Despite COVID-19 temporarily putting the kibosh on live, in-person performances, there are, no doubt, arts marketers like you still working behind the scenes. And you're probably challenged by a tighter budget due to loss of revenue and less staff as a result of furloughs and layoffs.
Chances are your marketing department is down to one to two people--or maybe it's just you holding the fort. But even with little to no programming, you still need to promote your organization’s brand and get messaging out to your patrons and the community.
The good news is that there are loads of free tools out there that can help maximize your creative output and workflow.
I’ve selected seven freebies that I use (and love!) and urge you to check them out. They're super easy to learn and can make the lives of arts marketers like you who are working on a shoestring a whole lot easier.
I know, I know. You and everyone else in the world have likely heard of and used Canva at this point, but it’s such a useful and user-friendly tool, I had to include it in this list.
In the event you don't know about Canva, you need zero design skills to learn this fun tool, and the free version will provide you countless formats and templates for pretty much any kind of content you want to put out there.
Just establish your free Canva account--and start creating! Whether you’re posting on social media, sending out an email blast, assembling a photo collage, adding some pizzazz to video footage, putting together a newsletter, or reflecting data in an infographic—Canva’s got you covered. And Canva saves your templates, so if you’re creating a design for a series, you won’t have to start from scratch each time you need to make an adjustment.
I’ve used Canva for a variety of purposes, but it continues to be be my main go-to for all of my YouTube thumbnails.
YOUTUBE AUDIO LIBRARY
Speaking of YouTube, you can access royalty-free music and sound effects from YouTube’s Audio Library. Sure, there are audio libraries out there with affordable monthly subscriptions that have larger inventories and more sophisticated tracks, but chances are, for your purposes, YouTube’s audio library will do the trick. I’ve used music from the YouTube audio library for all of my short videos, and I’ve found music that fits the bill every time.
As long as you have a Gmail account (and who doesn't these days) you can access YouTube's free Audio Library.
PRO Tip: If you feel like getting a little more creative, download Apple's GarageBand and make an original composition using the Loops feature. Loops are fun to play around with and royalty-free. I composed the bumper for my latest video using Loops. It was fun and empowering to compose my own work, and I couldn’t be happier with the results!
If you need to include stock footage in your videos, Pexels should be your first stop.
Pexels is a free stock photo and video site that allows you to download photos and videos on the site for free. No attribution is required, and you can edit whatever you download in whatever way you like.
Pexels is a community of creators who regularly contribute their work to the site, so the inventory is ever-expanding. It’s also an easy site to navigate, so no need to worry about spending too much time trying to find just the right video footage or photos for your latest marketing initiative or message.
It should go without saying that whatever writing you put out there—especially when it’s part of your organization’s brand—should be engaging and error-free. But if you’re the only set of eyes available at the moment to check your work, then Grammarly is going to be your new best friend.
As you write, the Grammarly browser extension will usually automatically integrate and identify spelling and grammar errors and weak areas in your writing. Alternatively, you can manually open the Grammarly extension and copy and paste all of your text directly into a new document there to check your work. You'll see a more robust set of recommendations and a readability score.
Note: Grammarly may point out problem areas that will require the premium version to unlock, but you’ll likely be able to figure out what Grammarly's recommended changes are by making a few intuitive adjustments.
Once you use Grammarly, you’ll wonder how you ever sent any writing out into the world without it!
Hubspot is a marketing and CRM platform, but you don’t need to subscribe to Hubspot's services to gain access to the company's library of handy free resources. Once you give Hubspot your email address, you'll instantly gain access to a plethora of downloadable blog templates, social media and editorial calendars, and many more free and useful goodies that will speed up your creative processes and workflow.
PRO Tip: Looking to pick up a quick skill or go a little deeper on a marketing or analytics topic? Check out Hubspot Academy, Hubspot’s free online training...er...hub. It has an extensive collection of free on-demand training videos highly rated by marketing professionals across the globe. Another great site for free workshops and webinars is General Assembly.
Do you need to write a summary for your boss concerning a Zoom meeting she couldn’t attend? Are you conducting an interview on Google Hangouts that you need to incorporate into an article or blog post? If so, then Otter will bring you much joy!
Otter is an app that allows you to transcribe meetings, and it works seamlessly in conjunction with a variety of online video systems. The free version gives you up to 600 minutes a month of free transcription recording and 40 free minutes per session. (If you find that you need more flexibility, the PRO plan is less than $10 (US) a month and gives you 6,000 transcription minutes per month and 4 hours per session.)
With the browser extension, you can integrate Otter.ai with Zoom and Otter will transcribe the meeting in real-time automatically. Alternatively, you can transcribe your Zoom meeting afterward by opening Otter in your Chrome or Firefox browser and playing the video on speaker mode.
And if you don’t use Zoom, not to worry. Otter integrates across a variety of programs.
I know, it doesn't have anywhere near the sophisticated bells and whistles of Adobe Premiere Pro, but hey, it’s free, it’s easy and iMovie can probably get your job done—and quite well.
If you’re an arts marketer with few resources, but you have a smartphone, a laptop, and great content to share--you can edit your work quickly in iMovie with professional-looking results.
The computer version has more robust features, so I recommend that you upload all your video content to your Mac or PC and edit it there. That said, if you’ve never edited before or you need to edit something on the fly, the phone and tablet version of iMovie has got you covered. It has fewer features, but all the features in the world are not as important as the quality of your content. So if you have some phone video you need to clean up, add a title to, and throw some music under, do it in iMovie on your phone, and you'll be able to publish and promote your great content ASAP!
PRO Tip: Not quite finding the right music in iMovie’s free soundtrack library? Go to YouTube’s free Audio Library to find something you like more, download it, and then open it in iTunes. The track will now be in your iTunes library, and you should be able to import it into your iMovie project on your phone. If you’re editing on your computer, drag the downloaded music file from your downloads folder directly into your iMovie project.
Another PRO Tip: Posting this video on your arts organization’s YouTube channel? Don’t forget to use Canva to make an eye-catching thumbnail that will entice your intended audience to click and watch!
There are many more free tools out there that could bolster your marketing strategies, but these tools are a great start to help you plan, create, and post valuable content.
If you have time, check out the link below to a Google Sheet I put together that includes the resources I discussed here, along with a few more freebie tools.
[NOTE: This sheet is "View Only." Once you access the sheet, go to the "File" menu and select "Make a copy" from the drop-down, and you'll have your very own copy on your Google Drive!]
And be sure to check back here from time to time. I’ll be updating this sheet with more free digital resources with you in mind!
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