Content is king. It always has been and always will be. Creating engaging, quality content for your audience is the best way to building a passionate and loyal following. The keyword in the previous sentence is “Quality”. Now, not everyone is a professional writer, photographer, videographer or designer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t develop amazing blog posts, vlogs or whatever else tickles your fancy. The Internet is a gold mine for free goodies and this article will cover some of the best going around.
Note: Please check the licensing of each resource you download/use. Although these resources are free you may have to credit the author.
Images are an important part of every digital product and medium. Humans by nature are very visual beings and most of us prefer to let media tell a story rather than reading a lengthy paragraph of text (the irony). It doesn’t matter how well designed or made your product is, if you don’t have high quality images it will seem unpolished and lack professionalism. Below are some of the best FREE stock imagery websites on the Internet.
Icons are a key part of user experience and can enhance the interface of any digital product. They can also work very well in email templates and other marketing material. As a designer, there is nothing sexier than a clean and well-presented icon set. The key to effective icons is they must intuitively communicate to the user and have a consistent look and feel. They must also compliment the rest of your content and design.
Video is a powerful marketing and content tool. Young people now consume more video over the web than through TV. It makes sense for businesses to create engaging video content especially with the popularity of video delivery through YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and SnapChat.
Capturing video can sometimes be challenging due to location and the costs involved. What if you needed to film a quick 10 second clip of Paris? Are you going to pay thousands of dollars to get it? Probably not. Most business and people creating content do not have that sort of money to throw around. The good news is there are a number of places where you can download high quality, professional video of all genres for FREE. You can then use these clips in your videos and save some cash as well.
So, you have created your amazing video but now you need a back track. No worries, there are a number of websites out there that provide FREE music, sound effects and ambient noise. Perfect for a video project or the latest podcast you have recorded.
There are so many FREE applications available that you could potentially run a business (depends on the business) without any software expenditure. Open source software is big business and there is a free alternative to nearly every media creation application out there. Below is a list of some best and ones we use at SevenDev.
DaVinci Resolve – Video Editing
I don’t even know where to start with DaVinci Resolve. It has so much functionality and all for the low cost of zero dollars. The video editing suite does it all from editing, composition, colour grading, audio and media export. This one application does the same job of Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Audition and Adobe Media Encoder. All of which are commercial subscription-based software. That’s a lot of money saved.
Now I can hear you say, “I have never heard of this software, so it can’t be that great”. Well maybe you’re not hanging around the right circles of people. See, DaVinci Resolve is owned by Blackmagic Design, a huge cinema player that produces industry grade hardware and software. They don’t need to market their products like Adobe because people in the film industry know they are good.
There is really too much to list in regard to what DaVinci Resolve can do. I would suggest heading over to their website and read up on the features. You won’t be disappointed.
Visit the DaVinci Resolve website and download your copy: https://www.blackmagicdesign.com/products/davinciresolve/
VidCoder/Handbrake – Video Compression
These pieces of FREE software do one thing and one thing well. Compress video footage to various formats. Before uploading video to the Internet, you want to make sure it’s the smallest file size possible whilst keeping the best video quality. VidCoder (for Windows) and Handbrake (for Mac, Windows, Linux) handles this task exceptional well. They support all the latest formats and resolutions, perfect if you are adding video to your website, YouTube, Vemio or other video sharing service.
VidCoder and Handbrake both have device presets making it very easy to export your videos to your favourite mobile platforms and web services. They also come packaged with modern and highly support codecs.
Open Broadcaster Software – Screen Capture
Here at SevenDev we often need to create video tutorials for our clients. There are plenty of products on the market that do this, but a lot come with sizable price tags. Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) is our weapon of choice when it comes to screen capture as it’s a light weight application that works very well.
It may not come with fancy editing functionality like other platforms, but it does record video from various sources (sources including window captures, images, text, browser windows, webcams, capture cards and more) and support external audio inputs. OBS will allow you to set up an unlimited number of scenes you can switch between seamlessly via custom transitions. Fancy!
If you do require some advanced editing, then import your captured footage into DaVinci Resolve and edit until you have your masterpiece. OBS also supports video streaming to services like Twitch. You can download OBS for Windows, Mac and Linux from the following link: https://obsproject.com/
Figma – User interface Design
In our eyes, Figma is the holy grail of user interface design tools. It is a web-based application that gives designers the power to create pixel perfect interfaces, vectors, wireframes or anything else you could imagine from an interface tool. Being web-based, files are automatically saved and accessible on any internet connected computer. There is no need to install any software (although they do offer a desktop app) as long as your computer has a modern web browser you are ready to design.
Figma has amazing collaboration tools and allows for multiple people to work on a single design at the same time. You can literally see each other’s cursors move around the artboard and drawing elements in real-time. Mind blown! Figma has powerful prototyping tools allowing you to show your clients/teams how your product will operate before having to write any lines of code. Once you have finished creating your work of art you can then easily present your design to anyone using Figma’s share functionality.
Blender – 3D Modelling and Animation
Where do we start with Blender? For quite some time is was the joke of the 3d industry. It has always been a capable application but lacked the refinement and power compared to the other players such as 3ds Max, Maya, Cinema 4d and Lightwave. See, Blender is an open source project and therefore doesn’t have the same financial backing as the other big four. But development has been ongoing and steady and Blender is making ground in a big way.
3d modelling and animation software has traditionally been very expensive, sometimes $3000-$5000 a seat. Companies in the gaming and movie industries were investing large sums of money in software and in return were not getting suitable updates, fixes and new functionality. This has caused a shift in the industry with gaming giants such as Ubisoft, Epic and Unreal all contributing to the Blender Foundation. With support from companies such as those we will soon see Blender taking a larger market share in the 3d space whilst keeping their open source status.
Blender supports the following powerful features on Windows, Mac and Linux:
- Advanced rendering
- Modeling and sculpting
- Animation and rigging
- Grease pencil
- Video editing
- And much more
Google Docs – Document Processing
Microsoft Office is decent software but it also comes with a fairly hefty price tag, especially when you need multiple licenses. This is where Google Docs is a great alternative. Google Docs does most things Microsoft Office can and takes advantage of Google Drive for storage. No matter where you go, as long as you have an internet capable smart device, you can work.
Google Docs is a suite of the following applications
- Docs (Word)
- Sheets (Excel)
- Slides (PowerPoint)
Since Google Docs is an online application it supports powerful collaboration tools. Multiple users can work together on the same document at the same time with real-time editing. You can also annotate your documents and share them with anyone who has an email address. Unlike Microsoft Office, Google Docs autosaves your work every time a change is made and supports revision history.
If you are worried about all your documents currently being in Microsoft Office formats, worry not, as Word, Excel and PowerPoints files can be opened directly in Google Docs.
You can sign up for your FREE personal account here: https://www.google.com.au/docs/about/
Well that completes the list. If you want to create some amazing content and save some money in the process, take advantage of these resources. They won’t instantly make your content amazing (that’s on you) but they will certainly help.