For those of us who don't have the budget to pay this or that a month for fancy software or to higher a graphic designer, I have rounded up my favorite FREE resources that can give you the look of a professional, without the price tag.
Canva.comI can't suggest Canva enough! It has been my go-to since I first discovered it (byRegina) for creating all my graphics. At least in my opinion, I feel it has really polished up this blog's posts + made them a lot nicer looking + pinnable.
PLUS: you can publish working hyperlinks in pdfs = or a whole ebook even but building the "book" in canva + downloading as a pdf! #SuperEasy.
The best part is how easy it is to use!
TIP: Set your custom fonts/sizes/colors then start adding fonts to your graphics. Continue in the same "project file" of similar looks to keep your consistency by simply copying one canvas to another + adjusting the copy to your new look. I.E. I copy a canvas, delete the image + add my new image + retype any font that needs updating. BAM! new image ready to download w/o guessing if everything is in the same spot/ same size/style fonts, etc.
* service is only free if you don't use their priced elements.
PicMonkeyMy favorite part of PicMonkey is that I can adjust the size of each picture's border when I create collages. This is not a feature on my phone's PhotoGrid app which I have been using for the past few years. The huge + only downside to PicMonkey is that it loads slow (sometimes SUPER slow) on my [5 year old] computer. I do my best to not have more than 3 tabs open at a time in my browser or I get the spinning wheel of death.
PDF CompressorAfter downloading all those beautiful images or a collection of them as a pdf, I found that some files were so large I couldn't upload them to the sites I wanted as such a large file.
Say hello to Chrome's Small PDF. You can simply drag-and-drop a file from your computer right into their drop zone or search for the file to upload. It immediately starts compressing (or converting if that's what you selected) your pdf + you download the smaller file from the same window. No waiting for their server to email you the finished file. Woot Woot!
No only was this process relatively quick, it preserved the beautiful, crisp quality of all my images (from 38mb to 1.35mb)! This alone is the reason I bookmarked this site! It is also how I compress all my digital patterns for selling online.
AveryObviously you have to buy their products, but their templates are great for creating professional-looking branding items.
I use Avery for my business cards, hang tags, and now stickers for take-away bags at Art Shows.
TIP: Save your design to the MyAvery until you have it PERFECT (printing on your stickers/cards/whatever without any problem). Then save the PDF that it is printing from to your computer.
MailChimpI'm sure you've heard of MailChimp by now, but in case you haven't - and because this list wouldn't be complete without it - I highly recommend signing up + getting your email list started. Even if it is only an RSS feed of your blog posts weekly or monthly (guilty - this is my current set up. But I promise to have something more exciting soon!)
My favorite part of MailChimp is how easy it is to build + type my emails in batches (or flesh them out over time) + schedule their sending on future dates. The RSS is a pretty nifty feature as well but I think I need to make it more of an extra perk to my newsletters, not the main focus.
TIP: Design a template in your Brand Style FIRST, then create a New Campaign EACH TIME using your Template so you don't have to go back + adjust your fonts/ sizes/ designs each time. It took me way too long to figure out the difference between the two (blonde day I suppose).
IFTTTI've mentioned this in a few other posts but this little app has basically been my PR department when I'm not actively promoting my own posts/ etsy listings/ tweeting/ pinning/ Facebook posting. The beauty of it is I don't have to copy + paste my content across all social media platforms every time I update one of them.
Since I have only just started using Twitter personally (before it was more of a place holder + receiver for IFTTT recipes), I have recipes in place to tweet what I post on Facebook; or to tweet when I publish a new Instagram image; tweet when I list a new item on Etsy; and tweet when I publish a new blog post.
I also have it set to publish Instagram + blog posts to my Facebook page. This is also how I am able to syndicate my Blogspot posts to Wordpress. Fun, huh?
Here are some of the recipes that I use personally: Knittedhome IFTTT Recipes
TIP: Look at the recipes that are already out there + then tweak one to do exactly what you want so you don't have to start from scratch. Do this for your first few, simple tasks; then you can get daring + create one from scratch to do more complex tasks. Perhaps you even stack recipes so that one starts the chain of events?
What are your experiences with these sites? How do you use them to build your Brand's professionalism? Do you have any others you would recommend? Please paste any links in the comments below.