Where to Get Great Ad Designs if You Can’t Afford an Agency

We’ve ranked all the budget-friendly options where you can find amazing designs for your next ad campaign.

Marketing design
July 7, 2021

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Getting great ad designs for your next campaign might seem like a challenge, especially if you are on a tight budget or don’t have enough time or skills for doing the creative work. These tools and services might help you get the designs you want and still stay on budget.

The ads are now everywhere. From the billboards outside to the video ads in your favorite game. An average person sees thousands of advertisements from different marketing channels every day. And with a declining attention span among adults, it is getting increasingly hard to pull someone’s focus in crowded advertising space.

This is where good design can come in handy. A well-made design with a clear call to action will draw attention and provoke desired actions from your audience. Think about the last time you scrolled through your Instagram or Twitter feed or the last time you sorted your mail. You likely spent some of that time going through an ad copy or a video. Those ads worked because of the good design.

If you are a business owner or a marketer, you know that it is both effortless and tough to get a good design for your ads. It is easy because there are plenty of free and inexpensive tools and platforms that offer customizable templates. It is hard because the vital part of getting a good design is its originality.


Why is ad design so important?

First and foremost, good design will help your ads get noticed. This is especially important for advertisements on social media, where competition for attention is very high. On average, a person sees between 5,000 and 10,000 ads every day. This number paints a picture of how competitive advertising is and why it is essential to stand out.

Second, a well-designed ad creative shows a level of credibility and professionalism. When you are coming out on the market for the first time or reaching out to entirely new customers, it is crucial to show the people that the business behind the ads is legitimate. Well branded ad materials will amplify your brand's message and show that you are seriously dedicated to your brand identity.

And last, it helps you connect with your target audience better. Knowing who you are targeting with your ads is half of the job done. Understanding who your customers are will help you develop designs and copy that will easily communicate with them. Good design will also help you reach the desired outcome of your ad campaign more efficiently.

Is it possible to get affordable ad designs?

Getting a good design might seem like an expensive thing. However, today, many options can help you get excellent results while still being cost-effective. The options vary from entirely free to paid. They each come with their advantages and disadvantages.

In reality, it is not only the price that will affect your final selection of the platform. Things like available options, templates, and time that will take you to master the tools and create unique designs will also influence a decision about the right solution. At the end of the day, time is money, and the time you spend using some free tool can cost you more than hiring a professional designer.

Free Design Tools

Do a simple search on Google search about free ad designs. You will discover many free tools and customizable templates. However, not all tools and templates are good or will work fine for every business. You will have to spend some time to find the option that works best for your campaign.

The saying “There is no such thing as free lunch” works well to describe the situation with the free designing tools. Even though they only require you to sign up, you will realize that you need to pay for the premium designs and options once you start using these platforms. Depending on the volume of your work, the cost might add up over time.

There is also another essential thing that most people forget when it comes to free design tools: the learning curve. Unless you come with a design background, you will likely have to spend some time learning how to use these tools. Yes, most of them are intuitive and come with an extensive selection of templates. Still, if you want to customize them outside the available options you get with the template, you will have to master the tools.

Each of these platforms comes with a unique set of options. And picking one of them is only a matter of personal preference. This list contains only a few options that are the most popular among marketers.

Canva vs. Crello

Canva (Web, iOS, Android, Windows, macOS)

Non-designers originally developed this platform for non-designers. The idea behind Canva was to create one place where people could find easily customizable templates for different design projects. From business cards to Instagram ads, this free web-based design platform offers various tools that will help you adjust available designs according to your needs.

Once you start using Canva, you will quickly discover that their best templates and tools are part of the paid version. Depending on the size of your team and your needs, you might have to spend, each month, between US$9.99 and US$30 per person.

Crello (Web, iOS, Android)

As Canva’s closest competitor Crello might seem almost identical. It offers nearly the same selection of options and tools. The interface on both platforms looks virtually the same, which is why some people still confuse them.

Both platforms are great for social media managers when they need to create visuals on the go. Canva might support a more significant number of document types, and Crello might be able to pull out some tricks with animated content.

Still, in essence, they offer pretty much the same options. Crello has two advantages over Canva. It has substantial stock photos and videos library, and it has a much better file management system.

Once you start using Crello, you will quickly realize that you must subscribe to the pro version. The free version allows you to download only five designs every month while you do not have that limit for the paid version. There is only one pro subscription plan which will set you back for US$7.99

Adobe Spark (Web, iOS, Android)

Adobe is the leader in tools for graphic designers and professionals in any creative industry. From Photoshop to Adobe XD there is no creative project that one of the apps from their creative cloud cannot handle.

Adobe Spark is the company’s response to web-based design tools. With a selection of premade templates, you can quickly customize and make beautiful designs for your ads. Over time their library of stock images and templates grew, and today Adobe Spark can compete alongside other similar services.

The basic starter plan is free, and you do not need a credit card to sign up. However, the starter plan will put an Adobe Spark watermark in the corner of your designs. If you want to remove the watermark and access all premium options and tools, you will have to pick one of the subscription packages that can cost you between US$9.99 and US$19.99 per month.

