I love designers. It’s a strong statement and I can shout it out in front of millions of people, probably WordCamp will be one of the best places to do it. They do a fantastic work in a very difficult, competitive environment.
There are many tools designers as well as developers should use in 2018. They should not need to start from zero to build any new project. Especially when it comes to a huge project like building a directory website, ListingPro got your back.
Also there are multipurpose WordPress themes which are excellent and website builders that are doing a great job.
Below we wrote about almost 30 web tools and services that are effective, fast and wallet-friendly.
With customers from over 170 countries, prizes as the No.1 Best Seller in 2017 and 5-stars support, ListingPro is absolutely the best WordPress directory website you can get. No additional plugins needed for the basic features and there is no need to have special knowledge. Anybody will benefit by having a ready to go package to launch its own directories like Yelp, Airbnb, Capterra and other directories. Some of the biggest names in the hospitality industry is using this solution.
Their website is super simple, yet packed with the most important info. You will find more than 30 case studies with real examples of directories built with ListingPro. The features page includes more than 40 important things that this WordPress theme can do for you.
If you are looking for a feature or design elements that is not available with the purchase, they do offer customization service, so reach out to their team for a free quote.
The pricing for the basic license is $69 only and you get everything you need. Launch your directory website and start monetizing right out-of-the-box.
Userfeel is an excellent usability website and mobile app test service that is different from A/B testing and heatmaps. Here you will get impressions from real life testers that you will use from the vast network created by Userfeel. You can even add your testers to the project. Testers can be selected from various criteria like age, gender, country, web experience and language.
Userfeel is great for website owners, it is used by web designers, web developers, internet marketers and web consultants who want to open their eyes to the real world of their site's or internet market's users. It’s a good service for pretty much anyone who wants to be sure that his website is offering its visitors the experience they want to have.
A great feature that is making Userfeel even more powerful is the fact that they are working with over 20,000 testers that speak 40 languages. You can test any website in any language and you can ask testers to provide comments in your language.
For $49, the price per desktop test session, you will get a video with voice comments, you will see the tester movement mouse and the written answers to the questions you have provided when launching the project.
Dealjumbo is a place where you can find exclusive deals for designers, developers, and pretty much all kind of web professionals. They offer incredible bundles for great prices. Their prices are awesome, the amount of money you save is remarkable and can help you big time in your projects. If you lower your costs you can lower the bid for a project and win it. Think about it.
On their website, you will find everything you are looking for: premium fonts, beautifully designed graphics and more. There is an on sale section and a freebies page, check both of them. You can download 1580+ free fonts & graphics. All comes with standard commercial license.
Forget everything you knew about building websites without skills and effort. Brizy is the best visual WordPress page builder on the market, transforming the user into a professional in an instant. Anybody can now create gorgeous websites that are a perfect fit for their needs and all of that in less than 1 hour.
The Brizy WordPress plugin comes with 150 excellent predesigned blocks, 4,000 icons, and options that are there for you but are not being put all in your face to complicate things. The interface is super simple to use and intuitive, being your close friend from minute 1.
Brizy is free, can be tested right now on their website and the pro version will be packed with even better things.
With almost 550,000 downloads, Deeezy is a major web design deals where web professionals will find awesome premium fonts, mockups, bundles and much more, everything is hugely discounted. You will get an extended license, that means you can use the items for unlimited commercial projects.
Check Deeezy and get free and premium fonts and graphics.
actiTIME is a powerful time tracking software loaded with strong features: simple time tracking, work scope management, project cost control, leave time management, time billing reports and others.
Create project scope, assign tasks to your team, record work hours and keep everything on track with the insightful data.
The 30 days trial lets you test all the features, try it.
Notism is a simple collaboration tool, yet very powerful, which includes video collaboration if needed. You can communicate via notes or sketches right on your uploaded work; share, review and sign-off visual content right where it makes sense and much more.
The price starts from $9 per month and it includes 5 projects, 5 collaborators, 10 archived projects and 2 GB space. Collaborate with easy, use Notism.
Goodie is a professional web development service which will get your website designed and coded by professionals from only $999. The results are outstanding, discuss with Goodie experts for your next project.
Codester is a huge marketplace where web professionals can buy and sell scripts, app templates, website themes, plugins, and graphics. Everything you need can be easily found on the website.
Always check the Flash sale section where items with huge discounts are being sold.
