I’m guessing you’re pretty busy. You’ve got a ton of stuff to get done every day and you don’t need to waste time doing monotonous and repetitive tasks. But you also are probably pretty cost conscious and don’t have money to throw away on every piece of software that you need. Thankfully, there are several fully-functional free software packages out there that can help you and your business save time and money.
What it is: office suite that’s compatible with all other major office suites
Where to find it: http://www.openoffice.org/
How it helps you: Are you sick of paying $500 for each copy of Microsoft Office Professional? Well, the OpenOffice suite is a completely free alternative that includes a word processor, spreadsheet, database, and more. Each program has comparable features to its Microsoft counterpart and is completely compatible with Microsoft Office files. I regularly pass. DOC and . XLS files back and forth between the two and have never had a problem. An added bonus: OpenOffice Writer lets you save your documents as . PDF files. Good luck doing that with Microsoft Word without shelling out some more dough!
What it is: email client
Where to find it: http://www.mozilla.com/thunderbird/
How it helps you: One program that OpenOffice doesn’t offer a counterpart to is Outlook. Thunderbird is more like a souped-up version of Outlook Express with hundreds of free extensions https://addons.mozilla.org/thunderbird/ that let you do anything from change the color scheme to translate your emails to Chinese.
What it is: desktop RSS and ATOM aggregator
Where to find it: http://www.feedreader.com/
How it helps you: Configuring FeedReader can literally save you hours a day of flipping threw newspapers, websites, blogs, and newsletters for news. With FeedReader, all you need to do is subscribe to your favorite RSS feeds http://www.rss-specifications.com/ and watch all of the news come to you. I am able to scan hundreds of news sources in a matter of seconds to find the stories that I really need. Many sites put the entire story in the feed so you don’t even need to open your browser to stay connected.
What it is: web promotion software that promotes, analyzes, and maintains your site
Where to find it: http://www.webceo.com/
How it helps you: It saves me a TON of time. Web CEO helps you research your keywords for your SEO campaign, analyzes your pages and gives SEO suggestions, submits your sites to hundreds of search engines and directories, analyzes your link popularity, and checks your rankings in hundreds of search engines for your keywords. All for free! Web CEO also offers a Small Business and Pro Version too, but the free version should be enough unless you want to use Web CEO to do things like site maintenance and web analytics.
What it is: PC-to-PC phone calls
Where to find it: http://www.skype.com/
How it helps you: most businesses have a client/partner/supplier that isn’t a local call. That’s just the way that our Global Economy works these days. If you talk to them regularly, why not have them download a free copy of Skype and the two of you can talk all day long for nothing at all. Until the end of 2006, Skype is also offering free calls to any phone number in the US or Canada. You can also purchase a phone number and have the calls directed to your PC. I pay $40 a year for my business phone number through Skype for unlimited calls. How much do you pay?
What it is: web service that syndicates and promotes your blog, news feed, or podcast
Where to find it: http://www.feedburner.com/
How it helps you: spend the five minutes signing up for FeedBurner when you start your blog and they take care of the rest. FeedBurner gives you statistics on who’s reading your feed, pings feed reading services automatically, manages email subscriptions for you, and about fifty other things.
What it is: website monitoring service
Where to find it: http://www.siteuptime.com/index.php
How it helps you: SiteUptime will check your web server, email server or FTP server every 30 minutes to check to see if it’s up and running. There’s no software to install and it takes about two minutes to set up. If you’re site is down it will send you an email notification. There are plans starting at $5/month that let you monitor more frequently and get advanced reporting, but the free account should be plenty for most people.
All of that and it didn’t cost you a penny!