Inspired Magazine https://inspiredm.com creativity & inspiration daily Wed, 12 Dec 2018 12:33:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 112699074 VSDC Free Video Editor Review – Everything You Need to Know https://inspiredm.com/vsdc-free-video-editor-review-everything-you-need-to-know/ https://inspiredm.com/vsdc-free-video-editor-review-everything-you-need-to-know/#respond Wed, 12 Dec 2018 08:17:00 +0000 https://inspiredm.com/?p=43016 Fact is- we all need video editing solutions from time to time. The most ideal type to use, however, is a different thing altogether. You see, there has been an unending debate about paid and free video editors. While most people would overwhelmingly prefer free, it turns out that the real features are hoarded by...Continue Reading "VSDC Free Video Editor Review – Everything You Need to Know"

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Fact is- we all need video editing solutions from time to time. The most ideal type to use, however, is a different thing altogether.

You see, there has been an unending debate about paid and free video editors. While most people would overwhelmingly prefer free, it turns out that the real features are hoarded by the paid versions.

Think about it. Although you might be able to mention numerous free options, most of them pretty much end up being useless. They commonly provide very limited features, which are usually incapable of consistently generating decently edited videos.

And right when you assume that you’ve luckily stumbled on a different one with impressive features, you suddenly discover that you’re permanently stuck with watermarks and the likes. Then to make the situation worse, they probably also throw in a couple of annoying ads.

From limited trial periods to incomplete video outputs, you name it- I’ve tried it all out when it comes to free editors. And frankly, I’ve repeatedly given up on finding a solid one on many occasions.

So, I have to admit that I was not really excited about the VSDC Free Video Editor when I came across it. I thought it would end up being the same old tale with a different title. But surprisingly, things turned out contrary to my expectations…

VSDC Free Video Editor Review: Overview

Developed by Flash-Integro LLC, VSDC Free Video Editor is essentially a nonlinear video editing solution for video, audio, and images.

What does this mean?

Well, if you’ve tried out several standard video editors, you must have noticed the same old framework of placing media in a linear pattern for editing. But VSDC, on the other hand, uses a different non-linear approach. You’re allowed to set any combination or sequence as you work on your videos.

For instance, you can put videos directly opposite each other for a side-by-side outlook, or stack one over the other for a picture-in-picture setup. And that’s not all. There are numerous additional parameters you’re allowed to adjust- like media shape and position.

But, here’s the best thing about it. It’s completely free. The system will not lock you out after some time to force an upgrade.

Now, let’s be honest.  We’ve seen numerous “free” video editing tools hiding behind that fact only to hit you with a caveat after installation. They usually paste ugly watermarks on your media output to market their brands. Or perhaps force you to install secondary apps they’ve partnered with.

Thankfully, VSDC free video editor doesn’t come with either. It doesn’t announce itself to the world with watermarks or introduce extra applications. You basically get what you see.

And speaking of which, it looks and feels like a genuinely professional tool. The interface is packed with a myriad of editing components that allow you to merge, split, cut, rotate, zoom, crop, and much more. You also get to do things like adding subtitles and shapes, hiding elements, blending, correcting colors, blurring, plus placing Instagram-like filters.

All these are possible on a wide array of video formats and codecs- including mainstream ones like AVI and MP4, plus unconventional versions like SWF and RM. The subsequent output options are also extensive, and you can even choose to produce a DVD video from its disc burner feature.

That said, VSDC is not only about free software. There’s an option of upgrading to a PRO version, which costs $19.99 per year.

But that would only be necessary if you need masking, subpixel accuracy, and video stabilization features, plus hardware acceleration to produce videos much faster. Our principal interest at the moment is the free version.

So, is VSDC free video editing software capable of living up to our expectations? How powerful are its features? And how does it even generate revenue if it’s actually free to use?

Well, let’s find out. This VSDC free video editor review covers all the critical matters- its features, editing tools, monetization model, plus its overall suitability.

VSDC Free Video Editor Review: Features

System Requirements

Admittedly, the biggest problem with video editors is the fact that they all require insanely extensive PC resources to run. You pretty much cannot edit a solid HD video without gaming rig-like PC components.

So, of course, I was extremely curious about the system requirements for VSDC free video editor. And it turns out that the minimum you need to run the software without issues is:

  • Microsoft DirectX 9.0c or later versions
  • 50 MB disk space for installation
  • 256 MB RAM
  • 1024 × 768 pixels display with 16-bit color
  • Intel or AMD chipset with a clock rate of at least 1.5 GHz
  • Windows OS (XP SP3 or later versions)

Now hang on a minute. Does this mean you can edit videos on your old PC? Interestingly, yes- a standard PC can comfortably host and run this software. As a matter of fact, it only takes up 200MB of space in your local disk.

And when it comes operating systems, these are the supported ones:

  • Windows 10
  • Windows 8
  • Windows 7
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows XP SP3

Sadly, sorry Mac users. You might have to check later if they’ve released a compatible version. Let’s hope they ultimately do.

As for Windows users, let’s see how it actually performs on your PC…

User Friendliness

Once you run the application, you’ll notice that the primary interface is dark with clear labels on the tools. And to help you get the hang of it all, the system greets you with a pop-up that essentially walks you through the process of opening a new project, starting the editing stage, and exporting a project.

However, you don’t have to go through all that. I found the overall interface surprisingly simple and straightforward.

Starting a project, for instance, is as simple as choosing either screen capture, video capture, import content, create a slideshow, or blank project. You’ll see all these options from a projects tab that kicks in after the pop-up tutorial.

In case you need additional help, you can access the “Get To Know Top Feature” option at the bottom. It contains additional pointers about elements like:

  • 3D pro charts
  • Multimedia combiner
  • Waveform
  • Chroma key
  • UHD and HD
  • Blending
  • Video effects

Now, let’s face it. It might take a beginner some time to get used to everything here. But, I guess that’s something we should expect on a software solution laden with such an array of tools. At least the learning curve is not as steep as we’ve seen with Adobe’s Premiere.

When it comes to the actual editing process, I admit that I haven’t experienced any issue so far. The progress has been smooth all along. However, it’s worth noting that the software’s overall performance depends on your PC’s hardware resources.

The rendering speed, for example, increases slightly as you upgrade the hardware components. It’s not the fastest we’ve seen, but it’s satisfyingly good for a free tool. Only Pro users get optimized speeds thanks to the hardware acceleration feature that VSDC unlocks after an upgrade.

Fortunately, that variation doesn’t affect the video quality at all. I was impressed that the VSDC free video editor can support both HD and UHD output resolutions. In fact, it can produce even H265/HEVC, which is a popular codec that compresses the file size without compromising the quality.

Editing Features

Video Capturing Tool

The video capturing tool connects VSDC with all cameras linked to your computer. You can shoot a video directly through IP cameras and webcams, then save or tweak them with the editor.

Screen Capturing Tool

The screen capturing tool comes in handy when you need to prepare solid video tutorials showing your PC display. It essentially prepares a footage of your activities on the computer monitor. You can then capitalize on the editor to adjust the resultant video accordingly.

DVD Burning Tool

Perhaps you’d like to catch up with your videos on a DVD player. Well, this is basically what you use.

The DVD burning tool allows you to save a DVD version of your video directly to a compatible disc in your PC’s optical drive.

Video Converter Tool

The video converter tool controls the conversion process, allowing you to transform a video file from one format to another. In addition to that, you can use it to merge clips into a single file, or split one into several videos.

Export Video to Social Networks

It goes without saying that YouTube is, by far, the biggest video directory on the web. So, of course, it makes sense to provide a tool that basically connects the app directly with YouTube to help you effortlessly upload a video immediately after editing.

Apart from that, you can also export and publish videos on Vimeo, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Create 3D Charts

VSDC free video editor goes beyond typical video editing to help users enhance their professional presentation videos. You can capitalize on the 3D charts feature to create a funnel, point, pyramid, scatter line, pie stacked bar, general bar, and much more- as part of your final video.

Blending Modes and Instagram-Like Filters

By now, you’ve probably tried out color blending on photos. Well, it turns out that you can also play around with this function as you edit your videos on VSDC. In fact, it also offers effects that are as powerful as Instagram filters- one click alone can adjust the temperature, contrast, or grayscale levels.

Supported Media Formats

The respective formats you can import to edit are:

  • Image Formats: PNG, BMP, GIF, JPEG, JPG, PSD, CUR, ICO
  • Audio Formats: MP3, RAM, AC3, CDA, WMA, FLAC, WAV, AIFF, AU, M4A, AAC, RA, CUE, OGG, VOC, MPA, WAV, APE
  • Video Formats: AVI, HDVideo/AVCHD (TOD, MOD, MTS, M2TS, TS), DVD/VOB, VCD/SVCD, QuickTime (MP4, MOV, 3GP, QT), MKV, Flash Video (FLV, SWF), MPEG, MJPEG, H.264/MPEG-4, XviD, AMV, MTV, Media Video (RM, RMVB), DV, NUT, Windows Media (DVR-MS, WMV, ASF)

Then after editing, you can export them as:

  • Image Formats: PNG, JPEG, BMP, GIF
  • Audio Formats: MP3, AAC, WAV, OGG, M4A, AMR
  • Video Formats: MP4, AVI, DVD, VCD/SVCD, MOV, 3GP, MKV, FLV, SWF, MTV, AMV, WMV, MV4, RM, RMVB

Overall Features

  • YouTube uploader
  • Export to social networking sites
  • Create videos for selected multimedia devices
  • Video file converter
  • Shoot videos directly from IP cameras, webcams, and video tuners
  • Capture PC screen video
  • Built-in DVD burning capability
  • Universal format support
  • 4K and HD support
  • Create charts and diagrams
  • Color blending and Instagram-like filters
  • Visual and audio effects
  • Non-linear video editing

VSDC Pro Tools

Subpixel Accuracy

VSDC Pro employs subpixel accuracy when placing or positioning elements in a video scene. Consequently, the quality of the footage is preserved even after adjusting the angles, skewing, or introducing other visual effects.

Masking

The video editing process occasionally involves eliminating or hiding some objects like watermarks- and VSDC Pro provides a masking feature for precisely that. You can even blur faces to hide the identities of individuals in a video.

