It has been a while since I’ve used one of my favorite four-letter “F” words in this blog: FREE. In this day and age of online marketing, social media and website management, there are many free services that can benefit your business and/or simplify your life. Below is a review of some of my favorites.
Google apps & analytics
For managing your email, getting free spreadsheet/word processing done, and storing files in the cloud, there is no better overall solution than Google Apps.
There is so much that I could say about how you can use it to benefit your business, but it would pale in comparison to what Google can tell you. Also, they offer a related service for monitoring traffic to your website. Google analytics is one of the leaded services for keeping track of what is sending viewers to your site and what works to keep them there.
Have you ever had a phone meeting with a client or colleague and thought, “if I could just show them what I am seeing right now on my screen…” Well, there are many services that allow you to do that. Most involve monthly membership fees. But, join.me is FREE. It is very easy to set up and use. I have found it to be incredibly reliable. It facilitates presentations and collaborations that have to be done remotely. Currently there isn’t an audio portion, but you can use your desk phone, cell phone, or Google Voice for that.
If you have to manage social media accounts on multiple platforms (like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc), Hootsuite might make it a little easier. Manage all of your accounts from one dashboard. Forget multiple screens, logging in and out and all of that. Just log into your Hootsuite account – then you can make multiple posts at once, or even set posts to run while you are not “at the wheel”. That means you can have a personal life on the weekends, but still have social media activity happening.
Ever try to share large files and get stymied by email limits? How about trying to collaborate on a large presentation with someone that doesn’t have access to your servers? Dropbox is a FREE solution to both problems. This ftp-based system allows you to share one or more folders with another person. It updates your local folder as you make changes, helping to alleviate version control problems. The great thing is, if you turn others on to the service, you get additional storage space.
Have you thought that your small business needs a website but you can’t afford it? This website cost me a whopping $20 for one year (and that was just so I could have my vanity URL, “colleenbarrydesign.com”). A blog is essentially a website with the ability to make regular updates (even from mobile phones!) I use WordPress – it has lots of attractive themes (designs), a user friendly dashboard, and great SEO functions. All you need is an email address to sign up. Now there is no excuse for not having a website.