If you want to make an extra income, sell your items on Codester, they don’t request exclusivity over your products.
Designhooks is loaded with awesome free stuff for web designers and developers. The website is very well structured, items being easily found. There are PSD Mockups, Sketch, HTML templates, WordPress themes and more.
Come and get all you need, it’s free.
Uncode is a pixel-perfect WordPress multiuse theme which you can use to build unlimited websites. It is loaded with layouts, icons and all the features you can think of. The drag and drop Visual Composer will help you build stunning pages, you don’t need to write a single line of code.
Pixpa is a powerful portfolio website builder with integrated e-commerce. The drag-and-drop builder is making wonders in terms of ease of work and functionalities. Everybody can use it without having any coding skills or experience.
You can try it for free for a period of 15 days to test all the features.
Format is a stunning free website template that can be used to create your next portfolio website. It is a perfect fit for designer, web studios, and agencies, with a gorgeous design and useful features. Check the demo and use it in your projects.
Chasing customers to send the content is a demanding and time-consuming task. Content Snare can do that for you in a few steps so you can focus on the work. You create “requests’ with all the piece of information you need from the client, you set a due date and a follow-up schedule and the rest is being handled by Content Snare. When the customer will send the content, you will be immediately notified.
The pricing starts at $29 per month.
uSocial.pro is a convenient builder of “Like” and “Share” buttons for your website. More than one hundred button designs with hover effect and counters will help you find a perfect match for any page. uSocial buttons are mobile-friendly and make it possible for your followers to share interesting content with their friends through Viber, WhatsApp, Telegram and SMS in one tap.
Whenever you want a beautiful logo in seconds and you want a budget-friendly solution, Instant Logo Design is the perfect software to help you. You simply enter the business name and you will get several options to choose from. The pricing starts at $29.
uCalc.pro is a service for creating custom calculators that need no coding skills. You can use a ready-made calculator template or show your creativity and make it from scratch. uCalc has many benefits: convenient editor of calculator fields with various design settings, all kinds of available fields (text, number, checkbox, radio button), contact data collection, SMS and email notifications, PayPal invoices, and even more.
InkyDeals is a powerful name in the design deal industry, being loaded with awesome, hugely discounted items. There are great bundles to get, gorgeous graphics, WordPress and Photoshop items and much more.
Always check the free deals and Best Deals section, great stuff can be found also there.
Subscribe for the daily newsletter so you can know what new deals are available.
Crello is a powerful visual editor that you can use to create gorgeous graphics, everybody can be a designer with this tool. It is packed with 60 million photos, 12,000 templates, 33 design formats and 12,000 free photos and vectors. Try it.
MailMunch will help you convert your website visitors into customers, subscribers, and long-time readers. The powerful built-in editor will help you create and customize gorgeous forms that will attract your visitors and convert them.
Start with the free forever plan and upgrade it when needed. The premium plans start from $15 per month.
Elementor is the Number 1 WordPress page builder with more than 900,000 users. The builder is lighting fast and can be used with any template you have installed and even if you change the theme, your designs will stay in place.
Try it and you will never let it go.
Controlio will help you monitor employees PC activity from anywhere. You will have real-time surveillance, screen capture, key logging and you will always know what apps and websites are being used.
The software can be used for employee monitoring, insider threats, and productivity optimization. All of that can help any business to grow.
UpTimeRobot is a service that will check your website downtime every 5 minutes (free plan) or every 1 minute (premium plans starting from $4.5 per month, billed annually). You will be notified very fast via e-mail, SMS, Twitter, Slack, HipChat, Telegram, push and web-hooks.
Never let your website stay offline.
InvoiceBerry is an online invoicing software for small businesses, sole traders, and freelancers. Business owners can sign up within 2 minutes and start sending their first invoices to clients. The pricing starts at $15 per month.
If you’re looking to create custom vinyl stickers, labels, decals, or other sticky products to market your brand, StickerYou has you covered. You can print any size, shape, and order quantity with StickerYou. Our products are perfect to hand out at events or sell to make extra money.
Foxy.io is a powerful and complete cart and payment page. You can use it to sell physical products, digital products, subscriptions, donations, services, and more. It integrates with WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, Webflow, and anywhere you can add a link or embed html. Foxy.io supports more than 90 payment methods (ex: Stripe, Braintree, Authorize.net, Amazon Pay, Bitcoin, Apple Pay) and has powered billions of dollars in transactions for thousands of users all over the world. Be sure to check out their Success Stories page.
