To make it easy here are all of my favourite tools on one page. For all the free online tools click the FREE STUFF category link in the sidebar. If you know any good ones email me and I’ll check them out.
Most of our website is static & we use blogs for constantly changing information as it’s quick & easy to update. We use two free blog services:
WordPress is a little more involved but it gives you a lot of tools to manage & measure your traffic with. We use WordPress for this site and also for our Videoconference blog. Set up your own WordPress account.
Online Survey Tool
Our favourite online survey tool is Survey Monkey. It’s free if you use less than 10 questions & have less than 100 respondents. You can pay a small monthly fee for more features – including adding your own logo & ‘look’. You can see one of the ways we use Survey Monkey at our Survey Site.
Email Promotions Manager
Our business has been revolutionised through the use of AWeber. This online service allows us to keep unlimited lists of contacts and broadcast emails to them without spamming. It also allows us to set up automated marketing campaigns eg you download an eBook & this triggers a series of emails that are sent automatically to you at pre-determined intervals. Every email has an ‘unsubscribe’ and ‘update information’ link. All this for around $200USD per year – no extra costs like a per email cost. Check it out.
Free Business Cards
You can get free and/or cheap business cards at VistaPrint.
We use these for a variety of advertising campaigns – it’s great to have a card to advertise your latest product or service. For example here’s one we use to advertise our SME workshops.
Royalty Free Photos
Great photos for just $1USD each for your website and/or eBooks are at iStockphoto. It’s worth signing up for an account (free of charge) because you can then access a free image every week & a free video every month. I’ve put a collection of the free photos I’ve received from iStockphoto into the slideshow below.
SlideShare is a community for sharing presentations on the web. You join (free of charge) and are alotted a space to upload slideshows made by you and/or keep slideshows made by others. (Think of it like YouTube for slides.) You can upload in a variety of formats & make your slideshow public or private. It’s easily embedded into all major social software sites. See above for an example. Or you can make a widget to connect to your SlideShare page:
Skype – Free Phone Calls
Skype allows you to make free calls from computer to computer and very cheap calls from your computer to standard phones. You can also chat, videoconference and send SMS. Read more about it – download the free software and get going.
A wiki is a web space where you can collaborate with others. It can be public or private. All of our team are teleworkers so a wiki is a great way for us to share files and work on them without emailing versions to and fro – and usually losing track of which is the current version!
We’ve been using PB Wiki – it has some nice features. Another popular one is Wikispaces. Wikis have taken a great leap forward in recent times and there are now some very nice solutions that give you a lot of functionality. We’ve also used Wetpaint.
You could use one of the tried and true RSS aggregators like Bloglines, but I’ve recently changed to Netvibes and it organises half my life. If you’re a visual person you’ll love the way you can drag & drop the content boxes around the page & change their colour. You can also have notes, a To Do list and numerous other widgets. It also allows feeds from other sources such as Facebook which saves you having to go there all the time. Netvibes gives you a summary of activity so you can see if you need to log in to your other online accounts. I particularly like that I can do a search in any one of the major search engines straight from Netvibes – saves heaps of time.
Google provides much more than just a search engine. if you haven’t explored their range of tools, then click here to see them. I don’t use everything Google – but some of their tools that I particularly like are:
Advanced search – this allows you to choose a whole lot of variables such as whole phrases, whether on the page or in the title, language etc. It gives you a much better search result.
Blog search – again I use the advanced version. This searches just blogs – not the rest of the www.
Image search – great for finding images only.
Translate – want to impress people with the number of languages you can speak – or write short sentences in!! This application will translate words/phrases/ sentences into any number of other languages.
Calendar – organise your schedule & share it with friends & colleagues.
As well as the Google calendar above, we use RSS Calendar because it allows us to put a direct feed onto our website of upcoming events. Events change often and I don’t want to have to rely on our web programmer to put these onto the website. The website is set up to accept the feed and all we have to do is enter it into the RSS calendar and it appears on the site. We have a few different categories set so that events go to the right websites. You can see RSS Calendar in action on our LearnTel website – on the right in the purple column.
We’re constantly having to convert times for countries around the world. Our favourite for this is Timezone Converter because you can type in the time to be converted & click the country/state/city you want to know the time for on any given date.
Time and Date is good for checking the current time in all countries around the world.
We’re also constantly converting currencies to pay overseas suppliers and/or project budgets. We use Universal Currency Converter. You simply type in the amount you want to convert and from which currency to which.
If you travel a lot – or just need to convert from Fahrenheit to Celsius, this is a great Temperature Converter.