10 Free Creative Resources Every Small Business Owner Should Know About

10 Free creative resources every small business owner should know about
10 Free creative resources every small business owner should know about

a small business owner you’ve probably found yourself in this situation: you have to design something. Maybe it’s a graphic to post to your business’s social media account, a flyer for the craft fair next week, or a quick ad for an event you sponsored. And you don’t want to waste all day on it because you still have to actually run your business.

Where do you find photos you can use? What about fonts? You don’t like any of the fonts on your computer, but where do you find [legal] free fonts that don’t suck? What about non-cheesy icons? And how do you put it all together?

Bookmark this article, it will save you so much stress and Googling.

These are some of my favorite free design-related resources that can help you out when you need to do a creative project on a tight budget and have no idea where to [again: legally] acquire the resources you need.

Before we proceed, a quick note about licensing:

There are a variety of licenses for intellectual property. Some free resources are licensed for personal use only, some for commercial use as well, and some ask that you attribute the artist who created it. Keep an eye out so that you ensure you’re properly using free resources and showing gratitude to the creators who shared their intellectual property with you. And if there’s a place to donate, we always encourage that! Support artists!

Stock Resources

Unsplash and Pexels

A screen shot of the Pexels homepage shows a gallery of stock photos and a search bar you can use to browse stock photos
A screen shot of the Pexels homepage shows a gallery of stock photos and a search bar you can use to browse stock photos

Unsplash and Pexels are two great sources for free stock photos. They offer interesting images in a variety of styles. I love these sites because the photos generally have an authentic, contemporary style — they’re not your typical cookie-cutter stock photos.

Videvo

A screen shot of the Videvo homepage shows three main buttons: video, music, and sound effects
A screen shot of the Videvo homepage shows three main buttons: video, music, and sound effects

Videvo is a wonderful resource for free video clips, audio, and sound effects.

The Noun Project

A screen shot of The Noun Project homepage shows many black and white icons and a search bar that says “search for anything”
A screen shot of The Noun Project homepage shows many black and white icons and a search bar that says “search for anything”

Not an illustrator? No problem. The Noun Project is a stockpile of every icon imaginable. And you can even download icons as SVGs: a vector file format, which means you can enlarge them infinitely without the image becoming pixelated!

YouTube Audio Library

The YouTube logo
The YouTube logo

Warning: don’t use your favorite song as background music in your videos. Did you know that Facebook will remove the audio from your video if there is music in the background you don’t have the proper license for and YouTube will remove your video entirely if they find you’re using unlicensed music. Finding royalty-free music for use in videos can be a challenge. While it’s disappointing you likely won’t be able to use a familiar song, fear not: YouTube created a library of high-quality royalty-free music for use in videos. Whatever genre you’re looking for and whatever vibe you want to create, the YouTube Audio Library probably has a song for your project.

Google Fonts

A screen shot of the Google Fonts homepage shows a grid of sample text in 8 different fonts
A screen shot of the Google Fonts homepage shows a grid of sample text in 8 different fonts

Are you tired of using your default browser fonts? Check out Google fonts! You can easily find a new favorite font by browsing by category, language, and font properties. AND all of their fonts can be used on the web as well!

Tools

Pixlr

A screen shot of the Pixlr photo editing tool. The color correction tab displays adjustments for brightness, contrast, etc.
A screen shot of the Pixlr photo editing tool. The color correction tab displays adjustments for brightness, contrast, etc.

Pixlr is an online photo editor AND mobile app. It’s great for basic photo tasks like cropping, minor color-correction and resizing images. Remember that time you tried to upload an image to a social media site and it said the file was too big? Problem solved.

Canva

A screen shot of the Canva tool shows a variety of templates to choose from and a social media graphic in process.
A screen shot of the Canva tool shows a variety of templates to choose from and a social media graphic in process.

Canva is a wonderful tool for creating social media posts. There are plenty of well-designed templates you can choose from to get started. Then just customize it by adding photos and changing the text. Bam. Easy.

Learning

CreativeLive

Creative Live Logo
Creative Live Logo

I love, love, love CreativeLive. They have excellent online courses on every aspect of business and creativity. Their workshop skill levels range from beginner to advanced. It’s always free to watch the livestream, or if you want to purchase a course to view at any time (on average, classes range from $50-$200 and they are totally worth it!).

Your Library eBranch!

A screenshot of the Cincinnati Public Library eBranch homepage shows covers of featured books
A screenshot of the Cincinnati Public Library eBranch homepage shows covers of featured books

This seems like an obvious one…but I want to also throw in a PSA that libraries are great! I hope that you already know that libraries let you borrow books for free. But in case you haven’t heard — you can also borrow audiobooks and ebooks without even leaving your house! I’ve already listened my way through 9 library audiobooks this year while doing yard work and laundry. Back when I was commuting an hour and half every day, I went through audiobooks like crazy. It’s great!

(I linked to the Hamilton County library, but if you don’t live in Hamilton County check your local library — many libraries have digital resources available.)

I’d like to recommend a few of my fave business and creativity books:

Image for post
Image for post

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
By Cal Newport
Borrow from Library
View on Amazon

Captivate
By Vanessa Van Edwards
Borrow from Library
View on Amazon

Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business
By Charles Duhigg
Borrow from Library
View on Amazon

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
By Susan Cain
Borrow from Library
View on Amazon

The 46 Rules of Genius
By Marty Neumeier
This isn’t at the Cincinnati eBranch…but it’s worth a read.
View on Amazon

Daring Greatly
By Brene Brown
Okay…I haven’t actually read this yet, but I hear great things!
Borrow from Library
View on Amazon

I hope this list of resources is helpful to you and your business. When you get tired of doing it yourself and want to save yourself some time, we can help! The creative experts at Polyrhythm will capture the essence of your business and attract your target audience, whether it’s through a logo, photo, promo video, print piece…or anything else you can imagine. If you’re looking for experienced, professional creatives to help craft any element of your business’s image, we’d love to work with you!

Alyse Capaccio
Alyse Capaccio

Alyse Capaccio
Polyrhythm Studio
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Header photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

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