Video Stabilization Tool

Have you ever shot a video while moving only to end up with an annoyingly shaky clip? This is particularly common with drones and smartphones.

To help you rectify the problem, VSDC Pro provides a video stabilization tool. It pretty much eliminates the shaking frames to produce a much smoother footage.

Who Should Consider Using VSDC Free Video Editor?

Sadly, most of the free video editing software available on the web provide extremely basic features that would only be ideal for small beginner projects. VSDC Free Video Editor, however, is one of the few ones that provide the entire stack of features without substantial limitations. It’s pretty solid for a tool that won’t ask you to pay anything or embed watermarks on your videos.

That said, anyone can use this software- from beginners to established professionals in the graphic design space. However, I bet the bulk of its user-base is made of people who regularly post videos on social media. They would certainly appreciate a free editor that combines unlimited 4K video editing with social media uploaders.

So, how would you rate this one compared to other free video editors in the market?

header image courtesy of Lily

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Proto.io Review: A Flexible Prototyping Tool https://inspiredm.com/proto-io-review-a-flexible-prototyping-tool/ https://inspiredm.com/proto-io-review-a-flexible-prototyping-tool/#respond Tue, 04 Dec 2018 10:48:45 +0000 https://inspiredm.com/?p=42944 Fact is – even when you think you’ve got it all figured out, the painstaking process of building a standard app takes an average of about 4 to 6 months. It’s more like a journey from brainstorming an idea to coming up with a totally different end product. In between these two stages is where...Continue Reading "Proto.io Review: A Flexible Prototyping Tool"

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Fact is – even when you think you’ve got it all figured out, the painstaking process of building a standard app takes an average of about 4 to 6 months. It’s more like a journey from brainstorming an idea to coming up with a totally different end product.

In between these two stages is where the all the drama happens. After brainstorming, comes the research process, from where you establish a corresponding wireframe, then it’s followed up by a prototype for the first testing phase.

What’s missing so far?

Now, hold it right there. Before we even proceed to the development phase, let’s first appreciate the one thing that substantially informs it.

A prototype basically represents what you presume will be the end product’s user interface. The subsequent feedback generated from users determines the corresponding functionality design during development.

Therefore, all in all, the prototype is what basically determines app development and, to a large extent, the overall outcome.

So, how about we take a look at one interesting tool you can leverage for this?

Proto.io Review: Overview

Created by the Labs Division of SNQ Digital, Proto.io has been around since 2011, when it was released as a commercial web platform dealing with prototype development for iPads and iPhones. It then morphed gradually into a more dynamic framework and even expanded to accommodate multiple devices.

Currently, the platform essentially targets app enthusiasts, mobile designers, interaction designers, and user experience professionals with a wide range of critical prototyping tools.

Proto.io

One of Proto.io’s principal properties is its intuitive user interface, which is built with a drag-and-drop system that can be leveraged without coding. That alone explains why it’s relatively popular among both coders and non-coders.

It also provides an entirely integrated library of interactions, which can be systematically used on any of its layers.

And speaking of which, Proto.io seemingly streamlines the whole process of prototyping by facilitating multiple layers on various screens. Users can also import from Sketch or Photoshop, create interactions with JavaScript, sync numerous assets with Dropbox, and detail motion designs while previewing animations through its editor window.

All things considered, the one thing that makes Proto.io worth checking out is the fact that its developers are consistently improving it with new updates from time to time. They’ve already released two in November alone, affecting the player and editor.

But then again, Proto.io also comes with notable weaknesses. How they could affect your work is something we’ll be looking into shortly. This Proto.io review covers all the important details you need to know- fundamental features, pricing, strengths, and drawbacks.

And to start us off, here are the principal features…

Proto.io Review: Features

Building a Prototype

When you start your journey on Proto.io, you’ll notice that it provides a detailed tutorial to help you find your way around the system. It found it to be quite handy, to be honest, and the interface further makes it easy to adapt since the tools are well-arranged and accessible.

Thankfully, Proto.io doesn’t overwhelmingly throw everything at you. So don’t be worried if you can’t see some important elements at the beginning. More functionalities and contextual options are progressively availed as you continue working on your project.

Now, starting one is as easy as clicking on the new project option on the dashboard, naming it, selecting the screen size and intended medium, then voila!

The navigation process itself is seamless, thanks to a straightforward user interface that doesn’t take ages to get used to. I was already creating multiple screens in about an hour or so, then went ahead to combine them with attractive transitions and stylish interactions.

Proto.io prototype

Merging and testing them didn’t take a lot of effort because Proto.io is built with an animation preview feature. Sadly, I wouldn’t consider it a 100% real-time live preview since users are required to first save their projects before animation changes are reflected in the preview.

Well, at least the system compensates for that with an immersive drag-and-drop interface. Dragging any element is surprisingly simple, and you can adjust it accordingly then move on to the next.

Proto.io drag and drop

If you happen to adopt items you think you might need later (animations, interactions, UI elements), save yourself the hard work by taking advantage of container saving. That way, you’ll be able to simply drag and place them appropriately when you need to. It really is that stress-free.

Fair enough. But, what functionalities are we talking about here?

For starters, you can rotate, fade, resize, and move animations. Then interactions support functions like right-click, click, release, touch, double tap, tap, etc. Transitions, on the other hand, provide for flipping, up/down sliding, left/right sliding, etc. Combine that with a large library of typical UI elements, and you have yourself one heck of a user-friendly prototyping system.

So, where do projects go after completion?

Now, here’s the thing. The dashboard not only avails all the projects but also allows you to delete, archive, duplicate, edit, and access them. This is basically where you can also share a project, and proceed to adjust the corresponding settings.

Sharing and Collaboration

Fine, you might be able to handle a project alone and possibly come up with an impressive prototype. Or, you can make everything much easier and expand your capabilities by working with a well-coordinated team.

It turns out proto.io has this sorted out. It provides an array of sharing and collaboration tools for showcasing and expanding your projects.

How, you ask?

To showcase the bare minimum, for instance, Proto.io allows you to take a snapshot of your project at any moment then share it with team members. Otherwise, you can choose to go all out by sharing a live version of the prototype, and even enabling video recording plus comments. That should be good enough to provide adequate project information and, consequently, trigger detailed feedback.

Proto.io sharing

But, you know what? It’s possible to go beyond this since Proto.io also supports Usertesting.com and Validately. Enabling them should help you secure comprehensive, in-depth feedback from prototype users.

And it doesn’t matter what devices they use to access previews. The system can adapt accordingly to both mobile and desktop browsers.

And get this. If you’re creating a smartphone application, Android and iOS apps’ native experience will benefit your prototypes by showcasing them in the medium they’ve been developed for.

That said, it’s worth noting that Proto.io 6 made things much easier by introducing single-click sharing. That basically means you can distribute your prototype to team members with a single click. How cool is that?

Interaction Tools

All things considered, the whole interaction design of your app is what ultimately makes the difference when it comes usability. That’s arguably why we even make prototypes in the first place.

Fortunately, Proto.io isn’t mean when it comes to interaction tools. It provides a wide array of functionalities you can capitalize on to create a memorable user experience.

In addition to scrollable content screens, some of the popular options here include slide-in menus and onboarding screens- to mention but a few. And for that personal touch, Proto.io allows users to dynamically tweak all interaction tools.

Proto.io interaction tools

Ok, but how exactly do you even add them?

Well, do you remember when we mentioned that Proto.io heavily uses a drag-and-drop interface? So, guess what? Achieving any interaction outcome is as simple as dragging and dropping the elements from an icon to your user interface components. You don’t need even a single line of code.

Supported Devices

It’s always advisable to develop your prototype on a desktop PC. It provides just the right immersive experience to engineer a solid prototype.

Now, previewing the prototype is a different ball game. Thankfully, Proto.io doesn’t force people to do this in the native environment the prototypes have been built on.

That essentially means you’re can show off your creation to all types of users, regardless of their gadgets of choice. They’ll be able to gain access through PC and mobile browsers.

As a matter of fact, Proto.io even went ahead to develop versions for iOS and Android. They fundamentally optimize the whole experience of reviewing prototypes developed for mobile devices.

Now, after sharing your project, you can rely on the subsequent user comments to rate your prototype. But, here the interesting thing- As if that’s not enough, Proto.io linked up with Lookback.io to come up with the ability to record user screens and facial expressions of people using a prototype.

So, yes. You bet you can make an informed judgment about the performance of your prototype based on how its users smile or frown. Impressive, right?

Learning Curve

I know. I’ve been there. That moment you assume that a platform for prototypes has got to be complicated enough to handle extensive UI development.

Luckily, Proto.io has managed to eliminate coding without compromising the prototype development process. You can set up both low-fidelity wireframes and fully-developed high-fidelity prototypes, complete with all the features required for thorough testing.

Proto.io features

That said, you’ve got to admit that it doesn’t take much to master a typical drag-and-drop interface. But, in case you face any difficulties along the way, Proto.io provides detailed documentation containing basically everything about the platform.

Proto.io Review: Pricing

First off, I was pleased to find that Proto.io provides a permanently free option. Unfortunately, it’s quite limited since it only offers:

  • io app preview
  • 10MB storage
  • Zero additional reviewers
  • 5 prototype screens
  • 1 active project
  • 1 user

The only way to secure more features is subscribing to one of Proto.io’s four plans. They all offer:

  • Email support
  • 256-bit encryption
  • Sketch/Photoshop importing
  • Dropbox syncing
  • Branding
  • Export to PDF/PNG/HTML
  • User feedback in video form powered by Lookback
  • Comments
  • Share
  • io app previewing
  • Preview in player

Proto.io pricing

Now that they all come with the entire feature ecosystem, the principal distinguishing factors between the packages are the number of supported users and projects.  The plans are seemingly structured to service different grades of users and organizations.

