8 Free graphics & productivity tools for freelancers, nonprofits, and small businesses
There are a lot of very cool, very FREE tools out there that your team can use every week to improve productivity, achieve better communication, and accomplish small tasks like adding enhanced graphics to your presentations and other documents.
Video conferencing has become the way of the world. But who hasn’t had that meeting where everything just goes wrong with the vid chat? It’s embarrassing, disruptive, and a total productivity killer. Layer on top of that the security concerns with services like Zoom and you have to be extra-careful what you use. We prefer a little tool called Jitsi Meet, which offers a fully secure, open source environment for video conferencing.
Alternative to: Skype, GoToMeeting, WebEx, Zoom, Facebook Messenger
Freedcamp is everything you need in a project management tool. This little system is so well-designed, clear, and easy to use that even the least technological among us can get up and running in no time. Create milestones and tasks, upload files and collaborate on documents, and pass messages among project team members, all from a secure online program. Freelancers can use the white label feature to look even more professional. Plus, they have a handy mobile app, so even those on the go can stay on top of the project. So many features here, you must visit the website to check it out.
Alternative to: Basecamp, Jira
Google Docs & Sheets
One of my biggest pet peeves is editing documents by passing them over email. You never know if you’re looking at the best version. We prefer Google Docs and Google Sheets for document collaboration. They mimic Microsoft products closely enough that they’re easy for even the least tech-savvy in the crowd, and the commenting and editing / suggestions features make communicating your thoughts a breeze. One drawback is if the person’s Google account isn’t tied to their work email, the messages assigned to them will go to a personal Gmail account, but add your work email as an alternate to your Google account to bypass this.
Alternative to: Emailing documents back and forth
Especially useful for those of you who have blogs and are constantly searching for images, check out Unsplash. We all know that you can’t necessarily trust that images from Google aren’t copyright protected (most are, by the way). You can download royalty-free photos from photographers around the web. Another great site for this is pixabay.com.
Alternative to: Stealing images illegally
You know those sweet-looking graphics that people use in their presentations to illustrate data? These are called infographics and they’re a great way to engage a visually driven audience. This cool little tool allows you to make your own infographics to include in your work.
Simple alternative to: Illustrator
Just need a little image fix, such as cropping or resizing? Or want to add a quick filter? This little online photo editor is just what we suggest for these kinds of tasks. You can change the size, crop, tweak the colors and levels, and save it back to your computer for use in your project.
Simple alternative to: Photoshop
Want a lot of the functionality of Photoshop in a web-based freebie? Check out Pixlr. It’s an online photo editor with tons of features, all for free. While we don’t use it here at the 816 New York shop (unfortunately, we have to shell out the ridiculous fees for Adobe), we do recommend it to clients who occasionally want to play with photos in-house.
Alternative to: Photoshop
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of Canva. Since its inception, it has made DIY graphic design accessible for millions of people. It’s a great alternative for those on a tight budget who need templates for social media graphics, infographics (though we like Infogr.am better for these), header and email marketing art, and the like. While the export options are limited and we don’t love the color palette structure especially on graph elements, it’s a useful tool.
Alternative to: Illustrator / Photoshop