Jun 17, 2015

Harness Your Creativity: 7 Must-Have Digital Tools

In the popular AMC series "Mad Men," it took an entire agency on Madison Avenue to churn out the world's most creative advertising campaigns for companies like Kodak and Honda. Dozens of directors, copywriters, editors, and designers collaborated over long hours to create just one campaign for a big client.

Obviously, a lot has changed since the 1960s. And while there are still agencies filled with men and women in these positions, there are even more freelancers out there building entire campaigns all on their own. So how do they do it? With nothing more than a laptop and an Internet connection -- along with some powerful web tools that replace the need for an entire Madison Avenue agency. Before your next creative project, look to these tools to help you create a masterpiece from start to finish.


Trello -- Even a one-man/woman show needs help organizing tasks. Trello is a digital kanban, a system that tracks tasks in stages (also known as sprints) -- what needs to get done, what's currently being worked on, and what's completed. You can do this with a whiteboard and a stack of Post-It notes, but Trello shrinks the concept down to your laptop screen.

Evernote -- If you truly want to keep all your tools digital, that includes your notes as well. Evernote is a great platform for your PC, tablet, and smartphone that organizes everything from the brief note, to pictures, sketches, and even files. It's all synced between your devices and it's easy to search and organize. You'll never go back to pen and paper again.


Hemingway -- Great copy is the lifeblood of a campaign. It's the spirit of the project and can make or break your work. Hemingway is a fantastic distraction-free platform for writing and editing. The writing portion blanks out everything on the screen so you can focus, and the editing section points out unnecessary adverbs, adjectives, and other fluff that Ernest Hemingway himself would have despised.

Kopywriting Kourse -- Apps can't teach you how to write, but people can. Neville Medhora of KopywritingKourse.com is an expert in creative copy and he goes in depth on the topic in his blog, while also covering efficiency, the business of writing, and improving technical skills. Brush up on his tips to hone your own skills.


Shutterstock -- There are dozens of places to buy images online, but they either carry a puny library or charge individually for images. Shutterstock's inventory has vectors, editorial, and stock images and their library is enormous. Plus you can sign up for monthly subscriptions that let you download up to 750 images per month.

Canva -- Comprehensive campaigns involve graphics for all mediums -- print, web, television, and social media. Canva is an easy to use platform with thousands of fonts, vectors, and custom images (like your own from Shutterstock) that you can arrange into stunning designs for all your collateral. While professional designers will always use Photoshop and InDesign, Canva is perfect for beginners who aren't familiar with the pro tools.

Theme Forest -- Websites need design too, and unless you know how to code in several languages, it helps to lean on wireframes for Wordpress to build on. Theme Forest is the digital marketplace for thousands of themes for any industry. Each theme is customizable, so you can shape it to your client's brand and needs.

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