Having just started my second year in the Creative Communication program at Red River College, I will be blogging more frequently so watch out for exciting new posts each week! One of my first classes was a freelance business management course where we were deciphering the differences between entrepreneurs, contractors, freelancers, being self-employed and a whole collection of other business terms. Having written this post for my web development firm Delvos Designs over the summer I thought it would be prudent to post it here as well. If you have any resources you think should be added to the list just drop a link in the comment area and you’ll make me a happy blogger and I’d love to hear what you have to say.
Though this post is tailored for freelancers and start-up businesses, the tips here can benefit any companies who are new to the web, going through a rebranding, or just trying to increase their online presence. The resources listed here can help your business create better layouts for your print materials, more exciting intro videos, easy-to-use and professional looking presentations and even secure online storage. Given the competitive nature of the modern online world, understanding and taking advantage of all the tools available at your disposal is no longer simply strategic, but necessary. These are just a few of the tools that will allow you and your business to not only compare to, but surpass the competition.
1. Free PSD Files
If you’re trying to establish your presence online, but worried about a lack of graphic design expertise, Free PSD Files has you covered. They offer templates and designs for Photoshop, covering anything and everything that would regularly cause a start-up business to require a graphic designer. Need an email marketing template? Business card? Logo? FPF has all that and more, including exceptional themes, backgrounds, site templates, mock-ups, restaurant menu templates and a whole array of other downloads.
If you’re building your own website, this site is chock-full of free handy graphics of all sorts that are extremely useful for the web developer lacking a background in graphic design, or even simply lacking the time to design every icon or graphic from scratch.
2. Free AE Templates
Whether you’re making a video that introduces your business or just showcases the services that you offer, Adobe After Effects will likely be the program you use. There are a lot of premium templates out there as well but you’ll be amazed by how many professional and impressive templates can be accessed for free. FreeAETemplates.com collects some of the best templates out there and organizes them by category for your convenience. This means less time scavenging the web for the right fit and more time concentrating on business itself.
Watch in 1080p for full effect.
3. Cloud Storage
Depending on what type of business you have, storing your files in the “cloud” has serious benefits. Many of the services are free and allow you to access your files from anywhere with internet access, with complete and secure control over which employees are granted access to the files. Google Drive gives you 15gb free, Dropbox starts you at 2gb and gives you an extra gb for each referral (up to 18gb total), and SkyDrive from Microsoft can offer you another 7gb for free. Plus if you’re concerned at all about this latest NSA looking into people’s metadata, there’s always Mega which gives you 50gb for free and promises complete privacy.
Writing business plans certainly isn’t everyone’s forte. If you don’t have a background in finance or business, Enloop can really help you out. Enloop will help you write out your business plan, forecasting for the future and identifying weaknesses. After, they will carefully explain and walk you through the various options and strategies for diminishing, eliminating and even preventing similar mistakes. When it comes to testing theories and the feasibility of a business model, there are few resources as robust and affordable as Enloop – which is available for free.
Prezi is like a more dynamic PowerPoint, a free and comprehensive program for creating presentations. Despite all the development and innovation of the last decade, PowerPoint remains the dominant form of slideshow when having a staff meeting or presenting a project to a client, largely because it’s seen as the default. However, Prezi is incredibly user-friendly and easy to learn, and will make your presentations look far more professional and dynamic. A good presentation will always be engaging and interactive, in order to draw eyes and attention – especially to potential clients. Prezi allows you to do this for free from their website, by giving you access to all sorts of easy-to-use tools including impressive animations and other interactive elements.