Article: Mike Jones


The Small Business Library

July 21, 2000

How To Mine Gold From FREE Stuff!

This article will show you:
  1. How to avoid wasting your time with FREE stuff!
  2. How to identify real bargains!
  3. Some top FREE programs and services

Entering "Free Stuff" in Alta Vista will yield a colossal 521,442 results. Over half a million web pages! Here are some guidelines to sift the wheat from the chaff.

  1. Beware of programs written by amateurs and enthusiasts unless you particularly enjoy experimenting with your computer. If you are running a business you probably don't have the time. Any program with very basic readme files or little or no support files I avoid like the plague.

    Experience has taught me they waste time trying to work out how to use them, they jam up the registry files on the computer and don't uninstall properly if at all. This kind of FREE stuff can turn your computer into a mess, degrading the performance of other programs. If you do want to try them out, keep a separate partition on your hard disk dedicated for that purpose.

  2. Don't get side tracked with shareware. If you are prepared to pay for programs, fine, look at shareware. After a brief trial period you will often be expected to pay for the full version. Personally, I don't spend time on these unless I am looking for something specific, or the shareware program is particularly good.

  3. Subscribe to one or two good lists to keep you informed of FREE stuff. I get these delivered to my mailbox every week, spend about two minutes looking through the headings and if something really catches my eye, I investigate using the criteria above. A good one is: http://www.jumbo.com

How to identify REAL bargains? If the program comes from a professional, well established company you are on to a winner. A 30 second look at their web site will tell you what kind of outfit it is. If a generous help file is supplied or if regular updates are published, you know the program is here to stay and it is worth investing time and energy in learning it.

An example is Pegasus Mail, mentioned in the top FREE programs below. I was tempted to buy Eudora Pro. I had used the free Lite version and really liked it. Fortunately, just before I parted with the cash, I discovered Pegasus. This program does everything Eudora Pro would do for me and it is FREE. An unbelievable bargain. It is now my default mail handler.

Take a look through this list of top FREE programs and services. There is gold here:

  • EMAIL HANDLER
    Pegasus Mail is an excellent email program. Multiple signature files, multiple filters, various identities for multiple email accounts, spell check, it is all here in one easy to use program.

  • EMAIL MERGE
    WorldMerge sends personalized messages to mailing lists. A brief advertisement is included at the foot of the message when using the FREE version. Unless that is a major problem for you, this program is an absolute bargain!

  • EMAIL CLIENT & EMAIL MERGE
    EudoraPro

  • TRAFFIC ANALYSIS
    A very comprehensive report is emailed to you every day giving a complete breakdown of the visitors to your web site, their movements through the site and where they are coming from. This information is essential for a successful marketing campaign.

  • KEYWORD SUGGESTION TOOL
    GoTo.com has a great tool to help you see what search words and phrases are being used on the internet. Use this in combination with Alta Vista as explained in the next section and you have a powerful method for optimizing keywords on your web pages.

  • JPEG WIZARD GRAPHICS CONDENSER
    Reduce the size of your GIF or JPEG graphics files and super charge the loading time for your web pages. This free tool is another gem from the folks at Pegasus.

  • AUTORESPONDER
    There are many free ones out there, but many liberally sprinkle their own advertisements around your message. GetResponse keeps its own advertising to a bare minimum. The easy to use interface is crammed with features.

  • WEB SITE MONITORING
    Check for dead links, link popularity, browser compatibility, load time, keywords, HTML accuracy and spelling accuracy to ensure your web site is giving top performance. This free service allows for a one page check per submission.

Yes you can mine gold from FREE stuff. You can also waste huge amounts of precious time if you are not selective. Follow the suggestions above and get the best of the best from FREE stuff.

For a rich FREE source of creative ideas and regular boosters towards the achievement of your personal and business goals, join the High Achievers list. Send a blank highachievers-subscribe@egroups.com