Pofo is a highly creative, modern, blazing fast and professionally built responsive multipurpose WordPress theme designed for use by creative individuals, teams, bloggers and agencies. Pofo features an outstanding selection of portfolio, blog and eCommerce design elements, and bundled with the popular and widely-used WPBakery page builder and Revolution Slider plugins.
RumbleTalk will help you add a web chat on your website without having any coding skills or previous experience. You can do it in a couple of minutes, offering your website visitors the possibility to quickly contact you. This can help increase the conversion rates while spending only a few bucks or even free (they have a free forever plan).
WrapPixel is offering great admin templates, UI Kits, Mega Bundles and even Freebies. Everything is handpicked, that’s why you will see that the quality of the products is outstanding. Check their portfolio.
I’ve been working as a self-employed creative person for about 6 years. I say "creative person” because, even though for most of the time I worked as a graphic designer and illustrator - I had about 2-3 years when I also worked as a UI/UX designer for mobile apps and websites, which at the time seemed like a dream job for me. I know, you’re probably thinking it’s a big gap between designing apps and drawing things for a living, and you’re right, but I was always attracted to exploring different visual creative fields and I like how they can co-exist.
In all this time I’ve been working as a freelancer, which involves the whole package of finding clients, doing a briefing, planning a project, doing research and finally starting work on the actual designs. The process is pretty much the same for every new project I take, but of course it wasn’t always like this. Since I’m self taught, I didn’t always have a structure and I used to play it by the ear a lot back when I started, so I made many mistakes that in time helped me optimize the process I have now.
First of all, a little background. When I started, I had no experience as a designer, my background was in communication and a little marketing, so I had to learn Photoshop and Illustrator from scratch. It helped that I was always passionate about drawing, but not by much, since graphic design is pretty technical and I was very new to all of that. I also had to learn to find my first clients, deliver the work and get paid, even if I had no portfolio and nothing to show for my work. So I did the easiest thing at the time: started by using freelance platforms like Fiverr or Elance (now Upwork), asking for very little money (yes, I did logos for $5) and pitching my design skills to clients who had no idea who I was. It was hard work and the satisfaction of earning the first money on my own was incredible.
It took me a few months to become a decent designer and increase my fees, after which I started to find clients on my own, among my network. Ever since then, I never actively searched for design jobs, because I would always have people recommend me to other people or, once I got a little exposure on social media, I started receiving many emails from people who just happened to see my work and had a design proposal for me.
I would sometimes become so overwhelmed with the amount of work that came my way, that I would have to say no. That’s also when I learned another thing: as long as the demand for what you do is high, you can raise your prices and filter the projects you decide to take. I realized it's better for me to work on one big project that pays well, instead of working on 4-5 small projects that pay little money and take the same amount of energy as a big project, if not more.
So, after the first year in the business or so, I never had trouble finding clients. But I would say that I did two things from the very beginning, that I think helped me get clients in the long run:
Once a client approaches me for a job I’m interested in, the process usually goes like this: we have a first meeting where we both determine whether or not we can work together, and if everything goes well we exchange a few emails where I ask many questions, in order to create a brief and see what exactly my job will be. Based on that, I estimate the budget and I send them a quote. I usually like to work with project based fees as opposed to hourly rate, because I feel like the value of what I’m offering isn’t always about the hours I put in. Sometimes I might spend 3 hours to reach a concept, sometimes it might take me 20 hours, depending on the project. But the value for the client is always about the end results; and the amount of time I spend getting there isn’t always a good indicator of that value.
If the client is ok with the price, we sign the contract, I usually get an advance of 25% (or 50%, if it’s a smaller project) and I start working.
My favorite part, the creative one, usually starts later in the process. I first need to dig deeper into what the client needs. In my experience, there’s almost always a difference between what the client says they need and what they actually need. So it’s my job as a designer to do my homework and make sure I ask as many questions as possible in order to get the bigger picture.
If it’s a visual identity project, for example, there is a lot to figure out before I start to design. I usually start by doing research about the brand, get as much info as possible on their core values, their goals, how their customers perceive them vs. how they want to be perceived (many times there are surprises here), I do research on the competition etc. This is very useful in order to offer the client a real solution, other than just execute what they say they need.
