27 MORE Free and Cheap Resources for Your Internet Start Up
27 MORE Free and Cheap Resources for Your Internet Start-Up
When I wrote an article about the 35 free and cheap resources that SubHub (www.subhub.com) have used over the last two years to grow the company, I received a great response and many suggestions for other resources.
I have tried to ensure that all these services are being used by the people who have recommended them. I want the list to be a genuinely useful resource of proven services. Those services with this symbol - ☺ - are the ones we use at SubHub, so we know they are good.
Making the most of these free and cheap resources will greatly reduce the cost of setting up your business and improve your chance of success.
☺PayPal – www.paypal.com – free setup + fees per transaction
How could I have missed PayPal?!
Any website that needs to collect money from their clients should consider PayPal. As a Merchant it is free to setup and the transaction rates are reasonable. However their customer service is very poor and they have a nasty habit of freezing accounts without warning or reason.
Also consider Google Checkout (www.google.com/checkout).
Distributing Your Content
☺Twitter – www.twitter.com - Free
For those that don’t know, Twitter is a way of sending short messages to a private or public group of people. It can be picked up via PC or mobile phone.
People are using Twitter in many different ways including communicating with team members, marketing their services, building their reputation and boring the world with trivia.
Look out for an article about how you can use Twitter … coming soon!
FeedBlitz – www.feedblitz.com – Free with Ads
Preparing and sending out regular email newsletters can be a very time consuming activity. FeedBlitz (www.feedblitz.com) has been created by the nice people at FeedBurner (www.feedburner.com) to automate it. You can use a free version which has ads, or pay for an ad free version.
Also consider Nouri.sh (www.nouri.sh).
☺FeedJournal – www.feedjournal.com – Free
A nice application, nicely executed. FeedJournal enables you to take your RSS feed, or any other RSS feeds, and turn them into a printable newspaper. Your clients can then print of the information to read at their leisure. Worth a look.
Scribd – www.scribd.com – free
Scribd allows you to publish documents and reports on your website in a way that it is easy for your visitors to read, but hard for them to steal.
Password and Content Protection
☺ RoboForm – www.roboform.com - $30+
Most internet users have dozens or even hundreds of passwords. Common sense tells you that you shouldn’t have the same password for all your accounts, but it is tough trying to remember lots of different login details.
I use a software program called Roboform ($29.95) which automatically remembers and fills in passwords as I call up the relevant websites. I also have the RoboForm2Go ($19.95) which is the same program but it sits on a USB Memory stick so I can carry it with me with all my passwords encrypted.
Mac users should consider 1Password ($35/£18 from www.1password.com).
If you want a free solution try …
KeePass – www.keepass.info - Free
If you don’t want to pay for a password protection service KeePass is an open-source alternative, but its Windows only. It is not as user friendly as the paid-for options, but it is still a safe option for your valuable login details.
CopySafe – www.copysafe.com – Free/Premium upgrade
CopySafe enables you to have a third party verify that you have sent an email and it has been opened by the recipient. This can be useful if you are using email to resolve a dispute, chase payment or for negotiation.
☺ MarketLeap – www.MarketLeap.com - Free
Keeping an eye on how you are doing versus your competitors is very important. MarketLeap (www.marketleap.com) offers some very useful free tools for comparing number of links, search engine saturation and common keywords.
☺ SEODigger – www.seodigger.com - Free
SEODigger (www.seodigger.com) is another wonderful free tool. You can type in your competitors URL and it will tell you where they are positioned on Google for all their most important keywords. You can then create content for your site to knock them off their perch. You can of course also use it to see how your site is performing for your own key keyword phrases.
MoMail – www.momail.com – Free (at the moment)
MoMail (www.momail.com) is an easy way to setup an email account which delivers your emails directly to your mobile phone. Its meant to be very easy to setup. A friend who I have a great deal of respect for suggested this application. I haven’t tried it and I’m struggling to see how it is different from mobile Gmail or similar services? Let me know.
☺Mailinator – www.mailinator.com – Free
Mailinator (www.mailinator.com) enables you to create an anonymous, temporary email account. Why would you want one? Many websites ask for your email address to get access to information, free software, downloads, etc. Many of the email addresses provided find there way onto spam lists. Having a temporary email address lets you receive an email, without giving away your real email address.
