Getting started as a Freelance Graphic Artist can be expensive. If you’re doing everything the nice and legal way (as you should) then you have a lot of money to spend up front on software…or do you?
You don’t HAVE to drop $499 on Illustrator, $649 for Photoshop, $350 for Dreamweaver, and $250 on Quickbooks to get started doing small jobs. You can easily do simple websites, t-shirt designs, poster artwork, and album covers in much less expensive software…take a look…
Pixel Image Editor $39 (Photoshop $649)
Probably the buggiest of any of the software I’m going to mention today, Pixel Image Editor is still a great, and inexpensive alternative to Photoshop. If you’re a serious Photographer that needs many of Photoshop’s advanced features, Pixel isn’t going to be for you, but if you’re editing graphics, doing web design, or doing less complicated art for your clients, Pixel is a fantastic image editor to get started with. The program is very similar in layout to Photoshop, so if you’re already familiar with Adobe’s Image Editor, you should feel right at home here.
You can download Pixel here
You can also look at GIMP as a free alternative to Photoshop, but I have never really enjoyed the Mac version of the program because it requires that you run X11.
Lineform $79.95 (Illustrator $499)
This Apple Design Award winning program is worth every penny of it’s $79.95 price tag. I have already written about Lineform on the site, but it is worth mentioning again, because the program is truly an Illustrator replacement for 1/6th the price.
Does it do everything that Illustrator does? No…but most users will find Lineform to be a total replacement for their Vector Art needs.
You can download Lineform here.
NVU – FREE + BBEdit $30 (Dreamweaver $350)
NVU is an open source WYSIWYG Web Authoring System for Mac, Windows, and Linux. I do all my CSS editing in a text editor like BBEdit, but if I need a WYSIWYG solution for building simple HTML webpages, NVU does the trick. I use these two program together, and I can’t say that I see a need to pay for Dreamweaver. I’m sure there are some out there that would disagree…and that’s fine…they can buy Dreamweaver…but if you want to spend $30 instead of $350, this is the way to go.
You can download NVU here
and a trial of BBEdit here
Billings 2 $59 (Quickbooks $250)
I always see Quickbooks recommended to small business owners (and let’s face it freelancers…you are a small business owner) but Quickbooks has a lot of advanced features that a one man (or woman) operation just doesn’t need. I like Billings 2 from MarketCircle for a number of reasons. You can keep track of all your invoices, you can track the amount of time you spend working on a job, and you can create professional looking invoices with just a few clicks. No more spending time in Illustrator (or Lineform) making your invoices look pretty…Billings does it for you…and it works great.
You can download Billings here and give it a test run.
I think eventually, most professionals will need to get Photoshop for more advanced work, but these other programs on the list may be all you ever need to buy. They’re solid programs from great developers – developers that will LISTEN TO YOU – when you supply feedback. That’s something I really value and appreciate.
Did I miss something? Do you know of an App that you think would be better than the ones above? Shout out about it in the comments section below…