Tools for the Broke

You fall under one of two categories:

Category One: You're working a 9-5 but your checks are tied up in essentials (bills, loan payments, rent) and you can’t invest in yourself the way you want.

OR

Category Two: You're in between jobs and things are super tight. 

I get it.

When I started FIVE12 STUDIO (as CNICOLE Photodesign), I used GIMP, an open source alternative to Photoshop, to edit photos (Adobe didn't offer a subscription service yet and I didn’t see myself paying $600 for Photoshop alone). 

But I was a photographer and needed software to edit photos, so GIMP and I were BFF for a while. Luckily, Adobe started their subscription service and I paid monthly for Photoshop.

If you’re in the position where you need money to grow your business, you need to start working on it...now.

From the gospel of DJ Khaled, “We have to get money. We have no choice. It cost money to eat.”

You can start your business, blog, etc with no money because there are free tools available for you. 

- Google Apps: For the every day user, you have access to Google Docs, which allows you to create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations online for free. You also have Google Drive, which includes 10GB of storage free. 

Upgrade: Google Apps for Work gives you 30GB, offline access to docs, and personalized email (name@domain.com). $5/mo per user.

- Google Fonts: If you want free fonts to use both personal and commercial use, Google Fonts is a great place to start. With an option of 80 fonts, you have plenty of options without praying you didn’t violate some terms and conditions.

- Buffer: If you’re creating content, you need to share it. Buffer allows you to do that, up to 10 posts at a time, for FREE. With a browser app for Chrome, Safari, and Firefox and a mobile app, you can track your queue and refill when necessary.  Upgrade: for $10/month, you can get Buffer Awesome and queue up to 200 posts at a time (including Pinterest!). 

- Asana: Need to project manage your workload and manage your task? Asana is a great place to start. Create to-do lists, set due dates, get reminders, see unicorns. Yep, once you complete a task, select the check mark and a unicorn appears. That’s pretty golden, right? 

- Pixlr: Need to edit photos but can’t spare $10/mo for Photoshop? Pixlr allows you to edit photos online for free. With a similar interface to Photoshop, you can practice your photo editing skills and save your edited work on your hard drive.

- HelloSign:  When sending contracts to clients, HelloSign allows both parties to sign online and download their copy.  Legally binding, both parties can feel safe about the authenticity of their signatures. 

- Waveapp:  Waveapp helps small businesses keep track of their business needs and send invoices, so you don’t have to worry about inputting it in a spreadsheet. 

- Mailchimp: Need a place for those sign-ups to go? Mailchimp has a free plan for users with 2,000 or fewer subscribers. Use this time to build your list, being able to create your own campaign templates or the ones supplied for you. 

Got a little bit of change to spare per month? Here are some great tools that cost you no more than $20 a month:

- Photoshop CC (9.99 mo/tax): One of my favorite tools I believe is an investment whether you’re a designer or not. Using Photoshop to create graphics or photo editing gives you the benefit of working on or offline. Also, you have access to Lightroom (and editing and photo management tool), and Adobe video/photo mobile apps.

- Squarespace (Cover Page $5/mo; Personal account $12/mo): Squarespace cover pages is great for users who have something to  launch soon and want to provide an opt-in. While it’s not a full website, it does allow users to have a sneak peak at what you’re working on.

Ready to launch a full site? For $12/mo you can create your own site with 20 Pages, Galleries, and Blogs with Unlimited Bandwidth and Storage, and 2 Contributors.

- Names.com or Namecheap (10-12/mo for .com domains): the first thing to buy is your domain. Names.com has a happy hour every Thursday at 4PM MST for certain domains, so catch them when you can!

Don’t let lack of money prevent you from starting. Using quality tools to help your business grow doesn’t mean you have to break the bank or take out a loan. Making smart investments and choices can benefit you in the short and long run. 

Until next time,
C

Clarissa Nash

Designer, photographer and writer who's half Daria/half bohemian with a pinch of Beyonce.