Elephant trainers use a single piece of rope tied to the left hind leg of each grown elephant to prevent it from running wild or wandering off. A grown elephant can easily break the rope, but ignorant of this fact, it stays put.
The reason is simple. From the moment it can stand, a young elephant is leashed with a heavy chain tied to its left hind leg. By the time the elephant is big enough to break the chain, it is already accustomed to believing it cannot. The trainer does not need a chain or special devise to hold a seven-ton elephant in place; a rope will do. The elephant literally does not know its own strength.
Many of us approach technology the same way. As it is first developed, each new technology is like a heavy chain - expensive to acquire and difficult to use. As time goes by, the technology becomes rapidly less expensive and increasingly user-friendly. Like the trained elephant, many of us just do not know it, believing the cost and difficulty have remained more or less the same.
Below are some of the most essential websites for business grouped by category; all are easy to use and most are free. Some you have no doubt used, others will be new to you. The obvious ones - Google, Yahoo, Facebook and the like - are included because some of their features are not well known, often fitting into more than one category.
You can advertise with any of these sites; some provide coupons or promotional codes to customers online (Coupon Cabin, Retail Me Not), through email (Groupon, Living Social) or both (Cathy’s Coupons).
Buy with Me – deal of the day email service
Cathy’s Coupons – weekly email service and online promo codes
Coupon Cabin – online promo codes
Dealfind – deal of the day email service
Google AdWords – pay per click ads
Google Offers – deal of the day email service - coming soon and greatly anticipated!
Groupon – deal of the day email service
Living Social – deal of the day email service
Retail Me Not – online promo codes
SignPost – deal of the day email service with customizable features
Affiliate Programs allow you to place ads on your website and pay you a set percentage when someone clicks on an ad in your site and makes a purchase. You can use these sites or sign-up directly through the sellers.
ClickBank – affiliate network that allows you to sell products, promote products and buy products
Clicksor – matches the keywords of ads with the website content
Commission Junction – one of the most complete affiliate network services
Double Click – Google’s affiliates service
Google AdSense – pays you to place ads on your website
Megaclick – matches publishers to advertisers free of charge
Becoming a source of information for your clients and potential clients is a great way to build your business’s reputation. These blogging sites provide free, easy to use platforms and services.
Blogger – popular, easy to use, but often seen as a beginner’s site
Hubpages – allows you to submit magazine style articles and share in the advertising revenue
Squidoo – allows you to create pages based on topic and expertise
Tumblr – blogging site that emphasizes ease of use
WordPress.com – versatile blogging platform, can easily be adapted to create free websites
WordPress.org – the WordPress software for download and even greater versatility
These sites allow you to share videos, photos and text simply and easily by posting them online. Most allow you to share through social media and embed in your own website.
Daily Motion – videos often with an international flavor
Flickr – photos and videos, works well with social media sites
ImageShack – mostly photos
Imgur – photos, emphasizes ease of use
Metacafe – videos with Wikipedia like editing
Photobucket – photos and videos
Scribd – text, articles and other content
Shovio – live broadcasting for everyone
Typepad – text, blogs and other content
YouTube – Google’s video platform
Discovery Engines/Social Bookmarking
Discovery engines allow users to share and rate articles and websites they think others will like.
Addthis – website add on that allows your users to recommend your site on Facebook and other social media
Delicious – formerly del.icio.us
Digg – community members vote on the best videos, photos and articles
Fark – allows users to comment on news articles, often with a satirical bend
Reddit – ‘the front-page of the internet’ – user generated news links
ShareThis – allows users to see what their social media friends are sharing
StumbleUpon – a discovery engine that seeks to discover the best of the web
Email Marketing, Surveys & Events
These sites provide email marketing, survey and event services, often for free
Constant Contact – easy to use email marketing, surveys and events service
Eventbrite – allows you to market your event and even sell tickets
Eventful – helps you post and find local events
GoToMeeting – web conferencing and virtual meeting platform
Mail Chimp – free email marketing service
Meetup.com – post and find events by according to interest
Salesforce – free virtual meeting platform, with no downloads necessary
Survey Monkey – create and publish online surveys
Zoomerang – online surveys through email and social media
Employment sites are vital in this economy and may provide more than job searches, including resume management and samples.
Careerbuilder – search nearly two million jobs, updated daily and have jobs emailed to you.
CeeVee – create, share and store your resume online with great tools and samples
Elance – allows you to both find clients and freelance jobs and outsource to experts
Freelancer – connects freelancers in all fields with companies in need of outsourcing
Indeed – searches the other job search sites to find literally millions of openings!
Monster – complete job search services, resume building, interview skills and job searches
The Ladders – executive $100K+ jobs only
These websites and services are specifically designed to host user files of all kinds, often providing file storage, sharing and backup services as well. If you have too many files to send by email or your file is too big or you need to share with many users, these sites provide you with a means to share your files quickly and easily.
4shared – 10 GB free web space, multiple file transfer and fast download
Box.net – uses the cloud to store and secure your files (works well with Google Docs)
Dropbox – free service that lets you bring your photos, docs, and videos anywhere and share them easily
GMX – provides free e-mail accounts that accommodate large attachments and file sharing
Google Docs – web-based word processor, spreadsheet, slide show, form, and data storage
Mediafire – simple to use and free; works well with images
Megaupload – free up to 1GB of storage
Picnik – image editing sharing and storage; works well with social media
Rapidshare – can accommodate extremely large files
SlideShare – the world’s largest community for sharing presentations including PowerPoint and Keynote
Free Content & Downloads
These sites provide free content such as images and articles for your website or newsletter, as well as all types of free software, safe to download.
