Web Design Mistakes

Web Design Mistakes

Web design is complex enough as it is. You have to worry about mobile accessibility, design aesthetics, user friendliness, SEO, and so much more.

When you consider just how many mistakes one could make and how dearly those mistakes could cost the owner of the website… well, it’s frankly just mind blowing!

The fact is, if you focus too much on any one element of web design, the other elements are going to suffer. You can’t allow that to happen. It’s important to be sure you’re covering all the bases if you want to have a website that is effective at getting traffic and getting conversions.

In this guide, you’re going to learn about some of the most common mistakes web designers make, and how you can avoid making them on your own websites.

Remember, it’s not all about SEO, or it’s not all about looking pretty… there are many factors that work together in unison to make the perfect website. And if you neglect one aspect, your site isn’t going to get the results you’re hoping for.

So let’s begin.

web design mistakes

Mistake #1

Overuse Of Animations and Flash

Back in the 1990s and even the early 2000s, the use of animation and flash on websites was common. It was a way to jazz up websites and draw attention.

Unfortunately, these tactics got overused and eventually became completely passé. Now, their use is a glaring signal that the person who made the website had absolutely no idea what they were doing.

Flash and animated images have their place. For example, those websites that post funny images might use animated GIFs to get a laugh where a static image just might not work. Or Flash might be used on a free web-based gaming website.

But if you’re using a ton of Flash banners or menus, or if you’re using animation in your logo or to draw attention to certain areas of your website, you’re being lazy AND annoying your visitors. Stop it!

Use such tactics very judiciously, and only when necessary. Otherwise, you’re just making your site run more slowly and getting on your visitors’ nerves.

Mistake #2

Poorly Chosen Colors

Another huge mistake people make when designing for the web is choosing colors that don’t work together or that severely clash and look terrible together. This could end up frustrating visitors to the point that they leave your site. At the very least, this could hurt conversions.

Not only should you choose colors that are aesthetically pleasing, but you should be careful to use colors that work psychologically with your website’s theme. Believe it or not, colors can actually have specific effects on the human brain.

For example, McDonald’s has always used the color red in their restaurants because the color can make people feel hungrier. This causes them to order more food than they really ought to, because they think they are hungrier than they actually are.

If you want to learn more about how colors work psychologically, you can check out this article:

>> http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/233843

Mistake #3

Improper Font Use Fonts

They can make or break a design, and unfortunately most people just go overboard with fonts, or they use the wrong ones.

Some designers actually become semi-obsessed with fonts. They may have thousands of fonts on their system (which is a bad idea in itself, because the more fonts you have, the slower your system runs) and they may want to use as many of those fonts as they can in every design they create.

Every font you use should have a specific purpose. Don’t use something like a cursive font or (heaven forbid) Comic Sans for the body text on your site. Not only is this not a good look aesthetically, but it also makes it harder to read the text. Use easy-to-read fonts like Helvetica, Arial, or Verdana.

You can get a little more creative when it comes to your logo and headlines, but you should still make sure that:

  1. The fonts are easy to read, AND…
  2. The fonts work for your niche. (For example, don’t use fancy script fonts on a masculine website, or huge, garish fonts on a feminine one.)

Mistake #4

Failure to Implement SEO

Every single website on the planet (except maybe those that are set up specifically to be private, which can be blocked with a password or robots.txt) needs search engine traffic. Otherwise, why even be online in the first place?

But unfortunately, a lot of web designers focus too much on the way a site looks and they forget to make sure the site is capable of getting traffic! (The prettiest website in the world isn’t going to do you a bit of good if no one ever sees it!)

Yes, your site should be attractive. And yes, your site should be user friendly. But you can’t forget to ensure that search engines can properly find and index your content. This requires using proper silo structure and making sure your navigation links are easy for search engines to find.

Here is some information on the silo structure:

>> http://www.bruceclay.com/seo/silo.htm

Mistake #5

Failing to Make the Site Mobile Friendly

Let’s face it. Mobile is the wave of the future. Up to 90% of a given website’s traffic may be mobile these days, and that number is still rising. The personal computer is actually losing ground rapidly.

