We’ve all seen them – website after website sharing the same stock images over and over again.

Why do they do it? Because it’s easy. Because they don’t care. Because they don’t think it matters. Because someone built the site for them and that’s what they use… There are tonnes of different reasons.

But, here’s the thing – it doesn’t tell your clients who YOU are. It just sells them the same clichéd image of your business that they see everywhere else. If I mention an IT company or a complementary therapist I bet you can already picture the types of stock images that might appear for these?! It’s not that I’m asking you to use images that don’t fit with your profession, but simply to use images that show how YOU work in your profession.

In my opinion, all great website design uses original images and design – from using your own photos and having a professional logo, to having your own colour scheme and fonts. It’s called branding and it’s an important part of running a business. You can employ people to do this for you and I would really recommend it, but when you are starting out it can feel like just another cost you can’t justify.

GraphicsWebsiteSo, what’s the alternative? Do it yourself… I know, I know. I can hear graphic designers yelling at me from here – please read the previous paragraph where I recommend people using designers – I love you guys!

But here’s the thing. There are some pretty cool things you can do with your own photos and your own graphics FOR FREE. If you are in any way creative then you can save yourself a load of moolah by doing it yourself – at least to begin with.

So, here are three simple-but-amazing free online tools that you can use to optimize, modify and create graphics for your website…

#1.  Image Optimizer

The clue is in the name… what else can I say. It’s the simplest of tools to use and allows you to reduce the size, and therefore the file size, of any image you have before you upload it to your website. You can find it here: www.imageoptimizer.net and follow the instructions online or download a copy to your PC to use whenever you want.

#2.  PicMonkey

I love this website. You can sign up if you want to use all of the features, but for simply cropping and resizing images it’s free to use. Simply click the ‘Edit’ link at the top of the screen when you go to www.picmonkey.com and you’re away. You can also add some text and effects to your image using the free version and I use it to crop parts of larger images or to save images for social media.

#3.  Canva

This is my favourite free tool and I must admit that I am ever so slightly obsessed with it. It’s not an optimizer so you’ll need to have your photos ready first, but you can create all sorts of graphics for websites and social media here – including website headers (like this one I made for a client). You just select one of the pre-made sizes or enter your own dimensions and you’re away. It’s so simple to create graphics using your own photos (you can upload these for free), text and icons – most of which are free. You get your own account and can save all of your designs there as well as sharing them with the Canva community if you wish. Just head over to www.canva.com to check it out.

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So, there you have it. Three free tools to help you make the most of your own photos and really make your website your own. Oh, and if you need some help, you know where I am – and I know some pretty cool graphic designers and photographers who can help you take the next step if you’re ready for that too.

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