Articlesbase – Find free articles for your website or newsletters.
Download.com – tons of free software, searchable by category, safe to download
Dreamstime – stock photos, includes free and paid content
EzineArticles – free articles for your company newsletters, plus gain exposure posting your own original article
Filehippo – download all types of free software, searchable by category with an emphasis on selectivity
Fotolia – free and paid stock photos
istockphoto – free and paid stock images
Shutterstock – free and paid stock images
Alibaba – find manufacturers, suppliers, exporters, importers, buyers, wholesalers, products and trade leads
Answers – question and answer site that allows anyone to ask or answer a question
Ars Technica – IT news, reviews and analysis
Bloomberg – business news and financial information
Calcmoolator – don’t let the silly name put you off, first-rate financial calculator tools
CNET – tech products news, reviews and price comparisons
eHow – step by step expert instructions and articles on how to do just about anything
FT – international business, finance, economic news, comment and analysis
Gdgt – question and answer site on consumer electronics
Hotlist – aggregates data from Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites
Howcast – free and useful how to videos and guides
Legistalker – non-profit that tracks and compiles the online activity of Congress members
Mashable – up to date news about social media and the web
Newsvine – community news service
Quora – question and answer site similar to Answer and answer.yahoo.com, but edited for quality
Reuters – collects, edits, reports and distributes financial information and news
SiteJabber – consumer protection site about businesses and websites
TechCrunch – group-edited blog about technology and start-ups, particularly the web2.0
Techmeme.com – technology news
Ted.com – some of the best speeches on the most interesting topics
This We Know – database for zip codes
W3 Schools – collection of free web building tutorials
Wikipedia – the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit – an obvious one and at the top of most searches
WSJ.com – the Wall Street Journal online
XE.com – up to date currency exchange information
Yahoo! Answers – question and answer site that allows anyone to ask or answer a question
Citysearch – city by city reviews, recommendations and directions to the best shops and services
Craigslist – local classifieds and forums for jobs, housing, for sale, services, local community and events
GigPark – allows users to easily discover the local businesses their friends know and trust
Google Local Search – integrated with Google Maps, allows you to submit your business’s information
Insiderpages – local search and reviews of local businesses
Superpages – online yellow pages with local search for local businesses
The Consumerist – consumer driven feedback on businesses
Thedealmap – comprehensive source to find and share the hottest local deals
Yahoo! Local – allows you to submit your business’s information, includes reviews, events and directions
Yelp – user reviews and recommendations of local businesses
Online Buying & Selling
Amazon Merchant – sell products of all types and reach millions of customers.
eBay – buy and sell just about anything on the world’s most famous online marketplace
Etsy – buy and sell handmade or vintage items, art and supplies, a vibrant handmade marketplace.
Google Checkout – secure checkout process that allows customers to buy from you quickly and easily
Google Wallet – an app that allows you to tap, pay and save with virtual cards and offers on your phone.
Listia – online product swapping service
OOkong – allows you to check price history, track price changes and get a notification when the price drops
PayPal – a common entry level online merchant service
Price Cheater – discount consumer electronics
Square Trade – allows you to purchase after-market warranties – in case something breaks
Tinypay.me – very quick and easy way to post an item – physical or digital – for sale online
Press Releases Services & Local Media
Press release services are useful not only in getting your information to the appropriate media, but in posting your content online with links to your site. Most free press release services provide more features for paid accounts. Some provide samples and helpful tips. Remember, the best press releases include an image and a link!
24-7PressRelease.com – provides free and paid premium services
1888PressRelease.com – free submission and distribution plus samples and tips
ClickPress.com – free press release service especially for public relations professions
EcommWire.com – free press release service plus RSS feed
Express-Press-Release.com – free press release, all submissions are editor reviewed
Free-Press-Release.com – especially geared to small businesses
Free-Press-Release-Center.info – free distribution and publishes online
Google News – allows you to post news sites and blogs
I-Newswire.com – fast, free and easy distribution
NewswireToday.com – free service with easy image upload capabilities
Patch.com – AOL’s community specific news outlets includes several in Bucks County
PR.com – comprehensive and sorted by category
PR9.net – free submission and RSS feeds
PRBuzz.com – comprehensive paid service
PRUrgent.com – free press release and newswire service
PressAbout.com – blog that posts press releases for free
PressMethod.com – free distribution and search engine posts
PRLeap.com – paid social media press release and newswire service
PRLog.org – free press releases to Google and Yahoo! News
PRweb.com – free and paid premium services with an emphasis on social media
Publicity Insider – tips, samples and best practices for press releases
TheOpenPress.com – free and paid services available
Topix.net – media outlet that emphasizes local news
Websites, Apps & Online Publishing
Conduit – a free service that allows your company to create its own apps
Download.com – free software by category, safe to download and install from CNET
Godaddy – domain registration, reliable hosting, user friendly site builder, ecommerce, fully accredited
Google Analytics – provides reports and data about your company's website.
Host Gator – web hosting, site builder templates, and dedicated servers
Joomla – open source content management system, allows many employees to consistently update your website
Mozilla – home of the Firefox browser and top notch software and technology – for free!
Statcounter – free, reliable web tracking, counter and stats for your website
Webs.com – free websites and hosting including ecommerce capabilities
Wikia – free wiki hosting using the same MediaWiki software that runs Wikipedia
Yahoo! Small Business – affordable, well optimized websites
Zedo – internet advertising for any business with a website
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