Here’s Why Marketers Should (Not) Design Their Own Graphics

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Ad Design with Free Graphic Design Software vs Hiring a Pro?

Should Digital Marketers Design Their Own Ads?

Marketing
March 16, 2022
10 minutes

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What is the best free graphic design software for marketers to use? And should you even use free graphic design software instead of hiring a professional? We’ll reveal the pros and cons and help you decide.

Marketing and graphic design go hand-in-hand. So, it’s no surprise that many marketers decide to give DIY design a chance from time to time. If you’re a marketer, you may have heard of Canva or even tried using it yourself. Today, it is arguably the best free graphic design software available worldwide.

But although many of the best graphic design software is easy-to-use and even free, it doesn’t guarantee that as a non-designer, you can achieve the desired results. We’ll provide you with a step-by-step guide that will help you decide whether free graphic design software is the right solution for you.

Free graphic design software pros & cons

No marketer is oblivious to graphic design. They usually know how to tell good and bad design apart and grasp all the relevant trends and the technical details involved in ad design.

But although they might know what the best graphic design software to use for creating a specific project is, it doesn’t mean they know how to use it. So, they often resort to free alternatives. Here are some of the main pros and cons of taking the DIY approach to design.

Pros

Designers will probably disagree, but some types of digital marketing are more forgiving than others. Creating an imperfect visual to accompany your ad sometimes works out. At the same time, being in charge of your own schedule and saving money is very beneficial, especially if you are a freelance marketer.

Here are some of the reasons why you might benefit from designing your own ads as a marketer.

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Quicker production and fixes

Some marketing teams don’t have an in-house designer and depend on outsourced designers to create visuals for a campaign. In this case, creating a simple Canva design and testing it out can save a lot of time.

Working with a designer means that you have to compile inspiration, provide a briefing and send them the branding guidelines. If you are confident in your design skills and know the brand well, you can skip these steps, and the design process will be much quicker.

At the same time, if you are in charge of optimizing and reviewing the campaign’s performance on digital channels, you can follow the success in real-time. So, if the design isn’t working, you can use a graphic maker for quick adjustments.

Learn how to design captivating digital ads

Get inspired by the catchiest and best-designed ads we found.

Better knowledge of the products and services

If you work as part of a company’s marketing team, you probably know the products and services and the brand style and image far better than an outsourced graphic designer.

Some of the best free graphic design software even have the option of uploading your brand style guide for a quicker and smoother process.

Learning a new skill

As a professional, you would benefit a lot from learning graphic design and being able to produce your own visuals. Not only is it a time-saver, but it also makes you an all-in-one package as a freelancer. This would make you very appealing to potential clients!

Of course, design basics are a valuable skill to acquire, even if you don’t plan on creating visuals yourself. Understanding what makes good and bad design and how the design process works will help you provide constructive feedback and set better expectations and goals.

Saving on extra costs

Some design services can charge thousands of dollars for their work. So, it makes sense that the idea of free graphics is one of the most significant incentives for a DIY approach.

If you add the quicker production time on top of that, you also save workdays, which can also often be translated into monetary value.

Cons

So far, it seems that creating the visuals for ads yourself appears to be a clever tactic. But, it’s not all roses. Bad graphic design can seriously damage your brand image. It’s well known that once something has an online presence, it’s hard to take it down or undo the damage.

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Inconsistency can hurt your brand awareness and image

Inconsistent design and visuals that don’t follow brand guidelines can harm a brand’s image and negatively affect brand awareness.

If you lack the full range of capabilities and skills a graphic designer has, you will likely take the easy way out when designing ads and other assets. Of course, you can always grab a quick Canva template, but although high-quality, the results can be far off from the brand guidelines.

Find out how to build a strong and unique brand

Download our guide to learn all about branding and visual identity

Not knowing graphic design principles often produces bad design

As in any other profession, you need to start with the basics in graphic design and build your way up. If you don’t know the basic principles of graphic design, you will likely design something that might seem aesthetically pleasing but doesn’t comply with the rules that need to be respected.

A regular person might not notice that you lack white space, but they might feel like your design is too noisy. And they probably wouldn’t know what red represents in color theory and psychology, but your design might not inspire them to take action.

A graphic designer will have both theoretical knowledge and practical experience to stick to rules and ensure that a design fulfills its purpose.

Wrong formats and sizes negatively affect search engine optimization

This is referring more to the content marketing and web design side of things, but using visuals that are too big and load slowly can negatively affect SEO.

At the same time, not knowing the correct formats can mean that you have produced an asset that doesn’t show up properly once you publish it or is pixelated. So, using a DIY graphic design website isn’t always an optimal time-saving solution. Think about having to Google the size requirements every time you want to create something!

