21 Resources to Improve Your Visual Content [UPDATED]

You’ve probably already figured out that visual content is valuable to marketing—it’s eye-catching, can be processed more quickly than text, and helps add variety to written content. But how do you choose the right images for your brand, avoid copyright infringement, or even create your own original visual content if you don’t have a design background? You’ll find the answers to these questions and more in the link roundup below.

Getting Started

The Science of Great Visuals

You shouldn’t have to wildly stab in the dark to come up with effective visuals for your website, blog, or social media channels. This post looks at design ideas such as the value of a simple layout, how fonts can match a brand message, and how certain colors evoke strong emotions and promote sharing.

How to Get More Engagement with Your Visual Content (Infographic)

After sharing some statistics on the value of visual content, this infographic dives into some actionable tips to help you create images that will make your audience take notice. One of the things I found most useful in this infographic was the breakdown of all the different image dimensions for the biggest social media platforms. Refer to this guide to avoid ever awkwardly cropping a social media photo again.

Want People to Share Your Visual Content? Avoid These 6 Common Mistakes

Sometimes the best way to learn how to do something is to see examples of what not to do. This article covers some of the most common mistakes brands make in visual content marketing, from using images that don’t fit the message to obscuring images with too much text.

Tips for Creating a Visual Content Marketing Strategy

This slide show put together by the Content Marketing Institute relays what classic children’s stories can teach us about visual content marketing and how to implement these ideas in our strategies.

Useful Tools

100 Brilliant Color Combinations and How to Apply Them to Your Designs

If you’re an aspiring graphic designer, or even if you’re a non-designer tasked with creating visuals for your company, you may want to bookmark this post and reference it whenever you need to create a colorful image. The 100 palettes shared here are helpfully broken down into 4 categories: nature-inspired, food and drink-inspired, travel-inspired, and everyday item-inspired.

7 Best Visual Marketing Apps to Create Social Media Graphics

I don’t have a background in design, so whenever I need to create or edit images, I rely on free, user-friendly tools like Canva and Pixlr. You can learn about these and 5 other handy online design tools in this post.

The Ultimate List of Visual Content Tools

While it’s generally better to use original images whenever possible, this post contains a good list of sites where you can find high-quality, free images to incorporate in your content. It also has a list of easy-to-use design tools, including tools you can use to create and edit images directly from your smartphone or tablet.

Going Beyond the Basics

Animate Your Social Media Marketing with GIFs

Have you ever considered using GIFs (short, looped animations, usually from TV shows or movies) to add some humor to your marketing? Check out this post to learn how to use GIFs well and avoid copyright issues. (Note: This post says that you can’t share GIFs on Facebook, but Facebook recently issued an update that allows for GIFs in status updates.)

How to Create a Cinemagraph in 7 Easy Steps

Cinemagraphs—still photos with subtle, looped animation added in—look pretty cool and can definitely help your images stand out on social media. If you have Photoshop and a little bit of time, use this step-by-step guide to learn how to make your own cinemagraphs.

This Is Your Brain on Emojis

Whether you’re a fan of the trend or not, it’s becoming more and more common for people to communicate using tiny smiley faces, palm trees, hearts, and other emojis. Check out some examples of brands that get emojis right and read through tips to use emojis in your marketing without being obnoxious.

The Power of Instagram

How to Promote Your Business with Instagram

Instagram can be a great place for brand exposure, as long as you don’t take an overly sales-oriented approach. This article has some useful tips for how to fit in on Instagram and even collaborate with social influencers to build your following.

How to Gain a Massive Following on Instagram

This Buffer blog post shares the value of posting on Instagram consistently, engaging with similar accounts, cross-promoting on other platforms, and more. And the nice thing about this guide is that all the tips are backed up by cold, hard research.

These Luxury Hotel Ads Use Instagram Shots Instead of Professional Photos

This is a great example of how user-generated photos can help build credibility. If you decide to go for this approach, just make sure you get permission to use the photos in your advertising!

Getting Social

How Much is Too Much Visual Content on Social Media?

It’s a question that’s worth thinking about before you start making every single social media update an animal meme. Marketing experts weigh in here, and the general conclusion seems to be that it’s important to have a variety of content types, and that images are appropriate as long as they are on-brand and do not distract from your message.

10 Simple Design Hacks to Increase Your Social Media Traffic with Visual Content

Some of my favorite tips from this Canva post are to think of your page headers as a billboard, make the most important terms biggest when using typography, and share visuals that encourage your audience to reply.

5 Visual Storytelling Tips to Power Your Content Marketing on Facebook

This post reminds us that videos on Facebook get twice the shares of text posts and links combined—so you’d better make sure you’re using images to tell compelling brand stories. You’ll get some helpful tips on how to do that here.

4 Visual Marketing Ideas to Boost Twitter Engagement

Twitter may not be as big on images as Instagram and Facebook, but you can still share images on the platform and should absolutely take advantage of that.

11 Killer Tips to Leverage SlideShare’s Power in Your Visual Content Marketing

SlideShare is often overlooked as a social platform, but with an average of 3 billion presentation views per month and more traffic from business owners than any other major social media site, it clearly has a lot of potential as a visual content marketing tool.

Top 5 SlideShare Marketing Tips

Want to learn how to generate leads from SlideShare? This is the article for you.

How to Get More from SlideShare

The advice in this post is worth listening to because it’s coming straight from the people behind SlideShare. This is a good place to start if you’re trying to figure out what kind of visual content does well on this platform.

Bonus Resource

70+ Free Image Sites to Make Your Content Dazzle

While I already shared SEMRush’s list of where to find free images online, I also wanted to share this even more expansive list. The more options you have for free images, the less likely you are to end up recycling the same overused stock photos in your online content. Just remember to review the licensing rules for each site and give credit where credit is due!

Know of any great articles on visual content that I missed? Let me know in the comments!

Madeline Jacobson

Madeline Jacobson

Digital Content Team Leader at Leverage Marketing
Madeline is a writer and Digital Content Team Leader for Leverage Marketing. After receiving her B.A. in English, she moved from Washington state to Austin, Texas, where she worked as an AmeriCorps volunteer and college prep coach before pursuing a career in content marketing. When she's not writing, she enjoys running, attempting to cook, going to trivia nights, and exploring Austin.
Madeline Jacobson
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