17 useful online tools for self-employed professionals

The internet has had an important impact on the way that small businesses operate. Tools that are available for free or at rock-bottom prices are helping to make self-employed professionals and entrepreneurs more efficient and effective in business.

Here are 17 of my favourites:

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This is a social sharing site where you can create an account and upload presentations. You can also create webinars by using voice-over on your presentations. The platform allows you to promote and track user statistics of your content within the Slideshare site or where it is embedded on your own site.

www.sitekreator.com www.homestead.com www.godaddy.com www.moonfruit.com
These are all useful do-it-yourself website builder sites at a reasonable cost. Good for freelancers and small businesses who need a quick online presence.

Wufoo is a great form builder which also collects responses and allows you to create reports from them. It can be used for a multitude of things, from surveys to CRM to callback requests.

This company offers free UGC tools that you can add-on to your website such as commenting software, star ratings and content aggregators.

Share your content with all the major social networks using an add-this button.

Google Analytics
Probably the best free web analytics software at the moment, use this to track and analyse the behaviour of your site users.

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This is a useful tool that you can use to manage your business contacts. Manage your email, CRM, documents, calendar and tasks on the same software. It costs $25 a month but may be worthwhile if you have to juggle a lot of sales contacts.

If you only want CRM and you want it free, then Zoho offers a good version which you can integrate with your Adwords and other paid search ads.

This site can help you manage your finances. Particularly helpful for freelancers or self-employed who have less rigid book-keeping than a small business. It’s a US site but is widely recognised so won’t be long before there a UK version pops up.

While for many smaller businesses faxing has become a thing of the past, many companies still use it to communicate. If you don’t want to invest in a fax machine but are required to send and receive faxes regularly, then this site might be up your street.

This site has a lot of free stock images which you can use for your website or promotional materials

If you send files with customer data or large images to clients, it can help to use an online file sending service. This is more secure and large files won’t be a problem like they can be with email software.

If you are a freelancer or work in a remote team, this online service can be useful for sharing documents between colleagues and collaborating on projects.

If you need objective feedback on your design work, this site will help.

Useful for setting up online meetings, it is better than a conference call in some respects and you can also show presentations/demonstrations at the same time.

This site helps you track the time you spend working on tasks for your clients. It also creates reports that you can send to clients to support your fees when invoicing them.

Using Skype you can make free calls over the internet to other users and save money on calls to landlines and mobiles. They are even real skype phones available so you don’t need to speak into a headset. Using the web camera function makes this either much better or more calamitous depending on whether you work in your pyjamas or not.