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How to make images for cheap


draw an easy photo

What if you could create all the images you needed for a new business, for free, in under an hour?

That’s what I’m going to try and do for this article, using free tools only. No complicated Photoshop magic or paid apps.

What we’ll cover:

I’m going to pretend that I’m starting a food truck business, selling pizza.

I’ll need:

  • A logo
  • Website header
  • Lead magnet ebook cover
  • Blog post banner images
  • Social media profile images
  • Ebook covers
  • Images for social media
  • Business cards
  • Apparel mock-ups

On the way, I’ll be sharing the web tools I’m using and the example images.

At the end of the article, you’ll get a full list of all the tools I’m using and several alternatives for each.

Main tools

Most of the heavy lifting is going to be done with 4 tools:


Resources: photos and videos (9 minutes)

Tool: Unsplash & Remove.bg

Time: 9 minutes

The better your initial photos are, the easier it is to build around them and create great visuals.

Here are the two photos I chose from Unsplash:

upsplash truck photoGood shot of a simple food truck - it’ll be easy to build around it.

upsplash pizza photoThis picture is simple and made me hungry - another good starting point!

Since I want to use the food truck and pizza pictures as elements in other images, I needed to remove the backgrounds and isolate the truck and the slice.

I used Remove.bg - it’s a one-click tool that automatically removes an image’s background. It’s great for product photography and profile pictures. Here’s what I ended up with:

truck no backgroundNow I can use the truck in other graphics


Pizza no backgroundThis slice will go well on all sorts of images


Pexels for background videos


Even though I didn’t use this one, I wanted to include it

because short videos or GIFs like this can be great backgrounds

for social media posts or website header


Logo (10 minutes)

Tool: Canva

Time: 10 minutes

canva pizza truckCanva has millions of images; odds are it has something for everyone

I chose the simplest drawing because I wanted something that was flexible and easy to build around.

After a few minutes of playing around with colors and fonts, here’s what I came up with:

Dan's Pizza truck logoYour final logo should be easy to read, reflect your brand, and work across a variety of places (your site, marketing  material, social profiles, and a business card

I also checked out Shopify’s logo maker and DesignEvo.

Shopify’s logo maker is the quickest and most user-friendly, but it’s also limited. Once you get used to having thousands of choices, it’s tough to go back. In this case, Shopify didn’t have a truck icon, so I skipped it.

DesignEvo has great templates, but it requires you to do a bunch of extra sharing steps that I didn’t want to bother with. Plus, you’re limited to low-res (300x300 px max) downloads even if you share.

Looking at all three sites and building the red and yellow logo on Canva took 10 minutes.


Website hero section (5 minutes)

Tool: Canva

Time: 5 minutes

dan's pizza webHigh-quality photos + simple design goes a long way

Website headers don’t have to be complicated. As long as they make your business look good and guide the reader to some action you’d like them to take, your job’s done.

I used Canva because it’s got great pre-built templates. This takes a lot of the guesswork out of the equation. If you struggle with a blank canvas, these templates can inspire and spark you into creative action.


Blog post banners (5 minutes)

Tool: Canva

Time: 5 minutes

pizza blog bannerFeatured images and banners make your posts more shareable

People are more likely to click on links with attractive, easy-to-understand featured images.

If you stick with a simple format like the image above, you’ll give your content a cohesive feel and save yourself a lot of creative headaches.

Facebook Covers (3 minutes)

Tool: Canva

Time: 3 minutes

Facebook dans pizza adThis is a prebuilt template with some minor tweaks.

Canva has fantastic templates you can quickly turn into your own thing.

Its real strength, though, is in enabling users to adapt an image to fit across different formats and sizes.

For example, you’d be able to take this Facebook Cover and create the appropriate banners for LinkedIn, Twitter, and pretty much anywhere else, in just a couple of clicks.

Ebook Covers (10 minutes)

Tool: Beacon.by

Time: 10 minutes

Dans-pizza-Ebook-covers.pngThe Beacon dashboard is simple and intuitive.

Beacon is my favorite free ebook and lead magnet maker. You can accomplish similar results with other tools, like Canva and Google Slides, but they’re clunky while Beacon is obviously built for making ebooks.

It has several strong templates and a good drag-and-drop editor, but Beacon’s real strength is in how well you can organize the ebook and share it.

Social Media Posts (4 minutes)

Tool: Canva

Time: 4 minutes

dans pizza social media postInstagram posts are easy to put together, but they’ve got to stand out.

Canva was originally built for social media images, so it’s no surprise that they have great Instagram templates.

If you stick to your brand colors and keep the design pretty simple, you’ll quickly develop a strong visual identity on Instagram.

Business Cards (5 minutes)

Tool: Moo.com

Time: 5 minutes

dans pizza business cards

Nowadays pretty much every major printing company offers a visual editor. I chose Moo.com because they also have attractive templates and some funky design options.

You can either upload an entire design or tweak one of their templates. It’s not a perfect tool, but like Beacon’s ebook maker, it gets the job done.

Plus, if you like the way your design looks on a business card, Moo allows you to mock up other printed materials like brochures and notebooks.

Apparel mockups (3 minutes)

Tool: Zazzle.com

Time: 3 minutes

dans pizza truck tshirt zazzleZazzle’s editing tools are easy, quick, and look pretty cool!

If you’re thinking of ordering physical products with your logo (like t-shirts), it helps a lot to see a mock-up before purchasing.

Zazzle’s editor is great because it’s quick and pretty flexible. You can play around with the size of your image, different colors, and view it on both men and women.

Ready to get started?

In total, this little project took 54 minutes.

I don’t expect (or encourage) you to try and rip through all your business images in an hour, though.

The point I wanted to make in this article is that you can make pretty much any image you need, quickly and easily, using a set of free online tools.

Photoshop is still the best overall image editing platform out there, but it’s also complex and maybe even a little intimidating.

You can also outsource all this work to a freelancer on Fiverr, but it’s always a little bit hit-or-miss.

If you can get a handle on a few of these simple tools, though, you can be in complete control of your visual assets. Plus, it’s pretty cool being able to create whatever you want!


Dan McDermottdan mcdermott

User Feedback

Recommended Comments

Guest JP Moses


Hey, this was a great little walk-through. Really dig the concise step-by-step with zero fluff. I spend way too much time making images for my various blog posts and web pages. Gonna bookmark this and try some of these to shortcut my process. Also, been using pexels and unsplash for a while now, and they're awesome. But remove.bg is a sweet, new one I didn't already know about. :)
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Guest Dan McDermott


Hey JP, glad you found this useful! The landscape is constantly shifting - newer, better, more specialized apps are always coming out. And I definitely agree, once you can nail a consistent process for your images your creative process gets sooo much better (and quicker)!
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