Pros and cons of widely-adopted, inexpensive solutions on the market
By PATRICIA CREEDON, Guest Blogger
People ask me all the time if I know of any free or low-cost tools they can use to be more creative without breaking the bank. You might be wondering why a professional designer would recommend off-the-shelf creative solutions to clients and prospects instead of hiring my firm to do the work. It’s for the same reason that financial advisors recommend free retirement calculators and Monte Carlo simulators. Doing so gives clients and prospects some exposure to the thought process involved. It also frees up professionals like us from routine, commodity work so we can focus on the higher-level thinking.
Besides, you and your team may have fun learning these tools and unlocking the creative fire that burns within all of us. Keep in mind, none of these are perfect and I tried to reveal a few warts and considerations, but overall they’re very good, sometimes great.
DISCLAIMER: Products and services mentioned below should not be construed as an endorsement.
- PROPOSIFY com
Professional looking proposals for any number of business purposes.
Considerations: Like any predesigned template there are limitations on the editing you can do. You can try it free for 14 days before committing to a low monthly fee.
2. MOO moo.com
A site for online printing your marketing materials. Moo offers high quality papers and templates. You can have several different images on a set of cards.
Considerations: Unless you have a design background, you may have trouble.
3. WISESTAMP wisestamp.com
Free email signature generator that lets you set up one with your photo or logo and social media and web links.
Considerations: It’s not free if you use Mac-mail. Overuse of images can detract from the marketing purpose and clutter up your recipient’s in boxes.
4. CANVA canva.com
This site is for do-it-yourself designers who have the time to try things like designing presentations, business cards, etc. There are lots of design tips on the site as well as in the emails they send frequently. It can save business owners the expense of hiring a professional graphic designer, which is the main draw.
Considerations: Unless you have time and cultivate an understanding of design you may have trouble. It’s no substitute if you want a professional look to your brand. After 30 days there’s a monthly fee for businesses.
5. SQUARESPACE squarespace.com
Offers a free trial to create your own website based on clean, simple templates.
Considerations: Unless you understand design, you may have trouble. After 14 days there’s a small monthly fee.
6. CROWDFIRE crowdfireapp.com
This is a site that helps you find and schedule content, and manage all your social media from one place.
Considerations: It allows just 10 posts per month in the free version.
7. PIXABAY pixabay.com
A site for free stock images that can be used for even commercial purposes.
Considerations: Some images cost money because they are from Shutterstock and it’s not always easy to distinguish between the royalty-free images and the paid images.
8. HOOTSUITE hootsuite.com
This is used for scheduling content across your social networks, plus a lot more features for tracking engagement, content, team collaboration, etc.
Considerations: The user interface is confusing and can be difficult to figure out.
9. SPROUTSOCIAL sproutsocial.com
A social media management tool for businesses.
Considerations: Prices start at $99 per month after a 30 day free trial.
10. ANIMOTO animoto.com
Create videos for free with templates for all different types, like product features and promotions. You can include your own clips or use their stock library. Change type, colors, share it to social media directly, etc. It makes making videos very easy.
Considerations: Animoto places its own branding on your videos in the form of an intrusive watermark unless you upgrade to Professional at $33 or more a month.
I have yet to try all of them out so if you have, please let me know your experience and whether they were helpful! Contact me here—I’d love to connect.