Multimedia and Images
☺Audacity – http://audacity.sourceforge.net/ – Free
How did I forget this one on the original list! Audacity is the number 1 free open-source audio editor. It enables you to create professional podcasts and streamed audio clips for your website. Click here for our great how-to-use audacity guide - http://www.subhub.com/articles/audacity-tutorial
JumpCut – www.jumpcut.com - Free
JumpCut is a free online video editing application. Upload your video clips and photos and edit them into a video ready to upload to a video-sharing site so they can be displayed on your website.
Moo – www.moo.com – Buy products
It is rare that I leave an industry event without being handed a mini-business card. I really don’t like them, because they are easy to lose and don’t go through my business card reader, but they seem to be growing in popularity. The leading supplier is Moo.com through their excellent website.
Remember the Milk – www.rememberthemilk.com - Free
Remember The Milk is an excellent site for managing your to do lists. It allows lists to be shared, prioritised and linked to many applications including Twitter, Gmail and mobile SMS. It comes highly recommended.
Mint – www.haveamint.com – Paid $30/website
If for some reason you are looking for an alternative to the free Google Analytics (www.google.com/analytics ) service, then Mint is getting very good reviews from internet people who know their stuff. We’ll trial it soon at let you know what all the fuss is about.
☺Google Webmaster – www.google.com/webmasters/ - Free
I missed Google Webmasters off the first list because I hadn’t used it for some time. However, on revisiting the site it has improved dramatically since I last used it and now the tools are really, really useful. For example you can see how many inbound links each of your content pages has. This is great stuff.
The only worrying thing is just how much information Google is able to gather about your website… and how they are using that data.
☺ LogMeIn – www.logmein.com – Free/Premium upgrade
LogMeIn (www.logmein.com) is a very useful service that enables you to log into your home or office computer from anywhere in the world. If you have forgotten files, want to retrieve some data or maybe help someone working remotely, this is a great app.
SendSpace – www.sendspace.com – Free
SendSpace allows you to send files up to 300MB for free. It can be a very useful way of sharing large amounts of data over the web without crashing your email.
Alternatives to Office
BuzzWord – www.buzzword.com – Free
Hot out of beta test, BuzzWord (www.buzzword.com) is Adobe’s online word processor, which is available for preview. My first impressions are that this is an excellent, well thought through web service. It is very simple to use and beginners can be up and running in a matter of minutes. The quality of these services is really going to give Microsoft a headache!
☺ NoteTab Pro – www.notetab.com - $30
If you want a fully featured word processor, come text editor, which sits on your PC rather than on the web, then you need look no further than NoteTab Pro.
There is a free lite version which you should trial before dipping your hands in your pocket.
Here is a good article about why you should use a text editor rather than Microsoft Word - http://www.subhub.com/articles/microsoft-word-is-useless-for-internet-publishers
Communication and Community
☺ FormLogix – www.formlogix.com – From $1 a form
Most websites have one or more forms - Contact Us page, payment processing, collecting information, enabling a Q&A interaction with clients and so on. FormLogix makes it easy to quickly create forms which can be inserted into any web page. Also look at WuFoo (www.wufoo.com).
☺Ning – www.ning.com – Free
Ning lets you create your own social network like your own mini MySpace. The people you invite to be members, or who sign up, can create their own profile page and group members can interact with each other. Ning can be a useful loyalty tool to get your visitors to become part of a community.
☺Constant Contact – www.constantcontact.com – from $15/month
Every online business should have an email newsletter. It allows you to pro-actively communicate with clients and prospects.
I always advise people not to run their own email campaigns because there are so many potential problems including getting your URL blacklisted by the search engines and ISP’s, breaking the spam and data protection laws, monitoring opt-outs, etc.
There are a lot of email services. We use Constant Contact. It is reasonably priced, simple to use and well featured.
CafePress – www.cafepress.com – Free
Create your own products, including T-shirts, caps, mugs and mouse mats, and sell them via your own site or through CafePress. This is a very good way of selling your own branded merchandise if your brand and logo are suitable.
Lulu – www.lulu.com – Free
Upload your book. When someone orders a copy, it is printed off and sent to them in the post as a professionally produced hardback or paperback book. A fantastic service which is starting to change the book publishing business.
There are so many great web services which are free or cheap it is hard to select the best ones. We will keep trying to update our lists and keep you informed.
If there are any services that you use and like, please let us know and we will trial them for our readers.