Category Archives: Business

You can afford to get the full picture. For Free!

If you run a business, blog, or website, or just need some images for promotional material, you don’t have to pay for everything. Below is a list of 10 sites that can offer a free resource to give you a solution. Not only can you save money, but you can avoid being robbed of your valuable time in searching for what you want.

1. Unsplash

Fantastic images, with 10 new ones added every 10 days

Can I search images? Yes .   Is attribution required? No, but appreciated

3. Picjumbo

22 year old photographer, Viktor Hanacek, has put together a great site with top class images used by millions across the world.

Can I search images? Yes . Is attribution required? No, but check

4. Pixabay

Over 970,000 images on a CC0 basis. Also they have videos.

Can I search images? Yes.  Is attribution required? No

5. Gratisography

Ryan McGuire has a fantastic collection of his work for use free of copyright, and new ones added weekly.

Can I search images? Yes . Is attribution required? No, but appreciated

6. FreeImages

High quality resource of digital stock images.

Can I search images? Yes . Is attribution required? Yes

7. Free Range Stock

The site was formed with the goal to provide quality stock photos for commercial and non-commercial use.

Can I search images? Yes . Is attribution required? No, but check CC0 status

8. New Old Stock

Vintage photos from the public archives. Free of known copyright restrictions.

Can I search images? Yes . Is attribution required? As per origin site.

9. Pexels

Free, tagged and searchable CC0 images with good filters for selection. Also a video clip section.

Can I search images? Yes . Is attribution required? No

10. Public Domain Archive

100% free stock photos, with new items weekly, taken from the public domain.

Can I search images? No . Is attribution required? As per origin site

Attribution and licenses explained. 

REMEMBER! In a Google Images search, photos may not be ones that you’re free to immediately use. Usually they are still covered by photographers’ copyrights.

You need to make sure that you check the source websites to keep yourself out of copyright trouble, and check for the particular image you want to use.

Two types of licence are:

Creative Commons zero (CC0) allows use of the images in any way you like, no need to ask for permission.

Creative Commons with attribution is as above, but you need to credit the creator of the image.

Attribution should include the name of the creator, and a link to their website if available. It’s not just legally sound, it’s polite! Always be safe by being sure to check each website’s licence page for specific details.

Can “FREE” ever give true value?

It will not have escaped your notice that there are many products and services out there that are listed as “FREE”. You are also familiar, I’m sure, with the adage that “You get what you pay for”. Are these statements always true? Assuming that you are not fully ready to spend all of your hard earned pennies on having the best known software tools in the current climate, here are a few of the opportunities to get what you want in a way that may not cost you any cash. (I should say here that I am not an affiliate of any of these organisations, and I gain no financial advantage from you visiting their sites and links below.) Whilst not the best solutions for the fully established entities that are surging towards domination of our planet, these options can be life-saving (and life-giving) for the small but growing business in a global age. There are some overlaps in the examples below, but I am sure you are more than able to recognise what works well for your challenge and might provide a good, and almost always free solution.

So, in no particular order whatsoever, here we go…!

Aha! A product strategy tool. This has simple and clean approach, and will be helpful for putting all your thoughts and projects in order for specific and ongoing timelines. Good function for launches of products and services, with a clever gantt style calendar view. It gives a free trial period, and is free after that for up to 5 users.

Zoho Business applications in a well integrated package for easy use. They call it “an operating system for business”, and they’re not far off. All areas from people, customers, projects, finance, and many more are covered by their wide-ranging and growing suite. they are a huge partner of Google, and have the integrations to prove it. Their plans have a free option for almost all apps, and their small accounting function is great to use when mobile.

Mailerlite Automated email marketing software that can save hours and cement relationships. This is in a competitive arena, and performs well to allow replies and follow-ups to be easily managed to keep your subscribed customers and prospects engaged over an extended period. The use of landing pages is made simple, and the plug-ins for use on a site are straightforward. This is free for up to 1,000 subscribers.

Canva design tool to assist with graphics that you might need on your website and promotional materials. Not able to afford Photoshop? This provides a good spread of resources and flexibility, which allows you to build your design from scratch. You can use your own or stock images as well as screenshots and presentation slides to create punchy and vibrant graphics to use for targeted or longterm purposes. Free to register to use.

WordPress. Very widely used content management system, for easy and fast access to changes needed on a blog or website. There are two flavours, “.com” and “.org” If you use the first, then it is truly free to start off with. There is a huge community of support, and it really is simple to tweak your site to what you want. There are over 74 million WordPress sites out there, and around half are on the .com platform.

G Suite. The latest incarnation and wrapping from Google for an alternative to MS Office. If you want to keep legal, then this is the one that does have a small monthly charge of $5 per month for a user, but you get a lot for your money.

So there you have it. Some options to get free value in a monetary world. There are of course others that may meet the brief above, but these are some that I think are worth a look. If you use any of these already, or you find the examples interesting, please leave me a comment.

“Born in Birmingham”, “Made in the Midlands”, or “Bred in the Black Country”; how do you sell yourself?

We all of us have roots. Some of them reach deeper than others. I have come across many people over the years that are driven by origins which give a strong message; the only problem is that it’s not always clear whether the sentiments conveyed are good or bad.

It is innate in the vast majority of the population that they are fierce defenders of the area where they were born and often made their way in life. There is nothing wrong in this attitude, and it is rare that an individual takes against their regional background. This value system can be a major part of one’s upbringing, and it can be enlightening to see how far this permeates into areas such as business and commerce, as well as wider community-based pastimes.

Yes, I have met those from the Black Country who would not do deals with a Brummie unless it were the last – and only – possible alternative on a very, very, long list of options. It sounds harsh, but there is a consistency of approach if you reverse the roles as well. The main factor here is incredibly irrational, emotional, and often illogical: it is Pride. (For the purposes of my subject matter in this article, I am referring to the wider concept as it is understood, and not the more strictly drawn but popular rainbow terminology familiar today.)

Pride is an emotion that lurks within all of us. Its noticeable presence can vary across time, but it seldom disappears altogether. We want to do business with all good people but, building a deal with something that allows us to feel proud, well, that makes us feel warm inside, and bright outside. Doing a piece of business from our vibrant conurbation that reflects on what our geography has given us, permits a flush of satisfaction, and a more enjoyable glass of wine or beer at the end of a long work day. Sure, it’s always nice to help a Brummie “get one over” on a Black Country cousin, but Banks’s and Bathams can sup respectfully with erstwhile fans of Brew XI. In regard to that particular tipple, there is still the question of allocating ownership of the Mitchell and Butlers brewery. “Yam Yam” or “Brummagem”? I’ll leave that one with you and the comments section… (I’ll ignore the growing Burton-based web of US parent corporates!)

Even when such local rivalries are put to one side, the opportunities still arise to classify what you are doing as “Made in the Midlands”. Can we beat the Soft Southerners, or No-Nonsense Northerners? You bet. (To clarify, Eastern, Western and other parts of this Sceptered Isle to make gratuitous fun of are freely available…)

Back to the topic. How do you sell yourself and your organisation? Does heritage and tradition help? I am curious to read what you think. Let me know in the comments. I have worked all over the UK, but being who I am, from where I am, shapes what I am. Me? I was Bred in the Black Country, lived as an incomer Brummie, and still try to spread the word as much as possible, that great things are Made in the Midlands.

You can find out more about what that means to me here.