Free Alternatives to Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Audio/Video Editing Software, and Music Notation Software

Being a musician means being a jack-of-all-trades. You compose and arrange, edit your audio and video, and maybe even produce your own posters, album jackets, and press materials. If you’re lucky you may have the resources to use or purchase the professional software, such as the Adobe Creative Suite, Logic, Final Cut X, and Sibelius. What to do when you don’t? Below, I’ve listed some FREE alternatives to keep your projects looking professional AND affordable.






GIMP is an open-source, cross-platform image editor available for GNU/Linux, OS X, Windows. They offer sophisticated tools, customization options, and 3rd party plugins.



Pic Monkey Layout

An online photo editing tool (no downloads required!) where you can add effects, filters, crop, retouch, add textures, and much more.




PIXLR layout

Versatile image editor where you can edit directly on their website, download the free software, or use on your mobile devices. Pixlr Editor is more like a simplified version of Photoshop and Pixlr Express offers quick image enhancements such as filters and borders.






Inkscape layout

An open-source vector graphics editor for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. Draw anything from logos and illustrations to backgrounds and art.



Draw Plus Starter Edition Features

Create designs, logos, technical drawings, and Flash animations. Option to upgrade to their Pro version.






Page plus Starter Edition Features

Serif, the company that makes PagePlus has a variety of programs for all your design and editing needs (Like DrawPlus as mentioned above). PagePlus provides templates and drag and drop tools for all your print design needs such as flyers, brochures, posters, and stationary.




An open source downloadable application, Scribus offers all the tools for your print design needs.






Audacity Free Audio Editing Software

Audacity has been around for a long time and is a great and simple audio recording and editing software. Has your basic library of effects and is compatible for Mac, PC, and Linux.




iMovie free video editing software

If you have a Mac computer, you probably have already dabbled through iMovie. It’s a great video editing tool and is constantly getting better with new features and simplicity.



lightworks free video editing software

Fully functional and extensive features for your professional video editing needs. Windows, Mac OS X and Linux compatible.



Shotcut free video editing software

Open-source, fully functional with extensive features. Windows, Mac OS X and Linux compatible.







“Create, view, print, hear and share professional quality music notation right in your browser – on your computer, tablet or phone. You can keep your scores private, share them with other Noteflighters, or embed them on your own web pages.” No downloads necessary- just log in! The free version has all the basic notation tools you need to create a good score. You get up to 10 scores to compose.




Create, play and print sheet music with the free MuseScore notation software- download to your computer or get the app!



Flat Music Notation Software

This music notation software emphasizes the ease and use of collaborative composing and sharing options with Google Drive. Gorgeous UI.



Many of the programs mentioned above have premium and subscription plans so you can receive the highest quality and tools for your needs. Enjoy!





Adding and Editing a WooCommerce Product

WooCommerce Tutorial- Add Products

You’ve got your WooCommerce theme ready to go and now it’s time to add your first product! Here’s a quick tutorial that shows you the basics in adding and editing a product. For more detailed information, visit WooCommerce’s documentation on Adding and Managing Products.



  1. Go to Products -> Add Products in your Dashboard. You’ll be taken to the Visual Editor to start adding your new product!

Add and Edit a WooCommerce Product


If you want to edit an existing product, select Products from the Dashboard and hover your mouse over an existing product and select Edit.

Adding and Editing a WooCommerce Product


2. In the Visual Editor, type in the product name and include a description in the main text box.

Add WooCommerce Product

Here’s what it would look like so far:




3. Next, scroll down to Product Data to include the price for your product.

Adding Price to WooCommerce Product


4. Have a sale item? Under the Sale Price text box, include a sale price value. This price will automatically switch the product to the sale price.

Adding Sale Price to WooCommerce Product


5. You can also schedule a sale with a start and end date. To do so, click Schedule under the Sale Price text box and input the From and To text boxes.

Adding Price to WooCommerce Product



6. Click Set Product Image to upload the image of the product. To add more images, click the Add Product Gallery Images.

woocommerce product images


Here’s what your product looks like so far:

WooCommerce Product Image


And in the product list:

Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 9.57.14 AM


7. Categorizing products helps organize your products for your customers. A common method is to include a list of categories in the sidebar of your website. Click all the categories that the product should be under.

Add categories to WordPress shop


8. To add a new Category, click Add New Product Category and create a new name. If needed, make sure to select which parent category it should be in.

WooCommerce product categories Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 4.14.09 PM



Save as Draft or Publish your product post.

Save your WordPress Product

And there you have it – the bare bones to adding your first products! For more detailed information, visit WooCommerce’s documentation on Adding and Managing Products.

