This is a post I’ve been wanting to write a for a while, and this seemed like a good time for it. I’m sure a lot of people are struggling with finances right now and looking for ways to cut costs.
Anyway, because of my own situation, I’ve had to find ways to do the things I love on a budget. So I thought I’d share some of the cheaper or free alternatives I use for things like blogging and digital art with you all!
I’m not saying all these products, services, software, whatever they are are the best out there, but they are the best for me and my needs, so I thought maybe they’d be good for some other people too. And no, I’m not being sponsored by any of these companies, I’m not popular enough for that :-P I just like these, and my bank account has definitely thanked me for using them!
Photo Editing, Graphics, & Digital Art
A couple years ago, I decided Photoshop was too expensive for my budget, especially considering how little I was using it, and I needed to find an alternative photo editing program. I decided on Affinity Photo. I haven’t actually used it much since I got it, but it’s worked for my minimal photo editing needs so far, and it seems to be somewhat popular as an alternative, so there’s a good amount of help and support out there for anyone using it. This company also makes a range of products that are comparable to other products offered by Adobe. The best part? Rather than an annual fee, you pay a one-time fee (usually $50, I think, but they have sales sometimes), and then you own it for life.
When I got into digital art, I quickly realized Affinity Photo didn’t suit my needs for that particular purpose and went about trying some other software more focused on art. I settled on Krita as my favorite and have used it ever since. All the digital art I shared in 2019 was made with Krita. And I’ve always been able to find answers when I needed them. Also, it’s free!
GIMP – GNU Image Manipulation Program
I’ll be honest, GIMP is not my favorite program. But it’s free, and it’s what I originally downloaded to use to make the graphics for my blog, so now it’s just the easiest thing for me to keep using. It works if you have nothing else, and I’m sure it’s great for some people’s needs.
Organization & Writing
OpenOffice is a great free alternative to Microsoft Office, and there’s plenty of support for it since a lot of people use it. I only use it for the spreadsheets, but it does documents and presentations too.
It probably seems weird to recommend such a basic software that comes with every PC, but hey, it works! At least, for my needs. It’s a simple, basic word processor, and that’s why I love it. It’s perfect for keeping track of notes and for writing uncomplicated things (e.g. for a whole novel you might need something better, but it’s fine for short stories or poems).
There’s not much you need specifically for blogging. But if you want to go self-hosted, you do need a domain name and a webhost. I get my hosting from ChemiCloud. I think they’re a relatively new and small company, but their prices and customer service are both fantastic, and those were the two things that frustrated me with my previous webhost. If you check them out and decide you do want to host with them, I’d be happy if you’d use my affiliate link!
Most of you probably know this already, but I thought it’d be worth it to mention that many libraries, at least in the US, offer ebooks and audiobooks that you can download straight to your phone/tablet/computer. Even if you’re already using a service from your library, it’s worth it to double check because many of them use multiple services/apps! I didn’t realize for years that my library had a third service they used that had a whole bunch of books I wanted.
I don’t know how much longer it’s going to go on, but Epic Games has been offering free games for a while, new games every week or so. They’re free to keep once you download them!
I don’t know how useful this will be to some people, but if you ever need to convert documents or ebooks, Calibre is free and super easy to use.
Another one that might not be useful to a lot of people (especially since anyone reading this with a screen reader already has a screen reader, and anyone reading this with their eyes probably doesn’t need one), but I’m mentioning it anyway, since I use it. I get headaches from electronics, so I use a screen reader sometimes (so that I don’t have to use my eyes), and NVDA is the only free one I’ve found. I don’t know how it compares to others, but it works.