Top Resources on Creating Visual Content for Nonprofits
Curating and publishing meaningful digital content can become daunting and even turn into a full-time job (I should know!). However, it doesn't have to be neglected if you do not have the means to hire help (yet). Prepping visuals and digital content can start right now, with you!
Whether you run a nonprofit or a for-profit business, having no online interaction with your audience can cost you; although its one of the most affordable marketing options out there, it takes time and effort to build an audience from scratch. It is far better to start small and go for quality over quantity than to become discouraged over not having enough funds or time to create content.
Everyone needs a little help once in awhile–that's why I have put together a list of the best resources for nonprofits (or anyone!) that can help them create professional-looking visuals and content for social media or for your website:
This is by far the best digital design application and is very popular with marketers, designers, and social media managers alike. If used properly, Canva can act as your own "graphic design assistant" and help you get started building and curating your digital content visuals and even branding assets.
With Canva's premium features, you can use Canva to its full capacity to host all your digital assets for your organization, including fonts, color palette, and of course, templates for your visuals, marketing materials, or even business cards. Canva utilizes a drag and drop method for its interface and if you have used Word, Pages, Photoshop or even Printshop to create a template–you will be able to catch on nicely.
When you have built a content empire and need an additional hand, some content managers and marketing designers–like myself–are willing to work off of platforms like Canva. The great thing about Canva is that it can be used with team members and everyone can have access to everything or, you can assign "roles" to delegate access.
While Canva can be an essential tool for anyone dealing with content creation, Canva is NOT Adobe Photoshop or InDesign. More complex projects that require higher quality file formats (especially for printed materials) will need the assistance of a graphic designer and professional software. While Canva has added a great feature that allows you to print any design/template you create, it's not very economical to have Canva become your print-partner, especially for a full-blown organization. Also, note that file and image quality is downgraded if you have a basic account.
Nonprofits can request a discounted premium account by inquiring to the Canva team. If you are going to use Canva for your nonprofit or organization, I highly recommend going for the upgraded account.
Quickly becoming the go-to place for both designers and entrepreneurs alike, Creative Market hosts one of the largest inventory of digital assets from fonts, graphics, patterns, to mockups. CM is actively used by both professional designers and non-pros because it's a place to acquire quick (and affordable) assets that can be used commercially for your project or your brand.
Using these assets can, of course, require some design expertise, but it's a great way to get some nice visual design and branding without having to pay for a completely custom branding package right off the bat. CM has been essential to many a Etsy shop owner and blogger to help them get started with design and branding. Have your designer acquire the digital assets or purchase them yourself to DIY in Canva or Photoshop to put together a nice product mockup, logo, or blog post visual.
The downsides to using CM to curate a brand is that someone else will be using same elements. CM is kind of like a stock photography place for graphic designers and some fonts or even graphics can be seen again and again online. As a general rule for stock: Use it to add to your content but don't let is solely define or make up your entire brand image.
Just a note! While you can use these assets commercially or for your own brand, be sure to understand the copyright policy. You cannot use some of the designs to print on hundreds of products, nor can you resell or redistribute them. Remember–these designs have been created by real people, many of them very professional with their work.
This place is a gem for finding "stock" photography is unique and creative–in fact, you will be able to curate a collection that will go along with your brand so nicely that it may even appear that the photos were taken just for your organization. Images are free to use and distribute; all it takes is a good eye and some time to sift through the maze of fantastic imagery.
I use Unsplash frequently for myself and for my clients; I have even used it as a launchpad to help brands get started on their visual look or help me compile a mood board for a project.
Just like Creative Market, Unsplash is a popular place. Be careful when using the popular images–you will undoubtedly find them on all sorts of blog posts, ads, and even on websites. Viewers will recognize them and if they start seeing them be overused, they could start associating your content with being "stock" and not very genuine.
DEATH TO STOCK
A premium version of Unsplash, DTS has that same artsy feel to its images, complete with a back story to every photo collection and an ode to indie photographers everywhere. DTS has an annual or monthly membership where you can download endless images plus get access to newly published "photo packs" every month.
If you publish a lot of content or you are looking for unique images that aren't overused, DTS is a decent investment. If you cannot take on the imagery expense, ask your designer or content manager if they have access to DTS or a similar stock photo site.
There are a lot of social media management apps out there and several specifically for Instagram. Later has a decent set of free features plus good how-tos and resources for social media on their blog. Just sign up with your Insta account and POOF! you have a nice visual calendar to plan and publish your Instagram posts. Take a peek at statistics and make smarter design or content decisions based on your audience interaction. The premium feature also includes Groups which helps you organize and oversee team members and uploaded media.
Later has also expanded to Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I give Later a thumbs up because the interface is easy to use and organized plus they have a great free plan to get you started (30 posts for Instagram). If you need more (especially with the analytics features), Later has a discount for nonprofits.
There you have it. The top resources for starting your journey in content creation for your brand and digital space. Best of all, these resources are either free or come at a discount for nonprofit organizations. Don't wait to start your online audience–get started right now.
Do you need help with your brand or website?
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