And here are the details:

Freelancer- Costs $29 per month with monthly billing, or $24 per month with annual billing

  • Supports 1 user
  • Provides 5 active projects

Startup- Costs $49 per month with monthly billing, or $40 per month with annual billing

  • Supports 2 users
  • Provides 10 active projects

Agency- Costs $99 per month with monthly billing, or $80 per month with annual billing

  • Supports 5 users
  • Provides 15 active projects

Corporate- Costs $199 per month with monthly billing, or $160 per month with annual billing

  • Supports 10 users
  • Provides 30 active projects

Going by these usage scales, I’d say these plans are suitable for individuals and small businesses. Large enterprises have been given the option of negotiating with Proto.io for custom packages that provide priority support, analytics, enterprise-grade security, unlimited projects, additional users, and much more.

Students and non-profit organizations, on the other hand, can qualify for a 50% discount. It all depends on Proto.io’s screening process.

Now that’s not bad. Not bad at all. But I wonder if the discount is based on the monthly model, annual billing, or both.

Well, if you don’t qualify, at least you can lower your costs by about 20% when you switch from monthly to annual billing. Then, apart from that, you also get a 15-day free trial period to test everything out when you sign up.

Who Should Consider Using Proto.io?

So far so good. But, perhaps unsurprisingly, Proto.io has its fair share of drawbacks.

Consider offline editing for example. While it’s commendable that the platform allows users to export prototypes to PDF and HTML, it seems that’s just about it when you don’t have an internet connection. The only thing you’ll be able to do is previewing a prototype.

Creating and tweaking a prototype requires a stable connection to the web. That basically makes it impossible to conveniently work on the go.

And speaking of creating prototypes, let’s hope that the development team at Proto.io will seriously consider introducing 3D animations and live previews. After all, it’s 2019 for crying out loud.

Other than that, we can conclude that Proto.io is a decent platform built with a focus on productivity and scalability. It’s flexible enough to support both simple projects by novices and complex multi-layered designs by corporate teams.

So, all things considered, what do you think we should expect from its developers in the near future?

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Best Free Software for Designers and Developers for 2019 https://inspiredm.com/best-free-software-for-designers-and-developers-for-2019/ https://inspiredm.com/best-free-software-for-designers-and-developers-for-2019/#respond Tue, 27 Nov 2018 08:59:12 +0000 https://inspiredm.com/?p=42967 When getting ready for the year ahead, it’s a good idea to fill in the gaps in your software collection, especially when there is so much good software you can now get online for free. Beware however – not all “free” things are really free. First, of course, you should avoid cracked versions of payware,...Continue Reading "Best Free Software for Designers and Developers for 2019"

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When getting ready for the year ahead, it’s a good idea to fill in the gaps in your software collection, especially when there is so much good software you can now get online for free.

Beware however – not all “free” things are really free. First, of course, you should avoid cracked versions of payware, because that can get you into trouble in more ways than one. Another thing to watch for is that some free software is supported by ads, while other software may have undesirable behaviors such as tracking what you do online.

In this guide, we’ve focused exclusively on titles that are 100 percent free, easy to find, useful, productivity boosting, and devoid of any malicious or annoying “extra” content. You may not need all of these applications, but this list is sure to include some titles that will help you work better in some way.

1. Portable Apps

 For users of Microsoft Windows, this is a great piece of software. It’s a platform application launcher that allows you to use portable applications instead of installing software on your PC. It’s excellent because this means:

  • Less chance of registry corruption and registry bloat
  • Fewer vectors for viruses to get into your system
  • Applications you can take with you and use on any Windows machine
  • No wasted space on your HDD or SSD. Everything can be installed on a thumb drive
  • Applications can be updated when a new version becomes available
  • All your portable applications are grouped together in a categorized list

Portable Apps is a tiny application itself, and is very easy to use. You can download it straight to a USB drive and have all your applications always with you anywhere you go, and configured just the way you like. 

Over 100 applications are available for instant download through the interface, and you can easily create your own portable applications as well. Designers will also appreciate the feature that allows you to add all your fonts to the platform, which also means you can uninstall them from your PC to save even more space.

Overall, what makes the portable apps concept so good, apart from the obvious factor of portability, is that it’s much more organized and tidy than the traditional system of installing software.

You can get it from here and it’s 100 percent free to download and use anywhere you want, as much as you want, and you can also share it with anyone you want. It’s not necessary for Linux, as all Linux applications are portable by default, and not yet available for Mac.

2. Blender

 For a free application, Blender is huge on features. Most users will put it to work for what it was originally designed for, which is 3D modeling. However there is another important thing you can do with Blender. It provides a full-featured non-linear video editing system which supports all kinds of features normally found in expensive stand-alone video editing software.

It’s even good enough that it has been used to make feature length movies by major studios. The main competitor in the free of charge video editing space is DaVinci Resolve from Black Magic Design, but that has much steeper hardware requirements, is built with proprietary code, and has more restrictions on what you’re allowed to do.

Blender makes it easy to do all your 3D modeling, 3D and 2D animation, video editing, and more. It’s free, open source, easy to use, portable (on Linux and Windows), and works like a charm. On the negative side, there’s a steep learning curve, but you’ll get that with almost any professional 3D modeling software. The big difference here is the $0 price tag, huge support community, and total freedom to install it any way you want.

You can get your copy from the official Blender website or download it through Portable Apps. Blender is also included with most Linux distros. There’s an OSX version, too.

3. GIMP

 GIMP is almost a replacement for PhotoShop, and it’s certainly a lot more affordable at $0. The two applications are often compared side by side, but this isn’t really fair to either one, since they’re designed for different purposes.

PhotoShop is primarily intended for using in the CMYK color space, although you can wrangle it into saving images in RGB. GIMP on the other hand is designed for the RGB color space from the outset, and needs a lot of push and shove to get it to co-operate with saving anything in a CMYK color profile.

That difference aside, the only real drawback to GIMP is that it doesn’t currently provide native support for creating primitives. You can do it, but nowhere near as easily as it can be done in PhotoShop. Then again, there are many things that seem to be much easier to achieve in GIMP.

Deciding which of these two giants will suit your needs best is not an easy choice. To make it a bit easier, the biggest factors to consider are learning curve, support, and cost. That last factor is easy to assess because GIMP is free and PhotoShop requires a monthly subscription.

When it comes to learning curve, PhotoShop may be ahead because most online photo editing tutorials are written with PhotoShop users in mind. Take int account that most PhotoShop plug-ins will work in GIMP, but it’s not a certain thing that many GIMP plug-ins will work in PhotoShop. Thus a tutorial aimed at PhotoShop users may still be relevant to GIMP users (with a few adjustments), but a GIMP tutorial will often be unhelpful for PhotoShop users.

Finally there is the matter of support. As paying subscribers, PhotoShop users can expect to get instant support for all kinds of problems. 

GIMP support is really different. As it’s free, there’s no dedicated hotline you can call to get help with every little problem you face. You’ll need to depend on what’s called “community support”, which basically means using forums to seek answers to your questions.

GIMP is available as a web application, for download from the official GIMP site, and through portable apps. It is included by default in nearly every Linux distro, and is always available in every Linux repository. For OSX, you need to download an installer and copy the launcher into your Applications folder.

4. Inkscape

 InkScape is a competitor to Adobe Illustrator and other similar vector drawing programs. It doesn’t yet come close to the level of Illustrator, but it is way cheaper at $0 and the learning curve is far less steep. InkScape can create browser compatible SVG graphics, including animations.

SVG animation can be used for teaching, special effects, games, and simply for making more impressive images on websites (small footprint and almost infinitely scalable). An often cited example of what can be done with SVG animation and interactivity is the MCDU Emulator Project. This demonstrates that complex systems can be built simply with SVG, and no plug-ins or special players are required.

Inkscape still trails behind Illustrator, but the gap is closing as the Inkscape development community continues to expand. We may some day even see Inkscape take the lead, especially since it is such an easy application to get started with and doesn’t cost anything. It’s available as an installed application on all platforms, and as a portable application on Windows and Linux.

Inkscape is available at the official Inkscape website and also through Portable Apps. It is included in all major Linux distros and will be found in the repositories of others. An installer can be downloaded for OSX.

5. Dia

 Drawing technical charts and diagrams is made easier with Dia. It’s quite easy to use and has all the tools you need to make complex technical diagrams quickly. There are basic drawing shapes in the top left corner of the toolbox. The center of the tool box is where all the special items are located for the selected diagram type you’re currently working on. The list of types includes:

  • assorted shapes
  • flowchart symbols
  • UML diagrams
  • electric / electronic circuits
  • BPMN diagrams
  • chemical & engineering symbols
  • Cicso computer and networking diagrams
  • civil engineering diagrams
  • cybernetics diagrams
  • database design diagrams
  • entity-relationship (ER) diagrams
  • function structure (FS) diagrams
  • Grane & Sarson symbols
  • GRAFCET diagrams
  • jigsaw charts
  • ladder diagrams
  • lighting charts
  • logic charts
  • isometric map elements
  • MSE diagrams
  • common network symbols
  • pneumatic / hydraulic charts
  • SADT/IDEF0 charts
  • specification and description language (SDL) chart
  • Sybase symbols

To create any kind of diagram, simply place elements on the drawing area and then use connectors to join them together. You can get your copy from the official Dia website, or download it from Portable Apps. The software is also available for OSX.

6. Pencil2D

 Pencil2D takes over from Inkscape when you need longer and more complex 2D animations. It fills a similar role to Adobe Flash, but is considerably better for making feature length 2D animated films. 

It contains all the tools you need to create professional quality animated cartoons. Paired with a decent graphics tablet, or even hand drawn images scanned in, you can bring your images to life with Pencil2D.

You can find out more about it at the official Pencil2D website, and you can download it either from that site (for all platforms) or from the Portable Apps site if you’re a Windows user.

7. Greenfish Icon Editor Pro

 This is both an icon editor and icon extractor. It only works on Windows (but may run on Linux with WINE or POL). It is able to extract and create Windows icons and Mac icons. 

There are plenty of different ways to create and edit icons, but this simple tool makes the whole process a breeze. Depending on your skill in operating it, the software is capable of producing icons with a crispness and vibrancy that is rare in icon editing software.

The best way to get this software is through Portable Apps. The official site for the software has been down for a long while.

Concluding remarks

You don’t have to spend a fortune to have access to software that will give you truly professional results. In the end, your skill as a user is far more important than the software tools that you use for the job. What can be said is that using the right tools for the job will always make it easier than using the wrong tools.

