100+ Stock Photography Sites and Image Editing Tools (+ Why head-turning visuals are a must for your content to succeed)

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Content is churned out at such an unfathomable scale, the biggest challenge for most marketers in today’s attention economy is how to give their content the best chance of being viewed. The not-so-secret weapon to ace that challenge, is to make it ‘pop’ visually.
Visuals trigger an emotional response significantly faster than text and often stand out more than headlines do – especially when “scanning” crowded social media feeds – so while the headline is crucial because without it we’d have no way of knowing what the content is about, if its promotional ‘teaser’ isn’t accompanied by an image that’s just as compelling, the post’s overall click appeal is diminished because the visual is essential to grabbing the attention of potential readers long enough for them to even notice (let alone be persuaded by) the headline. And the challenge for engagement doesn’t stop post-click either, with destination pages that are dominated by text-heavy content not as likely to keep readers engaged as much as content that includes supporting visuals that help to ‘tell the story’.

So with such a pivotal role to play in the success of any piece of content – how (and where) does one find the perfect image?

Since the dawn of time, humans have always been hardwired to process visuals faster than written text and are far more likely to be drawn to a piece of content if it’s accompanied by a captivating image that inspires empathy, outrage, surprise, or even just an “Ooh, looks interesting, I wonder what that’s about!”

We’ve now evolved to a point where brands and publishers are so busy competing for our limited attention – we simply have no patience for content that doesn’t look like it’s going to be ‘worthwhile’, so we’ve become skilled online scanners who can determine within split seconds whether we want to click on something or not. If we’re not convinced to click on something virtually as soon as we see it, then we move on to the next item with ruthless indifference. That’s why the content creators’ job isn’t ‘done’ merely once the writing has been completed and the headline finessed for maximum clickability – they have to also think about whether the content is visually appealing enough to compel readers to click on it.
Images have become far more than just visually pleasing diversions dispersed nonchalantly within copy-heavy blog posts; they are ‘snackable’, bite-sized pieces of content that are easy for us to ‘digest’ digitally, each packing the punch of at least “a thousand words”, as the famous saying goes. If you’re in the business of creating content, the feature image you choose for your post – which is the one that’s also visible when you share it on social media – is essentially part of an ad for your post, which is why it’s worth investing both time and sometimes even a little money to source the perfect image to “sell” your post (because that’s basically what the feature image is doing).

Together with a killer headline, the appeal of the feature image (or lack of it) can be the difference between someone clicking through to read your post, or scrolling right past it and on to something that looks more inviting.

HERE ARE A FEW INTERESTING STATS THAT HIGHLIGHT THE POWER OF IMAGES TO INFLUENCE OUR ONLINE BROWSING BEHAVIOR:
  • CONTENT WITH IMAGES OUTPERFORMS CONTENT WITHOUT IMAGES:
    On average, total views increased by 94 percent if a published article contained a relevant photograph or infographic when compared to articles without an image in the same category.
    Source: Skyword

    Also, a 2018 report by Prezi and Kelton Research found that “winning” content that commands a person’s undivided attention today features a compelling narrative combined with stimulating visuals and dialogue. More than half of all business professionals surveyed for the study said a great story captures their focus and keeps them engaged, and a third of respondents said that visual stimulation is critical to maintaining their attention.
  • INSTAGRAM IS THE FASTEST FROWING SOCIAL NETWORK:
    Although Facebook remains the most popular social media site, its growth remains stagnant, while Instagram‘s rise has been meteoric – passing the billion active users mark in 2018 (up from the 800 million reported in September 2017). This increase in monthly users makes Instagram the fastest growing social network today (by a considerable margin), and with Instagram Stories being used by 500 million people daily as well, it reflects the insatiable appetite of social media users for visual content (Sources: Hootsuite, Social Media Today and Search Engine Journal). It also means that brands and content creators must step up their production of high-quality, engaging visual content not only to satisfy the growing demand for it, but also to remain competitive in their marketing efforts.

WHERE TO FIND IMAGES FOR YOUR CONTENT

There are four main options:
1) You can buy them from premium stock photography sites.
2) You can get them for free from reputable free stock photography sites.
3) You can get special permission from the owner of an original image to use it in your blog and credit the source (crediting the source is always good practice in any case).
4) You can photograph or create your own, original images (#originalityforthewin). Stealing a photo for your blog without knowing the original source is a massive “no-no” and can have some pretty unpleasant consequences, so it’s best not to risk it.
Why head-turning visuals are mandatory for successful content
THE BENEFITS OF USING PREMIUM STOCK PHOTOGRAPHY SITES
Although the main advantage of using free photos is that they’re free (duh!), there are several benefits to paying for stock photos as well – not least of which is that since they are legally obtained, you can avoid any claims of unlawful use (presuming you abide by the licensing requirements for each image you buy). Here are a few other advantages:
  • HUGE variety of images: They tend to have millions of images in their database, which is usually far more than the free sites, so the variety is simply massive.
  • A worthwhile investment: Even if you don’t normally have a big budget to spend on stock photography, sometimes it’s worth forking out a few dollars at least for your post’s feature image, especially when you consider that a really great photo may well be the thing that convinces someone to click through to your post when you promote it. A few dollars is a small price to pay to boost the chance for clicks on a post you’ve worked so hard to create, and that without a compelling image may be overlooked.
  • Sophisticated search capabilities: Premium sites offer a wide variety of search criteria, including category, file type, orientation, “with or without people”, keywords and more. In fact, by using really precise keywords to describe what I’m after, I can find what I’m looking for much faster than I could in the free stock photography sites, where the search capabilities are generally not as sophisticated (more on that in a moment). This saves a hell of a lot of time, and that’s a huge priority for me.
  • Photos often come as part of a series: Premium stock photography sites often include photos that are part of a series (either by the same photographer if you like their style or featuring the same model), which I personally really like because it allows me to create either a series of images throughout my post, or an animation (I’m obsessed with GIFs).
TIPS FOR SEARCHING ON PREMIUM STOCK PHOTOGRAPHY SITES:
  • Sophisticated filtering options allow you to eliminate irrelevant search results and save a lot of useless browsing time. For example, for my noyalizor.com headers I mostly use horizontal images, so by setting the orientation to ‘horizontal’ in the search filter, I can quickly eliminate all of the irrelevant vertical images. Also, sometimes I want photos that include people and at other times I don’t, so the “People” filter is super helpful.
  • Use specific keywords (and even combinations of keywords) to find exactly what you want. Using generic keywords will usually turn up hundreds or even thousands of results, which is far from ideal. But by using really specific keywords (for example if you want a woman in your photo rather than a man) and adjectives to describe things more precisely, you can narrow your search to find what you really want – a lot faster.
  • Avoid using ‘typical’ stock photos, unless you can add your own twist. Some stock photos look too much like, well, stock photos. Visitors to your blog most likely visit many other blogs as well, and the “obvious” stock photo choices are unfortunately used so often by people who can’t be bothered to take the time to find something less overused, that the natural reaction when you see them is to cringe. Actor Vince Vaughn famously made fun of the phenomenon for his movie Unfinished Business, when Getty and Fox team up to create a series of idiotic stock photos.
Vince Vaughn poses for idiotic stock photos
Having said that, if you add creative elements to a stock photo that doesn’t look particularly extraordinary, you can give it your own twist and transform it into something else entirely.
  • Don’t always choose the “obvious” photo. Many times, it is indeed appropriate to choose a photo that represents the subject of the post as closely as possible, because the image serves to support or reinforce the headline and it needs to communicate the gist of the post in a split second. But there are certain times where choosing an image that complements the headline metaphorically or subliminally, is actually more intriguing and effective.
HOW TO OVERCOME THE OBSTACLE OF LOUSY SEARCH FILTERS IN FREE STOCK PHOTOGRAPHY SITES
One of the main disadvantages of free stock photography sites is that their search filters are typically not as sophisticated as in the premium sites, so finding the image you want for a specific post can be extremely time consuming, and even if you spend ages searching, you might still not find what you’re after.

Personally, I happen to love great imagery, so for me, browsing through these sites (often for longer than I should) is sort of a hobby. Having said that, I’m mindful of not wasting time, so my ‘trick’ for overcoming the obstacle of lousy search filters is to make every moment of the browsing count: If I come across an image I love in a free stock photography site – even if I don’t need it right away – I download it anyway into my own self-created image library (a bit like a playlist, but of images) and file it in folders with category names or other identifiers that will make it easy for me to find them later.

That way, if I ever need an image of “people looking at computer screens” or “people looking frustrated”, or “people using smartphones” (etc.), my first port of call is to search through my self-created library of free images that I have handpicked (and know I’m free to use) and see if I already have something suitable. Having access to this kind of library of is a huge time-saver. Only if I’m still stuck, will I then head online and begin a fresh search either in paid stock photography sites (if I’m pressed for time or don’t mind spending a little money) or the free stock photography sites.
GENERAL TIPS FOR USING STOCK PHOTOGRAPHY, WHETHER PURCHASED OR FREE:
  • Know the licensing and citation/attribution terms: Whether you’re using free images or images you’ve purchased, always make sure that you’re clear on the type of license that’s associated with the various images so that you know where and how you may use them, and whether any citation/credit is required.
  • Re-use your selected photos in a variety of ways throughout your post – including adding your own touch: If you’ve already taken the trouble to find (not to mention pay for) a photo for the purpose of using it as the feature image in your post, then why stop there? Get as much mileage out of the photo as possible by incorporating it into the post itself, or editing it to give it your own personal touch by adding a quote on top of it and branding it either using your logo, website URL, or Twitter handle (etc.) so when your share it on social media (or other people share it in theirs) it can also serve as a little promo.
  • Add motion to the images by converting them into animated GIFs or videos. As I mentioned before, I love creating my own animated GIFs (I use Photoshop), which is another way to transform stock photos into something more unique. You can even convert your animated GIFs into videos.
how to search through STOCK PHOTOGRAPHY sites to find the perfect image

MY MEGA-LIST OF STOCK PHOTOGRAPHY SITES & OTHER COOL TOOLS FOR CREATING GREAT LOOKING VISUALS

The following are some stock photography and video footage sites, as well as some image editing and other cool tools – some free and some premium (paid). License and attribution details vary from site to site, so be sure to always check usage and attribution requirements when you download free or premium images. And if the media you download is part of a commercial (money-making) project of any kind, make sure the license states it’s available “for commercial use”.
IMPORTANT HOUSEKEEPING NOTES:
1) This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list of every tool under the sun nor have I used every single one of them personally (although many look pretty cool so I might want to try them some day!).
2) Also, this isn’t a sponsored post and none of the companies/resources mentioned below have paid me to mention them. This is simply a list of resources that I thought might be useful to you in your efforts to create great visuals.
3) I’ve made a video that’s based on this blog post (you can watch it below) which lists more than 100 stock photography sites, image editing tools and other tools related to creating visual content. Since publishing the video I have learned of more relevant tools, and since I can’t add them to the video, I have added them to the list in this blog post and will continue to update it from time to time. I hope you find it useful! 🙂
OKAY! HERE WE GO:
STOCK PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Shutterstock (PREMIUM)
    Over 300 million royalty-free images, stock footage clips and music tracks with an advanced search filter to help you find the images you need faster. Pricing is based on annual plans with monthly pricing or prepaid image packs.
  • Photocase (PREMIUM)
    Photocase describe their images as an alternative to conventional stock photography. The photos are beautiful and are hand-picked by Photocases’s editors to ensure high quality. Pricing includes credit packages or on-demand (per photo).
  • Stocksy (PREMIUM)
    Stocksy United is an art-forward, royalty-free stock photo and video agency. Their photos are unique and stunning, but a little pricy. Great if you’re looking to splurge for something special.
  • 123RF (PREMIUM)
    123RF is a digital stock agency offering “creative imagery, sounds and motion contributed by talents from around the world”. In addition to photos and vectors, the site also offers video footage, audio and a few cool tools like background removal, filters & effects and more. Pricing includes either on-demand credits or a subscription plan.
  • Twenty20 by Envato (PREMIUM)
    Over 50 million photos with an emphasis on authenticity (the photos are really beautiful and unique) and curated into collections to save on search time. Pricing includes a monthly subscription plan.
  • Death to the Stock Photo (PREMIUM)
    Death to Stock pride themselves on offering “non-stock” photos and videos. Each month they release a new photo pack shot, crafted and curated from their team of expert photographers around the world. Pricing includes monthly and annual plans.
  • Colourbox (PREMIUM)
    Colourbox offers royalty-free photos, vectors and videos. Pricing includes either monthly plans or single downloads, which is rather convenient if you only need a few images sporadically and don’t want to be bound by an ongoing monthly plan.
  • PeopleImages (PREMIUM)
    As it’s name suggests, PeopleImages was created by Yuri Arcurs and specializes in people-centric photos. You can search for photos by image or model type as well as other filters. Pricing includes monthly subscriptions or single downloads.
  • Depositphotos (PREMIUM)
    Offers a library of 149 million files, including Royalty-free stock photos, graphics, vectors and high-definition video footage. Some are available for free (you need to create an account) and there are also a variety of premium package options.
  • StockUnlimited (PREMIUM)
    StockUnlimited is a subscription-based website that offers stock graphics, stock images, icons, music, fonts, templates and much more. Pricing includes a variety of subscription plans and download packs.
