Cheap & Easy Tools for Individuals, Non-Profits and Small Business

Having a web/social media presence is critical to any organization that needs to present a face to the public. Happily there are free/inexpensive and easy-to-use tools available to do this. 

 

Following is the list of tools that I've come up with for my personal use and for use with non-profits and small businesses. 

 

There are a lot of tools out there and more arriving every day, so if you find a better tool, please let me know. I'll update my list and give credit where credit is due.

Website Development and Hosting: Jimdo

These days, if an organization doesn't have a website, it doesn't exist for many people. Your website helps people find you and helps people check you out.

 

Jimdo provides non-profits, small businesses and invididuals with an inexpensive, easy-to-use, yet flexible tool to establish a web presence. It's the one on which this site is hosted and is also the one I used to quickly develop a site for Christ's Community in College Hill. It's simple and powerful and cheap (free or less than $100 a year). 

 

Many people will be able to use this tool to set up their own site, and most pc users will be able to maintain a site once it is set up. I'm available to set up sites for those who don't want to do it themselves.

 

This is a fast-developing area, as evidenced by the plethora of options becoming available, and Jimdo may not survive, but anything developed on Jimdo will be easily ported to whatever alternative wins in the end.

Updating Your Constituency via Email: Constant Contact

Constant Contact is a web package that makes it easy to create and publish a good-looking eNewsletter.  It's not free, but, compared with other packages, it's surprisingly inexpensive. It handles maintenance of your mailing list and can get your eNewsletter through most spam filters.  For examples of my use of Constant Contact, see the College Hill eNewsletter and eGraceNotes.  Constant Contact is free to try and about $150 a year for fewer than 500 contacts. (Don't pay extra for their picture hosting service, use Picasa (below) instead).

Updating your Constituency via Social Media: FaceBook

Using a FaceBook Page for your organization can not only help you stay in touch with your constituency, it can help build your constituency. Creating and working with a FaceBook Page is different from your personal FaceBook, but the learning effort can be worth it.  And it's free. Post to your Page often enough to remind folks of your existence, but not so often as to be irritating. Use pictures wherever possible. And make your posts interesting--not always about trying to sell something.

Picture Collections on the Web: Picasa

Picasa provides a free way to share photos on the web as well as to manage pictures on your pc. I have used Picasa to do simple edits on virtually every one of the thousands of  photos I have on my pc. Photos on your pc can be uploaded to Picasa Photo Albums for others to see.  These albums can be made part of an web site. For examples, see here and here

 

For more complex photo editing, I use paint.net (see below).

Picture Editing: Paint.net

Paint.net (note that the url is http://www.getpaint.net/ ) is a free package that's not too difficult to learn, yet has the power to handle most picture editing needs. I love it!  Between Paint.net and Picasa, I get all my picture editing needs met.

Putting Documents on the Web: Blogger

Blogger (free) can be used to make documents available on the web. You can then link to the documents you've stored in blogger from your website. For an example of this use, see here.  To ease the reformatting of documents, I found Windows Live Writer to be very helpful. 

Web Calendar: Google Calendar

Google provides a free calendar of that can be used as a standalone page or which can be incorporated into a page on your web site. It can be easily maintained by mere mortals. For an example of this use, see here

Website Usage Statistics: Statcounter

Statcounter is an improvement over the web statistics provided by most hosts.  (Jimdo provides this functionality.)

Domain Registration: Namecheap

It's cheap and has caused me no problems.  Jimdo and many other web hosting services provide this function, at least for your primary domain name. I use Namecheap to register other domain names that I then forward to a primary domain.  For example, I registered gracecollegehill.com and then forward anyone who goes there to gracecollegehill.org.