one of the last hold outs. We already had accounting online, proofreading, invoicing, banking, conversation and advertising…why not DIY graphic design?

Now, don’t get me wrong. Not everyone should do their own graphic design. I don’t. I work with a fabulous graphic designer who does the high majority of the design for this website and my brand. If it looks awesome, she did it. If it looks acceptable, I did it 🙂 If it doesn’t even look acceptable, ummm…I’ve been hacked? Not only can you NOT do every single thing for your own business, you won’t love every thing that needs to be done. If you hate graphic design like I do, outsource that frustration and concentrate on the things you love instead.

However, if you’ve decided to delve into the world of DIY graphic design, here are a few programs that will help you. They each have their own unique focus, features and benefits. To write this comparison, I’m using the same photo and quote on all programs and I’ll talk about the pros and  cons of each program.

Relay

$12/month or $96/year

I first met Craig, the creator of Relay, on Blab back when Blab was my daily hangout. We met in person at Social Media Marketing World 2016. Craig has built a great option for those who cannot pick colour combinations or center a line to save their life.

Pros
social media quote DIY graphic design

  • Elements don’t move. You can’t uncenter something!
  • Resizing for other networks is a click of a button and you can see all of the options on one page.
  • Has a free version with a trial of the pro version.
  • Comes with colour theme choices ready to go.
  • You can change the colour of individual elements.
  • You can change the fonts.
  • There is a training/tutorial section.
  • Many templates to choose from.
  • Can be used to design Snapchat geo filters easily with templates.
  • Can make text & elements any colour to match your brand.
  • Lots of videos to show you how to use it.

Cons

  • Elements don’t move. You can’t move things around to accommodate an unbalanced photo.
  • Resizing is easy, but if your photo doesn’t work in the other sized layouts as is, there is little you can do to maneuver it. Because of this, you need to pick images that don’t have faces, for example, as you can’t always make the face appear in the resized images.
  • Free version will include the Relay logo.

Pablo

Free

Pablo is integrated with Buffer, one of the industry’s favourite social media scheduling tools. As an add-on to Buffer, it’s a pretty neat little program. As far as graphic design goes, it’s very limited in features. If you just want to make motivational quotes as quickly as possible and add them to your Buffer queue, this would be a good option.

Pros
social media quote DIY graphic design

  • FREE and no logo watermark!
  • Super simple interface. Everything you need is on one screen.
  • Only three sizes to choose from, tall & skinny (Pinterest), square (Instagram) and rectangle (Facebook & Twitter).
  • Built in free images (over 600,000).
  • Elements can be moved around.
  • Suggests colours for your text.
  • Picks colours from the photo.
  • Built-in motivational quotes to use.

Cons

  • Only three image sizes… you’re not creating cover photos, posters or other things here.
  • Only three font sizes on your image: small, medium and large (which isn’t always large enough).
  • Cannot choose your brand colours.
  • Cannot upload your brand fonts.
  • No elements to add, such as stripes, boxes or icons.
  • Has few templates to start with.

PicMonkey

$43 Canadian/year or $7 Canadian /month

I was planning to go in and test PicMonkey because I hear a lot of people like it, but you have to put in your credit card to get the free trial, and I don’t like that marketing tactic, so I didn’t do it.

PageModo

Free and from $4.95/month

I first knew PageModo as an easy way to create Facebook Cover Pages. It sure has come a long way in a few short years. You can now design graphics for Facebook and Twitter posts.

diy graphic design quotePros

  • Easy to use templates.
  • Ability to use custom colours.
  • All template design elements are maneuverable.
  • Lots of free images to incorporate.
  • Schedule graphic posts to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.
  • Link shortening with bit.ly.
  • Also designs ads, contests and custom Facebook tabs.
  • There are some videos to show you how to use it.

Cons

  • Free version includes logo on every design.
  • Can’t honestly say I noticed any other negatives in my short trial.

 

Stencil

Free and from $9/month

Of all the programs, this one was the easiest one to learn to use. If you have trouble using new programs, this might be the best place to start.

diy graphic design quotePros

  • Drag and drop images into the design panel.
  • Very easy-to-use interface.
  • Easily resize one design to fit other networks.
  • Custom colours available.
  • Lots of templates to choose from.
  • Library of quotes to use.

Cons

  • I’m not really seeing any cons to this one.