  • TONL (PREMIUM)
    TONL offers culturally diverse stock photos of people from many ethnic backgrounds of every day people around the world. Pricing includes a variety of subscription plans.
  • Adobe Stock (FREE/PREMIUM)
    Millions of images, videos, audio and other assets with an advanced search filter to help you find the images you need faster. Pricing includes monthly plans or credit packs.
  • Rawpixel (FREE/PREMIUM)
    A collection of beautiful, high quality photos and other design resources – some free and some premium. Pricing includes a couple of very affordable subscription plans, or you can download up to ten free images per day.
  • Freepik (FREE/PREMIUM)
    Free photos, PSDs, vectors and icons for personal and commercial use. Great search filter compared with other free stock photography sites! Also includes premium assets available at month-to-month or annual plans.
  • picjumbo (FREE/PREMIUM)
    picjumbo is free stock photo site created by designer & photographer Viktor Hanacek. It offers stock photos, backgrounds and free high-resolution images for personal and commercial use. There’s also a premium membership that includes a bunch of extras, including exclusive photos.
  • Dreamstime (FREE/PREMIUM)
    Dreamstime offers millions of royalty-free stock photos (including editorial), illustrations, videos and audio clips. Pricing includes a variety of subscription plans as well as credit packages. There are also over 180,000 free Public Domain images available.
  • Unsplash (FREE)
    One of my favorite sites for free stock photography. Many of the photos are uploaded by photography enthusiasts from all over the world so there are plenty unique images to find. The images are so gorgeous, I’ve installed the Unsplash Chrome Extension on my browser, so every time I open a new browser window I see a random gorgeous photo from Unsplash (and there’s usually a lot of ooh-ing and –ahh-ing involved).
  • Pexels (FREE)
    A beautiful collection of high-quality, free photos and videos, many of which are contributed by millions of creators from all over the world.
  • Pixabay (FREE)
    Stunning free images and videos.
  • StockSnap.io (FREE)
    Beautiful, free high resolution images. All stock photos are free from copyright restrictions – No attribution required.
  • Gratisography (FREE)
    A collection of high-res, creative and quirky images.
  • Negative Space (FREE)
    Negative Space offers beautiful, high-resolution stock photos for personal or commercial use, all CC0 licensed and completely free to use.
  • Burst by Shopify (FREE)
    Burst is a free stock photo platform that is powered by Shopify. Free to use for any purpose.
  • Picography (FREE)
    Picography offers gorgeous, high-resolution, free photos. No attribution is required and all photos are CC0 licensed.
  • Startup Stock Photos (FREE)
    Startup Stock Photos offers free startup, office, and tech-related stock photos that are all CC0 licensed (no attribution required).
  • SplitShire (FREE)
    SplitShire was created by filmmaker and photographer Daniel Nanescu. It offers a beautiful and exclusive collection of free stock photos, videos and high resolution images for personal and commercial use.
  • Freestocks.org (FREE)
    Freestocks.org offers royalty-free high-resolution stock photos that are free to use for both commercial and personal use under the CC0 license.
  • FOCA (FREE)
    FOCA was created by Jeffrey Betts and offers CC0-licensed photos, videos, and social media templates that are free for commercial use.
  • Kaboompics (FREE)
    Kaboompics was created by photographer Karolina Grabowska. It offers beautiful, royalty-free photos that are free for commercial use.
  • Foodiesfeed (FREE)
    Foodiesfeed was created by Jakub Kapusnak and offers beautiful food-related photos shared by photographers from around the world under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license.
  • StickPNG (FREE)
    StickPNG offers curated collections of thousands of transparent PNG images which you can download for free and use in your personal non-commercial or educational projects.
STOCK GIFs
  • GIPHY (FREE)
    GIPHY is offers a huge (billions!) library of free GIFs, as well as a GIF Maker that allows you to create GIFs, stickers and even backdrops for video calls.
  • ACEGIF.com by Envato (FREE)
    ACEGIF.com offers a huge library of free GIFs, animated pictures, greeting cards. They are available for commercial use but use caution as GIFs that are based on movies, cartoons and branded content that is not your own may be subject to copyright. That’s actually a handy tip that applies to all content of this nature, no matter where you source it from.
  • Tenor (FREE)
    Tenor offers a huge library of free GIFs that aim to represent emotions or reactions. It also offers a mobile GIF Keyboard app.
VIDEO
Some of the stock photography sites mentioned above also offer video footage. Here are a few more sites that specialize in stock video footage and other video resources.
  • Pond5 (PREMIUM)
    Royalty-free stock video footage, with music, motion graphics and more to elevate your video projects. Pricing includes credit packages or a monthly/annual membership.
