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10 top tips for making the most of Black Friday

With Black Friday already on retailers minds, it's worth starting to think about any creative tools and hardware you might be interested in getting a good deal on. The fast approaching peak trading period often sees heavily discounted creative goodies, and we want to help make sure you find them. 

Before we share our top tips for scooping up a great saving during this shopper's Shangri-la, here's our Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2019 page, where you'll find details of when the main event is happening, plus the deals we expect to see this year. We'll also be adding any early bargains we find on products that are of specific use to web and graphic designers, as well as digital, traditional and VFX artists there too, so make sure to bookmark it. 

But stick with us here to read our top bargain-hunting recommendations.

01. Save the date

Black Friday traditionally falls on the Friday directly after Thanksgiving, which means this year it will fall on 29 November, and Cyber Monday on 2 December. That said, recently the entire month of November has been laced with great deals, with retailers starting to drop prices earlier each year. Amazon Black Friday, for example, always seems to kick off early, and for 2019 we expect virtually every day in the month of November to have a Black Friday flavour in the Amazon world. 

02. Use Google Alerts

These are particularly useful if you're after a specific item. Simply head to Google Alerts, enter your alert queries separated by a comma (eg Black Friday, MacBook Pro), click 'show options', choose 'As-it-happens' from the 'How often' drop-down, and click Create alert. Now you'll get an email every time your selected target appears in a new article.

03. Do your research

A pair of Wacom graphics tablets

Which Wacom to buy? Research your options in advance

It's a bad idea to sit back and twiddle your thumbs before pouncing into action on Black Friday. So you've decided you want a new graphics tablet, how will you know whether the one that has 70 per cent off in a flash sale is any good? HURRY – LIMITED STOCK LEFT!! 

Don't panic – just make sure you've done your research in advance so that you can tell your Ugees from your Huions, and your XP-Pens from your Wacoms. Read reviews from reputable sources, like 3D World and ImagineFX, and ask colleagues and friends for their advice.

04. Don't just stick to Amazon

For many, the eye of the Black Friday storm is Amazon. Some will head to the online shopping behemoth during November and set up camp there, only moving to click refresh. But Amazon is not necessarily the best place to find offers on high-quality, niche items specific to the design discipline of your choice, so try manufacturers' websites like Wacom, Dell and Lenovo, and electronics specialists like Currys, Ebuyer and Overclockers.

05. Be sure it's a bargain

Don't just frantically enter your card details and hit BUY when you spot the item you want with a BLACK FRIDAY banner above it. Is it actually a great deal? Is it even reduced? Do a quick price comparison on Google or comparison websites before you buy. Often, if you add your item to basket, it'll be reserved for a short time allowing you the chance to verify the price – but ensure that's the case before leaving the checkout procedure.

06. To bundle or not

Camera with accessories

Cameras are often offered in bundle deals with masses of accessories – decide if this is right for you

The way to make the biggest savings on electronics is to buy a bundle – but do you need all those accessories or software? If it's something you'll never use, you may not be getting the bargain you expect. And don't assume you'll be able to make money back on unwanted accessories by selling them on eBay, either – many other deal-hunters will have that idea too, driving down resale prices or making it impossible to find a buyer.

07. Decide what you want and stick to it

It is all too easy to get distracted when shopping – it's no secret to say that confusion is a deliberate tool utilised to great effect in retail – but the best way to snare a bargain is to decide what you want (or, even better, need) and stay on target until you find that exact item at exactly the price you're willing to pay, then buy it and shut down your laptop. Easier said than done… 

08. Learn to love previous-gen tech

A MacBook Air 2017

A year-old laptop could be an upgrade on your existing computer, if the price is right

Having the latest gear is very, very cool – but if the previous-generation Wacom Cintiq or Surface Pro is an upgrade from your existing tech, it could be worth foregoing the very newest model in exchange for a recently supplanted version – at a discount. In the case of upgradeable items, such as MacBooks, aim for the fastest processor and biggest SSD and RAM options on the older model and you could end up with a better spec than the new model at a lower price. Win! 

09. Think outside the box

Consumer electronics is what made Black Friday a global phenomenon, but you'll find plenty more special offers in other areas too. Keep an eye on creative software companies' websites, such as Adobe deals, Ucraft, Corel, Boris FX and Reallusion; all of whom have offered Black Friday discounts in recent years. And remember to check third-party sellers, too.

10. Look into learning

Creative software is not the only area to monitor – e-learning platforms may also slash prices around the Black Friday period. Check the likes of Gnomon Workshop, EnvatoTuts+, Lynda, Pluralsight and Udemy for deals (see our round up of the best online art schools). Two years ago the wonderful Miss Led also discounted one of her fantastic video courses, so ensure you're scanning social media for #BlackFriday to find out about this kind of offer.

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