7 Steps to Create Your Own Social Media Graphics (with 5 Free Image Sites & 5 Free Image Creation Apps!)

We're visual creatures. Branded graphics and infographics are a great way to grab people's attention, share a little about who you are/what you stand for - and reinforce your brand/service.

Clients, potential clients and fans expect us to have a presence on Social Media these days. In fact, instead of exchanging business cards or phone numbers these days many people say "I'll friend you on Facebook" or "Are you on Instagram?" instead.

If we don't have a visible presence on social media we're missing out on a great opportunity to connect with people and to turn them into fans and followers! We also miss out on the opportunity to build relationships with people all over the world. Every social connection could be a potential client at some point in the future and/or they may become a referrer for you ie. recommend you to others.

Social media offers us a way to expand our presence in the world and grow our fans and followers AND it's another way to stay connected with people and remind them that we're there when they need us...

In this article we share 1) 7 Steps to Create Your Own Simple Social Media Graphics, 2) 5 Places You Can Find Royalty Free Images and 3) 5 Free Image Creation/Editing Softwares!

Here are 7 Steps to create your own Simple Social Media Graphics:

Graphic Creation Key Concepts:

  • "Layers" are how most graphic design softwares work. It allows you to, for example, take a graphic, create a "layer" of text to go over it - which you can then move around independently of the image underneath. You can then add your logo as another "layer" and move that around, independently of the text and image "layers" you've created.
  • "Ordering" of the layers. Each layer is given an "order" or priority so that the software knows which layer to put on top/lay over which. Imagine you were creating the graphic physically: You'd have a cutout of a photo you like, a cutout of the text you're using, and a cutout of your logo. You put the text over the top of the image and the logo also sits on top of the image (and not underneath). Your software simply needs to know which one sits over the top of each other. Some softwares will take care of this for you by asking you to add each element in order and then doing this for you.
  • "Transparency". This is whether you want the text, or your logo to have a clear/transparent background - or whether you want it to have white or a different colour behind it.

Graphic Creation Steps:

IMPORTANT: We recommend NOT using a straight internet search as a way to find images for your graphics - EVEN if the search says "free for commercial use". Instead 1) Go to known image websites and 2) Keep a record somewhere of the images you use, the license you used and where you got them from.

Note: These instructions are for creating a square image to make it easy for you to create a similar look & feel across all your graphics - and that work best across all the social media platforms.

  1. Pick a Coaching Question or Quote that you love.
    Tip: Try using a quote from our "549 Powerful Coaching Questions ebook" (free with newsletter sign-up).
  2. Find an image you like* that either:
    a) Reflects the quote or question you've picked
    b) Is beautiful, cute or attractive!
    Tip 1: Be sure you have the appropriate permissions to use the image you choose. One way to do this is to buy from somewhere like Shutterstock or 123rf  which is usually $5-10 an image for standard business use (not reselling).
    Tip 2: Simpler images are often the best. These are easiest for you to work with, and not distracting for your end-reader!
    Tip 3: Look for an image with space to place the words of your quote or coaching question - or with an area you are happy to block out and write over.
    * Below we share 5 places you can find free images.
  3. START WITH YOUR IMAGE: Open the image you've chosen in your image creation software** If your image is not square - crop it (delete the bits you don't want) so that it is.
    Tip 1: If the image doesn't look good square, don't spend hours trying to force it - I've been there and done that! Instead, look for another image which does work.
    **We share 4 Free Image Creation/Editing Softwares below.
  4. ADD YOUR QUOTE/QUESTION: Add a new text "layer" and copy the text of your quote/question into that layer. Note that each graphic editing software will have it's own way to do this - you'll need to learn how/the lingo for whatever software you decide to use.
    Tip 1: Make your font large enough to be easily readable.
    Tip 2: If you're creating a quote, you may wish to create a 3rd text layer just for the author. This way you can style it how you wish (eg. a different font, or size of font), and easily move it independently of the quote itself.
  5. Place the text layer/s where you would like them to sit on the image, making sure the text is large enough to be readable in a social media newsfeed.
  6. ADD YOUR LOGO: Add a new layer. Copy or insert your logo image to this layer. Resize your logo and move it around until you're happy with where it sits on your graphic.
    Tip: Use a logo with a white background so it works over whatever image you use.
  7. You're done! Save your graphic as a .jpg, .png or .gif format (standard graphic formats).
    Tip 1: Give your new graphic a meaningful name and save it to a special folder so you can easily find it again!
    Tip 2: Depending on the physical file size of the graphic you've created, you may need to "save for web" or make the file size smaller (150-300kb is ideal, and I recommend keeping it under under 1Mb).

