Everyone likes a freebie and with the news this morning that we are potentially heading into one of the worst recessions in history, the concept of getting something genuinely useful for nothing has never seemed more enticing.
With that in mind, I thought I’d spend a few minutes today exploring some of the free tools available for creatives of all persuasions that cost little more than a click.
On an average workday I’ll be typing anywhere between 2,000 and 5,000 words. Often many more. As such, having access to a tool that cuts through the first layer of proofreading for me has always been appreciated. That’s essentially what Grammarly is – a spellchecker for grammar. It’s not perfect but it certainly works as a first pass through. Yes, there is a premium option, but the basic version is still an incredibly powerful and surprisingly deep tool. It won’t get you all the way to a finished piece, but it will at least do some of the heavy lifting and shave precious minutes off your day.
How many times have you been asked to source an image to go with a brief or a piece of content? And how many times have you considered biting the bullet and forking out for a Shutterstock subscription? Unsplash is your answer. It’s not as exhaustive as Shutterstock but the images are all royalty free and the quality is exceptional, given the limitations.
For making quick pitches, this could be a lifesaver. The idea here is you feed Piktochart your information and it builds a colourful infographic for you in seconds. It also includes drag-and-drop functionality for putting the finishing touches on yourself.
The photo editing software with the suspicious name is essentially Photoshop with open-source flexibility. I’ve been using it myself for years and while it’s not quite as immediate as Adobe’s flagship software behemoth it’s actually much deeper once you come to terms with its eccentricities. Yes, it’s never going to offer the compatibility options of its obvious inspiration but it’s completely free!
If your business has a website and you’re not using Google Analytics, then you’re seriously missing a beat. It’s a monumentally powerful tool for tracking site traffic, discovering trends and acting on them. Entire books have been written on Google Analytics so there’s not much else I can add here. But if you’re not using it already you should be by the end of this article.
For those trying to learn 3D graphics and animation, Blender might be the most powerful free tool on the market. It includes tools for modelling, sculpting, rendering, realistic materials, rigging, animation, compositing, video editing, game creation, and simulation. You can even create video games on it. Speaking of which.
Unity is the game engine used by 45% of the world’s game developers and it’s completely free for beginners. So, whether you’re a fledgling game designer or wish to create a piece of gamified content for your next advertising campaign, Unity is a piece of software you can’t afford to not install and at least play around with for an afternoon.
UX and UI design is often something handled by specialists but not all small businesses have the resources to employ a UI specialist. That’s where Figma comes in. Learn everything you ever needed to know about UI and UX design and experiment until you figure it out. There are priced options, of course, but the basics should at least be enough to get you started.
For video editing purposes, while Final Cut Pro is indeed a great piece of kit and you can just about scrape by using iMovie, DaVinci Resolve is an immensely powerful non-linear video editor that’s ideal for beginners. Best of all it’s completely free and there are no watermarks to worry about.
And what kind of business would we be if we didn’t toot our own horn a little? Creativepool is a free to join resource that puts you directly in contact with thousands of creatives and creative businesses. So, whether you’re a freelancer looking for a new client or an agency looking for fresh talent, there’s no better resource on the net. If we say so ourselves.