As a Work At Home Mom, I find myself in need of certain things usually only available if you work in an office or have a lot of extra capital to work with. I have to keep my overhead as low as possible just to stay afloat, so I use free online resources wherever I can.
Here are five resources that I virtually could not work without, in no particular order. (I am not affiliated with any of these sites or resources.)
1. PDF Online – PDF Online is a free, online PDF convertor. I use it for creating PDF files of Word documents that I want to be “static” (unchangeable by the person receiving it), such as business proposals, contracts, etc. I also use it when I need to sign a document and send it back to someone. I sign the document, scan it, save it as a jpg, and then use PDF Online to convert it to a pdf file and e-mail it back to the party who needs it. It’s intuitive, easy to use and I’ve found it to be very reliable.
2. Google Docs – I use Google Docs primarily for creating invoices. There are many templates to choose from, you can archive all your old invoices and you can export it as a pdf file for easy sending to the client. There is also a document sharing feature you can use when you need to share a large number of documents with a client or vice-versa.
3. AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) – I use AOL Instant Messenger for consulting and communicating with clients about projects. I don’t hear very well on the phone, and chatting online is often easier than a phone conversation anyway, because you often need to check a file or a part of the site or an online resource. It’s really easy to just shoot someone a link or a file while chatting online with them, and it also creates a “to do” list to refer to so that I don’t forget anything after the conversation is over.
4. WordPress – WordPress, of course, is especially key to my business, since blog and WordPress Help is 98% of my business. Even if it weren’t, I would still build my website using WordPress because of its extensibility, expandability, blogging capabilities, plugins and built-in SEO readiness. It makes creating and updating a website so much easier, and makes interaction with clients and potential clients that much easier through comments, contact forms, etc.
5. Email – Email might sound like a given, but it all depends on how you use your e-mail. Utilized correctly, your inbox can help you be more organized, efficient and save you time. I use my inbox like a “to-do list.” I make sure that clients outline each task they want me to do in e-mail so that a) I can give an accurate estimate and b) make sure each item they want completed is done. Additionally, outlining projects via e-mail creates a “paper trail” if there are ever any conflicts or questions about what was to be done, when it was to be done, etc. It’s a CYA kind of thing. I personally make sure to get an e-mail with what the client wants done in their own words in an email from them to me.
That’s it. Five online resources for this Work At Home Mom. I hope this list comes in handy for someone else as well. Feel free to add your own in the comments!