Writers, designers, artists, and all curious/creative people are all entrepreneurs in some small way. If you are currently thinking about doing something you have always wanted to do and can complete this sentence: I have always wondered what it would be like to ______________, then I challenge you to do that thing which you have always wanted to do. Follow your curiosity. Write a book. Seriously, start, now. Paint a painting. Sell those cute little cutting boards you make for your friends online.
That is my goal and so far some amazing things have happened. Unexpected things, that won’t happen unless you allow yourself to follow curiosity. I have amassed quite the list of tools to help myself along the way. Software, websites and people that can help you realize your dream, then start again. I wanted to share that list with you.
These are great tools for curious people to help you along the way. For me to use these tools they must be free (or almost free), easy to use, and extremely helpful in my creative endeavors. (This is in no way, shape or form an affiliate, advertising list so rest assured I am making these suggestions because I use these tools and feel they may be useful to you.)
11 GREAT TOOLS FOR CURIOUS PEOPLE
1.) PicMonkey – Have you ever needed to add text to a photo? Maybe add an effect or create little simple logos or designs for something? PicMonkey is a free site that allows you to design, edit and export high quality graphics and designs that you can use in your creative ventures. The free version is actually incredibly useful and I use it almost weekly for marketing efforts and to test out ideas. For example, make a Pinterest worthy graphic like this one I made a few weeks ago using PicMonkey. http://www.picmonkey.com
2.) Evernote – This app may seem obvious to you and of course is not mind blowing or new. However, I just recently started using Evernote because the more you begin to follow your curiosity, the more ideas you have. I feel like a crazy person sometimes and Evernote allows me to remember those ideas for later. It is like your calendar or notes amplified into an easier, more creative interface. Chances are you already have this free app on your smartphone, but I challenge you to start to utilize it for your creative ideas. That way when you wake up at one o’clock in the morning with an incredibly creative idea, you won’t forget what it was. https://evernote.com
3.) Square – There are many options out there for accepting payment (yes PayPal is great) for your creative ventures but I like Square more than most. If you have eaten at a food truck or purchased something at a hipster craft fair then you have probably swiped your card using the tiny white card reader that plugs into a phone or tablet. A few weeks ago I gave a speech at a local library and used Square to sell copies of my book. It made the transactions professional and easy. The little white card reader is free. https://squareup.com
4.) WordPress – If you have an idea you need a website. I have used Weebly, Squarespace and Wix and have settled on sticking with WordPress. WordPress is not as user-friendly but for what is offered WordPress is the most cost friendly. If you want to build your own site but have absolutely no idea what you are doing, Weebly is a drag and drop site builder that is extremely easy. If you have a little bit of experience stay with WordPress. WordPress is as close to free as you will get in the website creation world.
5.) OpenOffice – As a writer there are many options for word-processing. Microsoft Word is fantastic for creating your big novel, that is if you already have it. If you don’t already have it then you have to spend money to get it. I don’t like spending money on things I can do for free, so I wrote my most recent book, Sunrises to Santiago, with OpenOffice. It acts like Word but it is free. A win win. OpenOffice allows you to export to files that are compatable with everything you need in the publishing world. I have a Mac and I am sad to say Pages is absolutely terrible for book writing. I learned this the hard way when I completed the first draft of the book, then realized the file export capabilities and compatablility would force me to start over with OpenOffice. https://www.openoffice.org
6.) Prototyper – Have an idea for the next great app? The free version of Prototyper allows you to create interactive wireframes for your idea. I used this when designing my now defunct ToolShare App. You can then download a version of your app to your phone to test and see if it actually works the way you would like. Your developer will appreciate this planning and it will save you money in the long run. http://www.justinmind.com/download
7.) Khan Academy – Want to learn something? Khan Academy is a great site that allows you to learn so many things for free. This is a curious person’s holy grail. For example, as an entrepreneur you want to know at least a basic level of coding. I spent a couple of weeks on Khan Academy and learned how basic coding works, which has allowed me to add some pretty cool things to my project websites. https://www.khanacademy.org
8.) A Thesaurus – I am not talking about some ironically named app or website. I am talking about an old school, paperback thesaurus. As a writer you must have a thesaurus in your bookshelf. Sometimes it is the difference between a good sentence and a memorable sentence. Looking for a business name? Use your thesaurus for ideas. Go to your local thrift store and you can normally find a copy in the book section for a buck. This is my idea of poppin’ tags.
9.) COLOURlovers – If you are looking for the perfect colors for your new business logo then check out this site for some inspiration. It features ideas and color trends and patterns that make sure your new brand has the right look. http://www.colourlovers.com/
10.) Google Analytics and AdWords – If you can learn how to read the statistics then Google Analytics tells you a story about what people like on your site and what they don’t. AdWords allows you to advertise and see exactly what your return on investment is. With AdWords you only pay when someone clicks on your ad: https://www.google.com/adwords/
11.) Mailchimp – This is a great tool that allows you to create, send and track newsletters to your adoring fans. The free version is actually incredibly useful and user friendly. http://mailchimp.com/
If you have any to add to this list feel free to comment below!