Traditionally people have held the view that free software can never be as good as paid software, but the quality of free software is improving all the time, and because they’re free, you can experiment with them at no financial risk. So why not give some of these free software applications a try? You may be surprised at the quality, and you can potentially save yourself some money if they manage to meet all your requirements.

header image courtesy of Ilona Rybak

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OptinMonster Black Friday / Cyber Monday – 35% OFF all plans https://inspiredm.com/optinmonster-black-friday-cyber-monday-35-off-all-plans/ https://inspiredm.com/optinmonster-black-friday-cyber-monday-35-off-all-plans/#respond Thu, 22 Nov 2018 09:56:28 +0000 https://inspiredm.com/?p=42961 Here’s a quick one. Guess what digital marketers consider to be the most difficult part of their job. Ok, the fact is 65% of businesses believe that generating site visitors and subsequently leads is exceptionally difficult. It’s undoubtedly that one task you don’t want to be assigned to you. But then again, generating leads is...Continue Reading "OptinMonster Black Friday / Cyber Monday – 35% OFF all plans"

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Here’s a quick one. Guess what digital marketers consider to be the most difficult part of their job.

Ok, the fact is 65% of businesses believe that generating site visitors and subsequently leads is exceptionally difficult. It’s undoubtedly that one task you don’t want to be assigned to you.

But then again, generating leads is oddly satisfying. Especially when you systematically source them from your site’s organic traffic.


And you know what? Believe it or not, the most challenging bit is arguably attracting a consistent flow of traffic. That’s why it would be extremely painful if you end up losing your visitors without converting a substantial fraction of them.

Interestingly, however, many marketers consider that a real possibility because of the simple fact that 96% of a website’s visitors are usually not ready to purchase yet.

And then there’s a special group of marketers who’ve managed to overcome that by strategically leveraging lead generation tools. I’m talking about the elite squad that powers onsite lead generation with effective opt-in lead generation solutions- like OptinMonster and the likes.

Astonishing, isn’t it? I guess that’s why I’m particularly fond of seeking ways to beat the system. And this time around, I’ll let you in on a juicy one I stumbled upon. It just so happens that OptinMonster is offering an exclusive 35% discount on all its plans this Black Friday and Cyber Monday- from November the 19th to 26th.

To top it off, it turns out the discount is applicable for more than one month. So, let’s find out more about this, starting with the features;

Feature Highlights of OptinMonster Lead Generation

Drag-and-Drop Builder

OptinMonster, for starters, provides a dynamic drag-and-drop builder for creating your own uniquely striking customized optin forms.

Then get this. It’s entirely manipulated without any form of programming.  The tool basically allows users to build from scratch using the canvas, or proceed with pre-designed templates that can be customized further. In the end, you’re able to combine various eye-catching forms with a wide selection of sound effects and animations.

Multiple Campaign Types

Businesses often use varying approaches when it comes to lead generation and marketing. OptinMonster makes a good attempt at facilitating all the possible strategies through an extensively flexible optin framework. In essence, it comes with the following campaigns:

·         Content Locker- For changing articles into gated elements to facilitate opt-ins.

·         Inline Forms- For attaching forms to your webpage’s content.

·         Sidebar Forms- For placing forms on either side of your site’s pages.

·         Countdown Timer- For encouraging visitors to urgently submit their optin information.

·         Floating Bar- For flexible forms that follow visitors around as they surf through a page.

·         Slide-In Scroll Box- For special forms that shoot up from one of the screen’s corners.

·         Fullscreen Welcome Mat- For momentarily displaying forms that take up the entire screen.

·         Lightbox Popup- For standard forms that pop up on the screen.

Campaign Triggers

OptinMonster heavily uses artificial intelligence to analyze visitor behavior, and subsequently display forms at the right time- based on pre-set trigger parameters. The triggering systems are:

·         Campaign Scheduling- Establish periods for showing selected campaigns.

·         Timed Display Control- Define specific times for displaying campaigns.

·         InactivitySensor- Use special campaigns that specifically show up when visitors are inactive.

·         MonsterLinks 2-Step Optins- Use ideal images and links as pathways to optin forms.

·         Scroll Trigger- Unleash selected optin forms as soon as visitors scroll to a certain point on the web page.

·         Exit-Intent Technology- Drop campaign forms on surfers exiting your web page.

Targeted Campaigns

The AI also comes in handy for when you need to engage a defined set of visitors based on their exact demographics. The systems used to target them include:

·         AdBlock Detection- For engaging visitors who are locking out potential ad income with their AdBlockers.

·         Device-Based Targeting- For reaching out to surfers based on their respective devices.

·         Cookie Retargeting- For unleashing forms aligned to visitors’ cookies.

·         Geo-location Targeting- For showing forms according to visitors’ geographical positions.

·         Onsite Retargeting- For engaging traffic that has visited your site before.

·         Onsite Follow Up Campaigns- For launching systematic messages aligned with actions taken by visitors.

·         Page-Level Targeting- For determining forms as they apply to special site zones accessed by visitors.

·         Referrer Detection- For displaying forms based on the traffic source.

Seamless Integrations

Lead generation is only the first stage of the conversion pipeline. There’s still a long way to go to successfully trigger purchases. And the bulk of it involves a thorough conversion process, complete with the relevant engagement tools. But since OptinMonster is not capable of facilitating all that, it chooses to conveniently integrate with a wide array of third-party email marketing services plus website and ecommerce platforms.

Actionable Insights

All things considered, lead generation is a holistic operation with multiple interconnected variables. Their collective impact depends on the complex set of decisions made at every stage, regarding each distinct parameter. And to help you with that, OptinMonster will keep you informed through its system of actionable insights- involving conversion analytics, A/B testing, and real-time behavior automation.

Normal OptinMonster Pricing

OptinMonster user subscription plans usually cost:

·         $19 per month or alternatively $108 per year for the Basic Plan.

·         $39 per month or alternatively $228 per year for the Plus Plan.

·         $59 per month or alternatively $348 per year for the Pro Plan.

·         $99 per month or alternatively, $588 per year for the Growth Plan.

Special OptinMonster Black Friday/Cyber Monday Discount Pricing

This good news? Well, at a 35% all-year discount, you get to pay:

·         $70.20 instead of $108 for Basic

·         $148.20 instead of $228 for Plus

·         $226.20 instead of $348 for Pro

·         $382.20 instead of $588 for Growth

That essentially translates to 12 discounted months. Quite a hack, right?

What To Do

And now for the revelation…

Just proceed to OptinMonster’s main site and enter BF2018 as the discount code.  Then have all the fun generating leads at a substantially reduced price.

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JotForm PDF Editor: Your Questions Answered https://inspiredm.com/jotform-pdf-editor/ https://inspiredm.com/jotform-pdf-editor/#respond Wed, 07 Nov 2018 15:25:59 +0000 https://inspiredm.com/?p=42925 Here at Inspired Magazine, we’re always looking for tools that make the lives of our readers easier- which is why we love JotForm PDF Editor. JotForm listened to the concerns of their customers and responded with new features and benefits. Prior to JotForm’s PDF Editor, users had to sift through the information collated in their...Continue Reading "JotForm PDF Editor: Your Questions Answered"

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Here at Inspired Magazine, we’re always looking for tools that make the lives of our readers easier- which is why we love JotForm PDF Editor.

JotForm listened to the concerns of their customers and responded with new features and benefits.

Prior to JotForm’s PDF Editor, users had to sift through the information collated in their online forms manually. Usually, copying and pasting each response into a Word Doc and arranging the data into a professional looking PDF document.

Luckily for you, this long and tedious process isn’t necessary anymore.

This is what Aytekin Tank, JotForm founder, and CEO had to say about their PDF Editor;

“Our users told us about wanting a better way to present and distribute their form data,”

“Our new PDF Editor makes the entire process significantly easier. The best part — anyone can use it, even without any technical skills.”

How awesome is that? With all that in mind, let’s delve into meat and potatoes of this review.

Jotform PDF Editor

What’s Jotform PDF Editor?

As you may have already guessed, PDF Editor is a tool that makes editing PDF documents online, easier.

Simple right?

JotForm is an industry leader for creating easy-to-use online forms for business owners.

Their simple drag-and-drop customizing tool is part of what’s helped make them so popular. Within a matter of minutes, you can have an interactive form up and running- without having to write any code yourself!

What’s JotForm Used For?

These online forms are great for:

  • Collecting payments online
  • Customer contact forms
  • Job applications
  • Invoices
  • Lead collection
  • Client/ Staff surveys
  • Registration forms
  • Online booking forms
  • Event registration

You get the idea!

Just name the online form you need, and JotForm probably has a template with your name on it.

Jotform PDF Editor

Where Does JotForm PDF Editor Factor In?

JotForm’s taken things further by adding PDF Editor into the mix. You can now combine their fabulous online forms and integrate your responses to form one comprehensive PDF file- with incredible ease.

When Does This Come In Handy?

This is just one of many situations you might resonate with:

You launch a customer survey using a JotForm. However, you want to collate all your responses in one place. Not an email, not a copy and pasted Word Doc, or an Exel file- but a stylish PDF that reflects your brand.

Typically this requires a lot of time and effort on your behalf. This is where JotForm PDF Editor comes into its own. In no time at all, you can create numerous PDFs displaying all the data you’ve collected from your interactive forms.

Each document presents the information in a uniform design that exudes professionalism.

It’s safe to say, JotForm has officially taken this burden off your shoulders.

Jotform PDF Editor

Why Do Teachers Love This Tool?

Here’s another quick situation to consider.

All teachers have to edit PDFs at some point or another. Whether its a hand out for the class, or a complicated parental form- teachers are always utilizing PDF documents.

However, it’s time-consuming editing all these kinds of files. This is why teachers love JotForom PDF Editor; they can create a professional looking PDF document from scratch or modify an existing doc without needing any coding or tech skills- how cool is that? JotForm also has a nifty guide on editing PDFs, which is a helpful resource for educators.

Jotform PDF Editor

What Features Come With JotForm PDF Editor?

JotForm provides all the fields you need to customize your PDF. You’ll be hard pressed not to be able to create a document to suit your needs.