Most people use computers for things like writing documents and for working, but when it comes to browsing, more and more people are using tablets and smart phones, because they can be used anywhere.

Plus, as of April 2015, mobile friendliness is one of the factors Google uses to determine rankings. If your site is not mobile friendly, your rankings are likely to plummet unless all your other ranking factors are just phenomenal.

If you’re using WordPress, you can make your site mobile friendly by simply choosing a mobile friendly (also known as responsive) theme. If you’re building your own website, you will need to detect user agent in order to find out what system a visitor is using, and then direct those users to a mobile version of your website. This requires making different versions of your site for different platforms.

You can analyze your mobile friendliness here:

>> https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

Mistake #6

Using Audio or Auto-Play Videos

Nothing is more irritating about the average website than being startled by loud audio that you weren’t expecting. This is especially true if it happens at an inopportune moment, such as when you’re surfing inconspicuously at work and it’s not break time, or if your kid is asleep and it wakes him up, or if you’re browsing somewhere you shouldn’t be (like, say, church or at a funeral – oops.)

Unless you have a very good reason for doing so, never automatically play audio or video on your website. Polls have shown that if a user is hit with audio or video that plays automatically, it drastically increases the chances that they will immediately leave. (This increases what is known as bounce rate, and if your bounce rate is too high, it can adversely effect your search engine rankings.)

The only time you should maybe set something to automatically play is when it is the primary focus of your page. For example, a video sales page or squeeze page might require auto-play.

Otherwise, make it so that users have to manually activate audio or video. Your users will thank you!

Mistake #7

Bad Navigation

Navigation is one of the most critical elements of any web design. If a user cannot find what they are looking for quickly, they are likely to leave just as quickly.

There are several locations for navigation options on any website. Here are a few places you can squeeze in the navigation you need:

  • Above the logo – This is a good place to have links to important pages like privacy pages and contact pages.
  • Below the logo – This is traditionally where you can find important links to articles and other content.
  • Sidebar – Your sidebar is another good place to locate stuff like article categories and pages.
  • Footer – More links can be placed in your footer, and this is a good place to include links to pages if you haven’t located those links above the logo.

You also want to be sure your site has search functionality if you have a large amount of content. Otherwise, it becomes nearly impossible for people to find the exact content they are looking for.

Mistake #8

Requiring Software Installations

Years ago, it was common to need to download a piece of software in order to use a particular website. Things like Real Player and various web cam programs required downloads to run, because their functionality wasn’t built in to browsers.

These days, with so many viruses going around that can steal your personal information or destroy your computer, people are wary of installing anything. If you require a download in order to use a function of your site, people are most likely just going to leave.

If you need functionality that you can’t get from standard HTML or CSS, consider using something like HTML5 or other standard formats. If it requires something that most people don’t have, you’re going to lose a whole lot of traffic.

You could also use Java or JavaScript, which most browsers can use natively these days.

You can read more about HTML5 here:

>> http://www.w3schools.com/html/html5_intro.asp

Mistake #9

Improper Optimization

One of the biggest factors in SEO today is the speed at which your site loads. If your site is slow, you’re going to rank lower than a site that is speedier if all other factors are the same, simply because Google and other search engines understand that people are impatient and will quickly get bored and leave if a site takes too long to load.

The most important things to optimize are:

  • Images
  • Videos

Text itself doesn’t take long to load. It’s the images and videos on a website that can take a very long time to load. If you’re including photos in a blog post, for example, they don’t need to be massive in size unless they enlarge to show important details (like infographics, for example.)

Images should generally be about 400-1000 pixels at most, and no more than about 75k. Videos should be optimized for the smallest size possible without sacrificing quality. HD videos are great, but they take a while to load, and this could hurt your search rankings, especially if your videos are set to load and play automatically. They’ll just slow down the rest of your site.

Mistake #10

No Contact Information

Lack of contact information is a red flag for a lot of people, and it’s a red flag to Google. Sure, legitimate websites may not have contact information, but spammers almost never put contact information on their websites. If you have a contact page, people will trust you more.