  • Storyblocks (PREMIUM)
    Storyblocks offers stock video (footage, templates and more), audio (royalty free music & sound effects) and images (photos, vectors and illustrations). They also have a video maker that allows you to create videos using their library of assets as well as your own footage. Pricing includes monthly and annual plans.
  • Artgrid (PREMIUM)
    Artgrid offers beautiful stock footage from top cinematographers from around the world. Pricing is based on monthly plans.
  • Videezy (FREE/PREMIUM)
    HD stock footage and 4K videos, free for personal and educational use. The premium version includes additional features. Part of the Eezy.com group, they also offer Photoshop brushes and textures, vector illustrations.
  • Videvo (FREE/PREMIUM)
    Videvo offers free stock videos and motion graphics for use in both personal and commercial productions. Video clips that carry the Creative Commons 3.0 license must be attributed to the original author. Some assets are only available with the premium pricing plans.
  • Coverr (FREE)
    Beautiful, free videos for your homepage
  • Mixkit by Envato (FREE)
    A curated gallery of free high-quality videos and art, stock music and Premiere Pro templates.
STOCK PHOTOGRAPHY & VIDEO FOOTAGE AGGREGATORS
Here are a few websites that search multiple stock photography sources at once and present the results all on the same page.
  • LibreStock (FREE)
    LibreStock’s multisite search engine scans and indexes free photos and footage from the top stock sites, so that you can find that perfect image much, much faster.
  • FreePhotos.cc (FREE)
    FreePhotos.cc uses the APIs from a few stock photo providers and gathers images in one place for easy preview and download.
  • Everypixel (FREE)
    Everypixel is a search engine that indexes millions of photos from 50 paid and free stock image websites that allows users to search through multiple databases of stock photos at once, in seconds. Also includes search filters.
  • Visual Hunt (FREE)
    Millions of stock photos, with a cool search filter based on color tone.
  • Reshot (FREE)
    Reshot by Envato aggregates a variety of free creative assets including photos, video, templates, music and sound effects.
CREATIVE ASSETS (ASSORTED)
Here are a few resources that offer a wide variety of creative assets including photos, vectors, video, music, templates and more.
  • Envato (PREMIUM)
    Envato is a marketplace for digital creative assets, tutorials, and creative and technical services. The main products include Envato Market (a collection of themed marketplaces where creatives sell a wide variety of individually priced digital assets), and Envato Elements – a monthly/yearly subscription-based repository of creative assets, ranging from themes, plugins, graphics, royalty-free stock photos, video footage and templates, music tracks and sound effects, graphic and presentation templates and more, as well as access to tutorials, courses and eBooks.
  • Placeit by Envato (FREE/PREMIUM)
    Placeit offers a range of customizable templates and branding tools that allow you to create a huge variety of mockups, designs, logos, and videos featuring your brand’s logo or website. Pricing ranges from $2 – $10 (USD) per individual download, or you can get access to all templates and unlimited downloads for a monthly or annual plan. Some services (like creating a logo) are priced differently.
  • Motion Array (FREE/PREMIUM)
    Motion Array is an all-in-one video & filmmakers platform. Membership includes access to unlimited asset downloads, exclusive plugins, video collaboration and more. The asset marketplace includes everything from stock photos, video footage and video templates to royalty-free music and sound effects – some of which are free to download. Pricing is based on a monthly or annual plan.
  • Creative Market (PREMIUM)
    Over 50 million photos with an Creative Market is a marketplace for buying and selling a variety of creative assets (including photos, graphics, templates, fonts and more) ranging from around $5-$50 (or more for some items). You can purchase single images individually without locking into a plan, or buy credit packs.
IMAGE EDITING TOOLS
If you want alternatives to Photoshop, here are a few cool tools:
  • Adobe Photoshop (PREMIUM)
    From photo editing and compositing to digital painting, animation and graphic design — you can do it all in Photoshop. Laden with a huge variety of robust features, it’s among the most popular (if not the most popular) image editing tools for design professionals and content creators around the world. Subscription plans vary depending on whether or not you use other Adobe products in conjunction with Photoshop.
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements (PREMIUM)
    Photoshop Elements is designed for people who are just getting started with photo editing and want an easy way to organize, edit, create and share their photos, while Adobe Photoshop is the professional standard for creating compelling images, designs and 3D artwork. Although still robust in capabilities, it is a more ‘limited’ version of Adobe Photoshop with fewer features, less complex options and a simpler interface design. Unlike Photoshop’s subscription license plan, the full license for Photoshop Elements can be purchased outright in a one-off payment.
