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10 Free (or Cheap) Digital Storytelling Tools

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Why businesses are turning into creative storytellers

The time-honored tradition of creative storytelling has seen a comeback in the world of marketing. Businesses are learning (or rather re-learning) that creative storytelling attracts and engages their customers differently than traditional marketing. Unlike traditional marketing and advertising, creative storytelling engages more than the rational part of the brain. Creative stories engage emotions and memory.

In fact, creative storytelling can engage the entire brain.

This is critical because customers are getting better at avoiding traditional marketing. Use of adblockers, DVR technology, popup blockers and other creative ways to avoid traditional marketing and advertising are on the rise. It’s becoming harder for businesses to tell customers what they should believe. With technology and global competition, it’s also getting more crowded.

Because of these reawakening, there has been a rapid increase of storytelling experts and articles (including DIY Marketers’ conversation with Jed Record (@jedrecord) about the impact of storytelling can have on your business),

These storytelling principles and tips are helpful. At some point, your business has to tell the story. To communicate that story in an engaging way, you’re going to need some resources.

That’s where this list comes in.

Below you’ll find 10 free or cheap) tools that will help transform your words and ideas into a professional-looking graphic or video without paying a Hollywood director or storytelling consultant.

Let’s get started…

Graphic & Static Content Tools

  1. Storify

Storify is a great tool for creating stories using a variety of elements: social media content, Google search results, Tumblr posts, and even Soundcloud results. If you are holding an online event, like a Twitter or Facebook chat, this is a great tool you can use to collect content from that event and share it one place as a single story.

Price: Basic use is free.Contact Spotify for Enterprise level for advanced features

Case Study: College student’s Storify story sets record with 1.5 million views

2. Vizzlo

Vizzlo is designed for professional business storytelling. If you are telling a story to your supervisor, colleagues, or supplies, this site offers a plethora of traditional graphics like Gantt charts, timelines, and pie charts. It also offers non-traditional graphics like hourglass charts, onion charts, road maps, and even charts that look like hamburgers.

Pricing: Free for basic features. Approximately $11-$18 per month.

Examples: Introducing Vizzlo’s new project management charts

3. Infogram offers options to present your story’s message and data in the form of an infographic, chart, or map. Using a simple drag and drop method and the ability to import data from a variety of sources to develop interactive and highly engaging graphics. If you want to create something that will engage with your audience after the story, is one way that you do that.

Pricing: Free for a basic account. $19-67/month for a team account

Examples: Best Examples Library

4. Storyboard That

Storyboard That allows users to use the same tool used by Hollywood creators and comic book creators, storyboards. Like, users drag and drop the elements they want to add and edit. Once complete, users can print the storyboards, embed them on a website, convert them to a PowerPoint, or share them on social media.

An example of a cheesy storyboard I created for the ALWAYS FULL CAPACITY CORN CHIPS STORE.

Pricing: Free for 2 digital storyboards per week, $9.95 and up for monthly

Example: Context/Problem Template

5. Blabberize

Remember that talking mounted fish “Big Mouth Billy Bass“? Well, you can imitate the same concept online. With Blabberize, users add a voice or sound to a static picture or series of pictures. Using Blabberize, businesses who want to make a quick, funny video (like a character) can upload an image, add their own sound or narration, and share it for viewers to enjoy.

Pricing:  Free

ExampleDarth Vader Blabber

Video Content Tools

6. Spark Video

Spark Video, part of the Adobe Express family, allows users to create professional-looking videos within minutes. To create those videos, Spark video users can add images, clips, music, and templates to create their story. For an in-depth tutorial on how this can be done in less than 20 minutes check the tutorial below.

Pricing: Free

Case Study: 9 Ways to Grow Your Business with Adobe Spark

7. YouTube Director

Coming up with an idea for a video is a lot easier than turning that idea into reality. That’s where YouTube Director comes in handy. This iPhone app (and now on-site program) allows you to create videos right from your phone and then guides you through the director’s decisions you ned to make it better.

Need in-person help? YouTube is rolling out a program in select cities where a professional filmmaker will film it for you. You’ll, of course, need to spend more than $150 in advertising to get the service started.

Pricing: App is free. On-site program requires spending at least $150 on Google advertising

Case Study: YouTube Director case studies

8. Animoto

Animoto offers similar features to Adobe Spark, but it is specifically geared toward helping marketers create videos and slideshows quickly. Using the Marketing Video Builder, businesses select and customize pre-selected storyboards to make and publish their videos without the need for a director camera crew, or Hollywood budget.

Pricing: $8-$34 monthly depending on customized features

Case Study: Like A Local Tours

9. Ripl

Sometimes you don’t want to create a full video. With Ripl, you don’t have to. All you have to do is download the app, add video, add animations and/or music, and you’re done. From there, you can share and schedule posts for your customers on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Unlike other tools on the page, this is a tool is geared specifically for small businesses.

Pricing: Free basic version. Professional version at $9.99 per month

Case Study: Parkway Cars

10. Flipgram, Vidstitch, and Other Instagram-Friendly Apps

Flipagram is part of the whole suite of apps, like Ripl, that allows you to create videos, images, and sounds. This also includes VidStitch, an app that allows you to create photo & video collages. If you are interested in reaching a younger audience (Millennials and future generations), this may be the way to go. These sites allow users to create, edit, and combine videos and images in unique ways with a few swipes of the finger.


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