Paid advertising is costly

Advertising online can cost a lot of money. Whether it is on social media, web banners, or sponsored content, you might need to spend a lot to make sure it reaches the right audience. So, why risk wasting all that money on an ad that doesn’t look good?

The visual aspect is equally important as copywriting, if not more important. So, for big, costly, and important campaigns, let a designer create epic ads for you.

Digital ads will be online forever

Unlike traditional marketing, digital marketing is on the internet forever. Just Google “epic ad fails” or "bad design fails," and you’ll see what I mean.

You don’t want to stain your social media presence and brand image with bad design, so rely on experimenting less and more on professional knowledge.

What is the best free graphic design software?

We’ve already mentioned that one of the biggest pulls of DIY design is saving on costs. So, if you decide to go down this route, it’s not only crucial to know what the best graphic design software is - you also want to know which graphic design software is free.

Here are our top picks:

Canva

Ask any marketer: "Which graphic design software is free and easy to use?". Chances are they’ll reply, “Canva.”

This is probably the best free graphic design software because of the range of beautiful free templates and free design elements it offers. It’s also straightforward to use, so even if you have no design experience whatsoever, you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly.

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It does come with some limitations, though. There are many templates and design assets that you can use only if you switch to their paid plan. Team collaboration and uploading a brand guide are also only available with a subscription.

Vectr

Although it doesn’t have as beautiful an interface as Canva, Vectr is definitely not far behind in terms of functionalities. It’s more appropriate for someone with a basic understanding of graphic design software since it doesn’t have as many templates.

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It scores higher on collaboration functionalities, though, since you can exchange information on different devices and leave comments on the graphics as well.

Visme

Visme is something of a Swiss army knife when it comes to free graphic design software. If you’re a marketer for a company without a graphic design team, this is definitely a worthwhile option to consider.

Visme allows you to create all sorts of branding assets, from logos and style guides to charts, graphs, and social media graphics.

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There is a big drawback, though. Visme is only kind of free. Their free plan allows you to download files in JPG and PNG format only, so if you need PDF, PPTX, or video, you will need to switch to one of the paid options. However, the prices range from $30-$60 per month, so it’s still an affordable option.

Inkscape

Unlike the others, Inkscape is a graphic design software you actually need to download to use. But don’t worry - it’s completely free! It’s comparable to one of the best graphic design software - Adobe Illustrator - only, of course, with fewer options.

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There is quite a bit of a learning curve to it, so it’s definitely not the best solution for small and quick projects. But if your goal is ultimately to keep improving your graphic design skills, it’s worth checking out, though.

Find out how and where to outsource your graphic design needs

Download our guide to find a solution that suits your business

Why should you hire a professional?

Now you know why you should/shouldn’t design your own marketing graphics and where you can do that for free. But before you jump into designing, we will quickly present a much more effective solution for marketers and companies without a design team: ManyPixels online graphic design service.

Here are the main benefits:

It’s fast.

Why spend days figuring out how to use a design tool when the pros can do it in a few hours? Our team of designers completes most projects in just 1-2 business days, so you can spend more time devising creative copy or monitoring the performance of your campaigns.

Marketers love to use our service because they can quickly get tons of quality designs, which is extremely valuable for any multichannel campaign.

It’s easy.

Did we mention that we can take care of all your design needs? From simple display ads to full-fledged landing pages you need in campaigns, we’ve got you covered! Thanks to our intuitive app, you can easily make and manage your requests.

We’ve recently launched some new updates on it, so communicating with designers and providing feedback has never been more efficient!

It’s affordable.

All roads lead to Rome, and (practically) all DIY design comes out of a desire to save on costs. But, as we’ve explained, this can actually end up costing you much more money in the long run. Ad campaigns can perform poorly due to design. Or you may eventually end up hiring a designer only after you’ve wasted countless hours trying to do it yourself.

And yes, some design services are pretty expensive. Luckily, our own solution comes at an affordable fixed monthly rate. Starting from $549, it’s not only the fraction of a cost you’d pay a design agency (or freelancer working on multiple projects). It also means that you can keep costs predictable and under control!

Plus, you can easily pause or cancel anytime. No contracts or hidden fees!

Conclusion

Although giving a DIY design approach a try can sometimes work, it’s by no means a viable long-term solution. Marketers need designs created regularly. Without proper skills and knowledge, you’ll end up with graphics that require lots of revisions and often don’t perform well.

There’s no need to waste time vetting freelancers or spend thousands of dollars on a design agency. ManyPixels can provide you with fast, affordable, and quality graphics that you can use for a range of marketing purposes!

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Danica Popovic

March 16, 2022

Having lived and studied in London and Berlin, I'm back in native Serbia, working remotely and writing short stories and plays in my free time. With previous experience in the nonprofit sector, I'm currently writing about the universal language of good graphic design. I make mix CDs and my playlists are almost exclusively 1960s.