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Similar to the "grass is always greener" argument, creatives and bloggers often find themselves thinking, "if I purchase XYZ, it will make my life easier."  This is sometimes true, and sometimes very not true.  Buying a guitar doesn't make you a rockstar, and buying an expensive program doesn't make you a better designer.  Good design comes from the foundation and techniques, not the software.

Expensive software is easily wasted (both functionally and a waste of money!) on someone not willing to take the time to learn and utilize it to its potential.  Maybe you're ready to take the next step in your creative journey and are seriously considering purchasing the Adobe creative suite, but you're just not sure yet.  First, I'll outline my own journey to help guide you in choosing the right time to invest in these products, if at all!

I started my college career with plans to be a graphic designer.  I was self-taught and loved all things digital art.  But, as classes went on, I realized it wasn't exactly what I wanted.  I ended up switching to Strategic Communication (aka advertising) to pursue the planning side of things.  I was intrigued by the planning and strategy that went into a concept before it even reached a designer!  However, my graphic design background came in majorly handy as I used my skills for just about every class I took.  Now, graphic design is a hobby for me, but something I continue to grow and learn about.

I do, however, still subscribe to Adobe's Creative Cloud.  I use many of the programs every single day, and I find it useful in running my blog and creating content.  A lot of what I use it for, though, can be done with free or cheaper alternatives.  Next, I will outline the process for determining if the Adobe Creative Suite is something you need to invest in yet.

Short-Term vs. Long-Term Use

When starting a business, a blog or anything in between, the first thing to do creatively is to design your brand identity.  This entails everything from a color palette and website to typography and a logo.  While it's true the Adobe Creative Suite is a major help in creating all this, you have to think long term.  Is this investment something that will continue to pay off, or is it solving a short-term problem?

If the programs are something that you'll continue to use throughout your business, it may be a sustainable investment.  However, if you need it just to check a few items off your list, the 30-day free trial or a cheaper program may be plenty to suffice.  You can hire a freelancer to create your logo or build your brand identity, if that's all you need the creative suite for.  A few of my favorite sites for freelancing are Upwork, Guru, and People Per Hour.

What exactly are you getting in the Creative Cloud?

A few years ago, Adobe adopted the cloud technology for their creative suite.  The Adobe Creative Suite is the full library of programs that Adobe offers.  This includes everything from Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Lightroom to Flash, Dreamweaver and Animate.  Whether graphic design, photography or animation is your thing, there is something for you in the Creative Cloud.  With the cloud technology, you subscribe to ALL of the programs, so you can even test out ones you've never heard of!

Before the cloud, you would have to purchase each individual program.  Now, you pay one price for all of them.  Though it is still possible to purchase individual programs, it is all through subscription prices now so purchasing the full pack is definitely worth the price.

Because the programs are cloud-based, you don't have to purchase a new product to get an upgrade.  When you had to purchase each program individually, an update often meant buying a full new program.  You can imagine how expensive that would get!  As long as you are subscribing to the Creative Cloud, you're able to update the programs whenever it's available so you'll never be out-of-date.

Adobe Creative Suite Pricing Structure

All programs that Adobe offers are now part of the Creative Cloud.  However, you don't need to purchase all the programs.  You can subscribe to just 1 or 2 programs, rather than all of them. Click here to view the pricing break down.  You can choose to pay monthly or pre-pay for a year, though it ends up being the same price.  One thing to note is that you cannot sign up for a month-to-month plan.  All Creative Cloud plans are annual, and you will be charged if you cancel your subscription early.

A select few of the programs are available to purchase for a one-time fee, rather than a monthly subscription. Adobe Photoshop Elements costs $99, and is a great beginner's step to Photoshop.  There are no recurring costs or monthly fees when you purchase this program.  Once you download it, it's yours!

Are you a student or a teacher?  Great news!  You get a massive discount on the Creative Cloud.  Currently, it is $49.99/month for all the apps.  But, if you're a student or a teacher, you will pay just $19.99/month.  This is an AMAZING deal, and if you qualify for this, definitely take advantage!

Short Term Alternatives

All of the programs available in the Creative Cloud have a 30-day free trial period.  If you're not sure about making a commitment, try it first!  This will allow you to create freely for 30 days, while testing out the waters of the program.

The affordable price of Adobe Photoshop Elements makes it accessible, and the interface is easier to use with a lot of preset options.  In addition to presets for photo editing, Photoshop Elements also includes the manual options to edit, enhance and create from scratch.

Another great alternative is a program called Canva, which is a web-based design program.  It is ideal for creating social media graphics, print materials and promotional headers.  I'll include a multitude of tutorials for Canva on Creative Roots, so stay tuned!

So, when is the right time to invest?

Let's recap what we've discussed!

  • Think about your long-term needs for the program.  Will it continue to pay off as you run your business?  Or, do you need short-term solutions?
  • If you need a short-term solution, consider hiring a freelancer, using Canva or purchasing the affordable Adobe Photoshop Elements.
  • Before making a purchase, you can download a 30-day free trial of all the programs in the Creative Cloud.
  • Remember, if you're a student or educator, you receive a great discount on the Creative Cloud.
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