Template markets

A great source of digital assets for various types of projects is theme markets. These platforms offer anything from ad designs to WordPress themes and plugins. Depending on the service, you can pay for an individual template or subscribe monthly and download an unlimited number of assets.

These platforms offer far greater selection and better-looking ad design templates that you can customize. However, unlike templates on web-based design services like Canva or Adobe Spark, the templates require that you have some professional editing software like Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Photoshop. These templates are an excellent solution for digital agencies or individuals with some knowledge of editing templates with professional tools.

The designs you can find on these platforms are made and sold by independent designers. This means that you will get designs that are highly professional and not overused. So, the chances that your ads will look like thousands of other ads are significantly reduced.

Just like with free design tools, you can find plenty of places online where you can buy templates. Still, the most popular ones are:

Envato Elements

From its launch, Envato Elements quickly became popular because it offered a fantastic selection of digital assets. If you look for fonts, WordPress themes or plugins, stock images and videos, or design templates, you can find all of them in one place. The collection has over 60 million assets, and they’ve been adding thousands of new ones every week.

There is no free version of Envato Elements. To download an unlimited number of files, you’ll have to subscribe to the service. A monthly subscription is US$16.5 or US$33, depending on if you want to pay for a whole year in advance or if you want to pay monthly.

Envato Elements

As I mentioned before, you need to have the software and the skills to use the available templates. So if you plan to customize ad templates downloaded from Envato Elements, you will likely have to subscribe to Adobe Creative Cloud or purchase some other professional design app that will add to your monthly costs. You also need to register every asset you use each time you use it for a personal or commercial project.

Creative Market

As one of the biggest marketplaces for digital assets from independent designers and artists, Creative Market offers the most extensive selection for almost any type of project. They have over 30,000 sellers on board, so you can easily find the designs and file types you are looking for.

Creative Market has an individual pricing model. This means that the seller individually prices each asset, and there are no subscriptions with unlimited downloads. A credit plan allows you to purchase a certain amount of credits and use them to pay for the assets.

Unlimited Design Services

Subscription-based design services are getting increasingly popular because they offer the best ratio of cost and quality. For a monthly subscription, you get an unlimited number of projects and revisions. You get a team of designers at your disposal, and you can even select designers that you want to work with exclusively.

This type of service comes with a cost. Unlike platforms and tools mentioned in this article, unlimited design services can cost you between US$549 and US$1,149 per month. These numbers might seem uncomparable high with some of the free tools. Still, once you list all the things you can get, the price for some businesses is more than reasonable and within their budgets.

Like the one we offer at ManyPixels, unlimited design services are the best option for small businesses, creative agencies, and in-house marketing teams. Suppose you want to create ads for a company in a highly competitive industry or an area with a very high number of similar businesses.

ManyPixels - Social Media Graphics

In that case, you want to create original ad designs that will grab the attention of its target audience. Using templates that tens of thousands of other businesses used before won’t help you stand out or look credible to your potential customers.

Services like ManyPixels offer you the best of all worlds. You get original designs specifically created for your brand. You also get a team of designers who can make any necessary iterations or updates and deliver designs for your ads or promotional materials and create landing and web pages, motion graphics, and anything else that your business might need.

Designjoy (starting at US$ 1,999 a month)

Designjoy is a mixture of a design agency and an unlimited design service. It offers integration with project management and communication platforms such as Zapier and Slack. It offers a wide selection of design formats. However, it doesn’t cover complex illustrations and InDesign files.

  • price starts at US$ 1,999 a month for a Design plan
  • unlimited requests and revisions
  • turnaround is 48 hours, from Monday to Friday
  • various design types (except complex illustrations and InDesign)

Design Pickle (starting at US$ 499 a month)

They have a team of over 700 designers capable of producing almost any design project possible. From display ads to branding projects, the scope of their work is quite large. Their app also offers integration with Zapier if it's something you might be looking for.

  • price starts at US$ 499 for the Scale plan and goes up to US$ 995 a month)
  • unlimited requests and unlimited revisions
  • same-day turnaround
  • all types of designs (complex illustrations are offered as a separate plan)

ManyPixels (starting at US$549 a month)

We launched our service in 2018 to offer our clients a simple and direct way to get designs for various projects. From visuals for Facebook ads to designs for websites and UI for apps, there is not a task that our team cannot tackle.

  • price starts at US$549 for the Advanced plan and goes up to US$1,199 for the Dedicated Designer plan
  • unlimited requests and unlimited revisions
  • turnaround for simpler projects is 24 hours, and for complex ones, it’s 48 hours
  • all types of designs included
  • 14 day trial period
  • And we even have a free illustration gallery, in case you want to experiment and design some ads yourself. You can check it out and discover the vast number of customizable illustrations in multiple styles.

If you want to see what our designers can do for you, feel free to book a demo session.

Diplomat by education, marketer by profession. Currently living between Berlin and Skopje, still deciding where to settle permanently. Ghostwriter that is slowly crossing back into the land of the living writers. Always reading two books at the same time and follows at least 15 TV series. Used to dream about changing the world, now just patiently waits for the next Marvel movie.

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