Here are some reasons you might want to include contact information on your website:

  1. It’s a ranking signal for Google. Google loves to see contact information on your website, because it makes the site look more legitimate. Spammers definitely don’t want to be contacted.
  2. Users will trust your site more if they see you’re being open and allowing people to contact you.
  3. You could get important messages from potential advertisers who want to give you money to advertise on your site.
  4. It could save you from legal issues if someone can contact you to resolve potential issues instead of having to subpoena your information and potentially sue you because they couldn’t contact you to ask you to remove something you inadvertently used on your site, for example.

Conclusion

Web design is already a technical task. You have to learn how to use many different types of software, how to use scripts or program HTML or CSS, how to design graphics… it’s a lot of work and a lot of knowledge required.

But even the most experienced designers often lose sight of the big picture when it comes to building websites. They may focus too much on aesthetics that usability suffers, or vice versa. Or they may focus too much on SEO and not enough on user experience, or the other way around.

It’s important to be sure you’re looking at all potential aspects of design, and not focusing too much time and attention on any one factor. A harmonious design takes all factors into account equally in order to ensure the site is friendly to both users and search engines.

You might want to create a checklist with web design best practices that you should keep in mind every time you build a new site. This way you can be sure you’ve followed every step each time.

Good luck with your website!

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Using Legal Images On Your Blog

Using Legal Images On Your Blog

Royalty Free & 100% Legal Images For Your Website

It doesn’t matter what type of business you’re in, chances are, you use images. Whether you’re sharing images on social media, using images to create promotional material like banners or flyers, or posting images on your blog to go along with your articles, you’re probably using images.

But are you using those images legally?

A lot of people seem to think it’s okay to grab images of Google Images or other sources. After all, they’re available publicly, so it must be okay, right?

WRONG!

Legally, you can only use images you have permission to use, and you can only use images you have permission to use in certain ways, depending on the license granted by the copyright holder. Confused, yet?

And to top it off, buying images to use legally can be extremely expensive. Some stock photo agencies charge several dollars for a single image, and may even charge hundreds of dollars if you want to use the image for something like a t-shirt or print. Outrageous!

Fortunately, there are ways to save money on your images, getting them much, much cheaper, or even free. Best of all, you can do this legally, so you won’t be sued!

Legal Issues

If you use images you’re not properly licensed to use, you could face serious legal consequences that could end up costing you thousands of dollars in damages, and you may be required to pay the other party’s legal fees, as well.

Big stock photo agencies have millions of dollars to spend fighting unauthorized use of their photos, and they often pursue the rights of the photographers who submit to them vehemently.

U.S. copyright laws allow for up to $150,000 in damages for a single infringing use, which means you could end up on the hook for millions if you steal a large number of photos. That’s enough to drive most companies completely out of business and put the owner in debt for the rest of his or her life!

In fairness, most cases are settled out of court for a few thousand dollars, but do you have that kind of money lying around to hand over to someone?

Legal stock photos only cost a few bucks, and if you look around, you can find sites that have them for $1. Sometimes you can even get them for a few cents if you buy a bulk deal, which we will talk about later.

Read more here:

>> http://www.contentfac.com/copyright-infringement-penalties-are-scary/

Types of Images

There are several types of images you can use legally, and the differences basically boil down to licensing. Let’s take a look at the different types of images you can use, and what the typical licensing looks like for each type.

Public Domain

Public domain images are those images that are released for anyone to use for any reason whatsoever without having to pay a fee. These are legal images could even legally be sold, because public domain is pretty much a license to do absolutely anything you want with an image.

Some people who release images may claim they are “public domain”, but then put restrictions on their use. This is not truly public domain. If an image has been released into the public domain, it has no restrictions.

Public domain images are often sourced from the U.S. government, because many of the images they use are automatically placed into the public domain. After all, they are funded by taxpayers. Not all government photos are public domain, but many are.

There are also databases dedicated to providing access to public domain images from various sources, and some individuals have websites where they place their own photos for use on a public domain basis.

