Encourage Engagement with Low-Cost Design Tools


Beautiful stock graphics. Lifestyle shots. Branded images. The list goes on. (Can you hear the ka-ching!?)

Starting up a business is hard, and can get expensive. When you see all the work that others put into their social media feeds and their websites, it’s easy to get discouraged. Trust me, I know!

But the thing is, it doesn’t have to cost a ton of money up-front to build a beautiful website or to have a branded Instagram feed.

Yes, you’re likely going to spend a little cash, but there’s no reason to break the bank.

Here, I show you some of my favorite low-cost design tools that you can use to build up your visual brand. You can use these tools to get started and hire a professional designer or branding specialist when you have a few clients (and bucks) in your pocket.

Moodboards in Pinterest


Get your ideas down on cyber-paper with a Pinterest moodboard. This is the perfect place to gather your thoughts and collect your favorite images and colors before you make a big rebranding decision in your business. There are templates available, or simply pin away!

Then hang onto this board to use as inspiration when you’re ready to create images and pull together your website. Having a visual aid on hand will help ensure you stick to the same mood, or brand, throughout all your visuals.

InDesign Template

If you’re new to creating brochures and other collateral materials, InDesign templates can get you started with a small learning curve. The templates work with Adobe InDeisgn and you can customize the layout, fonts and color on both free and paid templates.



Canva is a great way to design social posts and other styled graphics, without hiring a designer or buying expensive images. And, even better, it’s very user-friendly. The free version allows you create custom graphics, resize them for different purposes and add your own images and fonts. With the paid version, you have added options that include additional team members, templates and branding options. I show you exactly how to take advantage of some of the best features.


Styled Stock Subscriptions

With a styled stock subscription, you receive a handful (or more) of photos that speak to your brand. The right colors, the right mood, the right images. Then, you can use those photos to create graphics for your blog posts, website and social media posts.

There are tons of options for styled stock photos. Many photographers will do commissioned photos and large subscriptions sites offer both monthly and annual deals. A word of caution about stock photos: Keep in mind that these are stock, which means that they’re available to other online business owners. Though these are a low-cost alternative to your own custom photos, keep in mind that you may see these pop up on someone else’s website too!


Angie Makes

If you’re looking for premade, feminine graphics or premade logos, Angie Makes is an inexpensive option. You can choose from a growing collection of blog kits, beautiful clip art and even template WordPress themes to go with your brand. Again, just know that because these are stock images and WordPress themes, you should make it a point to customize them and truly make them yours so you stand out from the crowd!

Remember that what you’re seeing online is the highlight reel of people’s lives and businesses. You don’t know what it took that business owner to get where she is today and you certainly don’t know what her financial investment was. It’s okay to take it slow and work with free and low-cost options as you build your business. I’ve found that a bonus to waiting to invest in professional graphics and images is that you take the time to really figure out what you want first, which saves you money down the road.

What is your favorite tool?

Jean Coelho