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6 FREE Resources You Should Be Using

March 3, 2011

Freelancing has made me a very resourceful person, scouring the web for deals in order to save on overhead. I’ve discovered that there is a lot more problem-solving involved in working for/by yourself, than in working with corporate clients who have much larger budgets. Through the years I’ve discovered a few resources that I go back to time and again. They are tride-and-true, and I hope you’ll find them as useful as I do.
Great for personal projects like wedding invites, personalized baby announcements, blog headers, etc. Make sure you read the fine-print with each font you look at — some allow for personal use, some for commercial use, and others are very specific and strict. You’ll find everything from fun dingbats, tech fonts, script fronts, “groovy” fonts, etc. Changing up the font from Helvetica, Franklin Gothic and the other usual suspects really adds a POW to the final product.
Have you ever really loved something from a magazine, website, or book and just can’t figure out what font they used? Find out what it is by simply scanning the piece or pulling the jpg from the web, and loading it onto the whatthefont page. The site will tell you what font was used, and often will give you a bunch of great suggestions for alternative fonts that are similar. I use this a lot for logos when a company is using outlines/curves for a font and no longer has the original files (or any idea of what the font is!) Makes me look like a genius every time.
Katie O’Brien pointed me towards this site through a post she wrote on designing a friend’s wedding invitation. It is a great way to become inspired by a million different color boards. You can favorite/bookmark users and particular combinations you like, or create your own. Whether you work in print or web, are planning a big event, or getting your next craft project started, this page can be a huge asset. It also helps me move out of my comfort zone of tranquil and cool colors, into more bold and fun combinations.
A safe way to securely share files and sync up multiple computers. I often find myself working late-night at home, and finding I’ve left some big files on my work computer that I can’t access. Instead of transferring files back and forth on a thumb drive or CD, I’ll just throw them into my dropbox folder on my work computer, and they’ll show up in my dropbox folder at home. So much less hassle, and I don’t have to worry about the dropbox folder being damaged because I’ve dropped it, getting wet from the rain, or getting scratched in my purse.
Whether I’m sending a bunch of high-res options for a campaign to a freelance client, or uploading a zipped file full of touched-up psd files back to my brother, this FTP site never lets me down. With the free subscription, you can send up to 100MB that can be downloaded 100x. I usually set up a time limit of a week in which it can be downloaded before the link expires, but that can be adjusted. What I like most about this FTP site is that my clients finds it easy to use. Click on the link in the email, and download. They don’t have to log in, type in some crazy password, or deal with the hassle of getting kicked off a server. You can use it as many times as you want, and it sends confirmation emails, and optional tracking. If you find yourself using it all the time, it is super easy to upgrade into Pro and Pro Plus options.
Everyone who has a personal Web site should be using this tool. It is free, incredibly easy to sign up for, and simple enough for me to understand and use. What tags and keywords are people searching for that lead them to your site? Which Ads are working?  Which is your post popular page/post and how long are people staying on it for? I find it super interesting, and very robust for a completely free tool… but WordPress doesn’t let you use google analytics. Bah humbug! WordPress has its own built-in analytics system, which I’m finding to be sub-par. If you decide not to use Google Analytics, make sure you are in some way tracking data on your site. If you aren’t going to use it now, you may in the future and don’t want to miss out on all the information you could be collecting today.

Do you have any favorite free resources? If so, please share in the comments below. I’d love to expand my toolbox.

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