Once I have everything clear, I usually start by defining the brand’s personality, along with the client, and creating a tone of voice for the brand, which are the base for everything that follows. All the designs, communication, vibe of the brand, everything relies on these things we define. Ideally, these should be done by an agency, if the client has one, but if they don’t, these are steps you shouldn’t skip, if you want to offer quality work that will last in time. Your client will appreciate you more for it.
Once we have this structure, it’s a lot easier coming up with a concept and creating the graphic standards around it. Because once you can define “who is the brand?”, “what is it like?”, “what adjectives you can attribute to it?” and other such questions often used in branding, it’s easy to come up with fonts, the color palette and so on. If the brand is formal and conservative, you go with a certain font and choice of colors (taking into account what services they offer, also). If the brand is playful, innovative and cheeky, you might choose a friendly font, you might use hand lettering, playful illustrations and so on.
So design has very much to do with context. This is why it’s always a red flag for me when a client says they want their logo in blue because it's their wife's favorite color. Or that they want something similar to someone else’s design (and send me a picture). I can always do that, it’s the easiest thing for me to execute and take the money, but I never do it, because: 1. they probably won’t be happy and will keep coming back for revisions, since that wasn’t what they “really” wanted; 2. because I love what I do and a big part of that is knowing that my work has real purpose.
Here’s a story on that subject. I once had a client who hired me to design his upcoming online teaching platform. When I asked him what kind of logo he wants, he told me he loves the Apple logo and wants something like that. Of course, my designer mind immediately went to the bitten apple symbol, used mainly on grey or black, with a super simple font assigned to the brand. I could do that. But was that what he really wanted? So I started asking question after question, trying to understand what exactly about the Apple logo he liked. Ten minutes later, I got to the conclusion that what he actually wanted was a brand that was "as respected and desired as Apple is". So what he wanted was not the logo, but rather the character of the brand, and he subconsciously associated that with the logo ?
This is why you need to ask questions beyond what the client claims they want.
Creating the logo and everything else involved usually starts once all this is made clear. And I usually put all this in a document and send it to the client to confirm.
Back when I started out, I would usually create 3-4 concepts of a logo and send them to the client to choose which one he liked best. Now, I prefer to work on just one concept, which I consider to be the best solution, and work from there. I always explain my point to the client and I always have objective arguments, so that they can make a decision taking into account my expertise. Many times, the client doesn’t agree with you, but when you explain it to them, they might change their mind and trust you more because of that.
When I pick a color palette, I start from all the above, but once I have it narrowed down to a few color ideas, I start looking for inspiration. I like using color palette websites (colourlovers.com has been my go to for years), but also Pinterest or Instagram accounts like @designseeds. Another favorite is Dribbble, where you can enter a color code and see all the combinations of colors used containing that one color (you can even filter according to the percentage of color present in each composition). It’s an amazing tool when you’re in search of ideas.
In this stage, I always like to create a moodboard of imagery that speaks to me, like a collage of color palettes, fonts, patterns, illustration styles and so on. They can be images I find on Pinterest, Instagram, photos I take on the street, images of other work I might have done before, anything that catches my eye. The purpose of this is to immerse myself in the atmosphere of the project and get a better idea of what I want to create. This moodboard, along with a list of keywords that are assigned to the brand, are the starting point to my design process.
Once I have the visual style ready and approved, I create a visual identity manual where I write down how everything should be used. Things like versions of the logo, dont’s of the logo with examples like: never stretch the logo, never place X version on a black background, never use the typeface without the symbol or whatever etc, so basically graphic rules. I state what the main font is, what the secondary font is (for both digital and print), what the color palette is (with all color codes), what is the minimum size for the logo in print and you should never make it smaller than that, what kind of imagery is associated with the brand (you might notice there are brands that always use sepia or black and white photos, or brands that always use photos from an up close angle, very detail focused) - all of this is stated in the brand manual.
You usually learn all these specifics over time and after doing many such projects, but it doesn’t hurt to take a look at other brands’ manuals and study how they do it (you can usually find them to download online, or if you have friends who work in advertising or print, they have easy access).
This is pretty much the whole creative process. Once all these rules are set (and verified, because you must be sure it all works together the way you designed it), I design all the materials needed. That’s usually divided in two: digital materials (website, social media etc) and print materials (which can vary from stationery to promotional materials or packaging). When I do print I always use a Pantone color code in order to check that the colors I pick are true (and even then, it depends on the type of paper they print it on, but that’s a long discussion). The deliverables can include editable files or not (depending on what we previously agreed on) and I like to use Dropbox to share them.