Creative Commons

Creative commons also releases legal images to be used without payment, however restrictions may be placed on their use. Creative commons actually has several different license variations, each of which may restrict use of the photos in some way.

Here is a list of the different types of Creative Commons licenses:

>> https://creativecommons.org/licenses/

The most important thing you need to know with regards to Creative Commons images are that the licenses all hinge around three important elements:

  • Whether or not you must give attribution
  • Whether or not you can create derivatives
  • Whether or not you can use the images for commercial purposes

Attribution requires you to give credit to the copyright holder. This is usually done with a simple link, especially if the image is used on a website or in a book, where giving an attribution is simple.

Derivatives basically mean artwork and designs created with the original image and then used as that derivative work. For example, if you take the photo and change the colors of some of the items in it, that is a derivative.

Commercial purposes, of course, means anything that is used to make money, even indirectly. For example, if you make any kind of profit from your blog, or if you’re even trying to make a profit with it, you could not use an image that is not licensed for commercial purposes.

Royalty Free

Royalty-free images are not necessarily free, despite having the word “free” in the name. Royalty-free actually refers to not needing to pay a royalty percentage or fee to the copyright holder for each use of the item.

For example, a musician who licenses use of his song to a company for a television commercial may receive a royalty payment every time that commercial airs. Or a celebrity who allows the use of their likeness on the cover of a book might get a percentage of all book sales.

Royalty-free images require a one-time payment for use, and generally require no further payments after that. There are minor exceptions to this, but generally once you pay for a photo, you can use it once and you won’t have to pay any additional money for it.

If you intend to use a royalty-free image for a printed item or something like a book cover, be sure to read the license carefully. Most stock agencies require you to pay a higher fee for use on things like t-shirts and posters that will be sold, and for things like book covers, have a limit to the number of copies that can be sold before another purchase is required. (It’s usually 250,000 copies, and most of us don’t sell that many copies of a single book, but it’s worth noting, just in case.)

Getting Deals On Photos

There are ways to get better deals on stock photos than the normal prices, which can be several dollars per photo. Some sites, like iStockPhoto.com, can actually charge $20 or more for a single image if that picture is exclusive to their site and they deem it better than average quality.

Monthly Subscriptions

Most stock photo sites offer monthly subscription packages that give you a discount off their regular prices. The monthly cost can vary considerably, so it pays to shop around. It’s also worth looking at the terms before you join, because some sites only let you download a certain number of images per day, others make your credits expire each month if you don’t use them, and a few will let you build up credits each month.

Keep in mind that if you want to use the photos for printed items like t-shirts or posters, your credits will not apply and you’ll still need to pay for them individually. Only standard images are usually available with credits.

Deal Sites

There are a lot of deal sites out there that offer hefty discounts on packages of stock photo credits. Deposit Photos offers the best deals I’ve seen. If you catch it just right, you can get a package of 100 photo credits for just $39! They run this deal a couple of times a year, or maybe quarterly, through a couple of different sites.

You’ll need to sign up to their newsletters to be notified about the deals, and they often sell out quickly, so be ready to grab them when they show up. They also usually let you buy multiple packages, so if you need a large number of photos, you might want to buy more than one package. The credits usually never expire.

>> http://www.appsumo.com

>> http://www.mightydeals.com

Both of these newsletters regularly send out huge deals on other great, useful stuff, too. Sometimes you can get lifetime memberships to things like software and membership sites for less than a single year costs, so they’re worth joining even without the stock photo deals.

legal images

Free Stock Photos

There are a number of websites that offer free stock photos that you can use in a variety of ways. Many of them offer public domain photos, which means you can use them for anything you want. Others offer photos under the various creative commons licenses. Just be sure to read the license for each photo before you use it so you don’t inadvertently forget to credit the photographer, if required.

The Stocks

>> http://thestocks.im/

The Stocks allows you to search many of the major free stock photo sites from a single location. This way, you don’t have to keep remembering all the different URLs each time you want to go look for photos.

Pixabay

>> http://www.pixabay.com

Pixabay is a huge archive of stock photos from a large number of contributors. The quality of the photos can vary, but there’s enough photos available that you can usually find at least a few photos on just about any subject you can think of.

