We are all busy, busy looking after our clients & running our business: but there are lots of brilliant tools out there that can make all this business a bit smoother. From Online image editors & apps, paid stock image libraries, font tools, wordpress to productivity tools, listed here are our favorites as well as those that our clients & colleagues love.!
If you have any suggestions, we’d love to hear what helps to keep you from the tedium of admin work & focus on working with your clients, leave as a comment at the bottom of the page & will take a look.
- if you’re after free stock images, check out our ultimate list of FREE image sources but be sure you understand your rights to use the images you download. If you are after wordpress tutorials we have them too!
- some of these links are affiliate links, signified by a ♥. You’ll pay not a cent more if you use these links but using them helps me to add to this list & keep working to improve the content on the site.
ON-LINE IMAGE MAKERS:
Most pros use the adobe suite packages to do their artwork but if you’re not ready to take the leap & spend that sort of dosh (yep, Adobe products are exy) there are a few free or cost effective options.
Adobe Post is a new kid on the block! It’s a fun & fast way for anyone to create social graphics. It’s easy to get started with tons of eye-catching templates that you can tweak in simple steps. Pick a photo, add some text and apply design filters to instantly create stunning designs.
Download the iPhone app ♥ for iPhone
Pablo (by Buffer) is a relatively new kid on the block so it is still in BETA (testing) mode. It specialises in images for social media & has a library of 50,000+ photos & loads of fonts for you to choose from. If you can’t find what you’re looking for you can upload your own images. Don’t have your own image library yet? Use our ultimate list of free image sites to start building your own library of CC0 images.
Unlike many other on-line editors, there’s no need to sign-up or log-in so there’s no excuse not to give it a try & create your own branded social images to make your posts pop.
PicMonkey is an alternate on-line image editing tool. It’s free to use, although you also have the option to sign up for their ‘royale’ package (currently* you can sign up for a 14 day trial for ‘royale’) which removes ads as well as adding many additional filters & tools.
Edit & touch-up your photos, turn them into a collage or design your own images. Don’t have your own images library? No problem … check our our ultimate list of free stock image libraries.
Oh, & did I mention there is an app on its way? The world is your oyster with PicMonkey.
*correct May 5, 2016
Designed in Sydney, Canva has taken the social media image world by storm with it’s easy-to-use drag & drop interface. They offer a library of free templates & images but you can also pay $1 to purchase their premium ones. Although you have to sign-in, it is a free service (unless you use their premium content) or you can pay a monthly subscription to their ‘Work’ environment
Canva is not just for social images, you can also do print files but be sure to save them for print, with printer marks, if you’re sending them off to a print shop.
Oh, and they have an app so you can work on ♥ iPad or iPhone
Pixlr is a free image editor brought to you by autoDesk. It’s a powerful photo editor that lets you quickly crop, rotate & fine-tune any picture. It’s easy & intuitive to use.
Take a look, you’re sure to be impressed!
Get Stencil is designed to help you create beautiful looking images faster than ever before. Even if you’ve never used an image editing program, you can pick Stencil up and use it in seconds.
Desygner is a free online image editor. The platform provides graphical ready-made templates that can be easily tweaked and lets you create remarkable images that you can use for social media posts, banner ads, emails, blogs and websites.
Small business owners, bloggers and advertisers will have a feast using Desygner.
Another platform for graphic design, RelayThat allows bloggers, marketers and content creators to make amazing visuals faster. The program provides templates and themes that can be readily used for social media, websites, banners and ads.
RelayThat boasts of the built-in SEO, tagging and scheduling so messages are given the boost on online search.
Another feature that sets this platform apart is the One Click Resize which promises to resize your graphic for every platform with no additional tweaking required.
Tools for when you need a bit more that on-line editors can give …
Okay, so you’ve found the perfect image but you want to remove the background, Background Burner is an online tool which allows you to upload your image, mark out the area you want to remove & then download your burned image as a .jpg or .png.
SIgn-up for a limited free trial, then decide whether you need a personal, small biz or professional plan.
If you’re anything like me I prefer to own rather than pay monthly subscriptions to tools I use a lot, & yes I remove a lot of backgrounds from images, both stock & my own. Yes, sure, I can use masks & channels in Photoshop but sometimes I just need to do something quickly this is where my secret tool, Photoscissors, comes in.
It is a tiny but super powerful program in fact I used is on the image on my ultimate list of free stock images.
PhotoScape is a fun and easy photo editing software that enables you to fix and enhance photos.
From editing, colour filters, resizing and much more, this FREE app has everything you need to edit and create imagery without the need for a subscription.
