When you are just starting out, there are times when you just have to wear a lot of different hats (webmaster, copywriter, graphic designer, ninja…) for your business. However regardless of what hat you are wearing at any given time you need the right tools to get your work done. Here’s the list of tools I personally use that doesn’t cost a dime and more importantly, gets the job done.
Open Office – An alternative to Microsoft Office (if it’s too expensive for your needs).
Foxit – A fast and free pdf reader.
Bullzip Pdf Printer – Install this as an additional printer on your system. You can make any pdf file (ebook) with this.
NVU – A web authoring system for Linux, Windows and Mac that rivals Dreamweaver. This is a WYSWYG system that’s very handy for beginners.
ScitE – An open source tool popular among hard coders, it’s lightning fast and has a lot of useful text based features.
GIMP – An open source graphic editor, it doesn’t completely rival Photoshop but it can do most of the work.
IrfanView – This is my old time favorite. I love the batch processing capability of IrvanView. A very handy tool specially if you handle a lot of images.
Google Adwords Keyword Tool – If you want to rank for Google, this is where your keyword research starts.
Traffic Travis – If you need to do a competition analysis for the search terms you are after, this is the tool for you. There’s a paid version but the free version should be enough for your needs.
Rank Checker – This is a tool that checks where your site ranks for a given keyword.
MSN Online Commercial Intent – Sounds complicated but it’s a very simple tool. It determines the probable monetary viability of a search term. The higher value the better.
SpyFu – When you need to spy on your cute neighbor… seriously, this tool will let you know the approximate cost per click (CPC) of a search term.
I have a lot of plugins installed on Firefox but these are specific to web development.
Firebug – If you are debugging websites on the design end, YOU WILL NEED THIS. This is a huge time saver for web designers.
WebDeveloper – It adds a menu and a toolbar that let’s you do a LOT of cool stuff like disabling cookies on a specific site on your browser.
MeasureIT – A handy tool that measures distance on your browser by pixels. I use this together with Firebug.
These are all the FREE tools I have on my computers that I can’t live without. Well actually, it would still be fine but it would be a lot harder on my work if I don’t have these tools. How about you, what tools do you have in your arsenal that you just need to have?