>> https://www.pexels.com/

Pexels is another huge archive of stock photos. They have a big variety with a lot of very high quality photos. All photos are licensed under the Creative Commons 0 (Zero) license, which allows any legal use. Basically, you can do anything you want with the photos as long as you’re not portraying any humans in the photos in a bad light.

New Old Stock

>> http://nos.twnsnd.co/

New Old Stock is an archive of old photos that are in the public domain. Unfortunately, it’s not searchable, but you can find some very cool historical photos there that are copyright free.

Public Domain Archive

>> http://publicdomainarchive.com/free-stock-photos/

Public Domain Archive has a huge list of various sites that offer free stock photos. It’s a great resource for finding pretty much any type of photo you could ever need.

Search Creative Commons

>> https://search.creativecommons.org/

You can search for Creative Commons photos at this site. Try using Flickr, as a lot of people post photos there with Creative Commons licenses that allow commercial purposes. Just remember that some may require attribution. Wikimedia Commons also has some good photos sometimes.

Paid Stock Photos

Although there are millions of photos available for free, sometimes you just can’t seem to find the photo you need. That’s when it’s time to check out the paid stock photo sites.

There are thousands of sites that sell stock photos, but many of them are either extremely expensive or offer a very small selection. I’m going to list some of the stock photo sites that offer reasonable prices and good selections.

Deposit Photos

>> http://www.depositphotos.com

These days, Deposit Photos is one of the most affordable stock photo sites there is. They have a very wide variety of photos, and although their selection isn’t quite as good as some of the older stock sites, they have enough of a selection that you can find photos for most needs.

99 Club

>> https://goo.gl/ps2mz0

99 Club from Stock Photo Secrets has a database of about 4,000,000 photos, and you only have to pay $99 for a one-year subscription. You get to download 200 images during that time, and there are no limits on how many you can download in a day. That’s less than 50 cents per image! And if you need more images after your 200, you can get them for just a buck each.

Shutterstock

>> http://www.shutterstock.com

Shutterstock is one of the biggest, most popular stock photo sites. They have a huge selection of high quality photos. They are fairly pricey, but they do offer a few subscription packages that can help you save money.

>> http://stock.adobe.com

Adobe Stock is a fairly new option, but they already have a huge variety of photos and they’re great quality. They have a subscription plan which offers 10 images per month for $29.99, and your first month is free.

Dreamstime

>> http://www.dreamstime.com

Dreamstime has been around for years, and they have a pretty wide selection at fair prices. You can get cheaper photos by buying larger credit packages, and they also have monthly subscriptions.

Big Stock Photo

>> http://www.bigstockphoto.com

Big Stock Photo has been around for years, and they have a pretty big selection of photos. Their packages are relatively expensive overall, but because you get such a large number of photos included, they actually work out to be cheaper than many sites.

123RF

>> http://www.123rf.com

123RF is a very affordable stock photo site with credits that amount to less than a dollar a photo for most packages. They also have monthly subscription plans, and a wide variety of photos to choose from.

Other Photos

Sometimes you may have a hard time finding exactly the photo you need for a particular purpose through free and paid stock photo sites, but you might find the perfect photo through Google Images, Instagram, or somewhere else. What should you do in this case?

The answer, of course, is to contact the photographer and ask for permission to use the photo. Be upfront and honest about what you want to use the photo for, and ask them if they’d be willing to allow you to use it.

They may say no, which unfortunately is their right. However, you may be pleasantly surprised. Many photographers are just happy their work is appreciated, and would love to see it being used. They may ask for attribution, such as a mention on your blog or inside your book, or they may ask for payment. In this case, it’s up to you to decide if their asking price is worth it to you.

But at least by asking, you’ll avoid any potential legal troubles down the road.

If you have trouble finding the original photographer of an image, try uploading the photo to Google Images. Just go to Google Images and click the camera icon by the search box. Then enter the URL of a photo you found online, or click the upload tab to upload a photo you have on your computer or device.