It doesn’t matter which payment package you opt for; you can insert as many fields as you like (even in the free Starter package)! You can also have the option of allowing users to add their electronic signature- how neat is that?

Any signature you receive via a JotForm form can be neatly displayed on your PDF doc. If your business involves a lot of contract signing, this feature’s a godsend. Users can even send an online signature using their smartphone!

Plus, you have the ability to edit each individual element to ensure that every inch of your finished product exudes the voice of your brand.

You can:

  • Add new sections,
  • Edit colors,
  • Upload photo and logos,
  • Choose fonts,

Jotform PDF Editor

If you’re unsure where to begin in terms of design, not to worry, JotForm provides hundreds of PDF templates for you to choose from.

Then, once you’ve set up your PDF template, it’ll automatically update each time you get a response through from your digital form. It really is as simple as that!

Then, once you’ve collated all your data, you can easily share the info with your team. Or, you can pick individual team members to send the PDF to (it’s entirely down to you).

This ensures your staff’s notified as soon as they’re able to access the information they need to complete their tasks- eradicating the need to continue forwarding emails to the relevant parties.

If you’re handling personal information, you can increase your privacy settings by password protecting your PDF documents. This works wonders for ensuring you don’t accidentally leak any of your customer’s private details- not cool!

Plus, PDF Editor integrates seamlessly with other major programs such as Google Drive, and Dropbox. Once you’ve set up these integrations, any new PDFs you create will automatically save onto these online storage services.

Again, this is another handy feature that enables your team to stay informed with all the latest info you’ve pulled from your online forms and gives them access to the most updated documents, immediately.

Are There Any Drawbacks to JotForm PDF Editor?

There are a couple of improvements JotForm PDF Editor could make.

For example, some users complain that JotForm could do a better job organizing survey responses.

For example, you can create a graph displaying the results of your digital form. However, it looks a little distorted. We’re sure this just a bug that needs ironing out, but for now, this is an area that certainly needs improving.

This means if you need to conduct extensive surveys that require you to plot graphs displaying your results- this might not be the best software (at the moment).

Jotform PDF Editor

Customers also said JotForm Editor could improve by offering users the option to create default email formats. Presently, you have to select an email template for each form you create.

This involves manually adding your logo and other defining features. To be fair, this doesn’t take up a lot of time, and it’s still pretty easy to customize- however, this update would still be much appreciated (really and truly, at this stage, we’re just nit-picking!)

Last but not least, if you own a Shopify store, you might be trying to get feedback from your customers. At the moment, users can’t integrate their JotForms with a Shopify popup plugin to get feedback after someone’s made a purchase.

What Are Other People Saying About JotForm PDF Editor?

On the whole, we think this software’s pretty awesome.

However, you don’t have to take our word for it. I took the liberty of scouring the internet to get the opinions of those who frequently use this tool.

This is a small snapshot of what customers had to say:

‘This is a so much wanted feature by many of us who are regular Jotform users. I appreciate the effort to make it so easy and intuitive to use, that is why I say: Way to go! Just another awesome product from the Jotform gurus!
Jeanette BM has used this product for one week.‘- Jeanette BM, Multitask manager

‘I think this product will enable especially small and medium businesses to send beautifully designed, automated PDFs both internally and to their customers.’– Çağrı Sarıgöz, Digital Marketing & Analytics Consultant

Final Thoughts

All in all, JotForm PDF Editor‘s super simple to use. If you’re a business owner, you should definitely try their free Starter package. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by giving it a try- especially if your team’s wasting hours copying and pasting data into PDF documents!

Like most products, there are a few things that could be improved. However, on the whole, this tool provides a comprehensive solution to a genuine problem.

If you have any questions, comments, or direct experience with JotForm PDF, please feel free to leave us your thoughts in the comment box below; we always love hearing from our readers!

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Tailor Brands Review: Instant Custom-Made Logos for Small Business Owners and Startups https://inspiredm.com/tailor-brands-review-instant-custom-made-logos-for-small-business-owners-and-startups/ https://inspiredm.com/tailor-brands-review-instant-custom-made-logos-for-small-business-owners-and-startups/#respond Mon, 29 Oct 2018 09:34:18 +0000 https://inspiredm.com/?p=42900 Meta: This Tailor Brands review delves into all the details about its features, functionalities, pricing, and possible drawbacks. Apple. Undoubtedly one of the biggest brands today. And in case you haven’t seen the news yet, it’s the first U.S. Company to hit the $1 trillion market cap. Well-deserved, I bet. And not just because it develops...Continue Reading "Tailor Brands Review: Instant Custom-Made Logos for Small Business Owners and Startups"

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Meta: This Tailor Brands review delves into all the details about its features, functionalities, pricing, and possible drawbacks.

Apple. Undoubtedly one of the biggest brands today. And in case you haven’t seen the news yet, it’s the first U.S. Company to hit the $1 trillion market cap.

Well-deserved, I bet. And not just because it develops innovative phones and PC. Not at all. Many companies are doing that already. And some are launching more revolutionary products. But still, Apple somehow managed to maneuver its way to the $1 trillion value ahead of the pack.

How, you ask?

Call it what you want, but the fact is- getting their branding right laid the foundation for everything. “iMac” essentially converted a regular PC into a special product with a name of its own. And the same applies to “iPhones”.

Now that’s clever branding. However, the most impressive element overall is the Apple logo. Isaac Newton’s light bulb moment, after getting hit by a falling apple,  basically inspired one of the most captivating logos of both the 20th and 21st century.

So, you think you can beat that branding strategy?

Technically, you should be able to, considering all the branding tools available on the web. In fact, allow me to walk you through one of the seemingly dominant solutions today.

Tailor Brands Review: Overview

Of course, you completely understand the importance of business branding. Sadly, you’re too busy to enroll yourself in a graphic design course.

Besides, there are many professional and freelance graphic designers out there. Hiring someone to handle the whole branding thing might seem like the most convenient option, right?

Now, I don’t know about you. But, I believe that branding is best designed when business owners passionately commit to the entire process.

Let’s face it. You’re the only person who comprehensively understands your business inside out. In other words, you are the best asset to the brand design process.

And that’s one of the reasons why co-founders Nadav Shatz, Tom Lahat, and Yali Saar established Tailor Brands in 2014- to make it easier for business owners to design and manage their brands.

Admittedly, by then, there were numerous logo makers on the web. But, here’s the thing- none of them had implemented a holistically automated system.

Until Tailor Brands came along. It was the first solution to leverage artificial intelligence to facilitate automated logo design. And this has seen it attract more than 3 million users over the years, who’ve collectively produced over 100 million designs.

Tailor Brands

Today, Tailor Brands is much more than just a logo design engine. It sells itself as an all-in-one branding solution that combines logo design with critical tools for driving branding campaigns.

Sounds like something you’d want to check out?

Well, I handled that for you. And quite comprehensively to be precise. So, I’ll give you the truth and nothing but the truth- this Tailor Brands review delves into all the details about its features, functionalities, pricing, and possible drawbacks.

Now let’s get to it…

Tailor Brands Review: Features

Logo Design Process

Ok. I’ll admit that quite a number of the design solutions I’ve tested out use a drag-and-drop editor. While this method is arguably considered user-friendly, let’s face it. It’s only simple when you compare it with complex alternatives like coding.

If you’ve tried one before, it probably took you some time to learn the ropes. It typically takes several rounds of edits to ultimately make up your mind about a good final design.

So, of course, I was fairly excited to see a different approach on Tailor Brands.

First off, you’ll be required to enter your brand’s name, followed by the industry. A drop-down list of suggestions comes in handy here to help you get it over and done with as fast as possible.

Then comes the preference stage. The system basically presents you with three options for your logo- either develop it from your brand name’s initials, or go with the entire name altogether, or proceed with an icon logo.

logo design

Let me guess. Since initials seem too boring, and a brand name logo is essentially a fancy replication of what you already have, I bet you’d choose the icon. Or you might as well skip the step and let the system run its algorithms to pick out an ideal design for your business.

Well, of course, I decided to proceed with the popular option here. And for my icon-logo, the system requested me to upload an image from my gallery, or have one developed from an abstract shape.

Neat and pleasantly straightforward, to say the least. But, what happens when you choose a name-based logo?

Good thing I’m a curious cat. So I went back and gave the name-based option a try. It turns out the system conducts about five to six steps of requesting you to pick out a favorite from a set of images.

The whole idea behind this, as I came to establish, is helping Tailor Brand’s algorithm get a feel of your overall aesthetic preferences. Quite a fine touch, as opposed to simply generating random logos based on popular favorites.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Heck, doesn’t the system proceed to generate random guesses when you skip the logo type stage?

Oddly enough, it doesn’t. It actually does the same thing as the name-based logo process. You’ll still get numerous sets of logos, from where you should select the ones that feel like your cup of tea. Subsequently, the system runs structured assessments based on the underlying algorithms to comprehend what you like most.

Then it generates a wide range of possible logos for your brand, complete with corresponding previews of how they’d actually look like on mobile view, letterheads, T-shirts, business cards, social media, and other relevant platforms.

It’s like hiring a designer who keenly reviews your business, studies your overall preferences, then generates corresponding brand concepts, before helping you make a final decision.

But, is that all? There’s no editing at all?

The good news is- you can edit several elements of your logo, including spacing, font, color, and more. The bad news is- this is not open to trial users. You have to pay to edit the logo.

logo editing

Well, all things considered, it goes without saying that the entire process is exceedingly user-friendly. Although it doesn’t guarantee you a logo that’s unique all around, everything is simple and straightforward. Because otherwise, you obviously wouldn’t want to spend days figuring your way around a complicated graphic-design software just to create a simple logo.

Social Media Tools

Now, guess what? It doesn’t end with logo creation. Come to think of it, plenty of tools can do that. What sets Tailor Brands apart from them is the fact that it’s not just about logos. It seemingly takes the whole concept of branding pretty seriously.

That’s why it goes ahead to provide a range of social media tools to further empower your branding strategy. And it all makes sense since social media is currently the principal platform businesses are leveraging to hunt for prospects. In fact, 98% of small businesses have already tried social media marketing.

Good enough? Now, let’s dive into the details.

Tailor Brand’s Social Posts tool, for starters, helps you customize branded images to post on social media. This strategy alone has been proven to engage twice as many social media users as posts without images.