Canva

Free and from $9.95/month

I’ve written before about how Canva made me somewhat enjoy doing graphic design. I didn’t know these other programs existed when I committed to Canva, or I might have chosen a different platform!

Pros

  • Lots of templates, photos and icons to use.
  • Many free icons and images to incorporate.
  • You can save your custom branded colours so you don’t have to know the codes all the time.
  • Easily resize images for multiple networks.
  • Save your finished designs in multiple folders to keep them organized.
  • Save your uploaded photos and graphics in multiple folders to keep them organized.
  • Upload your custom brand fonts.
  • Create a “brand” so that templates are automatically designed in a brand colour and with brand fonts.
  • Has a great training sytem of videos and tutorials.

Cons

  • Searching through templates can be tiresome.
  • A lot of the pictures and elements you find and like will be paid additions.

No matter which DIY graphic design suite you decide to use, take the time to watch any tutorials they have. It will make the learning process much easier and shorter than my method of grab n go! I expect all of these programs will continue to expand their services and add new features over the years, so it’s a matter of figuring out which one speaks to your current abilities to design; whether or not you can center a photo or line of text is a big factor.

And please remember it’s not always best to do it yourself! Sometimes your money is better spent on hiring a graphic designer! My graphic designer builds me many templates that I can use over and over again, but she does most of the heavy lifting. If you aren’t good at design, or simply need to outsource some of the work, hiring a good graphic designer is definitely the way to go.

Do you use a different, simple graphic design program? Send me the link and I’ll keep a running, up-to-date list here:

FotoJet

FotoJet is a robust online photo editor, graphic designer & collage maker that helps you to edit photos easily and enables you to create amazing collages, photo cards, social media graphics and posters, providing numerous powerful editing tools, 300+ professional designs, 600+ creative collage templates and 80+ classic photo grid templates. It works perfectly in any browser, without the hassles of downloading and installing!”

Join Social Media for Twirps

Animal-twirps-squirrel

Subscribe to get emails of the latest social media news, tips, tricks and tutorials, curated with the small business owner in mind and I'll send you the Brain Tickling list of content ideas for your blog and social media.

Comments (9)

  • Linda Daley Reply

    Adobe Spark is kind of cool… and free… but has its limitations too.

    September 21, 2016 at 6:47 pm
    • Anita Kirkbride
      Anita Kirkbride Reply

      Yes, I have heard of that one too but haven’t tried.

      September 26, 2016 at 9:03 am
  • Jennifer Reply

    I like PicMonkey’s free version, no credit card required. I like that you can start with a transparent canvas. I also use Canva but generally find myself returning to my Photoshop time and again.

    September 22, 2016 at 10:19 am
    • Anita Kirkbride
      Anita Kirkbride Reply

      Well, I couldn’t get into the free version without putting in my credit card! LOL

      September 26, 2016 at 9:02 am
  • Shera-Lee Kerr Reply

    I have been using Canva and love it but agree about the template searching!

    September 22, 2016 at 3:17 pm
    • Anita Kirkbride
      Anita Kirkbride Reply

      They keep improving, so I’m sure they’ll come up with something to make that better!

      September 26, 2016 at 9:01 am
  • 5 Awesome Social Media Tools to Help You Stand Out Reply

    […] DIY graphic design for all your motivational quote needs. If you’re a Buffer fan, Pablo is the graphic design tool built into Buffer. Simply choose a photo, add your text and boom… you have a social media graphic. You can upload your own pictures or choose from thousands of free stock photos. This one is super simple to use, but doesn’t have a ton of flexibility. If you’re not a Buffer fan and you’re looking for options, I’ve written other posts about DIY graphic design choices. […]

    November 9, 2016 at 7:02 am
  • Danielle Reply

    I found a couple of new tools on Donna Moritaz seminar at SME a month or so ago. One is ‘similar’ to canva – called easil.com and I’ve just about got through my free trial (a month). Ive found it easier than Canva to locate templates as you can search by theme and title, and also the templates don’t have sneaky elements you have to pay for! Not as much templates but I think they are nicer!

    November 20, 2016 at 2:38 am
    • Anita Kirkbride
      Anita Kirkbride Reply

      Thanks for the recommendation. I will check it out! Searching through the templates is definitely one of the downsides to Canva.

      November 20, 2016 at 8:39 am

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *