Where growing, making & good living come together

Free resources for simple living & frugal bloggers

Posted by on Friday 1 October 2010 in meta | 0 comments

I read a lot of frugal living blogs and blogs by growers & cooks – people who aren’t necessarily as geeky as me because they’re too busy doing what they love to be glued to their computers like I am – and recently I’ve noticed a number of people using copyrighted/watermarked images, or not being able to crop/edit pictures they’re using (especially screenshots). I thought it might be useful to them (and others) to pass on a few (free!) resources that I use regularly in my blogging.

(If you already know about all these things and/or get bored by computer stuff, perhaps you’ll be more interested in making a water bottle holder/flask holder, or making a blackberry jam from the last of the blackberries?)

  • Stock images #1: it’s always better to use your own unique images wherever possible but between our growing, making and cooking, there’s not always time for that and I’m not the best photographer anyway so I use Stock.XCHNG sometimes too – when the picture isn’t an important part of the story, just a nice illustration. Stock.XCHNG is now part of Getty Images (which charges for use & watermarks images so it’s obvious if you steal them) and the “premium” pay-for photos are advertised heavily on the site but there is still a LOT of free stuff available. Some images require you to message & credit the creator if you want to use them but most don’t. It’s free to register and you can add to the community too by uploading your own pictures.
    >> Stock.XCHNG
  • Stock pictures #2: Similarly, Flickr’s Creative Commons section allows you to search for pictures released for use under the Creative Commons licenses. Creative Commons images (and other media) are available for anyone to use, for free as long as you agree to meet the requirements of the licence – some pictures just need to credit the photograph, others say you can’t use them for commercial work etc. At the moment, there are 22million pictures that just need an attribution/credit – plenty to choose from.
    >> Flickr’s Creative Commons photo collection
  • Photo editing/screen shots: The GIMP is fantastic, free “image manipulation” software, typically referred to as a free version of Photoshop. It does have a lot of very advanced functions but you can use it for simple cropping, resizing or colour tweaking. It’s easy to take screenshots with The GIMP too – File > Acquire > Screenshot > Snap – and the resulting image can easily be edited/resized or saved as a jpg or png file.
    >> The GIMP
  • Creating banners/buttons: Another piece of fantastic, free graphics software is Inkscape. It’s a different kettle of fish from the GIMP – creating “scalable vector graphics” like Illustrator – and it took me a little while to get my head around it but once I did, I was completely converted. I also use it for desktop publishing style jobs like creating leaflets.
    >> Inkscape
  • Fonts: I’m very picky about fonts and I always try to find the perfect font for use on banners/buttons. Fontspace is probably my favourite font site – because unlike many font download sites, it lets you instantly see what your word/words will look like in that font – rather than just seeing ABCs or the fonts name as a preview. Thousands of well-categorised fonts to choose from too.
    >> Fontspace
  • Blogging software: I’ve tried a lot of different blogging platforms including Blogger & Livejournal, but WordPress is by far my favourite – it’s HIGHLY customisable & extendable, but at its most basic level, you don’t have to be a computer whiz to use it. You can either download it and run it on your own server (and some hosts provide it as a “one click install”) or you can leave all that to WordPress.com. To make your blog special, there are thousands and thousands of free themes available for it – the easiest to install are the ones in the WordPress theme directory but there are even more at WordPressthemesbase and some very sleek ones at BlogOhBlog.
    >> WordPress.org

I hope this has been useful to someone! If not, did I mention flask holder patterns and blackberry jam recipes? ;)

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