My goal is to save you money in this post. (Strong opener, right?)

skills To run a small business, you need to be good at a lot of different things. Sure, you want to be good at whatever your trade is, that’s probably most important.

But it’s no longer enough to just be awesome at whatever you’re awesome at.

There’s a whole spectrum of other skills that are required in order to make your business hum; copywriting, graphic design, blogging, SEO, website management, newsletters, social media, email marketing, hiring and the list goes on and on.

And your options are to either hire someone to do those things, or to learn to do them yourself.

Hiring them out can get expensive. And doing them yourself can be really time consuming.

Having a basic level of comfort with creating graphics (or any skill) can be really liberating for you. shackles2

Too many times I’ve seen small businesses who feel shackled by a designer who isn’t getting back to them. Whether with web design work, with graphics, or video editing, the fact remains – it isn’t fun to be dependent on someone else.

And I’m not suggesting you devote weeks or months learning one of these new skills, but I am proposing that a basic foundation of knowledge will help tremendously. You might find that there are fewer projects that you end up outsourcing. Or, you might find that you’re able to reduce the number of design iterations it takes to get something done, because you can communicate your request more clearly. The list of benefits is pretty long.

So, today I want to introduce you to one of my favorite tools, Pixlr. (And it’s free)

Pixlr is a photoediting tool, and I’ve used it for years. It can do a lot of the basic things you can do with something like photoshop – apply filters, add captions, resize images easily and remove an unwanted background. There are thousands of uses for it, so I won’t even attempt to show you all the things it can do – instead, I’ll show you one thing you can use it for, today.

Here’s the scenario:

I created a series of 8 free Infusionsoft tips (grab them here). And I wanted a fancy graphic to go along with it. So I hopped on Fiverr and submitted a graphic request then boom, a few hours and $5.50 later I had this bad boy.MiniPodTipsSeries_square

Not bad right?

Pretty stylish graphic. But here’s the problem, when I uploaded this to leadpages it had this awkward white background on it that totally ruined the aesthetic appeal the page had.

MiniPod Tips 1

So, I reached back out to the designer and asked if she could create a version without the background. She kindly informed me that this was a paid service, and would cost $20 more. (She really was super nice, I’d use her again in a heartbeat)

Well, fortunately I have pixlr in my back pocket, so I hopped in there, made the changes I needed and in a few minutes I had a landing page that had the look and feel I was going for.

Mini Pod 2

Not a big deal, right? It’s such a small thing, I know. But having little tricks up your sleeve like this can add up, and the more I use pixlr the more comfortable I feel tackling other tasks I would have otherwise outsourced. (I recently used Pixlr to create the graphics for this FB ad campaign you may have seen)

This simple trick saved me $20 on the spot. Hopefully adding Pixlr to your tool belt can save you time or money as well.

Here’s a tutorial with a detailed breakdown of exactly how to accomplish this with Pixlr:

My philosophy toward these types of topics is that I want to learn as much as I reasonably can, enough so that I can understand the project, and that I can identify when it’s out of my reach and I need to bring in an expert. Plenty of people take that approach with Infusionsoft. They want to learn the campaign builder basics so they know how it works, or learn enough so that they can confidently edit campaigns, or run reports – but they have no intention of building all their own campaigns.

I’m not a graphic designer. This should come as no surprise to anyone. But I also know the value of having attractive graphics to supplement my blog posts, my facebook ads, or to use on my website. For the most part, I just use free images I find online, but occasionally I need something a little more complex, and for these types of things, I balance between hiring out a pro using a service like Fiverr, and dabbling in the design space myself a little bit.

I’d love to hear how you approach these necessary ancillary skills!