The most important tool for creative freelancers is their minds, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need some extra help sometimes. Whether it’s crafting original social media posts or designing a website, these web-based tools and apps can support you as you bring your ideas and visual projects to life, and most importantly, these Design tools are entirely free.
Without further ado, here are 10 free tools that creative freelancers swear by:
Canva is a hugely popular tool amongst creative freelancers thanks to its wide array of design templates, including posters, logos, infographics, business cards, and more. The free version of Canva includes over 250,000 templates (for over 100 different uses) as well as thousands of free graphics. You can also collaborate on projects directly through the browser-based platform, facilitating the creation of custom visuals and graphics. Canva is especially handy for new creatives and non-designers thanks to its intuitive, user-friendly interface.
Formerly Adobe Spark, Adobe Express is a design app that can be used on desktop or mobile. While there is a “premium” version, the free version of the app offers tons of useful tools and features, like thousands of design templates and assets, royalty-free Adobe stock photos, and a selection of editing tools and photo effects. For example, you can easily remove backgrounds from photos, animate text, and create high-quality branded design content.
Khroma is an online colour tool that uses artificial intelligence to pick out custom colour themes based on your preferences. With this interactive platform, you start by choosing 50 hues you like from an array of samples. From there, Khroma trains itself using AI technology and generates a wide selection of colour combinations, which can be visualized in a few ways: a typeface on a background, a gradient, a poster, or an image. There are endless combinations to scroll through based on your initial preferences, which is great for when you’re looking for some colour inspiration.
GIFs are a great way to add some dimension to a visual campaign or presentation. If you’re looking to make custom GIFs, head straight to GIPHY. The retro website lets users easily convert short video segments into GIFs. Simply upload your media or paste a video link in GIPHY’s GIF Maker tool, choose the snippet you want to turn into a GIF and voila! It is also possible to make animated stickers using GIPHY and you can also browse their extensive collection of existing GIFs.
All creative freelancers need a source of high-quality royalty-free stock images, whether it’s to spruce up a presentation or create a website design mockup. For many, Unsplash is that source. The platform currently hosts over two million high-resolution photos and has a community of over 200,000 photographers. And let us just emphasize—all images on Unsplash are free to download for commercial or non-commercial use and while attribution is appreciated, it’s optional.
Creative freelancers also need an arsenal of fonts at their disposal to properly convey the tone and style needed for a given project. Font Squirrel is a well-established database of free fonts suitable for commercial use. A wide array of different fonts can easily be downloaded directly from the website and installed on your computer to be used for personal or commercial projects.
Infogram is an easy-to-use online tool for data visualization that enables users to create charts and maps for infographics, reports, presentation slides, and more. The company, which has been around for 10 years, offers a free version of its platform through which users can access nearly 40 interactive types of charts. It’s a great place to start if you need to create dynamic and eye-catching data visualizations.
Videos are an increasingly important part of content creation and marketing. But it can also be incredibly time-consuming to put together high-quality video content. Animoto takes a lot of the legwork out of video editing, helping users to effortlessly craft videos based on their own photos and clips. The online platform has tools for all types of audiovisual media, including promotional videos, tutorials, slideshows, and more. They also have a selection of licensed music to accompany your visuals. The free version of Animoto includes all of its standard features but does come with Animoto branding.
More of an online community than a tool, Dribbble is a great online platform for creative freelancers looking to showcase their work, find inspiration, or learn new skills. As part of its offering, Dribbble hosts Freebbble, an online platform with thousands of free design assets, including mockups, UI Kits, animations, wallpapers, icons, and illustrations made by Dribbble community members. Every graphic includes the artist’s name and specifies a license.
Lunacy is a free design app native to Windows, MacOS or Linux that lets users easily create professional looking websites, social media posts, and more. The app has a number of beneficial features, including multi-language support, easy collaboration between team members, and an offline mode. From a design perspective, Lunacy hosts thousands of free graphic elements that can be dragged and dropped into your design workspace, including icons, studio photos, and illustrations. In addition to the ease of drag and drop, Lunacy integrates AI-powered design tools like image scaling, text and avatar generation, and background removal.
If you’re a content creator or an aspiring creative freelancer, these tools can help expand your capabilities and grow your skill set. If used properly, they can also help establish greater efficiency—without sacrificing quality. For more resources for creative freelancers, see our SkillPack blog.