How to Build Your first Ad Without Design Skills



One of the first things you will need to do as a Startup to test your idea, is to attract visitors to your website and test the conversion rates of signups and free or paid customers. And at some point you will need to create ads for that purpose. Let’s have a look at how you can create your first ad, without having any design or copywriting skills.

A successful online ad, e.g, at facebook, must have the following elements:

1. The right dimensions

2. A great visual design

3. Effective language

Let’s start and create a sample ad, using the above elements. We will use a fictional startup, called , which provides travel guides on mobile devices.

A. The right dimensions

We want the ad to appear in the desktop feed of the facebook users. So, according to the infographic here, the right dimensions should be 1200×628 pixels, with a ration of height to width of 1,91:1. There cannot be more than 20% text on the facebook ad, meaning, you cannot have .e.g half of the picture covered with a marketing message.

B. The visual design

We will first try to find a photo that has free rights for commercial use. In this post here, you will find at least 10 different free stock photo services and there are certainly more. You can also use after understanding the appropriate use of the licenses. For our example, we visit and I will be looking for a photo of a person, or a place, or something interesting that would make me want to click on it. I choose the following one, as I am thinking that I can combine it with a text such as “Looking for the best info?”:



Now, we will need to edit the photo. I am not a photoshop expert, so I will find a free online tool to do the editing. I will use So, I am uploading it there.



I want to make it a little bit more interesting for the targeted audience which is young people. There is a trend for lomo and vintage-like fotos, so I choose “Effects” and apply a “Lomo” effect, which makes it look like that:



Now, I want to help my text have some contrast with the photo, so I choose the “Tilt-Shift” effect and blur the upper and down part of the photo:



Next, I add some text. Don’t worry about the actual text for the moment. We will use “Looking for Great Travel Information?”. I choose the “Text” tool, write the text, position it on top of the upper blurred part and choose the white color. Then I choose a typography that I like – which is “Bauhaus” in our case, as it seems to be a little bit “retro-like” an inline with the overall feeling of the photo. The result is now the following:



I also want to put the name of the website. But I don’t feel comfortable on what is the best color combination. I go to and get an idea of what are the best color palettes for green. I see that Spring Bloom, has green as a base color and then yellow, orange and white. Good thing. My background is green, my text is white, so I am going to use an orange color for the name of the website. You can go into much detail and find the exact RGB of your picture and the recommended colors but let’s keep it simple.




So, I write the name of the website in orange and the result is like this:



I am pretty happy with the overall design, so I am moving into the next step.


3. Effective Language

Now let’s find what should be the best message to have on the picture and on the facebook ad description (the text that appears before the photo) , which allows 90 characters. This is called “copywriting” and although it sounds easy, it is kind of a new science. You can find here a list from Kissmetrics, with 75 resources for effective copywriting, just to get an idea. For the text of the picture, I am thinking about the words.. “Looking” seems to be compatible with the message of the picture. “Travel” is essential as I want people who like traveling to have a look at it. I am not so sure about “information”. It seems boring. So, I check some popular travel sites and I see that “tips” and “guides” are much more often used. My startup provides guides, which is more concrete than just “tips”, however I choose to get both words in the text, as my audience seems to be interested in both.



I also notice don’t have a concrete CTA (call to action) in my photo. What do I ask from the people who see the ad to act on? To make this better,  I can put a “click-here” somewhere on the photo, or just put it in the text of the ad. Now that I am thinking of it, people don’t need to know the name of my startup. They will probably not remember it in the future. I just need them to click on the picture, so I change the text to “click here” or something similar.To make the “click here” a little bit more interesting, I choose the “Bario” typography and rotate the text.


Now, the only thing missing is the 90 characters description that will appear above the facebook ad. There are many techniques to write it and one of the most effective is to be clear and simple towards your target audience, describing the reason they should do an action. When trying to write a nice ad headline, it would be helpful to take under consideration the following:

1) Write about the USP of the Product or Service:  What is your Unique Selling Proposition? What makes you different from the competitors? (in our case it is the ease to use the guides on mobile)

2) How Can your Product Make your Customer’s Life better?: In our case it is the value of information provided that will help the customer save time and money and have more fun.

3) Include a Call to Action: A “call to action” is what you want your audience to do when they see the ad. Click somewhere? Type a web address? Subscribe to a service? Learn more?

4) Do Not Include the Company’s Name in the Main Ad: Your audience doesn’t know about your startup and cares only about the value you can provide. Moreover, the name of your brand will appear from FB below the ad. Don’t lose more space with putting your name on the ad. It is better to put there a Call To Action.

5) Be Creative: People are getting tired from seeing ads all the time. You have to be creative in how you use photos, texts and other elements to make it more interesting for them to follow your CTA.


To keep it simple, we could write something like: “Planning a trip? Get the best travel guides for your mobile devices now. Click here –>


Next, you can download the foto from You can also use the Snipping Tool of windows to get it in low resolution (write “snipping tool” on the windows search bar and it will appear).

The new version of the ad would be now:


“Planning a trip? Get the best travel guides for your mobile devices now. Click here –>


You can save the photo in different dimensions and experiment on how they look like on facebook. If you keep the suggested dimensions, it should be fine.


Extra Tip: How to Turn Your Ad into an Animated GIF

Have you seen some banners that have an animation? These are called GIFs. Many ad networks accept animated GIFs. If you want to turn your ad into an animated GIF easily, here is what you can do:

1. Go to an online tool such as

2. Upload 3 different versions of your ad: E.g., the first one without text, the second one adding the headline and the third one adding the call to action.



3. Choose the animation speed

4. Press Create Gif animation and download the GIF. If you want to open and preview it, rightclick on it and choose a program (e.g. IE can open them).



That was it! Have fun creating more ads!


  1. Neeraj Kaple says

    Hi Fotis,

    Interesting article . Loved other articles on your blog.

    I have also curated an article on “Free High Resolution Images”. If you find this article informative and think that your readers will enjoy, it might be good fit as additional resource in your blog posts for high quality images

    Here is the article link :

    Anyways keep up the awesome work.

    Please let me know if you have any concern.

    Neeraj Kaple

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