*ALL these ‘tools’ are 100% free, completely safe and are not just trial versions. (although there may be offers for “upgrades”). We use – or have used at some time – each of these programs and highly recommend each one.
You may ask how these programs could truly be free. Have you ever heard of “Open Source” or “Open Source software” ?
“Open Source software” is a collection of useful quality online software offered up by an army of benevolent coders maintaining the belief that information on the internet should be published for everyone’s advantage and FREE of charge. Nice, huh?**
Read more in our post; What is Open Source Software?
**If you find a particular “Open Source” software useful, please consider donating to the author!
Have a suggestion you have personally used for this list? Just comment below with a link. Thanks!
A Few Of Our Favorite Tools
A HSE favorite:
Open Office – Number one on the list is arguably one of the best downloads available free online. Open Office (OO) will become your best friend (next to WordPress!). The free alternative to the Microsoft Office Suite, OO contains everything MS Office has, only it’s little more user friendly. It’s 100% free with no strings or advertisements. I prefer it hands down to its counterpart, especially the accounting (Excel) replacement! An essential for all E-101 students. Learn more at: http://www.openoffice.org/ or go ahead and download it here: http://www.openoffice.org/download/index.html
Filezilla – FileZilla is a reliable FTP server for Windows that also supports Linux, Mac OS X and more.. (free program to upload your website stuff online-if you don’t know what this is, then don’t worry about it!) https://filezilla-project.org/
Google Analytics – Google Analytics is an outstanding suite of tools to manage your site analytics. For more details check out: https://www.google.com/analytics
Google also is the mastermind behind Adsense, an excellent way to add revenue to your website. You put ads like you see below (one of HSE’s ads) and you receive a small amount everytime someone clicks on the ad. https://www.google.com/adsense/start
Blender – A full feature graphics program enabling 3-D technology, animation, and making movies. Completely free, you’ll even find video tutorials to learn all there is to know. Great learning project! http://www.blender.org/
Jing – Screen capture and short screen-based video creation has never been so quick, easy and FREE! You will love what you will do with this. Most of HSE screen shots and tutorial videos are made with this. Jing is the baby sister to Snag-It and Camtasia. http://www.techsmith.com/jing.html
Canva.com-A delightfully easy-to-use design program to make headers, banners, etc. It’s free, but some elements cost $1. There is plenty to choose from that is cost free. You’ll almost feel guilty. Not “open sourceware”, but one of my absolute favorites! https://www.canva.com/
Survey Monkey– One of our readers sent this resource in that makes it easy to create surveys to put on your website. Survey Monkey offers a free and a paid version of their services. www.surveymonkey.com
Keep Your Computer Safe:
AVG Virus Protection – Free version-These days the top virus protection programs all have a free version, yet are constantly on you to buy their full paid version. AVG was one the first to offer free protection and rival McAffee and Norton, surpassing them without looking back. Unfortunately, AVG has followed suit in their advertising a paid version-inferring it offers more than the free version. It’s still one of the best, followed by Avast and Aviblra. (also with fully free versions) http://free.avg.com
Avast * and Avira (free versions) We’ve had more than our share of nightmare virus attacks therefore cannot stress how important it it to maintain a good security system on your computer! When in doubt, always run more than one program! At one point in HSE’s history, the Avast free version found virusus and trojans that 3 other major players missed. (The opposite has also held true, so if you are having some trouble you think one program might be missing, try a new one).
Marketing Your Business
Email Marketing is one the most cost effective ways to market directly to those who have chosen YOU. There are many good email marketing companies that offer free trials, and we recommend you make use of these and see which one you find best suits your purpose. Some are MUCH easier to use than others and you’ll want to settle on one before your email list gets too large. Trust me, it’s just too hard to move a list to a new provider! Below are some our most recommended (we have tried them all).
Mail Chimp – fun and friendly, this email marketing service delivers professionalism and quality.
Probably the biggest selling point for MailChimp is the fact that you can sign up and use their service for free. Unlike other services that state they are free but are in fact only free during a trial period, MailChimp is actually free — and can be free forever. (Free For Up To 2,000 Subscribers-they’re assuming that at that point you can afford to pay them!)
Of the businesses that reported thay had used both Mail Chimp or Constant Contact, 75% of respondents preferred MailChimp over Constant Contact, although I’m not sure who was doing the responding. We found that Mail Chimp offered far more generic options which would work for “just the basics, ma’am” while in our experience Constant Contact offered a more graphically appealing and easier use interface.
Try it for yourself: http://mailchimp.com/
*NOTE: The email programs list below all have a free trial period, but will cost $15-$30/month afterwords.
Constant Contact (our affiliate link* includes a 60 day free trial)
AWeber – has a very limited free trial, but has a solid money back guarantee
iContact (this affiliate link* includes a 30 day free trial)
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More to come!