Psst, hey you, yeah you. You’re a freelancer/solopreneur, aren’t you? How can I tell? Er, don’t take this the wrong way but you look a little stressed — like there’s so much to do, but so little time to do it.
Wouldn’t it be just the best if there were free design resources and digital tools to streamline work processes, thus saving you time AND money? *insert ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ from Handel’s Messiah here.*
OK, I’ll share some trade secrets if you promise to keep them just between us. We don’t want the entire internet to find out or anything.
Design Resources 101
All design resource recommendations are from Design Bundles because they offer something for every type of freelancer/solopreneur all in one place. From general marketing materials for any business owner (including writers like me) to specific resources for graphic/website design and developers.
Every design resource is FREE to download, and they are available for personal and commercial use — very cool. The resources come in various file types, making them compatible with popular editing software like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat, InDesign, ProCanva, Monogram Maker, and GIMP. Or even mobile apps like Phonto and Procreate.
Let’s kick things off with the best free design resources.
1. Product Mockups
Product Mockups are perfect for creatives who need to test out their designs before buying bulk merchandise, present product ideas to investors, or boost their portfolio with a new addition.
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You don’t have to spend loads of cash on physical prototypes or props and backdrops for in-real-life photoshoots. Premade mockups will also save you time while editing product photos.
You can try your product ideas out before buying the final ones for your online store or send-off designs to be printed on merchandise for your clients.
Some free product mockups include Christmas ornaments, fast food packaging, beer bottles, gift boxes, headphones, soap bars, mugs, t-shirts, and more. They also have different frame mockups so you can present your artwork and prints online.
2. Digital/Traditional Marketing Materials
Even if you have zero experience, you can present a convincing and professional design by using a premade template. Let’s face it, even the most hardened designer can benefit from a template here and there, especially when meeting tight deadlines.
Whether you need to inject some creative flair into your resume or produce a business flyer STAT, there’s a template to suit your needs. The crucial template elements are fully customizable, so you can change colors and add your logo with ease.
Expect to find FREE templates for business cards, posters, flyers, videos/animations, social media posts/covers, sales brochures, ad banners, and newsletters.
3. Add Ons
Add ons are excellent resources for graphic/web designers, photographers, videographers, and other digital creatives looking to save time. By using an add on you can reduce your editing processes and streamline your workflow.
Add ons come in various shapes and sizes, but some commonly available include specific Lightroom, Procreate, Photoshop, and Illustrator presets. Plus effects, actions, color palettes, video textures, backgrounds, brushes, palettes, and gradients.
An add on will help you to retouch multiple photos, produce stylized videos and portraits, or recreate a particular aesthetic in illustrations and other digital artwork with ease.
You can also use an add on to:
- Create stylized business branding and marketing materials
- Include eye-catching typography in greetings cards
- Find an array of exciting textures for wedding stationery
- Produce compelling websites with a specific theme like vintage or cinematic
The tools recommended are general software/applications that make being a one-man-band way easier. Every tool recommended is something that I have personally used during my time as a freelancer. For context, my freelance experience includes:
- Social media management
- Basic website maintenance/design
- Blog/Article planning and creation
- Contract tenders for funding
- Graphic design
I’m starting with Grammarly because it has consistently been my best buddy in everything freelance. You can use Grammarly’s free version to check your writing for basic spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors.
The Grammarly web browser add-on makes it easy to enable the software in other applications. Think Canva, WordPress, Google Docs, social media platforms/schedulers, emails, etc. Seriously the list is endless, but the premise is the same; flawless social media posts, emails, blogs, client emails, and more.
You can also enable different language settings, and as a UK native who writes in American English, Australian English, and British English in a single day, this feature is invaluable.
As a side note, some years into my freelance journey, I decided to specialize in writing. So I splashed out on the premium plan, and I’ve never looked back. It is the most significant time-saver in my digital tool belt.
5. Google Docs
Google Docs is another old faithful in my freelancing arsenal. I’m typing this up on a Google document right now. *Breaks the fourth wall.*
You can access your files anywhere in the world, providing you find an internet connection, and it saves your work automatically. Remember the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ moment from earlier? It just happened again.
You can download documents in different file types to open in Microsoft Word and as a PDF document, for example. A super helpful feature when sharing with clients who don’t use Google Docs.
You can also share links to your document with either the option for others to preview or make final edits. Perfect for clients who wish to edit/approve upcoming social media posts, blog posts, and business documents.
A Few Final Top Tips
I started my freelance gig as a social media manager. At the time, I had just a few clients because I also had a day job. I used Buffer’s free plan to schedule Instagram/LinkedIn posts while using Facebook’s inbuilt scheduler and Tweetdeck for Twitter. By juggling between scheduling tools, my social media side hustle cost me nothing apart from time.
I also used Canva’s free plan, fantastic for freelancers/solopreneurs without a design background. You can access the software online, and the free version includes professional templates for business documents and social media posts.
On the design resource front, Design Bundles release a free design every week, so it’s worth going back to the website frequently to check out the latest freebies. Also, look out for free graphics, stock photos, and free SVG files for crafting.
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