20 free (or cheap) ideas to inspire your communications

Amid the torrent of information drenching us all, your messaging must stand out. Try these approaches and resources to make your mark.

Think you can’t produce excellent, compelling communication on a budget? Think again.

Don’t let a lack of spending power stifle your ambition. Here are 20 affordable ways to spice up and enliven your messaging:


1. Enlist local “cheerleaders.” Recruit a team representing all your organization’s departments to support the rollout of campaigns and initiatives—especially if you’re a team of one.

2. Discover your gold mine of skills. Explore the wealth of knowledge around you before hiring a costly consultant. You might find that Fiona from finance is a whiz with a camera and Alan from accounts is a graphic design guru. Cultivate internal skills to save money and boost engagement.

3. Contact community and art groups. Speak to a local group or college about involving them in your campaigns. Most will be keen to support a local business, and you’ll get access to hyper-creative young people eager to build their portfolios.

4. Borrow with pride. If you like something someone else has produced, be it internally or externally, ask whether you may repurpose the work. Get permission, and give credit where credit’s due.

5. A little help goes a long way. Save money by asking an agency to start a project for you and finishing the work internally—or vice versa.


6. Storyboard it. Craft a visual sequence to communicate ideas clearly, plan videos effectively and tell stories creatively. Canva’s stock library has over a million stock images, graphics and illustrations, many free of charge, you can use.

7. Shoot your own stories. You can create short, professional videos with your smartphone.

8. Get everyone involved. The award-winning Seenit app is a video collaboration tool. It enables you to produce compelling video at scale by getting your community involved, and it’s cheaper than hiring a crew. It also encourages employees to create content.

9. Terrific typefaces. If you’re looking for funky fonts, free of charge, this article from Creative Boom shares 16 different sources for compelling typefaces.

10. Make your own GIFs. Experts endorse visual messaging. Use your own photos or videos to create these little animated beauties with Giphy’s free GIF maker.

11. Find the right photo. Stock photos needn’t cost a fortune. Sites such as Unsplash offer free, high-quality images that you can use with no attribution required.

12. Listen up. Add music and sound effects to videos and animations for free by using resources such as Bensound,freesound or Free Music Archive.

13. Create engaging animations. Craft attention-grabbing animated videos without a large budget or a team of animators. Try apps such asPowToon,GoAnimate or Adobe Spark, which all offer a free version.


14. Engage with social media groups. LinkedIn groups are populated with a global cadre of like-minded communicators keen to share their experiences. Before trying out potentially costly ideas, run them by professionals who have been there and done that.

15. Have fewer meetings. Meetings sap time and money and often don’t fulfill the desired objective. Do more with internal messaging; you might also consider a remote WhatsApp meeting. Your time is valuable; unnecessary meetings devour creative thinking opportunities.

16. Repeat after me. Use techniques that can be repeated. Even if there’s an initial outlay, choose a solution that can be used time and time again. A templated approach to communication saves time and money.

Personal development

17. Be a bookworm. Book clubs such as CIPR Inside’s #ICBookClub are a great way to soak up a new subject, and they often recommend discounted books. Try tools such as Blinkist, which pulls out key insights and explains books in an easy-to-digest, 15-minute summary of more than 2,000 nonfiction books. With the free version you can read only the daily pick, but the paid version gives you access to a stack of inspiring reads. Try Big Magic, Creativity or Deep Work to boost your creativity.

18. Research free or low-cost knowledge sharing events. Consider taking managers or colleagues along as part of their personal development journey. Comms2Point0, for example, run excellent free or low-cost events packed with creative communication experts bursting with top ideas and inspiration.

19. Learn stuff for free. You can access loads of classes, webinars and podcasts on your lunch break. Many offer free trials or heavily discounted options. They’re bite-size sessions that ensure you’re up to date with the creative topics of the day. Keep an eye on offerings fromNowGoCreate, CreativeLive or Lynda.com.

20. Sign up to receive inspiring emails . Ensure you have a fresh supply of inspiration delivered daily to your inbox by signing up for emails from great resourcess such asAll Things IC, Bananatag, Poppulo, Comms2Point0 and Helen Reynolds’ Comms Cartoons.

A version of this post first appeared on Alive with Ideas.


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