As a young 20-something designer still fresh out of college (and money), I spend a fair amount of time searching for the best deals on everything from clothing to food. Design elements are no different—although I’m a big proponent of designers getting fair treatment and pay for their work, I’ll admit that digital freebies are always welcome. Plus, if you’re trying to get more attention to your work, offering freebies is often a great way to promote yourself. As long as you follow the rules and don’t abuse it, it’s a win-win for both sides.
Tip: Follow your favorite designers’ blogs if you aren’t already, as sometimes they’ll offer a freebie for dedicated followers. This includes me, so take a peek at the freebies page.
This is true particularly if you’re doing personal work, building a portfolio, or running a small business. As a designer who works for a large company during the day, I try to keep these things out of my full-time job, since we have a stock photo account and a budget for creative materials.
After work, however, the freebies I find are invaluable.
Tip: The trick to amassing a great collection of freebies is to consistently check websites for new freebies, as they often expire after a week or so. Signing up for email lists is a great way to do this, as they’ll alert you to new stuff right away.
Here is a list of sites and resources I’ve found helpful for gathering freebies, some of them more well-known than others. Plenty of them also provide design packages at discounted prices, if you really find something you like.
Tip: Always make sure to check out the licensing on the items you download. Some are free for personal use only, while others are totally allowed in commercial work.
Be kind to your fellow designers: give credit where credit’s due, don’t violate license agreements, and purchase things at least occasionally.
This has been an invaluable resource for me during the past few months. Design Cuts is a UK-based company that sells tons of resources for download at incredible prices, from images to vector elements to fonts. Every week or so they come out with a new tutorial, complete with freebies so you can follow right along. Do the tutorials to learn something new, or use the free elements to create your own unique design. Either way, it’s a win. Sign up for their emails to get notified whenever a new one comes out.
While I usually hate signing up for newsletter emails, this one is totally worth it. They send the hottest web design related articles right to your inbox every day so you can keep up with the latest news. Often times they have tip-offs to great freebies, tuts, sites, and open-source software to keep you in-the-know. Also a great resource for inspiration.
Another bundle-selling site, CreativeBooster has both weekly freebies and great discounted kits for fonts, mockups, and templates. Most of their freebies are fonts, which is great if you’re a type junky like me. Plus their email list will round up some of the best freebies on the internet, so you can get them before they expire.
This site has a great mixture of free fonts, vector elements, mockups, and logo templates that change each week. They sell a wide range of products, as well, including 3D models, themes for many CMS platforms, and all sorts of templates. Check once a week to make sure you’re not missing out.
If you’re looking for less brush fonts and more quirky assets, The Hungry JPEG has a great range of interesting fonts and lots of particularly good mockups (including a range of free Apple ones). A new one comes out every week, so bookmark it and keep checking!
If you don’t already use this website for inspiration and news, then you’re missing out. Aside from articles spotlighting designers, trends, statistics, and tips, they often have great articles pointing out all sorts of freebies, from ebooks to open source software. Browse often to get the good stuff.
You probably have read a few articles on their blog, but don’t forget to check for freebies here, too. They have a great selection of top-notch stuff, including lots of icons and wireframes. Also keep an eye out for their monthly update on new designer resources, a great way to find new software and apps to experiment with.
I love this font website because it has a clean design and a great selection of fonts that are free for commercial use, both factors that set it apart from many other free font sites. Of course, you’re not going to get the same quality as you would on other sites, but works fine for general serif and sans-serif types, as well as quirky ones you’ll probably only need to use once.
I used this site all the time at my internship working for a free publication in my town. We had a sparse budget and only a few photographers, so the web team was forced to use a lot of stock images. Pixabay’s photos are under the Creative Commons, so they’re free of copyrights (aka you don’t have to credit the photographer). Unlike a lot of similar sites, they have a great range of decent photos.
As sketch as the name sounds, this is a solid library of free goods, from stock photos to vector elements to brushes. Plus, you can use the search tool to find specific things, as opposed to just getting what you get.
More Posts to Get You Started
Once you practice, you’ll soon be seeing free resources everywhere. The key is to do a lot of browsing, bookmark the best sites, and sign up for a few of the best newsletters. Keep an eye out for articles like these: