3 Tools You Can Use to Create Holiday Designs

3 tools you can use to create holiday designs

3 Tools You Can Use to Create Holiday Designs

The holidays are a great time to experiment with your visual content, but if you’re not a designer or have paid the big bucks for software like Photoshop, how do you create seasonal visuals that look designer-made?

Fortunately, there’s a lot of available tools that are free or low-cost to help you create images that will help you stand out in a sea of holiday content. Here are 3 that I recommend:

PicMonkey

This online photo editing site offers lots of holiday goodies in its themes section. Start by selecting the edit mode, then upload your photo. You can also choose design to create an image with a colorful background and text (like a quote, fact, stat or tip), and add some holiday flair.

PicMonkey Get Started

Then select themes by clicking on the snowflake icon on the bottom of the left column.

PicMonkey How to Access Themes

The Winterland theme allows you to add snow, frost, snowflakes, snowmen, and a few additional landscape effects to your images.

PicMonkey Winterland Theme

Click over to SantaLand to insert Santa caps, elf hats, and reindeer antlers to people and pets in your photos. Or add Santa, his buddies, trees, presents, stockings and candy canes.

PicMonkey SantaLand

Some of the effects and overlays are free. However, there are some that you can only access with a PicMonkey Royale account, which costs $33 a year. If PicMonkey is a tool you plan to use on a regular basis, it’s definitely worth the money!

Pro tip: Want to use a snowman, Santa or candy cane in another photo editing tool? Create a new design in PicMonkey and select transparent canvas when choosing your canvas color. Then save the image to your desktop and import it into whatever editing program you want to use.

PicMonkey Create Image With Transparent Background

Canva

Image creation/editing site Canva has some free overlays you can use in your holiday designs. Start a new project by selecting one of their many templates for Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook cover photos and more, and then do a search for Christmas to find some free images. Canva offers tons of photos of Christmas lights, Christmas trees, ornaments and more, but most of these images can be purchased and use for a small fee of $1 each.

I created the image at the top of this blog post in Canva, and used free overlays of the snowman and snow.

Canva Christmas Designs

PicCollage

The free PicCollage app can help you create holiday images on the go by using your smartphone. Access photos from your phone, or connect to your Instagram and use images from your account.

PicCollage Choose Photos

Then choose templates and add holiday-themed backgrounds.

PicCollage Choose Backgrounds

You can also add text, choose a font, and insert holiday stickers. Some stickers are free, and some sticker sets cost $1.99.

PicCollage Add Text Stickers and Background

When you’re done, save the photo to your phone; post to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram; or send it via email.

PicCollage Save Image

How do you add some holiday flair to your content?

These are just 3 tools you can use to dress up your visual content for the holiday season. What are your favorites? Did I miss any? Let me know in the comments and I’ll write about them in a future post!

How to make time for social media marketing

According to my tiny alarm clock, it's time for you to post to your blog!

According to my tiny alarm clock, it’s time for you to post to your blog!

One of the biggest struggles that people have with social media marketing is finding time to actually do it.

Everyone has their own tips, tricks and tools, so I thought I would share mine:

Make it a part of your routine

Every day I make time to read social media blogs, marketing blogs, and tech blogs to keep up on what’s happening in the industry. It doesn’t matter if you do this at the beginning of your day, your lunch hour, or during an afternoon coffee break. Make some time to at least scan the headlines so you’re aware of news, updates, stats and what’s next in social media marketing. If you subscribe to these blogs with an RSS reader like Feedly, you can organize them by topic, and quickly scroll through the latest updates.

Not sure what blogs to read? There are a lot of great blogs – and I know I’m missing a few – but here’s some that I suggest (in no particular order):

My blog has now been up for 6 months, and I have to schedule time to work on it. Between my job, my commute, my volunteering, and my social life, there are not enough hours left in a day! Right now, I just can’t post more than once or twice a week. To accomplish that, I schedule office hours for myself a one or two nights a week to write, think of other blog topics, and review my blog and social media stats.

Bookmark all that marketing goodness

The only thing constant about social media marketing is that it changes every day – there’s always new stats, case studies, tools, and news. You won’t remember everything, and that’s OK. Use a social bookmarking site to help you keep track of it all. I use a social bookmarking site called Diigo (it’s also an app!) to bookmark relevant news, posts, stats, studies, infographics, and tools. The great thing about Diigo is that you can tag posts, so if you’re interested in tracking down a post you read that included an infographic on content sharing statistics for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram and Tumblr, you can search your tags in just a few seconds and find it.

This also works for content ideas. If you find a blog post that triggers a topic you want to write about, an article, a photo, a design, or a campaign that inspires you, save it and tag it in Diigo so you can use it later.

Schedule your posts with a calendar

When you walk in to the office or store or wherever it is you work in the morning, you probably aren’t surprised by what’s ahead of you for the day. You have meetings, events, sales, new products, and interesting things on the docket. You’ve been planning these things. So when you’re putting on your social media marketer hat for the day, you’re not walking in with nothing to say. You already have lots of things going on that you can share. As you’re planning them, think about how you can promote them. Make it easy on yourself – create “meetings” for yourself in your Outlook calendar that remind you to create content and post it to whatever social channels you use.

Schedule your posts with a tool

When you know what you want to say, you don’t have to wait to post it. Combine your calendar with social media management systems like HootSuite and TweetDeck (which have free and paid levels) to prepare your posts and schedule them in advance for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more.

What are your tips?

Do you have tips or tools to share? What blogs inspire you? What tools are essential to your marketing? Let me know in the comments!