Freebies & Deals On Our Favorite Stuff for Home-Based Businesses, Work-At-Home Professionals, and Freelancers
We’ve used them, we like them, we think you will too.
If you don’t for any reason, give us a holler!
Virtual Office Tools
– With Skype you can make free Internet calls anywhere in the world to other people with Skype on the their Mac, Windows or Linux computer. Mac portables have built in mics and speakers, as do many PCs, but you may find a headset with a mic handy (less than $20).
Tom uses it every morning for serious business (team ‘radio’ for online car racing), but we also recently talked to a fellow in New Zealand about his WordPress shopping cart just as if he was next door instead of halfway around the world. A programmer (he has a Master’s Degree in Business Administration too) in India and I use Skype to work through the details as he built our Telework Savings Calculator. All our voice, text and file sharing, back and forth, was free.
– FreedomVOICE is the best toll-free phone service and voicemail you’ll find anywhere. Period. We ran our aviation sightseeing and mock air combat business with it for 10 years and loved it. We didn’t just depend on it, FreedomVOICE helped make the company a success.
In fact, people would complain when we answered the phone, saying they wanted to listen to the rest of the messages such as: “I’m sorry we couldn’t take your call, but we’re busier than a one-armed wing-walker with a wedgie. Leave a message with you number, and we’ll call you back as soon as we get our feet on the ground.” We even had one that was something like, “Press 1 for information, press 2 for a reservation, press 3 for a gift certificate, and pound the pound key if you hate voice mail.” When you pressed # you’d hear sound effects such as “Pow!”, “Biff!”, “Bam!”, “Thud!”, etc.
But get this, on the rare occasion when someone didn’t reach us and had to leave a message, it would be emailed to us as sound file, along with the callers name, phone number, and address!
There are far too many features and services to detail here, so check it out. It ain’t free, but it’s a great way to make a small operation look and sound very professional.
They’re very innovative folks, and can move very quickly if you have a special need. For example, they tailored their system to match a medical transcription customer’s old system so the doctors using the phones didn’t even know they’d changed services. But better than that, FreedomVoice provided new functionality that made managing the transcriptionist’s work much more efficient.
– USPS.com: Online, buy US Post Office postage, print labels, all at no extra charge. Sending a package? No problem, put in weight and dimensions, print a label and your postal carrier will pick it up at your door free. Yes, believe it or not we’re talking about our US Postal Service! They’ve joined the 21st century!
Beware, there are other companies out there that will sell you postage too, but they charge a ‘service fee’ and, frankly, they’re a pain in the butt to use. We can’t tell you their name, but their website is stamps.com.
Website/blog hosting and SEO
– WordPress. If you’re going to write a blog or build a website, we recommend WordPress. We used Blogger–still do for Wow! Really? and Tailspin’s Tales–and we once had Undress4Success there too. But we moved to WordPress.com (the free, hosted version). Didn’t take any time at all (2-3 minutes) to be up and running , but we found you can’t run scripts there and you can’t add plug-ins. So now we have our own host, we’ve a added a dozen or so plug-ins and find it’s the best solution out there. Either way WordPress is free because it’s open source (the hosting, of course, isn’t.)
We use both Macs and PCs here, but the Macs can run Windows software thanks to a slick program called Parallels, so you get the best of both worlds with a Mac. New Macs come with Bootcamp installed, too, but the program requires you to reboot as either a Mac or a PC. Besides, we haven’t found a program yet that is unhappy in the Parallels environment, and it’s fast. That terrible old Microsoft program called Virtual PC is nothing like this. Your Windows programs actually run in a Mac window, which is funny we think.
If you’re going to buy a Mac considering buy a refurbished one from the Apple Store online. The come with the same warranty as a new one, and you’ll save 10-60%.
We won’t get in to one of those religious/political/Apple/Windows joust, but we find our Macs (we have four, plus and ipAd and two iPhones) much, much easier to use and more reliable than our HP running Windows. To be honest, the only reason we have the HP is because there are a couple of auto racing games and two flight simulators that aren’t available on the Mac. But now with Parallels, when the HP breaks, we’ll be a one computer brand family.
Printing & Copying
– Business cards and letterhead: Contrary to popular belief, business cards and letterhead are the last thing you need when you’re starting a business. What you need is customers. But when the time comes for business cards and other office materials try OvernightPrints.com.
– Vista Print does a nice job too, and their website has some real slick tools to help you design all kinds of materials.
– The Company Corporation: You don’t need to incorporate until you start doing business–if then. A ‘sole proprietorship‘ may be all you need, even if you don’t fix shoes. But if you do decide to incorporate your business or form an LLC you may be able to save taxes. The Company Corporation can help with that, but keep in mind that having ‘Inc.’ after your name doesn’t make you a successful business and it does come with a lot of paperwork responsibilities. They service all 50 states (incorporation laws are different in every state), and the whole online process takes less than 10 minutes. Click Here.
General Work-Life Balance Products & Services
–FlexJobs Member Savings: If you’re a member of FlexJobs (click here to learn why we highly recommend this job board for work from home jobs), you’ll receive access to savings of 10-50% off products and services that promote work-life balance. The products and services found through FlexJobs include job search tools, home office equipment, retail, family products, and travel and fun-related products and services. Because even though you’re a serious professional, you’ve got to have some fun!
Full Disclosure: If you click on some of the links on this page and then actually order something, we earn a few pennies on the sale. But we recommend them because we like them and have used them ourselves.