  • PicMonkey (PREMIUM)
    A photo editing and design platform with easy-to-use tools you need to create stunning social posts, cover photos, ads, and more. Includes over 3,000 graphics, 2,400 customizable templates, 200 fonts and 100 textures. Pricing includes affordable monthly plans.
  • ON1 Photo RAW (PREMIUM)
    The new ON1 Photo RAW version 2021 is a hassle-free professional photo organizer, raw processor, layered editor, and effects app. It’s perfect for those seeking an ultra-convenient all-in-one photo editing solution to produce high quality results at a tremendous value. Pricing options include a subscription (monthly) or perpetual plan (one-off payment for full ownership).
  • PaintShop Pro (PREMIUM)
    PaintShop Pro allows you to edit, retouch, and correct your photography with a comprehensive toolset designed for all skill levels. Highly effective features and tools powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning technology make creating something truly original, achievable. You can buy PaintShop Pro outright (no subscription plan), plus there’s a 30-day free trial.
  • Luminar (PREMIUM)
    Luminar’s revolutionary tools and AI technologies allow you to create unbelievable masterpieces. It includes RAW files support, export to major file formats, layers, masks and much more. You can buy it outright (no monthly subscription) and it’s very affordable considering how much you can do with it.
  • DxO PhotoLab (PREMIUM)
    Featuring an artificial intelligence technology capable of simultaneously denoising and demosaicing images (correcting optical flaws), a dynamic workspace that can be personalized, batch renaming, a watermarking tool, and more, DxO PhotoLab will transform the way you edit your photographs. You can buy DxO PhotoLab outright (no subscription plan), plus there’s a free trial.
  • Affinity Photo (PREMIUM)
    Affinity Photo has become renowned for its speed, power and precision. Whether it’s quick corrections, delicate retouching, or immersing yourself in complex fine art with hundreds of layers, Affinity Photo has you covered. You can buy Affinity Photo outright (no subscription plan), plus there’s a free trial.
  • ACDSee Photo Editor (PREMIUM)
    ACDSee Photo Editor’s GPU-accelerated layered editing with pixel-based precision targeting tools and filters allow you to create your own color adjustments and use dozens of features – including enhanced control over text and layers – that give you the flexibility to actualize composites, manipulations, polished photography, and compelling graphics with ease. You can buy ACDSee Photo Editor outright (no subscription plan), plus there’s a free trial.
  • Canva (FREE/PREMIUM)
    A design and photo editing platform with huge variety of built-in tools and features including access to millions of images, thousands of beautiful layouts, photo filters, icons and shapes, fonts and more. Pricing includes a limited free version and also very reasonable monthly or annual plans with a whole lot of awesome features.
  • Snappa (FREE/PREMIUM)
    Create visuals for social media, ads, blogs and more – even if you’re not a graphic designer. Choose from thousands of pre-made templates, free stock photos, add text, graphics and effects, and more. The free version has limited access to HD photos and allows 5 downloads per month. The premium versions (starting at $10 per month) include unlimited access and downloads as well as team collaboration and social media sharing.
  • Fotor (FREE/PREMIUM)
    Fotor is an online Photo Editor and Design Maker. In addition to their popular ‘collage maker’, Fotor’s online photo editing suite includes a large selection of photo filters, portrait retouching with beauty features, thousands of beautiful and professionally-designed social media and poster templates and much more. Pricing is based on subscription plans, including a free version.
  • Pixlr (FREE/PREMIUM)
    Pixlr’s online photo editor uses intuitive photo editing with AI-powered tools for quick yet professional edits, including smart background removal, beautiful photo filters and artistic overlays, decorative text and a well-stocked library of stickers, overlays, borders, icons and decorative texts to add to your photos. Pricing is based on subscription plans, including a free version.
  • GIMP (FREE)
    GIMP is a free, open source, cross-platform image editor that provides the tools needed for high quality image manipulation. You can use it to produce icons, graphical design elements, and art for user interface components and mockups. From retouching to restoring to creative composites, GIMP gives artists the power and flexibility to transform images into truly unique creations.
  • Photo Pos Pro (FREE)
    Photo Pos Pro offers a variety of image creation, editing and enhancing tools, including background and object removal, stunning photo and text laters and effects, adding gradients, patterns, texstures, frames and collages, and much more.
  • Taler by Shopify (FREE)
    Taler offers hundreds of customizable templates that allow you to create your own social media banner designs in minutes. With Taler’s free online banner generator, you can browse thousands of free photos and graphics, customize them with a suite of design tools, and easily create amazing banners, cover photos and images for all social media platforms and beyond.