Using the description from the website, Stylify Me helps designers quickly gain an overview of the style guide of a site, including colours, fonts, sizing and spacing. This tool allows the designer to research sites efficiently without the need to inspect each element, in order to be aware of current design trends and inform their own design decisions.
Just type in the URL and Stylify Me will generate everything you need to establish branding.
Your choice of fonts & consistency in their use is a crucial part of your branding. Here we list some of our essential font resources…
Wordmark It is one of my favorite time-savers. Choosing the ideal typeface for what you are trying to communicate can be frustrating with the available font browsing interfaces. Wordmark.it helps with your font selection process by quickly displaying previews of any text using the fonts installed on your computer.
You can work in white on black or black on white, change the fonts size, view lowercase, uppercase or sentence case. You can then save your your favorites, print them or share them to get feedback.
This is certainly one worth bookmarking…
my script font
When you want a letter to look like you have written it, why not use your own handwriting? myscriptfont.com is a FREE service which will turn your handwriting into your very own font which you can use just like any other font on your computer.
Simply download their .png or .pdf template, fill it in (making sure you follow the simple instructions, scan it & upload it then choose a name for your font & an output (ttf or oft) click start & in no time you’ll be writing totally personalised letters.
Fonts That Go Together
Finding perfect font combinations is tough but FontsThatGoTogether has a solution. They have searched the internet to find websites which use fonts beautifully.
Scroll through, find a combo you like & underneath the image you will find the font/s used. How clever is that?
Finding the perfect font for your letters, flyers, webpage or logo? 1001 Free Fonts might just have the fonts you need; and just as the name suggests … the fonts are for free. The site can also give you a preview of the texts, one can just type the texts at the Custom Preview box (plus indicate the size and text colour) and you can scroll down and see how the texts will look with the different fonts.
Downloadable fonts are available for Windows and Mac users.
Fount helps you identify web fonts on any site. It’s as simple as adding a bookmark!
Fount will tell you which web font in your font-stack you are actually seeing – not just what is supposed to be seen. It’ll also tell you the font size, weight, and style.
Fount works in Safari, Chrome, Firefox, and IE8+.
An understanding of colour & how it affects people is important when you are branding. Once you’ve decided which colours are going to work for you the challenge is to create a set of colours that work perfectly together. Get it right & your brand will zing – get it wrong & it will fall flat!
There are a few great tools on-line to help you to choose a great colour set or palette.
Color Lisa is a curated list of color palettes based on masterpieces of the worlds greatest artists. Palettes have been created by color obsessed designers, artists, museum curators, and masters of color theory. Palettes are constantly being added to help keep your designs colorful & fresh.
There are a number of colour palette generators on-line where you can play with colour combinations such as Adobe Kuler & Paletton but what if you are totally clueless about working with colour & just want to have combinations handed to you?
Enter Coolers. Although you do have the ability to refine the set palettes you can cycle through lots of combinations by hitting the space bar in the generator browser when you find a shade you like click the lock icon & it will generate palettes based on that colour.. What I particularly like is that each colour is displayed in its hex, hsb, rgb, PMS (pantone) & copic (pens) codes,
It also allows you to colour pick from an uploaded image.
CMYK (Cyan-Magenta-Yellow-blacK) Color Codes
WordPress powers 23% of websites in the world (that’s about 60 million!) It’s a free open source content management system (it’s content is dynamic).
We’ve come across a number of plug-ins & themes we use & love …
DIVI♥ by Elegant Themes is a user friendly drag & drop advanced website builder tool. There are lots of tutorial videos for beginners & the support is brilliant.
It is fully compatible with woo-commerce, great for on-line stores & it interacts beautifully with a number of membership plugins. In fact this site is built with it!
So you’ve been frantically getting your articles written on your wordpress site. You’ve go some brilliant content & now you want to offer them as opt-ins. Great idea, but what a lot of work to transform them into a .pdf file or eBook.
Not with Beacon! Using their wordpress plug-in, choose the posts you want to use, customise the book colours & fonts & save – all in 90 seconds. Well, that’s what they promote, the book I made took several hours to perfect but that’s because I’m perdantic!
There’s a free version which allows you unlimited publishing using the wordpress or hubspot plugins to create pdf or web books. If you want to remove the beacon branding you need to upgrade to a paid plan which start at $9pm USD*.
*correct May 6, 2016
While the internet changed the way we do business for ever, social media & blogs have changed the way we market. It’s put small business in an equal playing field with the high end!
But how on earth do we manage to get all this social & content marketing while trying to run our business? Beside the fact that writing & posting is not our area of expertise?
