Jan
05

Can you get someplace in life for nothing?

Is it ever possible in life to get somewhere for nothing and have it be somewhere really good? Over the decades, we certainly have heard that “there is no such thing as a free ride” and that “if it’s too good to be true, it likely is”.

But these days, thanks to the internet, there is lots of FREE stuff online, much of which supports the entrepreneur and a start-up venture.

According to an article which appeared in Entrepreneur Magazine this month, Gary Vaynerchuck, co-founder of Wine Library, has been taking advantage of free business tools for nearly three years to grow his 11 year-old wine retail business. Using a combination of web-based tools, such as social networking, blogging and video, he’s taken his company to annual sales of $50 million. One way Wine Library uses these tools, is to notify his friends of daily specials by using MySpace, Facebook and Twitter, in place of email. His success with these tools has even landed him two book deals and regular speaking engagements across the country. “Building brand equity and connecting with your consumers through these social tools has a global impact on your business and your brand,” says Vaynerchuck, 33.

Alison Boris, 38, and Kathi Chandler, 31, have also been capitalizing on free tools since nearly the beginning of their LA based hand bag boutique, called AllyKatStyle. Besides a MySpace page, they also have profies on Digg and StumbleUpon, which are community content sharing sites, to grow their business.

All these free tools also mean that for even a small business, the “little guy” can look a whole lot bigger, not to mention more sophisticated. With a price tag of FREE, it’s hard not to want to take advantage and get on the ride to somewhere great.

Have I gotten your attention? Good, then let’s get you started:

Communication/Email
Dimdim ( dimdim.com)- open source web conferencing application; free basic service
Jott (jott.com)-voice-to-text service for creating notes, lists, e-mails and text messages; free basic service
Oovoo ( oovoo.com) -video messaging, chatting and conferencing
Paltalk ( paltalk.com) – Group IM, chat and video call application
Plugoo ( plugoo.com) -direct chatting with any blog or site visitor
YouSendIt (yousendit.com)- send files up to 2GB; free basic service

Content, Media, Video
Audacity (audacity-sourceforge.net) Open source software for cross-platform audio recording
Blip.tv: (blip.tv)- Video blogging, podcasting and video sharing service; free basic service
BlogTalkRadio (blogtalkradio.com) radio network for users to host their own shows
DropShots ( dropshots.com)- Video hosting and photo sharing
Feedburner ( feedburner.com)- media distribution services for blogs and RSS feeds
Fix My Movie ( fixmymovie.com)- Video enhancement service; free basic service
Paint.NET ( getpaint.net)- image and photo editing software
Phixr (phixr.com)- picture and photo editor
Seesmic (seesmic.com)- Video conversation platform
SlideShare ( slideshare.net)- Share and embeded slideshows. Powerpoints and PDF’s into web pages
VideoSpin ( videospin.com)- video-editing software

Financial
BizEquity ( bizequity.com) – company valuations
Mint ( mint.com) – personal finance, money mangement, budget planning and financial planning software
MyBizHomepage (mybizhomepage.com) – financial dashboard for small business Quick Book users
QuickBooks (quickbooks.com) small-business accounting software; free simple start 2009 download)
Wesabe (wesabe.com)- Financial advice, analysis and planning

Marketing, Networking, PR
Wordpress (wordpress.com)- Blog publishing tool
Craigslist ( craigslist.org)- Online classified and job posting network
CollectiveX ( collectivex.com)-Create social networking and collaboration sites for groups
Digg (digg.com)- content sharing site
Linkedin ( linkedin.com)- Business social networking site
Pligg ( pligg.com)-Open-source, community-centric site for discovering, rating and sharing content
PolicyMap( Policymap.com) -Geographic and demographic information system for creating custom maps, tables and chartes; basic free service
YouNoodle ( younoodle.com)-Netowrking for startups and valuation with Startup Predictor
YourPitchSucks (yourpitchsucks.com) PR pitch reviewing and advising
Stumble Upon ( stumbleupon.com)- Content sharing site

Office Productivity, and Organization
Adobe Buzzword (adobe.com)- Collaborative word processor application
CutePDF Write (Cutepdf.com)- PDF creator; free basic service
Dabble DB ( dabbledb.com)- Create, manage and share online databases; free basic service
Doodle (doodle.com)- Schedule, and coordinate meetings and other appointments
FreshBooks ( freshbooks.com)-Invoicing, time-tracking and expense service; free basic service
SurveyMonkey ( surveymonkey.com)-Create and publish custom online surveys; free basic service
ThinkFree Office ( thinkfree.com)-Office productivity suite; free basic service
WuFoo (wufoo.com)-HTML form builder for creating interactive forms;free basic service

Project Management, Collaboration
Remember the Milk (rememberthemilk.com)-Task management solution and to-do lists
Socialtext (socialtext.com)- Wiki and website collaboration; free basic service
Team Task ( teamtask.com)-Collaborative project management and community website builder
Yugma (yugma.com)-Web meeting and collaboration service

Web
Google Alerts ( google.com/alerts)- E-mail updates on choice of query or topic
KickApps ( kickapps.com)- platform of applications to integrates social features into a website
Microsoft Office Live Small Business (smallbusiness.officelive.com)- Create a company website, domain and email; free basic service
Synthasite ( synthasite.com)- Web hosting and building
Weebly ( weebly.com)-Website and blog creator
Widgetbox (widgetbox.com)-web widgets for various applications
Woopra ( woopra.com) -Web tracking and analysis application; free basic service

  • Tori

    Thanks for sharing your list, there are some valuable links here I am glad to know about. One great service I noticed you did not include under Office Productivity, and Organization is Zoomerang (Zoomerang.com) for survey creation and deployment. They offer a free basic account and the main difference I noticed between the two is you can have up to 30 questions as opposed to only the 10 you are limited to with SurveyMonkey. I also like Zoomerang’s templates. I have saved a lot of time and thought using those, they just need a bit of customization and you are ready to launch the survey.

  • Lisa, thanks for the Dimdim mention. Too often people forget they can get more done and be more productive without having to pay premium pricing.

    I thought I was pretty current on tools out there, but there are names on your list that are new to me. Thanks!

    -k
    Kevin Micalizzi, Community Manager
    Dimdim Web Conferencing / http://www.dimdim.com
    e: kevin@dimdim.com / twitter: @meetdimdim
    On Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/dimdim-facebook

  • Thanks for mentioning Office Live Small Business!

    One more thing – the I Want Sandy site you linked to is out of business 🙁 But there are other sites offering similar functionality.

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  • Thanks for sharing all of these great resources! I would like to add IAC-EZ to the Financial list. You can try it completely free during our beta period and explore its full features and great benefits. See for yourself just how easy bookkeeping can be!

  • Chris M

    Another invoicing option is Time59 (www.time59.com). It’s targeted at solo professionals and is a great solution if you don’t need (or want to pay for) the multi-user capability of Freshbooks. Bottom line: If you are solo and bill by the hour it is definitely worth a look. The first 30 days are free.

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