And speaking of strategy, another tool you get is the Social Strategy. This helps you organize and streamline your entire social media framework. In addition to an automated post scheduler, it comes with features for curating posts, saving pre-made posts, keeping track of all your campaigns, and more.

Then, when it comes to impressions, Tailor Brands offers you a tool called Social Cover Banners. This is exceptionally critical because the fundamental objective behind branding has always been trying to make solid impressions on the target market.

And when it comes to social media, your profile has got to be outstanding enough to leave a lasting impression. Social Cover Banners helps you achieve this by providing branded customized banners to place at the top of your LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook pages.

Online Brand Book

Using algorithms to develop a logo based on your overall preferences is impressive. But, let’s be honest here. Even when you’re fully satisfied with the outcome, the truth is- you’re just one element in an extensive network of audiences.

In other words, your target market does not participate in the initial design process. And that should be enough to get you worried, especially when you consider the fact that design is more of a subjective matter. So, in essence, your audience might not share the same sentiments about the brand as you.

Thankfully, Tailor Brand’s professional designers swing into action to help you avoid such a disaster. And they do so through an online brand book, which is offered as along with your branding package.

Quite simply, the online brand book is like a Magna Carta of sorts. It contains valuable pointers about branding, which you can use to further refine your design. Some of the elements it delves into include primary and complementary colors, spacing, fonts, logo placement, plus sizes.

tailor brands online brand book

Over time, you’ll be able to maintain a consistent branding strategy even when you hire new members to join your team.

Analytics

By now, you’re probably already used to the standard business metrics you get on most web-based solutions. I’m talking about things like conversion rate, bounce rate, traffic size, etc.

Now, get this. Analytics on Tailor Brands are a bit different. Instead of monitoring your web traffic, the system assesses how the market is responding to your branding strategy.

And you know what? It goes beyond typical social media indicators like the number of post likes. To adequately establish how your audience is warming up to the brand, Tailor Brands maintains a keen eye on the engagement patterns, plus events happening around your brand- on both social media and the web.

Tailor Brands Review: Pricing

Tailor Brands has seemingly extended its simplicity concept to the pricing structure. There are only two plans for all types of users.

Well, you can proceed with the logo design process without paying a dime. But, unfortunately, that’s all you can do. You need an active subscription to buy a logo. And the best thing is- you’ll retain all the rights to your logo after purchasing.

That said, here are the subscriptions options

Dynamic Logo– Costs $9.99 per month, while annual prepay subscribers end up paying $2.99 per month.

  • Unlimited Backup
  • Weebly Website Builder
  • Social Strategy
  • Seasonal logos
  • Social Analytics
  • Commercial Use License
  • Transparent PNG
  • High-Resolution Logo

Premium– Costs $49.99 per month, while annual prepay subscribers end up paying $10.99 per month.

  • Unlimited Backup
  • Weebly Website Builder
  • Facebook Ads
  • Branded Watermark Tool
  • Branded Business Deck
  • Branded Presentation
  • Online Brand Guidelines
  • Social Covers Design Tool
  • Weekly Facebook Posts
  • Business Card Design Tool
  • Logo Resize Tool
  • Make Changes and Re-Download
  • Social Strategy
  • Seasonal Logos
  • Social Analytics
  • Commercial Use License
  • Transparent PNG & Vector EPS Files
  • High-Resolution Logo

tailor brands pricing

Who Should Consider Using Tailor Brands?

Going by all the features we’ve covered, Tailor Brands’ primary strong point is simplicity and user-friendliness. Users who’ve never spent even a single second of their life on any graphics design software can generate a decent logo in just a couple of minutes. All things considered, it’s ridiculously straightforward.

But then again, and rather ironically, that might also be its principal drawback to a couple of users. I’m talking about designers who prefer dynamic graphics editing solutions that can customize everything.

So, let’s agree on one thing- Tailor Brands is best for small business owners and startups seeking a simple and straightforward platform, which can systematically convert their ideas into logos and power their branding campaigns.

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Getting Started in Site Hosting https://inspiredm.com/getting-started-in-site-hosting/ https://inspiredm.com/getting-started-in-site-hosting/#respond Mon, 22 Oct 2018 07:29:42 +0000 https://inspiredm.com/?p=42882 Every website designer and developer should consider site hosting. There are many advantages to be gained from doing so. If you’ve been ignoring this possibility because you think the task is too time consuming and technical, this article will explain why it’s actually very easy and quick, provided you go about it in the right...Continue Reading "Getting Started in Site Hosting"

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Every website designer and developer should consider site hosting. There are many advantages to be gained from doing so. If you’ve been ignoring this possibility because you think the task is too time consuming and technical, this article will explain why it’s actually very easy and quick, provided you go about it in the right way.

1. The basics

It’s still possible to simply by a server, connect it to a router, connect to the Internet and start hosting your site right from your own office. This gives you some small advantages, but a lot of disadvantages compared to the alternative. The advantages include having direct access to the hardware, plus having full control and responsibility. The disadvantages are too numerous to list.

Most companies and individuals offering hosting services are reselling services from gigantic server farms. It’s possible that they can be resellers of resellers, and the chain could stretch back quite a long way before you get to the actual hardware provider.

Becoming a reseller yourself is easy. Simply find a hosting company you’re comfortable with and purchase a reseller account from them. If you know in advance that you’re going to be hosting a lot of sites a dedicated server will be the way to go, but for most people the best choice will be a virtual private server (VPS).

That name is confusing because it implies that you don’t really have a private space, but actually you do. You get your own dedicated partition, isolated from all the other resellers in every way. The operating system and all the hardware can be configured any way you want without affecting other reseller accounts.

What you’ll be selling to your customers is not VPS but shared hosting, meaning they don’t have the same degree of control and isolation that you have, but only as much as you award to them.

The hosting market is so competitive right now, and so large, that it’s very difficult to make money just from selling hosting. You will most likely be adding value through the other services you provide.

2. Choosing the operating system

You may be offered a choice between a Windows server and a Linux server. Unless you have an absolute, non-negotiable need for a Windows server, you’re better off choosing Linux. This will be much less expensive, more flexible, more secure, and easier to administrate.

This is why nearly every site on the Internet is hosted on Linux. A very small number are hosted on Windows, and an even smaller number are hosted on anything else.

3. WHM – for creating and managing accounts

 Each “account” on your server is actually a domain space. This is all the term “account” means in this context. The owners of each individual site you set up on the server as accounts will define their own user accounts, which in this case will actually mean users, or individual people (not domain spaces). A domain space is any space that can be accessed through the successful resolution of a DNS entry.

If you have chosen a Linux server, the tool you will use for this purpose is called Web Host Manager (WHM). You don’t have to use WHM, because there are other ways to achieve the same ends, but why make things difficult for yourself when there is a really simple way to get everything done?

 

It is important to understand the difference between WHM and cPanel. WHM is used at the server administrator level to create and manage user accounts, but does not give access to individual features within each account (such as setting up email accounts for the domain).

cPanel is used at both an administrative and user level. You have one top level cPanel account from which you can micro-manage all the features of any domain space on the server. The individual site owners, if you grant them the keys to the kingdom, can also manage their own domain space.

4. Security and server configuration settings not covered

Due to the high level of risk involved in making changes to your configuration and security settings, and the massive amount of explanation that would be required to ensure you don’t create a problem for yourself, we’re not going to cover any of that stuff. If you have a need to make those kinds of changes, you already know enough not to need our help anyway.

5. Setting up hosting packages

Before you can create any new accounts, you’ll need hosting packages defined. These packages are feature sets that allow you to decide what features and resources are available for the domains on your server. This also allows you to upgrade and downgrade accounts according to need.

It is generally best practice to not allocate more features and resources than an individual domain space needs. If you find that a site’s needs change in the future, you can silently upgrade it in the background.

You set up packages by selecting Packages in the left menu, and then selecting Add a Package from the main panel.

 

It’s all very easy to understand. You give your package a name, and then set the limits you want for each resource. Most of the items can be left on the default unlimited setting, but the items you will definitely want to restrict are Disk Quota and Monthly Bandwidth. Because the settings are in MB, to get nice round numbers in GB you’ll need to set your values in multiples of 1024. In the example below, disk quota is set to 5 GB, and bandwidth is set to 10 GB.

 For some reason the number of add-on domains and parked domains defaults to a limit of 0, and there is no logical reason why you’d want to prevent add-on and parked domains from being created, so you should consider raising the limit or even setting it to unlimited.

CGI access is enabled by default, but the need for it in the present time is quite rare, and CGI is a favorite access point for many types of malware. If you don’t develop CGI software, or otherwise have a known need for it, you may wish to disable it.

When all the settings for your package are correct, click the Add button to save them.

6. Add an account

Once you have one or more packages defined, you are then able to add accounts. Most of the time, especially if you’re successful, this will be the only other WHM task you need to perform other than creating packages.

To access this feature, select Account Functions in the left menu and then select Create a New Account from the main panel.

This screen has seven sections. The first section shows you your reseller account limits and how much you’ve already used.

 

The next section shows you how many sites you can still create based on which package type you select. 

 

The next section will be where you actually enter the information about the domain account you are creating. The domain you create here does not have to be already registered, and it’s important to understand that this process does not actually register a domain, which is a separate step.

 

There are five fields to complete, and a password strength indicator. There’s an option to use a password generator, but you should not use it because you’ll get a weak password that the system incorrectly identifies as strong. Instead, you should manually create a strong password that you could never forget, and which also follows all the rules of using numbers, letters, mixed cases, and special characters (because if you don’t follow all the rules, the password may be identified as weak, even if it is strong).

The username field will be created for you based on the domain name. You may want to change it for security reasons or because there would be a conflict with another username already in use.

The final field is the email field, which is the email address where administrative emails connected with the account should be sent. This should be an email address under your direct control. Below is an example of all the fields completed.

 In the next section, you simply select a package from the drop-down box. After you have selected a package, the background of the field will turn green, a green check mark icon will appear, and if you hover your mouse over the magnifying glass icon, you will see the details of the selected package so you can be sure it is correct.

