Hiring a designer isn’t always in the budget, and it isn’t always necessary! For simple projects, there are tons of DIY resources online that will help you put together that quick image for your newest social media post, blog post, or to stick in an email campaign. Many of the resources have free and low-cost options that are still pretty powerful and will get the job done. Here are a few I trust:

Photo editing

To overlay text on an image or otherwise doctor it up, you don’t have to have fancy software. Online resources like Canva.com and PicMonkey.com allow you to easily create those fun customized images I’m sure you’ve seen on social media and blogs. Both resources have free tools as well as more powerful paid options.

**If you have an event or campaign coming up, I can create artwork for you to overlay on your images, like I did for K&G Gymnastics. They use Canva to place the artwork I created over pictures they took at some of their clients’ businesses, and shared them on social media, like this:

photo credit: K&G Gymnastics

Free photos and images

I’ve posted about them on my Facebook page before, and I love them: Pixabay.com and Unsplash.com have free, high-res stock art you can use wherever you want to and for whatever purpose, including commercial use. TOTALLY FREE! You don’t even have to give artist credit when you use them (but it IS the nice thing to do). Unsplash has photos only, but Pixabay has videos and vector art in addition to photos. (I even have a couple of my photos out there!)


Sometimes I get stuck when trying to find the perfect color to compliment a main color, or I want inspiration for a palette of colors that go well together.

If you find yourself in the same boat, one option is Colourlovers.com. Colourlovers has tons of color palettes, and you can use search terms to find just the mood you’re looking for.

Or if you know exactly what color you want, Colorzilla.com is a free add-on tool for your web browser that lets you pull colors from literally anything you can pull up on the web. Use the little eyedropper tool to click on an area of a photo or webpage on your screen, and it will give you the RGB and hex color codes for that precise color. Pretty neat-o! This is also helpful for when you’re trying to describe that VERY SPECIFIC color you want to your graphic designer. 🙂

Finally, Coolors helps you find a palette from a starter color or photo. It is definitely one of my frequent go-to resources.


photo credit: Pixabay.com user “vixrealitum”


If you’re tired of the fonts that came with your computer and want to find something to better fit your branding or the voice of the message, it’s hard to know what sites you can trust to download fonts. DO NOT just Google “free fonts” and get download-happy, lest you end up with nasty viruses and a big ole’ computer repair bill.

A site I’ve trusted for just about ever is dafont.com. Pay attention here though – many of the free fonts are only licensed for personal use, and you’d need to contact the designer (read: pay for a commercial license) before using them commercially. I recently discovered FontSquirrel.com, which has only free fonts that come with the commercial license (and therefore can be used for ads or pretty much anything). GOLD MINE!

Bonus fun for font nerds: if you just HAVE to know what a certain font is, there’s a site called Identifont. You answer a bunch of questions about the different attributes the font has, and it spits back what font(s) it could be. Then you can use it in your own project!


When a picture needs to tell a thousand stats, Piktochart.com is a great tool. With multiple price levels, including basic free tools, you can get that data looking good and much more appealing to your audience. HubSpot.com also has 15 free downloadable templates you can edit in Powerpoint.


So, there you go! Now you have a bunch of free or low-cost tools to get you on the path to creating your own designs when hiring someone just isn’t in the budget. Of course, this list isn’t intended to be all-inclusive or exhaustive. There are tons of other great options out there too! Know some reliable and trustworthy sites? Share them in the comments here!

If you you do use some of the resources shared here, I would love to see what you come up with! Share it with me on Facebook or Instagram @bluesunmn.

Finally, when you DO need a designer (like when your time carries more value than the cost of hiring a designer, or when the project is beyond your abilities, or when you want something a little less home-grown and a little more professional), I’ll be here! Reach out and tell me about your project!

Happy creating!


cover photo credit: Pixabay.com

4 thoughts on “10 tools for DIY design that don’t max your budget

  1. Love this!!! I use canva from time to time!
    Definitely going to refer back to this article as a resource!!! Thank You!!

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