picnik.com – Get the most from your product photos (and happy snaps of the family for that matter) with this incredibly user friendly, intuitive and funky online software. Fix underexposed photos, remove red-eye and blemishes, or apply effects and boarders (and so much more); and it features collage capabilities.
COST: Free for most functionality. Or become a Picnik Premium customer to access the more advanced tools for $4.95 a month, $19.95 for six months or $24.95 for a year ($USD).
CHA Tested?: You betcha! I love it and use it daily. After using it for a few months I knew that it would be worth investing in the Premium Package. I have Photoshop and haven’t used it since finding Picnik.
FABRIC DESIGN AND PRINTING
spoonflower.com – Design and print your own fabric on demand! No minimum orders. Uses premium natural fabrics and eco–friendly textile printing; plus a weekly fabric design competition! They also recommend free programs where you can create your design before you upload it, and point you in the direction of design resources and advice to get a great end result.
COST: Free to upload; pay for the quantity of fabric you wish to have printed.
CHA tested?: Not personally, but comes highly recommended from people in the craft and design industry.
Wufoo.com Online Form Builder – Collect information over the internet from your customers, fans and suppliers easily. This HTML form builder allows you to create forms, online surveys, invitations, registrations and online payments without you writing any code. Very easy to set up and use. Stores all the information that you collect and is easy to access.
COST: First 3 forms are free; and then offers a tiered pricing plan which starts at $14.95 per month.
CHA tested?: Yes. Very happy with it thank you!
RANDOM COMPETITION WINNER SELECTION
random.org – Select a winner for your competition with true fairness, with this random number generator. You can screen capture the result (edit in paint to crop then save as a .jpg) and publish it to your blog to demonstrate the true random and unbiased nature of the result to your readership.
CHA Tested: Yup! Simple, easy to use and reliable.
BANNER AND BUTTON DESIGNER
mybannermaker.com -Design banners and buttons for your online store, blog or Facebook page (and other online sites). Free banner functionality is basic and contains some advertising from the supplier. You can upload your own images. Become a VIP and receive access to additional features such as rotating banners and the removal of advertising by the supplier.
COST: Free for basic functionality, or $25 per year to be a VIP.
CHA Tested?: No, but has been recommended to me.
OFFLINE BLOG WRITER
Windows Live Writer - Download it and it will sit on your computer desktop. It makes it easy to write and format your blog post offline, and then publish the finished post to almost any blog service; including Wordpress, Blogger, LiveJournal and TypePad; and many more. It eradicates most (if not all) the difficulties that can be experienced with formatting; especially for those like me who are unfamiliar with HTML code. You can preview everything you’re adding to your blog, to see how the fonts, spacing, colours, and images will look, before you publish.
CHA Tested?: Yes! And I am very happy to have found it. You will see the layout of the CHA blog posts improving as Writer is used (and I get more familiar and experienced with the blogging process)!
EMAIL CAMPAIGN MANAGER
mailchimp.com – Manages your email campaigns starting from the design of your email communication, through to detailed but easy to understand reporting. Syncs with other online tools including Picnik, Google Analytics and Wufoo. Smart, user friendly, and with massive potential to help you develop a whole new side to your communications with your customer and potential customer base. Short and easy to understand tutorial videos guide you along the way. You can even sign up for free online training. This program is not to be missed.
COST: Free to manage up to 500 contacts in your lists. Then there are many pricing options to suit your needs if you grow beyond the free capabilities.
CHA Tested?: Just opened up my account today and I am loving it! Really looking forward to taking this baby for a spin!
TweetMeme - is a service which aggregates all the popular links on Twitter to determine which links are popular. It is most useful to bloggers who can add a re-tweet functionality to their blog, which facilitates and encourages readers to re-tweet your blog post. If you provide high quality content on your blog and add an easy way for people to share it, then people will help you spread the word!
CHA Tested?: Yes we use it on our blog (see – up there to the left)! Hey don’t forget to Tweet this post for us!
MEASURE WEBSITE TRAFFIC
Google Analytics – It provides you with insights into your website traffic and marketing effectiveness. Its most basic usage will tell you how many hits your site gets, how long they stay, if they are returning, how they found you and which sites are regularly sending you traffic. It can be added to your website, online store, blog even your Facebook Business Page too (Instructions are HERE)! More advanced usage includes setting up advertising using AdWords, or setting goals which can be measured through activity completed within you site. It’s worth having a look around to see what else it can do!
CHA Tested?: Yep! I have been using it on my online store for months now. It helps me to measure effectiveness of different marketing activity and interest in new products which are posted and advertised. I have also just added it to the CHA blog.
MANAGE YOUR FINANCES
outright.com – Simple, online book keeping. No more Excel spreadsheets! Enter your basic expenses and income information, and see at a glance your profit and loss report. You can run additional reports as needed. It has a tax estimation component but this is only suitable for users inside the USA. Imports data from Etsy and Ebay and talks to Paypal.
CHA Tested: Just signed up an account today and entered some profit and loss data. I found it pretty straight forward.
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