This will search Google for other copies of the photo, often allowing you to find the original source.

You can then contact the photographer though their email, contact form, blog, or social media.

Conclusion

Photos are a critical component of pretty much any type of online business. Blogs, websites, social media—they all require quality images. But if you use photos you’re not legally licensed to use, you could be on the line for thousands of dollars in damages!

Fortunately, there are plenty of free and affordable legal images on stock photos websites, available for almost any purpose you can imagine. There’s no need to risk thousands of dollars in fines and legal fees when you can locate the photos you need legally!

Remember, even if you can’t find the right photo via the free and paid stock photo sites, you may still be able to get the right picture by contacting the original photographer of an image you find online and asking for permission to use it.

It can be frustrating being unable to find the right photo, or having to pay for images when you’re not yet profitable, but it’s a lot more frustrating to wind up in court and coming out of pocket thousands of dollars for a single image. It’s best to follow the right legal channels and save yourself the hassle.

If nothing else, you can take your own photos. At least that way you’ll have precisely the right photo with no legal issues.

Best of luck!

Freelance Job Sites For Designers & Programmers

Freelance Job Sites For Designers & Programmers

Freelancing as a designer or developer can be a freeing experience and with more freelance job sites popping up online, now is a great time to jump on it.

Being a freelancer gives you the opportunity to create and design at times that suit you, work from wherever you are, choose the jobs you are really interested in and have levels of flexibility most other folks only dream about.

Basically anyone with anything to sell needs to either learn how to do it, or … more often, turn to someone who can do it for them.

Which is where you come in!  Below is a collection of the best freelance job sites for you to sign up to and start earning income as you build up your skills.

So without further ado, here are my favourite sites not only for finding freelancers to do tasks I need – but sites I can happily recommend to you as great sites to kickstart your own freelancing career and get some cash flow while you increase your skills at the same time.

Fiverr

The first place to go to when trying to find good freelance job sites has to be Fiverr.

It’s a great place to start your freelancing work to just see if this is something you are interested in.  You can charge from $5 – with the option to charge more too, but if you are just beginning and are using freelancing to expand and develop your skills, then start low and use it as paid experience.

freelance job sites

99Designs

This works a bit differently than other design sites with a more ‘crowdsourcing’ angle. The client posts their requests and how much they are willing to pay and then designers create entries to be considered – if they are choose yours, you win the prize.

This can be a little riskier, ’cause there’s no guarantee you’ll get paid for your work but it’s an excellent place to test out your skills, develop some items for your portfolio and get feedback… and if you DO win, you’ll end up with more than you would normally be paid for a regular freelance job.

Upwork

One of the original freelance job sites has to be Upwork.  This site has been around forever… it used to be called odesk and gives you the opportunity to try your skills out at a hugely varied array of projects.

Freelancer

This is one of the oldest and largest freelancing sites online, so you’ll have no issue finding clients here, just sign up to become a freelancer and search to find jobs that appeal to you… and get applying!

Design Crowd

This is an excellent alternative to sell services like advertising graphics, business card design, logo design, banners, ecovers and even website design.

Crew

If brand identity, website design or app development (including UI design) is your thing then Crew is worth joining up to and listing your portfolio.

Guru

Guru is a good spot for most kinds of freelancing (not just design, but development, writing etc) and has the extra benefit of offering the ability to keep funds in escrow, so you have a better chance of getting paid after you finish your work.

Behance

Behance offers a really clean way to manage your clients and jobs, so you can find jobs in Behance and service your clients in a nice streamlined way.

Dribbble

Companies like Salesforce & Microsoft as well as smaller startup companies use Dribbble to find people to do tasks – so, why not let that be you!  You can get a free account, and then click the ‘Hire Me’ button and get started.

Envato

Envato is an Australian based (but 100% massively global) marketplace for anyone from designers, to coders or video creators and more.  You can create templates for logos or banners or anything that is your specialty – and then sell them multiple times, so you aren’t working for a ‘client’ as such, but making and selling your designs over and over.

