Making Social Media Images: 101

people with speech bobles

We can all agree that social media is a crucial tool for businesses to connect with their audience and promote their brand. One really effective way to make your social media presence more appealing is to create engaging and eye-catching content! But, don’t worry, you don’t have to be an expert or a graphic designer to stand out on social. I know it’s intimidating, but stick with me and I’ll show you easy ways to create posts with these free, easy-to-use tools!

Think of your favorite brands; they usually post really pretty graphics on their socials, right?

We can probably assume that they use graphic designers – like we do! But how can you make a really nice post if you don’t have a designer or design background? Maybe you can barely draw a stick figure, or maybe you don’t know the first thing about Photoshop or Illustrator. What if I told you that you can make really awesome designs with just a few tools?


If you haven’t heard about Canva yet, Canva is a web and mobile app-based design program. It has a library full of images, graphics, and fonts ready for you to go. Plus, there are a whole bunch of premade templates in all sizes, from Instagram posts and stories to flyers and presentations, so if you’re stuck on how to format an image or don’t really know where or how to start, there are templates to get your creative juices flowing.

Like Photoshop, it doubles as an image editing software. There are several different filters you can use (like Instagram!), or you can tweak the colors, saturation, and contrast on your product photo yourself. If you’d like one of your photos to have a transparent background, you can easily delete the background with just a click of a button.

If you’d like to get into Instagram Reels and Tiktok, you can even make your own videos on Canva too.

The best part about Canva is that you can upload your branding, including fonts, colors, and logos to create a brand kit to make posts based on your branding easy and beautiful. It’s really a game changer, and honestly, I use it for my personal stuff too. Like this silly quote on a dramatic background. For the meme, of course.

forest with words "i love pinball"
Listen, I made this in five minutes. Imagine what you can do in ten??

The other best part is that it’s free, though if you’d like to use the branding kit, you would need to upgrade to the paid version, Canva Pro. If you have the budget, I highly recommend paying for the premium version – you’ll get access to many more images, templates, and graphics.


Another similar graphics-making app is Picsart, with a large collection of templates and easy-to-use editing tools. Much like Canva, users can design custom images with the free version, or upgrade to a paid plan with more features.

With Picsart, the pricing has Canva beat. But if you’re wondering what the main difference is, it’s usability and depth of features. Picsart doesn’t have a calendar feature for post-scheduling and does not offer the same number of templates compared to Canva. However, there is still an excellent selection and if you’re planning to upgrade, Picsart might give you more bang for your buck, depending on your needs.

Royalty-Free and Copyright-Free Stock Images

If you’ve ever wondered where to get images to use if you don’t have a photographer, wonder no more! There are a multitude of sites where you can get royalty-free or copyright-free images to use for your social media.

First things first, what do those terms mean, and what’s the difference?

Copyright-free images are images that are not protected by copyright law, or the copyright on the image has expired. This means that these images can be used freely, without obtaining permission from the owner or paying a fee. Copyright-free images are often in the public domain, which means that anyone can use them for any purpose, including commercial use.

Royalty-free images, on the other hand, are images that come with a license that allows the user to use the image without having to pay a royalty or licensing fee for each use. This means that the user can use the image multiple times, in multiple projects, without having to pay additional fees. However, the user must still purchase the license to use the image initially.

So then, what if you need an adorable picture of a puppy (like this one) for your next post? Where do you go?

a dog on a pink background

Well, that came from Unsplash! Unsplash is a royalty-free image website that allows you to download and use images for personal or commercial use “without permission from or attributing the photographer or Unsplash” – as long as you aren’t trying to resell the images – that would be a violation of the terms.

There is a paid version with even more content to choose from, but I can always easily find the images I’m looking for and this is a great way to incorporate images in your blogs and social posts.

You can also use Pexels for free stock images but what’s different about Pexels vs Unsplash is that with Pexels, you can download videos! No videographer required.

Premade Industry-Specific Images

With the tools above, you should be able to easily create your own social posts and increase your engagement, but if you still don’t have the time – I have another solution for you. And this one is as simple as it gets.

We’ve created a library of social media sharables – specific to the promotional products industry, and we add to it each month! All you have to do is download the image of your choice, then upload it to your social platform with a good caption and you’re done! Plus, if you subscribe to our Monthly Trends newsletter (you can also check it out in the Newsstand area of SAGE), we’ll even give you captions! Told you it was easy!

Interested in more advice on social media? Check out our other blogs on Finding Content for Social Media, 5 Rules Not to Follow for Social Media, and Social Listening for more!

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(Marketing Content Writer)

Betty is the Marketing Content Writer at SAGE. She is a self-proclaimed, bonafide nerd, and when she's not writing, you can find her playing video games, watching documentaries, hunting for heavy metal records, and going down rabbit-holes on Wikipedia.

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