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Oct 25th, 2007 Comments: 0

Free Software Alternatives

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I’ve mentioned before that before you buy a product, you should check the web for free alternatives. There are many!

The same goes for Internet Marketing products…

The difference with IM products is that you might get Resale Rights and a Website, so you can sell on the product or perhaps give away / add it to a membership site – but if it’s for personal use please check out this list I’ve compiled.

Free Alternatives To Popular Software

First, here’s the common ones:

Microsoft Office
Try Open Office. It’s a very popular open source alternative that has more than enough features for most users. Includes Word Processing, Spreadsheet, and more:
http://www.openoffice.org

Photoshop
Try Gimp ! This has grown from a unix command-line program right into a fully interfaced and very powerful graphic manipulation tool. The only problem is most of the scripts and tutorials you’ll find *are* for Photoshop but there’s plenty out there for the Gimp too. Once you’re familiar with the system you’ll be free to create, edit, and touch up all sorts of photos and images.
http://www.gimp.org

Web Design Software
There are a lot of commercial tools to help you create websites, but if you want a simple WYSIWYG editor that allows you to layout text, graphics, tables etc. try Nvu.  There’s also an internet marketing based alternative that is free from Ewen Chia.

http://www.nvu.com
http://www.coffeecup.com
http://www.productpacks.com/cgi-bin/arp3/arp3-t.pl?l=124 (Ewen’s)

Now here’s some more useful tools that will help you with your site and your business.

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1. Helpdesk / Support System

A good helpdesk can make a massive difference to your e-mail load! There are a wide variety of free solutions, from the simple to the powerful. I’m currently using “OS Support” which is a basic ticketing system but there are more advanced scripts that include FAQs that store common answers (providing an automatic answer to any question) and multiple users. It’s worth noting that sometimes bigger isn’t better, as often a user only wants a quick reply to their question.

http://www.opensourcehelpdesklist.com/ (multiple links)
http://www.osticket.com/ (the one I use)

2. Content Management System

A CMS System is an easy way to build and maintain a website even though there is a learning curve to using one. Basically, they allow you to use a modular design to your site. Your pages then contain content and other features such as Blogs, Members Area, Downloads, Voting, Forums, and much more. The best part is that once the site is setup it’s a cinch to add new content from within the admin area of the site itself whenever you need to.

http://www.opensourcecms.com/ (multiple links)
http://www.joomla.org/ (my choice)

3. Ebooks / Courses

Any information you find in an eBook is likely to be available on the web, for free. The only problem is finding this information and collating it. When you pay for an ebook you are essentially paying for the convenience of having the information given to you in an easily digestible format. By all means, purchase (and read!) ebooks and courses, but always search Google to at least supplement and sometimes replace this information.

http://www.getfreeebooks.com/

4. Niche / Keyword Software

There’s no need for expensive niche and keyword search software since there are plenty of free sites and programs to start with. This kind of software is ideal to use with the next category of SEO software, since they help you either choose a potentially profitable niche to start with or help you focus your site. Keywords are also useful as tags, if you blog, use targeted ads such as Adwords/Adsense, or use social networks such as Digg.

http://www.nichebot.com
http://www.nichewatch.com
http://tinyurl.com/3ymytg (a cool bookmarklet!)

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5. SEO Software

SEO tools tend to be catch-all software that perform a number of tasks, from validating your website to submitting, tracking, and finding keywords. They can help with metatags and much more. Some SEO software tends to be rather expensive, so try these free alternatives:

http://www.seocompany.ca/tool/seo-tools.html (multiple links)
http://www.webuildpages.com/cool-seo-tool/ (analysis tool)
http://www.seotoolland.com/ (multiple links)
http://www.seomax.it/ (free and pro versions)
6. Ebook Software

A while back “exe” format was the way to go for creating your own eBooks, but these days the industry standard is the Adobe Acrobat “PDF” file. That’s because it’s a very flexible format that can contain text (in any font and style), images, hyperlinks and more. Adobe Acrobat is the premium product to create and edit these files, but there are free alternatives.

Exe format books are basically HTML (web) pages compiled together and as such you can include extra features – basically anything you can do in a website. That includes audio, video, live pages, messaging, auto updating, flash, etc. However exe format means they can only be run on PCs.

http://sourceforge.net/projects/ideotype/ (pdf ebooks)
http://sourceforge.net/projects/pdfcreator/ (pdf ebooks)
http://www.spadixbd.com/wsz/index.htm (exe ebooks)

7. Create your own Software

There have been numerous Internet Marketing products that enable you to make your own software. While limited in many ways, these tools help you build simple “fill in the blanks” software. If you want to go further it’s worth noting most programming language compilers are free – but this step would take a big investment in learning. For the casual user, a “Visual Programming” tool will usually suffice.

http://www.tersus.com/
http://www.limnor.com/

8. Various Website Scripts

An awful lot of paid software / script tools focus on adding interesting features to your website. Before you pay for any… try these.

(Floating Logo)
http://javascript.internet.com/image-effects/floating-logo.html

(Page Peel Script)
http://www.webpicasso.de/blog/pageear-free-peel-away-ad/

(Hover Ad Generator)
http://popup-toolkit.com/free-webmaster-tools/hover-ad-generator/

(Tell A Friend Scripts)
http://popup-toolkit.com/free-webmaster-tools/hover-ad-generator/

(404 Error Script)
http://script-smart.com/resources/404alert.html

(Click/Ad Tracking Scripts)
http://www.findmysoft.com/scripts/CGI_and_Perl/Click-Tracking-210/

9. Find More !

There are many, many free software tools around and you can use the following sites to find some that suit you.

http://www.freshmeat.net
http://www.sourceforge.net

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