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Powerful (free!) design tools for advertising on a budget

Designing on a budget is a stressful undertaking.

Though it’s absolutely doable, creating all of the necessary advertising and brand collateral from scratch quickly becomes more than a side project. It’s a full-time job and no small business owner has more time for that.

Yet, advertising is a must as your business expands and that advertising needs professional quality visuals.

Enter, these three powerful (and free!) design tools that will fight to be your new best friends. Each of these tools is free, accessible online, and has different strengths depending on your needs.

Let’s get into it.

1. Canva

If you’re looking for an easy all-in-one design studio branded to your business, check out Canva. This interface is pleasantly simple, yet the design possibilities are endless. Canva has hundreds of templates for every type of collateral imaginable. Editing is seamless with snap-to-grid layouts and a clean work-space. It’s also simple to download your creations as PNGs, making it easy to insert your high-quality designs into advertising campaigns. You may never need to purchase expensive design software again.

Best Feature: Canva saves your company’s branding and uploaded photos for later use. It also has an option to upgrade for even more personalization.

2. Pablo

Pablo is great for keeping things simple. Their interface is geared toward social sharing as their only templates are sized for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. However, those layouts are also perfect for creating marketing campaigns for each platform. If your main goal is social media marketing, Pablo is definitely the tool for you. Without any excess distractions, Pablo allows you to design any way you like within those four mains social templates. There’s no need to worry about sizing your graphics to display perfectly across social media. Pablo does it for you.

Best Feature: Pablo automatically sources beautiful stock photography from around the web so you don’t have to waste time searching.

3. Pixlr

If you’ve run out of time on your Adobe Photoshop trial and just can’t hit the buy button yet, you’re going to love Pixlr. From the talented engineers at Autodesk, Pixlr is a powerful all-encompassing Photoshop look-alike.

That said, it can be a bit overwhelming for beginners. Learn the basics and get used to the interface before tackling a big project. With Pixlr, you can build any sort of layered image you need. Graphics, vectors, logos, mockups and photo edits are easy to do right there in your browser.

Best Feature: Pixlr performs well when you need to work with layers for more advanced visuals like mockups.

4. Vectr

For all your scalable vector design needs, Vectr has you covered. It’s a downloadable web app that syncs with your desktop app so all your data is the same whenever you work on something new. Vectors are important for many larger web graphics as they can keep their high-resolution when scaled or opened on larger screens. Vectr also makes it easy to share with your team, clients, or mom with custom links to every project. No more oversized files or overflowing cloud storage.

Best Feature: There’s no big learning curve. Everything you need to know is easy to find and intuitive. And if you’re lost, there are always tutorials.

Designing beautiful and engaging graphics is a breeze with Canva, Pablo, and Pixlr at your fingertips. For the small business owners feeling those inevitable growing pains, it’s absolutely possible to save time and money on your next campaign.

The next time you’re pulling your hair out trying to design custom graphics for your ads, take a deep breath and open a new browser tab.

Of course we’re always here to help with all your design needs, contact us for more on crafting effective advertising campaigns.