There is no replacement for professional graphic design. Period.
If you are a “solo-preneur” or a small startup, you will probably be cutting a lot of corners and bootstrapping as much as possible in the beginning. To a point, this is okay. But eventually, there is going to be way too much on your plate and, if you intend to actually be successful, you are going to need to start hiring other people to do the technical work. Especially if you intend to take your graphics into print.
You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars hiring other people to do your technical stuff. Just know your budget, then pick and choose the really critical parts. Great graphic design is, in my opinion, one of those critical areas. Your images are your brand. It is a lot of what people identify with in addition to your content.
While you need to get the major graphics handled (quickly and efficiently) by a pro, there are a couple great free tools you can use that will help you tremendously with a great deal of the smaller graphics you may need to generate for your website. That is assuming you don’t have Photoshop or don’t know how to use Photoshop.
Fan-freakin’-tastic online program! It is a really simple photo editor with tons of cool effects and features that work as simply as point, click, drag, and drop. You can play with colors, effects, add text, ad holiday images, stickers, frames around your photos, and so much more.
The only downside is that you can only save your finished product as a .jpg file. You cannot save your image file in a format that allows you to re-work the additional effects and layers later. Once you “close” the photo, any of the effects and additions you have added to it are gone from the original. If you need to change an effect you added to the image, you’ll need to start over again.
You can, of course, save your finished work. Make sure the image is exactly as you want it, save it to your hard drive, and you are done.
Definitely upgrade to the Premium membership for a whole year. It is $24.95 for the year which comes to $2.07 per month! Cheap and worth it (if you don’t have Photoshop). You get a ton of value from the free membership but the additional features you get when you upgrade are worth every penny.
2. Sumo Paint
Sumo does not compare to Photoshop so I am not going to parallel them. However, for the layman or the person who doesn’t own Photoshop and who needs some more advanced features to get their bootstrapped images made – Sumo Paint is awesome.
The Sumo Paint online application has a ton of fantastic features. You can remove the backgrounds from images, add text using the fonts on your computer, add additional shapes, colors, and images, and so much more.
It is definitely enough to get you by if you are starting out and trying to save money.
Additionally, it allows you to save your work on your hard drive as a .sumo file. This allows you to open the Sumo Paint App at a later time, open your .sumo file, and continue working and editing as you please.
Sumo also allows you to save your images in either a .png or a .jpg file format.
For the entrepreneur on a budget (who doesn’t use Photoshop), these free tools will be a massive help to your business. They will allow you tremendous flexibility for not costing anything.
Remember, though… you get what you pay for. Nothing will take the place of a professional graphic designer. So when it comes to stuff that really, really matters – like your logos, advertisements, and print ads – hire a professional!
It is worth the money and will greatly increase your chances of accomplishing your goals (sales, traffic, subscribers, etc.).