Here are some tools which might help…
If you struggle with writing the Hemingway online editor could just end up being your godsend. It’s a FREE browser based editor which allows you to write with power and clarity by highlighting adverbs, passive voice, and dull, complicated words.
It colour codes suggestions to improve your copy
- yellow means a sentence is hard to read
- orange is a really hard sentence to read
- fushia notes a phrase which has a simple alternative
- blue highlights an adverb which should be removed & green notes the use of a passive voice
If you want a desktop version you can purchase Mac or windows versions
answer the public
Sorting out your keywords is the first step you need to consider when creating content.
answerthepublic.com is one of my favorite sites useful for any marketing team, creatives, PR, content or SEO.. Type in your core word & recieve a highly visual, aggregated view of data drawn from user searches, basically giving you an overview of what your customers are searching for.
Watch the entertaining video & give it a shot – you’ll be addicted in not time at all.
Free Design Resources (FDR)
Subtle Background Patterns
General Link List
How To Build A Course has a listing of tools & sites you might find handy if you’re starting out in course building. It has links on Lead Generation | Email | Learning Management Systems (LMS) | Social Media | Printing | Content Managment, Themes, and Widgets | Free Stock Photo Sites | Graphics and Video Software | Video Pros | Royalty Free Music (Free) | Royalty Free Music (Free) | File Sharing | etc etc etc
TO DO LISTS:
If you re anything like me you need organising … there are a plethora of to do apps on the market. Here are some of my favorites.
Google Keep is my current favorite. You can add notes, lists, photos & audio notes (it’s transcription is brilliant). You can colour code, tag & archive your notes. Mind you I would love to be able to format my notes – bold words in particular – perhaps google fill find this article & put my idea on their wants note.
Oh, did I mention it’s FREE? All you need is a google account & you’re well on your way to keeping all your notes in one place.
OneNote is a great tool for note taking on the run! You can use a stylus or just your fingertip to write down notes and have them converted to text. You can even search the web and take snapshots and draw free form with colour!
Evernote is a great tool to help you remember things on the run, wherever inspiration strikes!
You have the ability to create projects, to-do lists, create handwritten notes and even snap photos. The system is available anywhere and can be synced to all devices. The best thing is that you can search for anything you have saved, even those hand written notes that may be way back and Evernote will find it for you!
A classic struggle for new businesses is time-management. The good news is that there are lots of free online apps you can use to help, most of which have advance options you can subscribe to as you grow. The trick is list what you need now & what you think you will need in the future then try them all & see which one works for you.
Trello ♥ is a free, flexible, and visual way to organize anything with anyone. ♥
Taskworld packs visual task management, team messaging & project planning into one robust app. Work Smarter Together.
STOCK IMAGES: the big boys
Here we list the big boys in town (read as the ones the pros use) … Many of these guys operate under a number of names like Fotolia who own 3 or 4 image banks so, if you need a lot of high quality images, it’s best to do your due diligence before purchasing a subscription.
The upside of going with the big boys is that their images are not over-saturated in the marketplace!
Which ever image bank you choose, make sure you read their licensing permissions before purchasing.
iStock: is owned by Getty Images, promoting itself as “the web’s original resource for crowd sourced royalty-free stock images, media and design elements, offering millions of hand-picked photos, illustrations, videos and audio tracks. A site “by creatives, for creatives.”
You can join iStock to get for free stock files every week to build up your personal image bank.
STOCK IMAGES: paid
Depending on what style you require & how many you need & how often, there is a stock image library which will suit everyone. Think about your branding & do your research before buying in.
THE 99club ♥: is a fairly new kid on the block (owned by ingImage ♥) so at the moment it has a super special deal*. They offer a subscription of $99USD pa which entitles you to download 200 images through out your year. Need more? No problem, further downloads will cost you 99c each. This might be a good option for those whose membership to the Dollar Photo Club has expired.
*correct May 4, 2016
StockUnlimited ♥ has a stock library of 600k+ visuals for Business & professionals. When I first signed up they mainly had vector images but they’ve recently started adding photos so it is much better value for money. Downloads are categorised into Animals/Wildlife | Banners | Beauty/Fashion | Buildings/Landmarks | Business/Finance | Celebration | Environment & Floral. Or of course you can just search all images.
You can sign-up for a months unlimited access, 12 months access or the best option is a lifetime plan @$89USD*. If you use a lot of social media images this is a good way to go.
* correct May 3, 2016
ingImage ♥ gives you access a bank of over 3,000,000 high quality images as well as HD video. This is a popular bank with designers but it does have a hefty annual fee.
Your subscription allows you to download X number of images per week or month – use it or loose it so if you do sign up, put a reminder in your diary when your downloads run out.