 

Tools You Need To Make Money As A Freelance Web Designer

Tools You Need To Make Money As A Freelance Web Designer

There are really only three things you need to start making as a freelance web designer… 

And you’ll be surprised to know that ACTUAL design skills isn’t one of them

Of course, if you already have a keen eye for design you might be able to get nicer results faster, but being a freelance web designer is more about seizing an opportunity than about being the master of your skills.

In this article I’ll give you requirements list of the things you absolutely need, where you can get them and how you can become a profit earning freelance web designer nice and quickly.

#1:  Your Computer

To do design work, you’ll need to have a computer that’s relatively new model, or have it upgraded to run the latest design software.

You will need a computer with a decent processor and hard drive space

  • Minimum of 6-8GB memory (RAM)
  • Minimum of 500GB hard drive space

at least 6-8 GB of memory, and a decent-sized hard drive—at least 500 GB, because you will need to store a lot of large graphic files.

If you don’t have enough hard drive space, rather than going and buying a whole new computer – get an external hard drive and store your design work on that. Amazon has some really cheap ones you can use, here are some of the most recent recommendations from Amazon:

If you don’t have a computer that is suitable, you might want to consider financing one, or leasing one.

Many places will only require a small down payment, and if you apply yourself properly, the money you make as a freelancer will pay for the payments, and the new computer will help with your other Internet Marketing work too.

(Obviously… I’m not giving you financial advice here, do NOT message me saying you have no money left to buy food for your children – use your common sense please!)

Something like the ASUS VivoMini VC65R-G039M (pictured to the left here) will work.  

This has 1000 GB HDD & 8GB RAM. If you already have a mouse, monitor etc, you can just plug them in to this and you are good to go.  Click here if you want to have a look.

#2:  Internet Connection

You’ll need a connection of some kind, but if you haven’t got fast internet where you live (or no internet at all), there are tons of places you can go to access free wifi  – spots like your local library, community college, coffee shop or even hitting up your local Macca’s (aka. McDonalds for you people who aren’t Australian)

A thrifty idea too – to get around any paid/free options… is to use the free, often slower services for your research, postings and basic Internet use – and then once a week or as often as you need, go to a paid one with faster connection – and use that time to upload/download/sync all of your larger files.

Another option too, depending on where you are living – is a mobile hotspot dongle, the bandwidth costs can get a bit expensive with these, but if it’s your only option you’ll just need to do an extra gig or two to make it worth it. 

Obviously the faster/cheaper the better – so shop around and see how you go.

Oh, one other little ‘hack’ you might find useful when looking at choosing an Internet Service Provider – is to visit Cell Mapper and find out which tower is closest to your location.  The closer you are, the faster the speeds will be.

#3:  Software

Finally, you’ll need some good design software.

I personally love Adobe Photoshop – and now with the Creative Cloud you can get it reasonably cheaply.  For example, if you get the ‘Photographers’ license, you can get the first month trial for free – and then it’s just a little over $10 a month to keep accessing once the trial runs out. 

=> Start your Adobe Creative Cloud free trial here

BUT… if you are totally strapped for cash (or want extra money on hand to buy yourself a new shiny computer), then there are some other alternatives.

Free Photoshop Alternative 1: GIMP

This is a great substitute for Photoshop and it’s totally free.  I’ve always been a photoshop girl, so when I tried to work my way around GIMP I found it a bit restricting, but it’s a great place to start if you need to earn money FIRST and then go and grab all of the shiny tools later.

There are also quite a few video tutorials on Youtube for GIMP that will help you get similar results as you would in Photoshop.

=> Visit the GIMP website here

Free Photoshop Alternative 2: Canva

freelance-web-designerCanva uses the ‘freemium’ model of business, so you can access SOME things for free and others you’ll need to pay for.

I love Canva ’cause it’s a great place to come and get some design inspiration and access their growing database of resources

=> Visit Canva here

That’s it! That’s really all the ‘bits’ you need to get started.

Got any feedback – have you found a cheaper/better option for graphic design, to Photoshop – or have you got a nicely priced computer suggestions for other aspiring freelance web designers?  Leave your comments below!