What is something I know now and wished I'd known before?
That the more time I put in improving the brief and narrowing down all the info, the more chances are that I will come up with a design that my client is happy with from the start - and therefore they won’t ask for many revisions, which I know is a nightmare for designers in the early stages of their careers. This is something that used to frustrate me a lot too, and sometimes I felt like the client is capricious and can’t make up his mind.
The truth is, if you communicate well and you spend time listening and asking questions, you will more likely be on the same page with your client. I used to be afraid to do that, because I thought if I asked too many questions they will lose patience and become annoyed. But on the contrary, they will end up trusting you more, because you help them define what they want. And right there is why they pay you their money, that’s the value you provide for them.
What do you think about Miruna's story? Did you learn something from her experience? Did she inspire you? Let us know in the comments below.
Nobrow. They published one of my comics and it pushed me to jump into self-employment.
I worked on a comic for them called "Jeff Job Hunter" while I was unemployed, and it helped me to find freelance work.
I got a variety of work off of the back of projects I made with them.
As you start to make a name for yourself, a lot of people want your time and attention, but without paying for it.
It's learning when to step away and when you can tell someone is trying to string you along and waste your time.
There still are hardships, to keep consistent money coming in.
I'm too trusting of people. Especially with freelance, give someone an inch, and they'll take a mile.
You need to have contracts written out to protect yourself. Good communication with a client is very important. Some can be very difficult to get a straight answer out of!
Yes, it was definitely worth it. It's extremely rewarding to be creating things to your best ability every day and pleasing clients, as well as fans.
It feels good to make people happy.
I would have told myself to stop making comics a few years earlier when interest started to fade. I'd also tell myself not to do favours.
Don't treat clients like friends. You have to treat it like a business. When you start being friendly, people walk all over you.
Keeping all of that in mind, you can have a very happy, healthy career.
Don't work for free. There will always be work around the corner. You may think this is your big opportunity and you won't work again, but it's not true.
Your time is the most valuable thing you have, so be vigilant and plan how you want to build your career, and what you want to do. Basically, work smart, you can save yourself a lot of trouble by planning well.
Always focus. Don't try to think too much like an artist, but more like it's a regular job. Just focus on doing the best you can, and if there are imperfections, it doesn't matter, move on. As an illustrator, you want to make a living from this. You're not setting out to make masterpieces (unless of course, you want to create personal artwork in your own time).
What have you learned from Jack's experience COLOURlovers? Has it been useful? Is there something similar that you've experienced you'd like to share with the community?
I was working as a graphic designer in 2006. I was fortunate enough to work in a small company with a very good boss. He employed me as a designer but he knew I liked to draw and gave me a chance to learn more about it at work place. Even if I had something to design he was always giving me free time to experiment with drawing anything no matter if that was related to the current project or not.
At that point I was sort of searching for myself in a wrong way, and also experimenting with drugs. My drawings looked like this:
I keep this artwork that dates to the beginning of my career as a reminder and a storyteller of my artistic and personal development. I also use it to see how much I've grown as an artist. It is still available in my portfolio at Behance. What you'll see in this folder is not something we can call illustrations that you could sell for big money. So, the first piece of advice would be: if you want to become a successful illustrator, don't try to draw like this.
Well… I think there were a few people and things combined together that made me successful.
It may sound unreal but it's actually logical. You are the center of everything in your life. What you think and feel, the way you perceive reality... it all influences the way you see the world and how you react to it. If you are at peace with yourself, you will be in harmony with the outside as well. Your attention and how to what you choose to dedicate it can transform your life.
For sure it was worth it! The only thing I would have done differently would be not taking up a couple of orders that I knew from the start would be a lost cause. I am talking about the ones where the customer didn’t know what they wanted nor why they wrote to me.
What do you think about Fil's story? Can you identify with it? Does it make sense? Do you have a story you'd like to share for COLOURLOVERS blog?
Tell us about it! We're dying to hear.
"I know this great little place..." is something you've probably said or heard dozens of times. Well the folks behind Great Little Place decided to gather up people's recommendations for the amazing city of London and do something creative.
|Share this Post||Tweet|
This wonderful illustrated map of London's great little places was painstakingly hand drawn by Charlie Davis, an illustrator and designer based London. There's no doubt that a lot of hours and a lot of love went into every beautiful detail, just take a look for yourself.