Click here to find more of my tutorials on using WooCommerce. Have fun!

WooCommerce Plugin: Shipping Matrix Rate – Shipping Rate by Cart Total

WooCommerce PLugin: Shipping Matrix Rate

Recently, I’ve started working on a few e-commerce sites using WooCommerce. It’s an e-commerce platform that uses WordPress to create beautiful online stores. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be providing tutorials on how to set up and use WooCommerce, as well as feature the plugins that I’ve been implementing.

Today’s post is on the Shipping Matrix Rate plugin that allows you to customize your shipping rate based on weight, cart subtotal, and quantity, as well as destination Hope these tutorials will help you with your online store – good luck!



What is it?

As described on Envato:

The Shipping Matrix Rate is the original shipping WooCommerce solution that enables you to offer multiple shipping options to customers based on their locations. With the Shipping Matrix you can define different shipping rates according to destination, shipping method and the weight, price or quantity of an item.

Where do I download it?

Envato Market

I found this nifty plugin, created by Best Kit, at Envato Market. Great place for affordable themes, design templates, plugins, etc.

How much?

(includes 6 months of support and updates)


  • Calculate the shipping price based on the formula with Cart Total, Weight and Qty variables
  • Add new shipping rates with custom names
  • Customize shipping rates based on destination
  • Customize shipping rates based on cart weight, subtotal, qty
  • Supports zip code numerical ranges (e.g. 5000-6000)
  • Supports zip code alphabetical ranges (e.g. NA100-NB120)
  • Allows to add Handling fees
  • Allows to add Tax to shipping cost



Let’s say you want to set up your shipping costs so that customers would be charged shipping based on the cart subtotal. For example, a cart subtotal of up to $25 would be $4 shipping, $25.01 – $100 subtotal would be $12 shipping, $100.01-$300 subtotal would be $18 shipping, etc. And let’s say you want different formulas based on specific destination, whether it’s domestic and international, or by state or city. The Shipping Matrix offers all these flexible options! In future posts, I will talk about setting up the formula based on weight and quantity. Stay tuned!

  1. To set up the Shipping Matrix plugin, go to WooCommerce ->Settings on your dashboard in WordPress.

WooCommerce Plugin Shipping Matrix


2. You’ll see a number of tabs for your Woocommerce settings. Click on the Shipping Matrix tab.

shipping matrix plugin


3. Click Add New to add your first shipping rate. To edit an existing formula, hover over the title and click Edit.

WooCommerce Plugin Shipping Matrix


Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 9.06.34 AM


4. Select a name for the shipping method. This will be visible to your customers.

Delegate the country you want for this shipping method. To select all countries, select the * at the top for ALL countries. To select a few countries press Command () or CTRL (Windows) and click on the specific countries.

You can also specify which states, cities, and postal codes would use this shipping rate. Leave as is (with the *) to select all.

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 9.07.01 AM


5. Order Cost From is the minimum the cart total must be to have your shipping rate. Order Cost To is the maximum amount. For now, we are not including the weight as a factor for our shipping cost, so leave as 0.

Input a shipping cost in your shipping formula. In the below example, all cart subtotals between $1-$25 will have $4 shipping.

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 9.07.15 AM

6. Here’s an example used for international shipping where a shopping cart with over $500 worth of merchandise would have free shipping. In the Shipping Formula field, enter 0.

woocommerce shipping rate by cart total


Always Save!


Stock Photos for Your Website – Free Options

A picture is worth a thousand words. And these days, you need stunning images to draw people to your websites and social media platforms. There are many popular stock photo website options, such as iStock and Shutterstock that can add up in price, as well as free or nearly free sites, but have very limited, not so great photo options. Below are some alternative websites I recommend to my clients that offer affordable or FREE photos to help you enhance your online presence. Please make sure to read the license agreement for each photo you download and make sure to credit the author where necessary! Love their work? Share your appreciation and donate to their websites!




Pexels stock photos

Pexels is my #1 recommended place to go for beautiful, free, no attribution required photos. The photos don’t look “stocky” and there’s a huge variety that’s great for any kind of website.



Gratisography stock photos

For something a little different, whimsical and pokes fun at life, Gratisography offers create, out of the box photos for your next project.



Unsplash stock photosUnsplash uploads 10 new photos every 10 days. Gorgeous, creative photos!  No attribution necessary.



Raumrot Stock photosRaumrot’s photographer, Markus Spiske, generously provides free photos for commercial use. Attribution is required.



Adobe Stock

adobe-stock-photosAdobe Stock is subscriptions based, but for a limited time, get 10 free stock photos when you first sign up. Attribution not required.



