There’s never been a better time to be a Creative!
Here are some favorite resources for creators—recommended reading on creativity and innovation; resources for free and low-cost images; free or low-cost graphic design tools and services, easy self-publishing and payment resources.
Recommended Reading on Creativity & Innovation
Brush up on creativity techniques and innovation strategies by checking in with the experts on my Creativity & Innovation Recommended Reading list. Alternatively, sign up for a creativity-related course from a top university on Coursera.
Develop and organize your ideas by thinking visually. There are many full-featured paid apps for this, but you might start with a simple, free tool, WiseMapping.
Not Feeling Creative?
Check out my article Help! I’m Not Creative! to explore your personal creativity style.
Sometimes it helps to join a creative community. A fun one for writers is NaNoWriMo. Since 1999, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) has provided inspiration and tools for aspiring novelists to write a novel in a month (November), along with other programs during the year. Or check out Modern Creative Life on Facebook.
Visuals are all-important these days. Add images to presentations, posts, documents, and marketing pieces to capture attention, enhance visual appeal, and dramatize your points.
Sources I like for free images for presentations and websites are:
Use requirements vary, so check carefully and be sure to comply with attribution and other requirements if necessary.
Free tools, such as Gimp and Canva, make it possible for you to create your own graphics, even if you’re a beginner.
Canva provides templates for a wide range of graphics-social media posts, presentations, documents, covers, and marketing materials. There are many free elements—layouts, backgrounds, photos, icons, lines, frames— that you can use in creating your graphics, as well as a huge expanded library of elements available for $1 each. The basic plan I use is free, with additional features for collaboration and sizing available in a paid “pro” plan.
Gimp is a free open-text graphics program that allows you to make graphics such as logos, website and social media graphics, ads, and covers. Think of it as “a poor man’s Photoshop.” It does take a bit of work to learn. (I learned it by taking a Udemy course, Brian Jackson’s GIMP for Beginners, and found it fun to pick up a new skill.
Inexpensive Graphic Design Help
If learning even fairly easy graphic design skills doesn’t sound like fun to you, or if your project requires a little more expertise, check out Fiverr. For $5 (or multiple of $5), you can find all sorts of specialists to create graphics for you. I’ve used Fiverr for logos, book covers, ads, banners, videos, promotions and more.
Tips for using Fiverr: Look for experienced specialists with lots of reviews who have earned good ratings. Note the number of orders in the queue and expected delivery time. Be ready to provide very specific directions on what you want.
Writing & Self-Publishing
Self-publishing is fairly easy these days. I’ve been happy with Amazon’s CreateSpace resources for print publishing and KDP for Kindle publishing. (CreateSpace also provides distribution services for audio and video work.) Their pricing is very competitive, they make content creation and distribution easy, and offer additional marketing resources.
To bring a book to market, you’ll need an ISBN number (International Standard Book Number) for each edition. Create Space gives you the option of a free ISBN (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform is then your book’s imprint of record) or you can purchase one from Bowker.
To make digital versions of books available on non-Amazon sites, I’ve simultaneously used Smashwords, which provides the option of distribution through other major channels, such as Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, Baker & Taylor. Both Amazon and Smashwords have resources for converting your files into their formats, but I found it most efficient to do this through Fiverr.
Now that you’ve created your content, it’s time to get paid. Distributors such as CreateSpace make it easy to get paid, but you’ll also want to be able to sell your work directly.
Online Sales: You can accept payments online with PayPal, using a shopping card plug-in such as ecommerce. PayPal’s fee for this is 2.9% + $.30/transaction.
In-Person/Phone: It’s fairly easy to use either Paypal or Square to accept payments with your phone. Square’s fees are 2.75% for if you swipe, dip, or tap or 3.5% + $.15 if you key in a credit card number. To get a free card reader from Square, click here. Paypal fees are similar, but they charge for the reader.
For additional tools for marketing and promotion, see Personal Branding Strategy & Tools.
© New Century Leadership LLC 2017