Help! I can’t afford Photoshop

Before I get stuck in, I would like to say this post is not sponsored or an ad. Canva is just my lifesaver!

“Photoshop is too expensive”

“Do I need to hire a designer?”

“I’m not creative enough”

Does the above sound familiar? Before starting work in marketing, I don’t think I had considered how much design was involved in marketing. I’m definitely more of a ‘words’ person, and my design skills aren’t as strong. But I’ve definitely learnt a lot about design and creating visually attractive materials.

Having strong visuals is essential for digital marketing. With platforms like social media, email campaigns, websites etc you need to have attractive imagery. It doesn’t need to be something overly complicated or fancy. Simple is fine. But it does need to be visually aesthetic. I do feel like Miranda Hart as I type this but, what a lovely phrase. Visually aesthetic. But you need to be able to attract the attention of your customers AND engage them.

Photo by Kerde Severin on

When a lot of people think about design and creating images, their first thought is ‘I don’t have Photoshop, its too expensive” but that’s okay. Photoshop is great (I have used it!) especially for big companies for big marketing budgets, but for smaller companies or individuals there are other cheaper, and free alternatives.

My personal favourite is Canva. Not Canvas. Canva.

I discovered it in my first marketing position in 2017 and I use it almost everyday. I’ve used to it make social media graphics, promotional banners, email headers, birthday cards, menus and lots more. And best of all it is easy to use.

Where do I start?

Before you jump in and start creating, you should look at the existing style and guidelines that your other marketing uses. E.g. fonts, colours, styles etc.

This is a good basis to start from, as it is important to be consistent with your branding, even on social media and digital campaigns. You may even decide you need to set a set of brand guidelines to help keep your material consistent and on brand.

For social media platforms such as Instagram. You can keep the same style for each post and switch up the text and graphic. That’s what I am currently doing on my Instagram for this blog:

So above you can see that I’ve used the same background. The same front. And I’ve simply just added in some new images. It is simple. But I think it shows consistency and reflects the theme of my actual blog. I might change it as the blog progresses but for now. I like it.

And it wasn’t made using Photoshop I used Canva.

So as you can see on the left hand there are lot of options to help you with creating content.

One of the things I really like about Canva is the Elements tab as you can not only add basic shapes but it also has a good collection of illustrations and stickers. I like to add flowers and cartoon like images to my content. The email marketing and social media graphics above contain elements that I have found on Canva.

Other features of Canva include- being able to select different image sizes for different platforms. For example, you can quickly open a blank canvas that is the correct size for a Instagram Post, a A4 poster etc. it saves having to google “what is the best size for a Facebook post image” because who hasn’t done that? I definitely have, more than once! If you’re stuck for inspiration when creating a new graphic, there are lots of templates you can use as a base for your content.

Where can I find stock free photos?

Until about a year ago, I thought it was really difficult to get decent free copyright photos but I was wrong. I wouldn’t recommend using stock photos religiously throughout your content but they can be useful. I tend to mainly use them on websites and for images in between blog posts.

These are the main places that I go to when I need a decent stock free photo:




To conclude, you don’t need a fancy piece of software like Photoshop to create decent marketing materials. Canva and other alternatives are just as effective and free. But more importantly, you can use it to create social media posts, website banners, promotional materials and more. Remember, if this is your first time creating digital content, I would recommend to start with looking at your other marketing materials, like leaflets and catalogues for inspiration.

Thank you for reading and my next post will be uploaded soon.

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