Membership Sites Made Easy

March 14th, 2008 by - Posted in Blog, SubHub Recommends

When you start a new business you need to find as many ways as possible to keep your costs down.

Fortunately there are some fantastic free and cheap resources on the internet that will help you bootstrap your start up.

Our company has gone from two to ten people. Over the last three years we have tried hundreds of software solutions and online services. These are 35 of the free and cheap services that we now use. Please let us know about better or new ones:

Communications

Skype Homepage

Skype  – Communicate by voice and text with company colleagues, suppliers and customers for free using Skype. Other similar services exist, but none of them have the coverage and reach of Skype.

JahJah homepage

 Jajah  – When you need to call people who don’t have a Skype account consider using JahJah. It is not free, but you can save up to 98% on your calls

Gmail homepage

Gmail  – Google’s free email service is getting better by the day. POP3, mobile access, integration to the diary, good spam filters, and much more

Pidgin homepage

 Pidgin – the free Pidgin software allows you to have one instant messenger (IM) window that brings together messages from AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, ICG and IRC. Also consider Trillian  or MAC users try Adium

 

Images and Image Editing

snagit homepage

SnagIt  – Download the trial and they should send you a discount offer (normal price $40). This tremendously useful application allows you to grab images, parts of pages or whole websites so they can be reproduced in an article, document or email. All the images in this article are snagged using Snagit

fotoflexer homepage

 Also consider Google Picasa and Picnik . If you want to edit on your computer try Paint.net

istockphoto homepage

iStockPhoto  – Traditionally stock photos have been very expensive to license. Now there are a lot of new online image libraries which provide images from just $1. Also consider StockXpert and Fotolia

flickr homepage

Flickr – store and share your photos on Flickr. It is important to back up your photo library, in case your hard drive gets damaged. This is one place to do it. Also consider PhotoBucket

 

Multimedia

camstudio homepage

Camstudio  – If you want to occasionally make simple flash videos this free screen capture software is fine. If you want to make more sophisticated videos invest in Camtasia

 camtasia studio

Camtasia Studio  – If you are planning on regularly creating high quality videos, then invest in Camtasia Studio 8 ($299 or academic license £78)

 

Networking

 facbook signup page

Facebook  – When you start a business you will be working so hard it will be difficult to keep up with friends and colleagues. But maintaining your network is very important so try using Facebook to keep in touch.

linkedin homepage

LinkedIn – LinkedIn is another networking tool which enables you to stay in touch with existing contacts, whilst reaching out to new ones. As an entrepreneur it is a great way of getting introductions to potential partners, suppliers, investors and employees

plaxo homepage

Plaxo – manages your contacts by updating your address book as peoples contact details change. It also notifies your contacts about changes to your details. There is quite a bit of overlap between Plaxo, LinkedIn and Facebook, but I would recommend using all three.

 

Back Up

carbonite homepage

Carbonite – Over 50% of small businesses that lose all their data through the corruption of a hard drive or theft, go out of business. Back up is critical so don’t rely on free services. Carbonite provides a fully automated online back up solution. At a $49.95/£25 per year for unlimited space, it’s a great deal.

 2brightsparks homepage

SyncBackSE –  For local backup, SyncBack wins hands down. Try it for free. Software cost $30.

 

Company Organisation

google sites homepage

Google Sites –  centralize file storage so you can easily edit and share documents, images and videos with your colleagues, suppliers or customers. Its like your own company intranet

 google calendar

Google Calendar – Being able to share a calendar with your colleagues saves you time and increases efficiency. Google Calendar is easy to use, has a mobile phone version and now syncs with Microsoft Outlook. Also look at 30 Boxes

 google docs image

Google Docs  – If you want to edit text documents, spreadsheets and presentations online, this is a fairly good place to do it. However you have problems if you want to do editing whilst not connected to the internet. . For that try OpenOffice. Google docs is now Google Drive.

openoffice homepage

OpenOffice  – at last a good free alternative to Microsoft’s Office. It includes a high quality word processor, spreadsheet, presentation software and database. All the files are compatible with Microsoft Office.

 freshbooks homepage

Freshbooks – Invoicing and tracking outstanding debtors is critical to every businesses success. Freshbooks does a very good job at doing these boring but essential tasks.

 

Web Stats and Alerts

google analytics

Google Analytics – You cannot run a successful online business without understanding how many people are coming to your site, what they do when they get there and how what pages are most popular. Google’s free analytics service provides a fantastic overview of your sites activity

 google alerts homepage

Google Alerts – It is very important to keep an eye on what people are saying about you, your company, products and website. It is also useful to keep an eye on what your competitors are up to. Google Alerts sends you an email each time your chosen words are posted on the web

 

Customer Relationship Management

 sugarcrm homepage

SugarCRM  – The open source version of SugarCRM can be a very effective customer management tool. You may need to get a developer to set it up for you but once established it is flexible and comprehensive. SugarCRM also offer a commercial managed version.

kayako homepage

Kayako  – An excellent online help desk solution which enables you to track and support hundreds of clients. Not free, but good value for what it provides (from $29.95 per month)

 gotomeeting homepage

GoToMeeting – we do all our client demos over the web using the GoToMeeting service. Its $49 a month or $468 per year for as many meetings as you need.

 

Useful Stuff

 freemind homepage

FreeMind – Mindmaps are a very effective way of capturing and sharing information. FreeMind is a good free open source solution. Also try The Brain for organising files in a logical way

 keepass password safe homepage

KeePass  – Most internet users accumulate dozens or even hundreds of passwords which can become a headache to manage and remember. The open source KeePass PassWord Safe helps manage your passwords

avg free homepage

AVG Free  – Free anti-virus software that is as good as most of the commercial solutions

 cutepdf homepage

CutePDF – www.cutepdf.com – Simple free PDF creation software. We send a lot of PDFs and this solution works OK. Also consider PDF995  and PrimoPDF . If you need a much more professional solution for ebooks and reports try Nuance PDF Converter (£99)

 filezilla homepage

FileZilla – If you need to FTP files onto your server this FTP client is a free, easy-to-use solution

truecrypt homepage

TrueCrypt – free open-source disk encryption software for Windows, Mac and Linux. Works well.

 

Getting Help

 elance homepage

Elance  – A good place to find lots of freelance specialists to help with design, proofreading, writing, development, marketing, etc. Pay attention to the ratings

odesk homepage

ODesk  – If you are looking for a programmer or web designer, oDesk is a good place to start.

 

 

 

Conclusion

 

Make the most of all these amazing tools to help you launch and grow your business.

As we have found out to our cost, free solutions can be a false economy for critical applications. However you can nearly always find an excellent and cost effective solution on the web.

Please add any other applications you use in the comments so our readers can benefit from your experience. Thanks.

 

 

 

 

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