Starting a new business is tough, and when you start with no capital, it’s really hard. I started knowing nothing with no money to spend. That was 9+ years ago. Today, I have a thriving business helping other folks to do what they either don’t want to do themselves or that they have no idea how to do themselves, and I love every minute. It’s great to wake up in the morning, knowing that you’re helping others to succeed where so many have failed.
Along the way, I have learned that some things you’ll need for your online business, you have to pay for. There’s just no getting around it.
For example, your domain, your hosting, and if you want to sell things, having a payment service that takes part of your payments in exchange for their service are vital. OK, so you can get a domain for free when you sign up for some hosting companies, like 1&1, for example, but well… their hosting isn’t the best. You really do get what you pay for, online and off.
But over the years, I have found some killer free tools that I use almost every day, and they cost NOTHING. In this post, I’d love to share them with you in hope that you’ll find them awesome, too. Here are 10 amazingly free tools that have worked very well for me:
- Free Web conferencing services
There are two places that allow you to have GotoWebinar (GTW) style conferences with screen sharing — AnyMeeting.com and MeetingBurner.com. Of the two, I prefer Meeting Burner, but YMMV (your mileage may vary). Try them both to see which works better for you.
The drawback to these free tools is that they limit your audience from 25-50 participants or less. For me, it’s not an issue because I only use the services now to demonstrate services for my clients.
For example, I walked one of them through Infusionsoft last week, and I’ve shown several people how to use WordPress that way. It’s great. I used to do regular monthly get-togethers with folks, a very tight and small bunch, and Meeting Burner worked well for that, too. Don’t get me wrong; I still think that GTW is the best, but if you’re a casual user, paying the high subscription fee just isn’t necessary. There are free tools available.
Another drawback of Meeting Burner is that you can record the webinars you hold, but you get the audio and video in separate files. If you’re not squeamish about editing video, this really isn’t a big deal. I just whip out Sony Vegas, combine the two tracks and then, edit how I like. But if you don’t want to do this, there are paid versions of the service that are less that GTW and that do combine the two tracks, if you want to check them out.
- Free teleconferencing
If you only need to record audio, then FreeConferenceCalling.com is great. It allows you to record your conversation and produces an .mp3 file for you. You can have admin controls as you’re talking, too, to mute out an audience while you’re presenting and such. Of all the free tools, this really is an awesome freebie.
- Free images
There are lots of sites where you can get free images, but I find MorgueFile.com the best. All of the images there are free to use and you don’t have to attribute the photographer, unless you want to. You can also adapt the images and really do anything you like with them, even if you’re running a commercial blog, for example. The photographers often like to know where you’re using their photos, but that’s about it. I love MorgueFile! Be sure to like and tweet about them and donate. It’s only fair for having the best free image directory online.
- Free graphics software
As you’re probably aware, Adobe Photoshop is the best, most professional graphics software going, but it’s very expensive. Last time I checked, it was nearly $700! You can “rent” it now for a monthly fee, which is cool, but if you don’t want to pay at all, there is a really great alternative called “Gimp.” It works almost the same way as Photoshop, and it’s open source, which means zero cost. It’s really amazing. You can download it at http://www.gimp.org.
- Free Net Radio & TV
Podcasting is like creating a spoken blog post. I like Podomatic.com for that. You can have your own radio show and make it look as fancy as you like or as simple. Or, if you want to do the live action TV thing, UStream.com will make you an Internet broadcasting phenom.
- Find Broken Links on Your Site
Broken links can be an issue these days for your SEO, so you want to be sure that you don’t have any broken links in your site. Xenu Link Sleuth is great for this, and 100% free. Download it here: http://xenus-link-sleuth.en.softonic.com/
- FInd out what your customers are thinking for free
Before creating any product, you should see if it will sell, or you may want to get your customers reaction to products you’ve already created to make them more user-friendly. A great way to do this is by using Survey Monkey, a free surveying tool that will help you to figure out what your customers want and lots of other stuff about your audience.
- Free POD Publishing
Becoming a published book author is easier than ever. There are several self-publishing sites online these days and some of them are very easy to use. My favorite is Amazon’s Create Space. You do have to pay for a first draft copy and if you want your own ISBN number you will have to pay for that, though you can use their free edition. But it, to me, Create Space is the easiest site to publish your work on, and have it go directly to print-on-demand (POD) paperback and/or Kindle. I’ve published three books there and once you get the hang of their formatting, it’s a breeze.
- Free Pixel Ruler
If you’re learning to do your own graphics, you’ll want a pixel ruler. Get one free at http://www.Mioplanet.com. There is a £5 donation requested, but you can use this software free for as long as you like. Really comes in handy, too.
- Free Color Code Picker
Want to match a color on your site that you’ve seen elsewhere or to match any color and get the HEX (HTML) or RGB codes? Try Pixie from Nattyware.com. I’ve been using it for years. It’s tiny and very mighty!
I’m sure I’ll think of more free tools that I use all the time, as soon as I publish this post. If you liked learning about these and want to learn about more of them, let me know in the comments. I love sharing the wealth!
~~~~~~~~~~~~Aside: One of my friends & readers, Wayne Sharer of Think and Grow Big Media (Hi, Wayne!) emailed me today to tell me that my comment system wasn’t working. It’s fixed, so be sure to leave me your comments and suggestions. Always happy to hear from you, and I’m sorry for any frustration. I don’t comment on my own stuff, so who knew? Thanks for taking the time to let me know, Wayne.