More Advanced Tips:

  • Your graphics don't have to be square - but this shape is most likely to look good over the largest number of social media platforms. If you choose a rectangular shape, be sure to think carefully about what social media platform/s you use, and what size graphics these platforms like you to create (you may need to create different sized versions of the same graphics). An internet search can help you with this, but bear in mind that what is recommended often isn't what shows up in people's newsfeeds or on different sized devices!
  • Add layers over the "background" image to fade out / colour or brighten certain parts of the image. These effects layers need to impact your background image only - and not affect your text and logo layers.
  • Add "shadows", "glow" or other effect to the text to make it stand out more against the image background.
  • You may wish to create a solid, filled in square or rectangle of colour over the image, for your quote or question to sit on. Do this by 1) Create a new layer. 2) Draw a square or rectangle. 3) Fill it with the colour you wish to use. 4) Finally, this new "box" layer should sit over the top of the main image or "background" and BEHIND your text layer/s. In other words your coaching question or quote layer/s sit over the top of the box layer, which then sits over the top of your main image layer.

5 Places to Find Royalty Free Images for Your Social Media Graphics:

Tips for finding images:

  • Always check the license of the image you wish to use. If you're not sure, don't use it!
  • The easiest image license for you to use is CC0 (Creative Commons Zero) Public Domain - because it's free for commercial use and no attribution is required (which means you don't need to quote the source of the image). However, if you can quote the image source somewhere easily it's good to do so (see at the bottom of this article for example).
  • Many of the free image websites will also offer that you can "buy a coffee" for the person whose image you use. This is entirely optional - and it's probably good karma to do so!
  • If you create an account, most websites allow you to create wishlists, lightboxes, favourite or some other way of keeping a record of images you like, so you can save images and come back later - or favourite a few before making a decision!
  • Watch what you're clicking on! Often the way the free image sites make money is through advertising. They often highlight similar images from paid websites on the same page as free images. Ultimately you may find the perfect image on a paid service like Shutterstock. If the cost is only $5-10 an image, depending how much you believe your time is worth, this may be a great way to go!

5 Royalty-Free, Creative Commons Zero, Image Websites:

The license could change on these websites in the future, so please check the license for yourself before using.

  1. Pixabay.
  2. Unsplash.
  3. Gratisography.
  4. SplitShire.
  5. Pexels.

5 Free Graphic Design Apps to Create Your Own Social Media Graphics:

There are many graphic editing software apps available these days and we list 4 free ones below. Please note that depending on your technical ability you may need to ask someone to help you download the software and/or show you how to use it.

  • Canva
  • PicMonkey
  • Paint.net (more adavanced, AND for Windows based PCs only)
  • Gimp (more advanced, like a free version of Photoshop)
  • Stencil (limited version free - create up to 10 images per month)

This gives you everything you need to create your own social media graphics - enjoy!

And you may also find this helpful: here's how and when to use coaching quotes in your practice (includes 21 of the best quotes about coaching)

If you liked this article on creating your own social media graphics, you may also like:

Emma-Louise Elsey Headshot

Contributing Author:

Emma-Louise Elsey has been coaching since 2003 and is the Founder of The Coaching Tools Company and Fierce Kindness.com. She's passionate about coaching and personal development. Originally a project and relationship manager for Fortune 500 companies she combined her love of coaching, creativity and systems to create over 100 brandable coaching tools, forms and exercises including 30+ completely free coaching tools. She now serves coaches and the coaching world through her exclusive newsletter for coaches, Coaches Helping Coaches Facebook Group and many other great tools for coaches, plus resources and ideas for your coaching toolbox. The Coaching Tools Company is an official ICF Business Solutions Partner.

Learn more about Emma-Louise & see all their articles here >>

Image of Coach designing Social Media Graphics by Startup Stock Photos via Pexels


    • Darlene Reinig

      Great info as always! I absolutely love love love this site. I am just getting my business up and running and have found so many helpful articles and tools here!

  1. Kenn

    Oh, also on #7 above, yes!, getting the file size down small is good move while not sacrificing quality.

    For social media, the platforms (e.g. Facebook) will compress your image (and further reduce its size), so I like our recommendations above.

    But when it comes to your website, remember to get that image file size down even more --> 50k for images within your pages and 150k for those huge heroic images (called hero images) that often fill the screen. Gotta remember to respect mobile data, slower speeds around the world, and don't make visitors wait!

    Btw, good point #4 above, making the text readable over your images.


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