Visual marketing is a primary source for customer engagement in the modern age. A necessary component for competing online, visual content is the best way to distinguish yourself from the crowd. The question is, how do you make your content the best when so many others are pushing to do the same thing?

Quality and consistency are key: If you don’t put the work in, and fight to be seen, you won’t be. Marketers understand this, and put in many hours behind the scenes to make magic happen. But having the right visual marketing tools up your sleeve — for image creation and optimization and editing, free-image sources and image monetization — can really help.

Image-creation tools
Canva — A product whose best-known evangelist is marketing legend Guy Kawasaki, Canva is a simple but incredibly effective design tool. Create various styles and types of graphics with a few clicks of your mouse. Best of all, it is free and you don’t have to download anything to use it. This is the best known tool on this list, and one that you have to try for yourself.

PicMonkey — Not well versed in Photoshop? You can get the same effects using PicMonkey, a fantastic online picture-editing software. Edit the photo, touch up the image, add filters, add it to designs or create a collage. You have dozens of features at your fingertips. PicMonkey even has a huge collection of fonts to use, so you can do it all in one place.

Loupe — Shape collages are a great visual tool. With Loupe, you can show off hundreds of images that relate to your brand, campaign or event in a dynamic way. Imagine showing off the photos you took at a recent conference in an interactive heart that allows users to see everything by skimming over it. You can also make cards, or an image-search game. All it takes is a bit of creativity to make this tool really work for you.

DataHero — Thinking of creating a case study or presentation? Don’t forget the visuals! Data is much more enticing if it is being presented in an easily digestible way. People like to see the numbers, not read them. Charts and graphs are the key, and DataHero lets you make them easily. Take your cloud or spreadsheets and convert them into stunning visuals that are fully customizable. You can create and share unlimited charts for free, or take advantage of their premium features.

Evernote Skitch — Everyone has heard of Evernote, the data snippet tool. But not everyone has used some of its additional services, such as the awesome Evernote Skitch. With Skitch, you can annotate and sketch out ideas, points and facts on anything. It connects things visually, and encourages visual forms of communication on an Internet which is becoming increasingly reliant on format. The point is to use fewer words, and instead show what you want to get across.

Optimization and editing tools
JPEGmini — Sometimes you need to shrink an image, but you don’t want to compromise the quality of the original. While graphic designers may be well versed in this skill, laymen won’t be. And, even if they are, they may appreciate a more simple means of doing it. JPEGmini, a service offered by Beamr, condenses your photos into high-quality, smaller versions. You can reduce the size by up to 80 percent without losing visual integrity.

Social Media Resizer — Different social media sites have different image-size requirements. Chasing them down, then editing them in different formats through an editor is incredibly annoying. Social Media Resizer lets you automatically create different sizes for different platforms within minutes. It will seriously cut down on your profile-building time, and let you change all of your accounts with a new image, fast, with no hassle.

Free image sources
IM Creator Free — Need a quick but attractive and functional website or landing page? IM Creator Free will help you create one, using a fluid all-in-one process that doesn’t involve a lot of fuss. Just choose your template, customize, and publish. Check out different categories that best fit your needs. This tool even has a fully branded option with its pro white-label accounts. So, even if you need a professional grade site, IM Creator Free has you covered.

There are many more sources of free images listed here. Also, Webhosting Geeks offers a good tutorial on which images you can use and how to credit them properly.

Bonus: image-monetization strategies
Imonomy — Advertising strategy is a big part of brand awareness, and a key element to a visual marketer’s job. With Imonomy, you can create stylish and effective in-image ads. It has options for both those who have their own images to monetize, and those that need images to use. Imonomy also has an image-recognition program that will run based on your already monetized images in order to find others that may work for you. It is simple and has a huge impact. What more could you ask for?

There are other ways to monetize your images to turn your visual marketing into an extra stream of income. One of the more interesting ones is joining an affiliate program and selling your images as prints. This site seems to offer that option (There’s an option to print your custom image which is where you could bring your visitors to).

Visual marketing tools are a must-have if you want to get through to your target audience, or to grow your brand awareness. These are some of the very best out there on the web, many of them free.

Resources: ExpertOnline360.com