Best free image software for small business - Kara Lambert

A picture’s worth a thousand words. That’s definitely true for social media & especially so when you’re talking Facebook Ads! A picture that engages, tells a story, and draws people to action quickly is essential in our digital environment. It’s still amazing how few tweets contain images when an image is a powerful way to engage. Anyways, enough on the why you should use images and more on the how to get them done.

I’m not alone in this. I am a small business & I do my own graphic design. I admit that sometimes they leave a lot to be desired, but in the main they hit the mark. I’d hope they hit the mark, because I have clients who come to me to create their images and others who rely on me to create images as their social media manager. So, I thought I would share with you the tools I use to edit & create images. All of the image software tools I use are free, or were part of a suite of other tools. Before we begin there are a few things you should know… I am not a graphic designer, Photoshop overwhelms me, and I am an iPod owning Android/PC user. So here are my go to image software tools.

Image editing

On my laptop I have a few go to image editors.

Microsoft Paint

An oldie but a goodie. This old friend was my first introduction to image software. I still use it periodically for quick cropping.

iPiccy

This is my go-to web based image editor. I use iPiccy to crop, adjust, add overlays, resize, and do just about all of my image editing. I like how I can output the image in multiple file formats. I can edit, save a version & then keep editing. While the more intricate addition of layers and image manipulation can take some time to learn; the point, click, slide interface makes for a simple user experience.

Edit photos for free

I use this website to remove the background from images. Tried & frustrated by the MS Word method, I searched for ways to remove the background from images. With a simple upload/download interface and a mark red to delete, yellow to border, & green to keep method it is quick & effective. There is a zoom function so that you can get into the tighter, more intricate shapes & spaces of your image editing.

Android & iOS

VSCO

All time fave for editing on a mobile device. While it’s a quick and dirty way of editing photos, it’s effective when editing clear photos that need simple manipulation of light, shadows, cropping etc. I like that I can output the image to multiple sources/platforms directly from the app or to my gallery (my preferred option).

Image Creation
Website

Canva

If Guy Kawasaki stands behind it, it is likely to be a good piece of image software. Not to mention that I am parochial and they are an Aussie tech. All of that aside, Canva makes image creation easy. With preset sizes, designs, images, and the ability to build your own – there’s a lot to love.
Some may find the choices daunting. My advice is to start small, start free, and work up from there. Speaking of free beware the pay for images and design elements. Just because you bought it once doesn’t mean you own it forever. In fact, I hear tell that if you use Canva for Business and you purchase an image for one size, &then change the size, you will be paying again. So, if you design a Facebook Cover Picture with four paid elements & pay the $4, then when you resize it to a Facebook Ad or Twitter Header image you pay another $4. The way to get around it… use your own. It’s what I do. When you become more proficient you will work out how to replicate layouts with their free elements, which is what make it a strong piece of image software.

Android & iOS

Studio Design by Overlay Studio

Available on iOS and Android, Design Studio is my favourite image software for Instagram or image creation on the go. The software is entirely square format, but you can resize and overlay a multitude of different things. You can add frames, text, and different embellishments. I find it’s handy for a quick motivational quote creation – start with a blank canvas and add one of the predesigned text overlays and you’re done! Don’t fret about the overlays being predesigned, you can resize, relocate, rotate, and recolour. Best of all the number of choices available means that you’re not likely to look like everyone else on Insta!

Spark Post, Website & Page by Adobe

This is a set of iOS only image software. While you can access it on the desktop, the app version is infinitely stronger. While it is a set of 3 apps, the one I will talk about is Spark Post as the other two are used for video & eZines.
At the time of writing, this app was a few days old, however it is incredibly powerful and I can envisage that I might be converted from Design Studio and Canva.
Post is free, the images are creative commons (ie free), you can manipulate your design between sizes free, you can animate the overlays, change colour themes/text/overlays, or you can go it alone and start from scratch.
That said, you wouldn’t expect anything less from Adobe. True to form though, I did feel overwhelmed in the app by the number of options available. What I like is that there is a single log in meaning that I can design on the desktop and then edit/publish from the mobile app and vice versa.

If I had to say what my top three pieces of image software were then it would be VSCO, Design Studio, & Canva; but with the word of warning to Design Studio & Canva to watch their backs as Spark Post is gaining my heart. (They’re just lucky it’s iOS only at this stage)

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