10 Questions to Ask When Designing Your Logo and Brand

Whether you’re designing a logo for a client, for your own business, or asking someone to design a logo for you, here are some questions to ask and tips to know to get those creative juices rolling!


1. What’s in a name?

Hello_my_name_is_sticker-logoThe name of your business is very important. Do you want it to be to the point, simple, fun and unique? It’s always fun to be creative and punny and associate your name with a visual object.  If it’s a long name, consider also using an acronym.

In the logo itself, you’re open to consider other subtitles such as a catchphrase, a unique description, year established, etc.


2. Who is your target audience?

target-market-iconA target audience is the main demographic of your customers. Maybe you’re rebranding so you can reach a large audience and new customers. Maybe you’re a new business, still figuring out your customers, but you should have a goal target audience. And that target audience should help you with the design, visual association, colors, and characteristic. However, don’t restrict your logo to cover one demographic. It’s always great to get all kind of customers!


3. Make the emotional connection

i-heart-logosWhen drafting ideas for your brand, think about how you want your customers to feel about your brand. What emotional connection do you want your customers to feel whenever they hear or talk about your business?

Create a list of emotions and descriptions to make your ideas concrete.


4. The first impression

3014641-inline-tell-a-lot-about-someoneAlong a similar line, your logo and branding will have a certain character and style. What impression do you want your customers to have when they first see your brand?


5. Imagery

school-house-rock-adjectivesList nouns, adjectives, shapes, and action words that describe your brand or the name of your brand. It’s a lot easier to come up with these words if you’re selling a product, but what about if you’re selling a service or your professional skills? Describe those services and find keywords that can be drawn as objects.


6. What colors do you associate with your brand?

Here’s an example of color associate with different industries.



7. What is your work philosophy?

awesome-officesAsk yourself: what is my work environment, philosophy, or work ethic like? What goals do my business have and what makes it unique? How can this uniqueness be visually represented in my brand or logo?


8. Font

fontsy2Fonts can make or break your logo. And we’re not talking whether to use serif or sans serif (I’ll have a post soon about the differences). I mean, there are all kinds of cool looking fonts, but that doesn’t mean it will look good or have the right characteristic for your logo.  Word to the wise: please stop using Papyrus, Comic Sans, Curlz, and Bradley Hand, among others.


9. Adaptable and minimal

facebook logo and iconMarketing and advertising your business comes in many forms these days- print, website, social media.  And each one has a unique way to show off your brand, you know, those small little profile pictures on Facebook and the like. Your design should be visible in many sizes on print and web.  It should also be adaptable and have the ability to display horizontally, vertically, in a square, in a circle, etc.  That means, you probably will have alternate logos in your brand to showcase on all platforms.


10. Examples, examples, examples.

therapy-logosCheck out businesses in your industry. What is their logo and brand style? What do you like and don’t you like about them. Really observing other logos and communicating with your designer what you like and don’t like about them can help your designer understand your taste and what you see as compelling.


Setting Up WordPress with GoDaddy

GoDaddy offers a great and easy WordPress hosting and set up.

In order to have any kind of website, you need a domain name ( and hosting (a parking spot in the Internet). WordPress is a free platform that allows you to create your own site using templates and plugins (which are free or close to free) to customize and add extra features for extensive sites. GoDaddy offers a fast and easy way to set up and manage your WordPress Hosting. The price is affordable (avg $4/mo) and they offer a free domain for the first year (avg $12 starting 2nd year).

So, let’s get started with setting up your WordPress website!


1. Purchase Managed WordPress Hosting at


 Unless you have multiple websites or will have a hundred pages on your site, the Basic Plan will be perfect for you.


2. Don’t have an account yet?

godaddy-account-setupNow’s the time to create one. Call Pin is any 4 digit number you choose which you would use when calling GoDaddy for tech support. They have great tech support!


3. After going through the checkout process, come up with your domain name.


If you already have a domain name, click “I don’t want my free domain name”. You will be able to point your existing domain name to the WordPress hosting later in the process. Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 12.13.40 AMYour domain should reflect your business name and is easy to read and type in a search engine. Note: you can purchase multiple domains that point to one main domain. More on that in a future blog!


4. GoDaddy makes the process straight forward.

godaddy-wordpressClick Managed WordPress to continue the set up process. Hired a web designer? Send them an access invite and they can finish the process for you.


6. If this site is a brand new WordPress site, click Create a New WordPress Site.

create or migrate wordpress If you’re transferring an existing WordPress site, choose Migrate Your Existing WordPress Site. Fill out the remaining set up questions and you’ll be good to go!



Every time you want to log into the admin section of your WordPress site, you can type in