There’s no particular order to this list and it’s certainly not exhaustive. I’ve just tried to include some interesting things that will hopefully help you out if you’re not already using them!
Here they are:
stock.xchng, morgueFile & Bigstock
I reckon stock.xchng probably has the strangest web address ever (sxc.hu) for a non-spam site but it’s my first port of call for zero-cost royalty free images.
A fantastic alternative to this is morgueFile which I only recently discovered. Perhaps it’s even better than stock.xchng, I haven’t quite decided yet. But it’s definitely something to add the favourites menu in your browser. It’s where I found the picture that is displayed at the top right of this post.
From time to time – usually when I’m working on a paid product or a very important guest post for another marketer – I stump up some money for my images. I used to use iStockPhoto quite a lot for this but recently I’ve found Bigstock to provide a better range of images and be more cost effective.
This is really quite amazing. This website gives away entire graphics and icon sets on a regular basis!
You don’t even need to join someone’s list to get your hands on them! Just head over there and type “free icons” or “free graphics” into the search box to see what I mean.
I’ve been using fiverr more and more recently.
In case you aren’t aware, fiverr is an online market place where people offer to do anything from drawing a cartoon of your pet to singing you Happy Birthday. Each of these services is referred to as a “gig” and they cost $5 a time.
Apart from the general amusement gained from browsing through the weird and wonderful gigs, fiverr is a truly excellent place to outsource small jobs for your online business.
The beauty of fiverr is that it is so incredibly cheap that you have very little to lose. In fact, it’s a great place to get work done as an experiment and then if you like the job or concept you can always take things to the next level by hiring a more expensive freelancer elsewhere.
Although I find oDesk’s user interface a little non-intuitive (similar to PayPal in this regard), I much prefer it to Elance which I found to be more expensive and lower quality.
As a general rule, I use oDesk when the job is too big for fiverr! A great example is the transcription of audio interviews. You can watch me do this live on video in this post.
Uploading very large files such as audio and video to your own hosting is not a good idea. This is especially the case if, like me, you’re on a server which you share with others (I use HostGator – my affiliate link).
Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) allows you to upload as many files as you like and have them delivered perfectly every time. This means that when someone clicks play on your audio or video your own shared server is not burdened at all.
Not only is S3 pay-as-you-go but it is also unbelievably cheap! So much so I can’t even tell you (like cents per month for massive use). Here are the prices.
I’ve noticed that a lot of people say that the Amazon S3 interface is very hard to use and so you should upload your files through a browser plugin like S3 Fox. However, I have to say I totally disagree with this. I find Amazon S3 very EASY to use (after you understand that folders are called “Buckets”) and I have always used it directly with no problems whatsoever.
This is another service from Amazon and something I’ve only started using in the last 2 weeks.
Cloudfront is a “Content Distribution Network” which sounds a bit complex but it’s simple really.
All you have to do is this:
1. Upload your files into a “Bucket” (just like a regular folder) in Amazon S3.
2. Switch across to Cloudfront, select that bucket and click “Create Distribution” (takes around 5 mins usually).
3. Use the Cloudfront URL on your website where you want to allow people to access your content.
What this will do is to copy your original content from S3 to various servers located around the World (see the locations here). So if someone in the UK clicks play on your video a server in London will give it to them. Likewise if a person from Connecticut does the same then a server in New York will spring into life.
To be clear, you don’t have to use Cloudfront, you can just use S3 but doing so will obviously mean your files load a lot faster for your audience/visitors/prospects/customers as they are served from a local location.
Along with the SEO Quake browser add-on I find woorrank a great place to gauge the traffic levels of any website. This is very useful when you are looking at a site to see if it is worth submitting a guest post to for traffic generation
Another free tool that takes minutes to set up and is so useful!
Dropbox creates a “virtual” folder on your computer that looks just like any other inside Windows Explorer. The only difference is that the files in this folder are stored on the web in a secure location.
The advantage of this is that you can share access to this folder with anyone you choose. I used this extensively during the development of my stock trading product earlier in the year and found it so much easier to share files with my JV partners rather than having to constantly email different versions of the files.
I also use it as something akin to a “network drive” (like many people in the Corporate World have) so that I can share files between my desktop PC and laptop. So when I take my laptop to Starbucks for the afternoon, all my files that I’m working on are right there in my Dropbox folder ready to go.
Digg Digg is a WordPress plugin created by Yong Mook Kim that displays social media buttons of your choice below every blog post (scroll down to see!).
JW Player Plugin & wordTube
These are two WordPress plugins that work together to allow you to publish video on your blog. JW Player handles the technical stuff and wordTube does the allows you to actually publish on your blog.
I really like wordTube in particular as it provides a nice tidy library of your videos inside the WordPress Admin Panel as well as allowing you to customise the look and feel of the video player that is displayed on your blog.
A funky little WordPress plugin that allows you to play audio.
Similar to wordTube, I am very fond of its flexibility when it comes to customising the player itself.
See an example of how it looks from one of the recent GHG interviews here.
Audacity & MP3Tag
Audacity is a free audio editor which although looks a little unintuitive to start with, is actually very powerful. If you search for it on YouTube you’ll find lots of training videos to get up and running quickly.
I use it to edit the MP3 files that I’ve recorded from interviewing people over Skype.
MP3Tag is also free and it allows you to change all the “tags” on your MP3 files. The tags are what is displayed in your Windows Media Player (or similar) when you play an audio file. For example, the Title, Composer and Album information. You can even add your own album art!
wpSpoiler is another random little plugin that allows you to create a “show/hide” section in your blog posts.
I use it as a “container” to store the transcriptions for the audio interviews that I do here at Gain Higher Ground.
[spoiler]Your hidden transcription text would go here! Cheers, Rob! 🙂[/spoiler]
But you could also use it for resources lists and the like.
Subscribe To Comments
This creates a little more interaction on your blog by adding a “Subscribe To Comments” check box at the bottom of every post. So people can check this and receive email notifications when another comment is added to that post. This increases the chance they will come back possibly even contribute again. A little more traffic at a very minimum with this I think.
Social Profile Widgets
This WordPress plugin allows you to add social media icons to the sidebar of your blog. So people can click through from your site to your Facebook Fan Page or Twitter profile.
Not exhaustive as I said but hopefully there’s at least couple of things here that might help you going forward?
Do you have any favourite internet marketing resources, tools or plugins? Drop a quick comment below and let us all know what they are!