GRAPHICS
  • 365PSD (FREE/PREMIUM)
    365PSD.com is a collection of free vector images, logo designs and PSD graphics. It also offers premium vectors from iStock.
  • Control by Craftwork (FREE/PREMIUM)
    Control offers a library of illustrations of people with customizable style and action types you can use to create ‘scenes’ that are relevant for your business. Pricing includes a free and subscription-based plans.
  • Flaticon by Freepik (FREE/PREMIUM)
    Flaticon (by Freepik) offers a huge database of free icons available in PNG, SVG, EPS, PSD and BASE 64 formats. It also offers free accessories that allow you to organize, create and save time on your designs, like an Editor (for changing the color or size of your icons), Pattern Generator, and more. Many of the icons are free to download, and others are available via a montly or annual subscription plan.
  • Toy Faces Library (PREMIUM)
    Toy Faces is a fun diverse library of 3D avatars for your design mockups and commercial projects. It was created by 3D Illustrator, Art Director, and Maker Amrit Pal Singh. You can buy the whole gorgeous library for just $10.
  • Open Peeps (FREE)
    A hand-drawn illustration library of people for use in product illustration, marketing imagery, comics, product states, user flows, personas, storyboarding and more. The library works like building blocks made of vector arms, legs, clothing, hairstyles, poses and emotions. You can mix these elements to create different Peeps in a variety of scenes. You’ll need to use a product design tool like Sketch, Figma, XD, or Studio to mix nested components.
  • Fresh Folk (FREE)
    An illustration library of people and objects you can mix and match to create scenes. Each character comes with a range of poses, outfits and skin tones.
  • The Amazing Pattern Library (FREE)
    An ongoing project by Tim Holman & Claudio Guglieri who compile patterns shared by talented designers.
  • Subtle Patterns by Toptal (FREE)
    A huge selection of beautiful, subtle patterns you can use for websites and other projects.
  • Hero Patterns by Toptal (FREE)
    A collection of repeatable SVG background patterns you can customize for your web projects.
COLOR PALETTE TOOLS
  • Adobe Color (FREE)
    Adobe Color allows you to create color schemes with the Color Wheel or extract a color scheme from one of your own photos. You can also browse through other color combinations for inspiration and learn about current trends in color.
  • Happy Hues (FREE)
    Happy Colors is a color palette inspiration site that acts as a real world example as to how the colors could be used in your design projects.
  • Duotone by ShapeFactory (FREE)
    Create beautiful duotone images using either your own photos or photos from Unsplash’s free stock photo library.
  • Pigment by ShapeFactory (FREE)
    Get colour-palette inspiration for your projects!
  • Color Claim (FREE)
    Color Claim was created by designer Tobias van Schneider with the goal to collect unique colour combinations for his future projects. It’s another nice source for colour palette inspiration.
  • colors.lol (FREE)
    Colors.lol was created by Toronto-based developer Adam Fuhrer as a fun way to discover interesting color combinations. Palettes are hand-selected from the Twitter bot @colorschemez. The feed randomly generates color combinations as well as their descriptions, with each color being matched with an adjective from a list of over 20,000 words.
FONTS
  • Dafont (FREE)
    Dafont offers thousands of truly beauitful fonts to suit any type of project. Most of the fonts are are either freeware, shareware, demo versions or public domain fonts that are free for personal use, but you need to check the readme files downloaded with each font to double check the license details and contact the author if in doubt.
  • Google Fonts (FREE)
    created by designers around the world to produce best-in-class typeface designs that are made for the web. You can search for fonts by category, language or font properties, and you can get an idea of how each font would look with your specific text with a nifty preview tool!
  • FontSpace (FREE)
    FontSpace offers thousands of beautiful free fonts for personal and commercial use. You can preview fonts with you custom text using the Font Generator.
  • Wordmark.it (FREE/PREMIUM)
    Wordmark.it allows you to preview your text witn all of the default system fonts installed on your computer. The Pro version also allows you to see any Google fonts you’ve installed as well.
SCREEN RECORDING TOOLS
  • Snagit by Techsmith by TechSmith (PREMIUM)
    A great screen capture platform that allows you to create custom screenshots and recordings (videos). You can buy a single license outright (one-time fee), and also take it for a spin with a free trial.
  • Awesome Screenshot (FREE/PREMIUM)
    The free version of Awesome Screenshot’s Chrome Plugin allows up to 5 minutes per video recording (resolution up to 720p) while the premium version allows unlimited recordings (resolution up to 4k). The screenshot options are also great and allow for annotations.