GRAPHIC STOCK ♥: I’ve had a yearly subscription with these guys for years, in fact it was one of the first libraries I subscribed to. If you use my link you’ll get unlimited downloads $99USD.
*current May 6, 2016
i23rf ♥: These guys boast over 48M stock images, vectors, video footage & audio clips. They have a couple of different ways you can purchase…
ON DEMAND: no daily limit | standard images | editorial images | vectors | TIFF | footage & audio or
SUBSCRIPTION PLANS: standard images | editorial images & vectors.
If you only need the occasion images on demand may be the go for you.
GL Stock images
GraphicLeftOvers: is a marketplace for creative royalty-free stock photos and vector illustrations. GL Stock Images made its debut as Graphic Leftovers in early 2008 with a modest 200 images and has since grown to become one of the best collections of high quality vectors & images on the web.
Make a deposit (min $20USD) so you can download as needed or purchase one-off images by paypal.
Photodune: Part of the Envato Market, a creative eco-system with over 35,000 designers, photographers and developers building all the assets you need for your projects. Every kind of stock photo for all kinds of projects, PhotoDune’s library is huge! Whatever kind of images you need, you’ll find plenty in the collection. Pay as you go, royalty free stock from $2.
You Can Book Me
If you need a booking software which integrates seamlessly with your google or iCloud calendar You Can Book Me is a good one to try. Clients can see your availability & book a time to meet you how ever you choose. My clients can choose to meet me at my office, skype or for me to call them back. They will recieve a conformation by email which also has a link if they need to change times or cancel.
The free version has limited ability for customisation but you can add your logo & brand colours. It has a “powered for free link” back to YouCanBookMe. If you want greater functionality they offer pretty cost effective monthly plans.
Check out how it works.
These are fave tools that I haven’t categorised yet …
Xtensio Toolbox for start-ups
Have I Been Pwned? (or hacked)
Run by security expert, Troy Hunt, Have I Been Pwned? is a website used solely to check if an internet user has been a victim of data breach – if they were pawned or hacked.
One just have to enter their email address and the site will notify if their account has been breached or compromised in any way.
With social media videos becoming increasingly important in your social media marketing mix you need a simple, cost-effective, way to edit your fabulous videos.
I recently discover the Filmora video editor made by Wondershare. I must admit I can use the high end programs like Final Cut & Adobes Premier but, let’s face it, they are expensive & complex to use. This is so easy, the interface is yummy & it has titles & templates to die for.
You can download it for PC or Mac but there is also an app for the iPhone although that is probably better for personal use rather than business.
Swipe-Worthy is a handy tool for Profitable Marketing Inspiration & Analysis. This is the place for copywriters & marketing minds to dissect & discuss great marketing examples.
Need some inspiration? Check it out!
Grab your readers attention with this list of 822 Emoji for your Newsletter Subject Lines
I found Loom ♥ recently and it is absolutely fantastic! A super easy video tool to help you show exactly what you need, when you need it!
Faster than typing, save time every day with quick videos for free. The ultra-flexible communication tool with endless use cases.
Loom ♥ is essentially taking a video screen shot of what you are working on to be able to show your team mates, co workers or staff. This is a super handy tool to help your team visualise the tasks at hand and it is 100% FREE!
Icecream Screen Recorder
Icecream Screen Recorder is a tool that enables you to capture any area of your screen either as a screenshot or a video file. The intuitive and easy-to-use software offers a complete suite of tools and options for professional screen capture with audio.
Capture screen, create screencasts, video instructions, website and software video reviews and record games in window- or full-screen modes.
A great tool for handy recording, available in a FREE version and an upgraded version, great for commercial use, for only $29.95.
PDFescape is a free, online PDF reader, editor, form filler, & form designer.
A new way to open and edit PDF files online, PDFescape frees users from the typical software requirements for using the de facto document file format. Completely online, PDFescape requires no more than a modern internet browser and an active internet connection.
A great online or desktop PDF editor tool, available in a FREE version and an upgraded version, for only $5.99 a month for the full version.
Themecheck.org is a quick service that lets you verify WordPress themes for security and code quality.
Website owners can check the themes you find or buy before installing them on your site, helping check code quality and presence of malware. Are you a developer? Themecheck.org helps you verify the themes you create satisfy WordPress standards and common users needs. You can also share your verification score on your site with ThemeCheck.org widget.
This service is free and compatible with Joomla templates.
PLEASE NOTE: all information & prices were correct at the time of writing. Although we try to ensure all our information is correct, things change quickly on the internet so please do your own due diligence prior to making financial commitments.
Should you find any errors, please let us know so we can correct them. Thanks