 The next section allows you to configure cPanel settings. CGI Access should only be enabled for accounts where CGI is necessary (it’s usually not necessary). Change the locale from English to another one if necessary. Usually you will want to leave the Apache SpamAssassin setting enabled. You would normally only disable this if you knew it would create a problem.

 The next section is for the DNS settings. You won’t normally want to change these settings from the default settings unless you have a special reason.

 The next section is for mail routing settings. You won’t normally change these from the default selection unless you have a reason.

 Click the blue Create button to create the account. You’ll see instant confirmation on the screen, and also receive an email to the account you nominated at section 3.

7. Other things you can do with accounts

 

Adding accounts is really all you’ll normally need to use WHM for. There could be a few special situations that come up, so for those situations, here are the possible things you can do:

  • Force Password Change. If you have some special reason to force your users to change their passwords, this is the option that allows you to do it. It’s not really recommended to do this unless there is a pressing need.
  • Manage Account Suspension. If you ever need to suspend or unsuspend an account, this is where you do it from.
  • Password Modification. If you want to change the password for a site yourself (that is, you don’t want to leave it up to the client to choose a password) this is where you do it. You’ll normally use this action after a suspected security breach has occurred.
  • Skeleton Directory. Not as exciting as it sounds. This simply allows you to specify a default index page and directory structure for the newly created accounts. You can’t actually change anything here, it is just notifying you of where to look on your server for the skeleton directory template so you can manually make changes there if you want.
  • Terminate Accounts. If you are sure that an account is no longer required, you can remove all traces of it by using this feature. It’s only necessary to activate it once you start running out of room to create new accounts. Otherwise suspension is effective enough, along with not renewing the domain.
  • Upgrade/Downgrade an Account. All accounts can be upgraded or downgraded. You select the domain to be upgraded or downgraded, and then click the Modify button.
  • Web Template Editor. This is only for creating default pages to be shown when an account has been deleted, moved, or suspended; or where the site has a connection problem.

9. Everything else in WHM

All the other things you can do are advanced features that you will only need to concern yourself with if you encounter the kind of circumstances that would require you to. When that happens, it is best to consult the official documentation for guidance on those advanced topics.

10. Perform all your lower level administrative tasks in cPanel

For the even more basic and site-specific stuff like setting up email accounts, creating databases, installing software, and setting add-on or parked domains, you will use cPanel. All of these features are also self-explanatory.

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15 Best Browser Extensions for Developers (2018) https://inspiredm.com/15-best-browser-extensions-for-developers-2018/ https://inspiredm.com/15-best-browser-extensions-for-developers-2018/#respond Mon, 24 Sep 2018 08:07:55 +0000 https://inspiredm.com/?p=42810 The biggest change for 2018 has been the major overhaul of FireFox, and with it the way add-ons work in that browser. As a result, many popular add-ons are no longer being maintained or have become unavailable. Most add-ons for Firefox are also available as extensions for Google Chrome. In this article, we’ll try to...Continue Reading "15 Best Browser Extensions for Developers (2018)"

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The biggest change for 2018 has been the major overhaul of FireFox, and with it the way add-ons work in that browser. As a result, many popular add-ons are no longer being maintained or have become unavailable.

Most add-ons for Firefox are also available as extensions for Google Chrome. In this article, we’ll try to give preference to cross-browser add-ons / extensions, which within this context means they’ll work on Firefox, Chrome, and Chromium. We’ll also give preference to free extensions that aren’t known to pass your information to third parties and are not supported by ad revenue. We’ll focus more on extensions that don’t restrict you to a particular development technology.

Few developers would see any advantage in using Microsoft Edge as a development browser, but it is fine for post-development testing. Only a little over 4 in every 100 site visitors can be expected to be using it, although that number can be expected to increase slightly as more users abandon Internet Explorer.

Even though there far more Chrome users than there are Firefox users, those in the IT crowd tend to prefer Firefox, which is why there are more and better extensions aimed at developers in Firefox.

Now let’s take that look at the very best browser extensions for developers and why you might want to add them to your browser.

1. Built With

When you find yourself on a really well made site and you want to know how they made it, this extension will save you a lot of time and effort digging around in source code. Download links: Chrome/Chromium, Firefox

2. aXe

This is an accessibility auditing tool. It’s always best to try and make your pages as accessible as possible, and aXe will help you avoid accidentally excluding a segment of users from your site. Download links: Chrome/Chromium, Firefox

3. ColorZilla

An oldie but still a goody, this extension allows you to sample colors directly from a page, retrieve color codes, generate gradients, and more. Download links: Chrome/Chromium, Firefox

4. WebDeveloper

Adds some useful extras to your browser for control of CSS, forms, images, and information. One of the most popular extensions ever made. Download links: Chrome/Chromium, Firefox

5. Woo Rank

Analyze any web page for SEO data. Provides a powerful report showing you all the SEO internals, including an overall SEO score, suggestions for improvement, keyword cloud, and much more. Download links: Chrome/Chromium, Firefox

6. Tab2QR

Generate a QR code of the page you’re on and you can visit the page with your phone just by scanning the QR code. Good for testing responsive sites, even if you did not create them. Download links: Chrome/Chromium, Firefox

7. HTTP Request Maker

This can be very useful for testing PHP form responses where you don’t really want to actually submit the form (which might trigger additional processing you don’t need to test). With this tool you can forge HTTP requests effortlessly. Note that although the Chrome and Firefox extensions have the same name and do the same things, they’re made by different developers and are not exactly the same. Download links: Chrome/Chromium, Firefox

8. Page Performance Test

Quickly obtain a report of how your page performs at different stages of it’s journey to your browser. It’s kind of like a more advanced version of tracert. This one is only available on Firefox for now. There are similar extensions for Chrome and Chromium but they’re not as rich in features as this one. Download links: Firefox

9. Word Count Tool

This one can actually do more than the name implies, as it will also tell you how many characters and how many sentences are within a selected block of text (or the whole page). Download links: Chrome/Chromium, Firefox

10. Web Developer Checklist

Make sure you’re following best web development practice guidelines with this tool that will show up where your standards may have slipped. Download links: Chrome/Chromium, Firefox

11. Image Map Editor

One of a trio of excellent extensions from German developer Heinz-Jürgen Boms, this one does exactly what the name says it does. You can generate an image map directly in the browser just by tracing over the areas of an image you want to map. Download links: Firefox

12. Advanced Frame Editor

Another extension from Heinz-Jürgen Boms, this is really a CSS styling tool where you can build a frame directly in the browser by specifying its attributes. It is worth checking out the documentation before starting to use it. Download links: Firefox

13. Bootstrap Responsive Helper

This is a very simple little extension that helps you see quickly if your breakpoints are working correctly and what bootstrap level the current mode is. Of course you’ll only need this extension if you actually work in Bootstrap. The Chrome version is developed by Jonathan Defraiteur, and the Firefox version is developed by Kevin Bon. Download links: Chrome/Chromium, Firefox

14. Try It Yourself HTML5 Editor

If you prefer to keep things simple and just get all your work done from one place, this extension is for you. Rich in features, this context-aware editor works directly in the browser and supports HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. It’s far from perfect, but for a quick and dirty edit without the bother of opening a separate application, it gets the job done. Download links: Firefox

15. X-Ray Goggles

Technically this one isn’t an extension, it’s actually a bookmarklet. But it works so well, we couldn’t leave it off the list. Even though it’s made by Mozilla, it works equally well in Chrome because both browsers are fully standards compliant. To use it, you’ll need to make your bookmarks bar visible. Then visit the download page, which you can reach via the links below, and drag the X-Ray Goggles button onto the bookmarks bar. Then just visit any site, fire up your X-Ray Goggles bookmark, select an element on the page, and you can edit the code for it. Download links: Chrome/Chromium, Firefox

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Exclusive Freebie: Yoga and Mindfulness Icon Pack https://inspiredm.com/exclusive-freebie-yoga-and-mindfulness-icon-pack/ https://inspiredm.com/exclusive-freebie-yoga-and-mindfulness-icon-pack/#respond Thu, 30 Aug 2018 12:33:59 +0000 https://inspiredm.com/?p=42798 Are you looking to add some peace and tranquility to your life? Well, look no further! The Yoga and Mindfulness Icon Pack from Flaticon is beautifully designed to bring a sense of tranquility into your life.  Each icon comes in three versions and what’s more, you can edit the colours! Free for personal and commercial use! Download...Continue Reading "Exclusive Freebie: Yoga and Mindfulness Icon Pack"

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Are you looking to add some peace and tranquility to your life? Well, look no further! The Yoga and Mindfulness Icon Pack from Flaticon is beautifully designed to bring a sense of tranquility into your life.  Each icon comes in three versions and what’s more, you can edit the colours! Free for personal and commercial use!

Download the icon pack from here.

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SEMrush Review: Complete Digital Marketing Toolkit? https://inspiredm.com/semrush-review/ https://inspiredm.com/semrush-review/#respond Tue, 21 Aug 2018 08:00:44 +0000 https://inspiredm.com/?p=42767 This SEMrush review discusses everything you need to know about the solution- it’s primary features and functionalities, plus pricing and overall usability. And to help you further, I’ll also throw in SEMrush’s weak points. Search engine optimization is not the easiest thing right now. Getting noticed by Google takes a considerable amount of resources, time...Continue Reading "SEMrush Review: Complete Digital Marketing Toolkit?"

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This SEMrush review discusses everything you need to know about the solution- it’s primary features and functionalities, plus pricing and overall usability. And to help you further, I’ll also throw in SEMrush’s weak points.

Search engine optimization is not the easiest thing right now. Getting noticed by Google takes a considerable amount of resources, time and persistent efforts

That’s why a good rank is always refreshingly satisfying. Breaking through to the first page of the search results alone places you in the category of sites attracting 75% of the organic clicks. And if you’re good enough for the first spot, the result is essentially 33% of the clicks.

It almost feels like winning the lottery, right?

But, let’s be honest here. Deep down you know that making it to that position is not the end game.

Maintaining it is even harder since competition at the highest levels is usually extremely fierce. You might go to bed as the leader, then rise up in the morning to find your site a couple of spots behind.

To make matters worse, Google is not dependable when it comes to conserving the status quo. Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, a simple algorithm update might be enough to kick your site into oblivion. And probably even blacklist it.