  • Loom (FREE/PREMIUM)
    Record video messages of your screen, cam, or both. Faster than typing an email or meeting live. Includes both a free and premium version.
  • Icecream Apps (FREE/PREMIUM)
    Icecream Apps develop a variety of free Windows-compatible utility apps, including a screen recorder (which is also Mac-compatible), PDF Editor, Video Editor, Slideshow Maker and more. Some free versions have limited features with an upgrade possibility to a PRO version which has special features and no limitations. Icecream’s Screen Recorder allows you to record any area of your screen along with audio and webcam, or save it as a screenshot.
VISUAL CONTENT MAKERS
  • Piktochart (FREE/PREMIUM)
    Piktochart is a visual content maker that allows you to quickly turn any text or data-heavy content into a stunning report, presentation, infographic, social media graphic, or printable. It includes a free and premium version.
  • Venngage (FREE/PREMIUM)
    Venngage allows you to visualize your data by turning them into beautiful infographics, presentations, reports, E-books, and much more. Choose from a 100+ templates and follow these steps to create your own infographics. Pricing includes a free and premium versions.
  • Infogram (FREE/PREMIUM)
    Infogram (now part of Prezi) is an intuitive visualization tool that empowers people and teams to create beautiful content. From infographics and reports to social media posts and more, you can use either existing templates or customize your own, add animations and other interactive elements and much more. Pricing includes a free and premium versions.
  • Visme (FREE/PREMIUM)
    Visme is a cloud-based visual content creation and collaboration platform, empowering anyone to create professional, branded content no matter their design background. From engaging presentations and infographics to documents, videos and graphics, Visme helps teams and individuals scale and control their content creation by centralizing all media assets into one easily-accessible location. Pricing includes a free and premium versions.
OTHER COOL TOOLS
  • TinEye (FREE)
    Main Function: Reverse image search.
    TinEye allows you to “reverse image search”, or in other words, to Search by image and find where that image appears online. Simply upload an image or search by the image’s URL, and TinEye will list all the places that image appears online.
  • Online-Convert (FREE)
    Main Function: File conversion.
    A free web tool that allows you to convert a variety of media files online from one format into another.
  • TinyPNG (FREE)
    Main Function: Image compression.
    Tiny PNG is a free PNG and JPEG compression tool that uses smart lossy compression techniques to reduce the file size of your PNG files. By selectively decreasing the number of colors in the image, fewer bytes are required to store the data. The effect is nearly invisible but it makes a big difference in file size.
  • Compressor.io (FREE/PREMIUM)
    Main Function: Image compression.
    Compressor.io can help you drastically reduce the size of your images and photos while maintaining a high quality with almost no difference visible to the eye. Choose between lossy or lossless compression to get the best balance between image quality and file size. The free version allows for images up to 10MB while the premium version allows for up to 20MB plus a few more pro features.
  • remove.bg (FREE/PREMIUM)
    Main Function: Background removal (images).
    With remove.bg you can remove the background from your images for free for images with up to 0.25 megapixels (e.g. 625×400). Higher resolution downloads up to 25 megapixels (e.g. 6,250×4,000) are available for 1 credit per image, either via a subscription plan or credit packs.
  • Unscreen (FREE/PREMIUM)
    Main Function: Background removal (videos).
    Unscreen removes the background from your videos automatically. Once the background is removed from your video or GIF, you can replace it with a background of your choice from the gallery or your own device. Alternatively, the Pro Bundle format available in Unscreen Pro allows for easy importing in video editing software. Free clips are limited to 5 seconds (10 seconds if you sign up for free), don’t keep the original audio track, and contain an unobtrusive Unscreen watermark. The output video can be downloaded as a GIF, Animated PNG or ZIP file of single PNG/JPG frames. The Pro version also includes MP4 output and preserves the original video’s audio. Read the FAQs for more info on how it works.
  • Promo.com (PREMIUM)
    Main Function: Marketing Video Maker.
    Promo gives you everything you need to make high-performing videos and social ads that will boost your business. The tool is fun and easy to use and there’s a huge variety of video templates to choose from as well as stock video footage, photos and music you can use to customize the videos to match your company’s message and unique personality. You can even upload and use your own assets! Pricing is based on subscription plans and there’s a free trial available.
Think I’ve left out a site or tool that should have also made it into this list?
Let me know and I’ll check it out.
Feature Image Credit: Photo by Racool Studio via Freepik.com
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Noya Lizor - I'm all about creating standout content that helps businesses grow

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