We’ve all been there. And many actually recognize the possibility of backsliding. That’s why, as a matter of fact, 72% of business leaders believe that their enterprises will be vulnerable to threats emanating from digital market disruptions in the next three years.

Think that fear is a bit too familiar? In other words, do you think you have what it takes to effectively wage war against your competitors?

I tell you what. I know the feeling. So, I’ll cut to the chase here and walk you through a tool that’s predominantly leveraged for SEO and competitor intelligence.

But first, what is it all about?

SEMrush Review: Overview

Ask me about keyword research, and I’ll give you a list of tools optimized for it.

Switch to SEO site audit, and I’ll still mention multiple solutions off the top of my head.

Curious about playing dirty too? Well, I can also introduce you to a couple of web-based competitor intelligence services that give relatively accurate insights.

And so forth.

Now, we’ve barely scratched the surface here. By the time we’re halfway done, you’ll have integrated several third-party tools into your site. And there’s no problem with that. Apart from the obvious fact that it’ll be pretty cumbersome switching between them to coordinate your entire digital marketing strategy.

So, guess what? How about combining all these channels into one comprehensive suite?

Well, that’s how they came up with SEMrush in 2008.  With the concept of placing everything under one roof.

 

Quite simply, SEMrush is a powerful digital marketing suite that merges social media marketing, SERP, keyword research and implementation, backlinking, content marketing, paid ad campaigns, PPC, and SEO- to support streamlined marketing through one central dashboard.

All things considered, SEMrush is particularly known for helping its users go beyond their standard jurisdictions, into their competitors’ territories.

And what’s the point?

Well, get this. By granting insight into your competitors’ digital marketing strategies, SEMrush essentially facilitates counter-strategies from a vantage point.

Such provisions have seen this toolkit grow exponentially over the years, to host more than a million regular users.

By the end of 2016, in fact, SEMrush had expanded its reach to more than 160 million keyword databases in the US alone, 70 million in Canada, 95 million in Australia, 80 million in the UK, 45 million more in India, just to mention but a few.

Now that, admittedly, sounds impressive, to say the least. But, does SEMrush live up to user expectations? How much can it support your digital marketing efforts?

Well, let’s find out.

This SEMrush review discusses everything you need to know about the solution- it’s primary features and functionalities, plus pricing and overall usability. And to help you further, I’ll also throw in SEMrush’s weak points.

SEMrush Review: Features

Dynamic SEO

Confused about the best keywords to optimize for Google?

Well, it turns out that SEMrush provides organic research to help site owners establish the golden keywords that will get you that highest possible ranking.

For the best possible results, keyword assessment is based on several critical parameters. Some of the primary ones include competitive density, CPC, search volume, traffic, and overall trends.

Fair enough, but keyword optimization is only a small part of the whole SEO framework. The rest involves technical elements like page loading speeds and link-building.

That’s why, thankfully, SEMrush extends its features to offer a complete site audit on all SEO technicalities.

How, you ask?

Basically, its engine crawls through your site to analyze things like page loading speeds, hreflang attributes, AMP issues, images, HTTPS implementation, content, etc. Any errors that would affect your ranking are then identified for prompt resolution.

Consider duplicate content or broken images, for instance. Normally, it would be difficult to notice such discrepancies. But, SEMrush is capable of detecting even some of the smallest issues that might be hurting your overall ranking.

And speaking of ranking, SEMrush also comes provides a handy position tracking function. It closely monitors your site’s position across all search engine platforms, including Google’s local search versions. Consequently, even the slightest shifts in SERPs are identified quickly, to help you implement a counter strategy in good time.

Now hang on a minute. What counter strategies are we talking about here?

Well, all these insights are extremely valuable. But there’s one problem. They are as good as dead if you can’t figure out the most effectual response strategies. And that always boils down to your SEO expertise.

But, guess what? Instead of leaving it at the error-detection stage, SEMrush also proceeds to handle the heavy lifting for you. It provides helpful suggestions to improve your site’s SERP according to Google’s current algorithm set up.

Paid Ads Insight

By now, we pretty much acknowledge that organic search drives Google SERP.

But, make no mistake. That shouldn’t be the basis for dismissing paid ads. In fact, here’s the deal- PPC leads have 50% higher chances of buying something compared to organic visitors. That’s why businesses are now generating an average of $2 ROI for every $1 spent on Adwords.

Quite promising, but that’s just the average. So, of course, it’s possible to achieve even better returns. But you’ll need to eliminate all the possible errors in your ad framework.

It’s common, for instance, to see inappropriately placed PPC keywords competing against each other. To resolve such a problem, SEMrush provides a PPC keyword tool to identify and remove negative keywords, in addition to refining the entire keyword list.

When it comes to drafting the precise paid ads, SEMrush also comes in handy with its Ad Builder.  It makes the whole process much easier by not only capitalizing on your rivals’ ad templates, but also supporting dynamic keyword insertion for optimal ad relevancy.

Content Optimization

Have you ever invested heavily in content, hoping for the best, and then managed to acquire only a handful of leads? Have you ever been so discouraged by the results that you started believing that content marketing is a bit overhyped?

Well, the fact is content is still king. It’s three times as effective as paid search, and generates 200% more leads than outbound marketing. Most importantly, it forms the foundation for search engine ranking.

So, it makes sense that SEMrush attempts to go beyond keyword research here. To further sharpen your content marketing, the service helps you identify exactly what your target audience is interested in through its topic research function.

To top it off, SEMrush additionally comes with brand monitoring to inform the subsequent content distribution strategy.

Social Media Tracking

In essence, we can’t discuss digital marketing without mentioning social media.

Now, it turns out SEMrush has also engineered tools that delve into the deep stuff. Using just likes and comments to judge results is so last year. So, its tracker scans extensively for profound critical analysis.

You can track the relevant hashtags across Google+, Twitter, and Facebook, discover the principal content types preferred by your target audiences, follow up on all the social media data through PDF reports, plus keep an eye on third-party social media marketers handling your enterprise’s channels.

Come to think of it, however, you might not even need a third-party marketer. SEMrush’s social media poster might be an adequate alternative for a standard small business. It basically automates the posting process, allowing you to queue and schedule posts, curate content, and post to multiple platforms simultaneously.

And to establish the best practices, SEMrush acts as a window to your rivals’ social media methodologies. You get to learn about their posting patterns, top-performing posts, and their corresponding successes across the chief platforms.

Competitive Intelligence

Ok, we’ve mentioned a couple of helpful features for tracking competitors on different channels. But, they only add up to a fraction of SEMrush’s overall competitive intelligence capability.

To get collect comprehensive information about your enemies, you have to be equipped for the Bond-level of spying. That’s how the bulk of the leading brands have been able to remain dominant in the first place. As a matter of fact, 90% of the Fortune 500 companies actively engage extensive competitive intelligence.

That said, SEMrush provides data on your rivals’ SERP, organic keywords, SEO progress, social media marketing strategies, and content efficacy. Through traffic analytics, you can further establish your competitors’ traffic sources, compare traffic response patterns to the corresponding marketing tactics, plus weigh your site against its primary opponents, as you review the respective key metrics.

 

And you know what? You can also track your paid search competition through SEMrush’s advertising research. I was able to follow my rivals’ ad trends, establish mobile and desktop keywords they’ve been leveraging, plus monitor their top results, overall expenditure, and individual PPC tactics.

SEMrush Review: Pricing

The type and level of functions you’re able to adopt, overall, depends on your specific subscription package. And to cater to different types of users, SEMrush has structured its packages and their corresponding prices in line with the expected usage scales- from freelancers to enterprises.

For starters, you can take advantage of the free-trial offer. Unfortunately, it’s only applicable for 14 days, you’re essentially limited to SEMrush Pro.

Then comes the four fundamental packages:

Pro- For startups and freelancers with a limited budget. Costs $99.95 per month, or $999.40 per year for annual prepay subscribers.

  • 5 scheduled PDF reports
  • Standard features
  • Crawls through 100,000 web pages
  • Tracks up to 500 keywords
  • 5 projects
  • 3,000 daily reports
  • 10,000 results per report

Guru- For developing marketing firms plus small and medium enterprises. Costs $199.95 per month, or $1999.40 per year for annual prepay subscribers.

  • Branded PDF reports
  • All Pro features
  • Standard features
  • Historical data
  • 20 scheduled PDF reports
  • Crawls through 300,000 web pages
  • Tracks up to 1500 keywords
  • 50 projects
  • 5,000 daily reports
  • 30,000 results per report

Business- For enterprises with a large web presence, e-commerce projects, and large agencies. Costs $399.95 per month, or $3999.40 per year for annual prepay subscribers.

  • Product listing ads
  • All Guru features
  • Standard features
  • Historical data
  • Branded PDF reports
  • 50 scheduled PDF reports
  • Crawls through 1,000,000 web pages
  • Tracks up to 5,000 keywords
  • 200 projects
  • 10,000 daily reports
  • 50,000 results per report

Enterprise offers flexible features to large organizations with extensive needs. Its price is negotiable.

  • Unlimited site crawling
  • Standard features
  • On-site training
  • Custom keyword databases
  • Custom limits

Who Should Consider Using SEMrush?

Before we settle this, let’s look at what you might not like about SEMrush.

As you’ve probably noticed from the pricing strategy, cheap is not a word you’d use to describe SEMrush. $100 per month, for instance, is considerably costly for startups and freelancers.

But, I guess you could also argue that it’s reasonably priced if we compared it with the alternative option of adopting numerous tools from different providers.

Now, while combining all these functionalities streamlines your overall marketing strategy, here’s the kicker. Learning the ropes as a beginner is not as simple as it sounds. Only experienced marketers are able to leverage the tools effortlessly right off the bat.

And then, here’s an issue I didn’t quite pick up, but many experienced users have raised it on multiple platforms. That SEMrush’s data might have some discrepancies here and there. But that’s a rare occurrence it seems.

That said, SEMrush is best suited for digital marketers. But don’t let that stop you from giving it a try. You can still leverage it as a freelancer or business owner.

The post SEMrush Review: Complete Digital Marketing Toolkit? appeared first on Inspired Magazine.

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