Business Tools: Equipment and Software

Business tools Equipment and Software

Purchasing the Proper Equipment and Software for your Business

You have to have certain things to do this job. No getting around it! There are workarounds, low cost or free options, and ways to simplify things though, so don't feel like there is just too much to afford!

1. A computer that is capable of being online, and that can handle basic graphics processing. This means anything better than a P-II or PowerPC is going to do you just fine! Any system that is less than 3 years old is going to fit the requirements and exceed them, you don't have to have a new system.

2. An internet connection. You cannot be a website mogul without access to the internet! And you really need this AT HOME, and not just a little bit at work or at the public library, because you have to be able to research online, create your stuff offline, and upload your finished pages. You cannot do this effectively with a computer that is not your own.

3. Software for the common tasks.

  • HTML Editing Software - You do NOT have to know HTML code! You DO have to have software that can write the code for you, and you do need to be able to learn to use it. Keep reading for info on what software to get, and how to use it.  
  • FTP Software - Most HTML software has this capability built in, but if you manage a large number of sites, a separate program might be more efficient long term.  
  • Image Processing Software - You need to be able to scale and crop images, and to save them in internet formats (jpg, and gif). Long term, if you have software that will apply bevels and drop shadows and other effects to text, it will help you, because you can create better header graphics and other accent graphics.  
  • Assorted Utilities - There are all kinds of little utilities that you can use to make AdSense sites more easily, including keyword optimization utilities, Search and Replace utilities, code checkers, link validators, etc. None of them are absolutely needed, but some of them can help you work more efficiently.  

It will also help you immensely if you have the following skills, or the ability to learn them:

1. Writing. You can do this if you cannot write well, but it will be MUCH harder! You'll have to rely more on the writing of others, which is less effective, and you'll have to have someone either write comments for you, or check your writing for accuracy when it is done.

2. Researching. This works best if you have the ability to effectively research a topic online. This is how you learn enough to make yourself an expert on topics that you may not quite have full expertise on. Knowing how to research well also helps you optimize your pages better.

3. Sorting. This skill is used to sort high quality information from poor quality information, to sort articles that are usable and pertinent from those that are not, to determine which elements enhance your site content and what does not.

4. Organizing. You'll have to keep your information and software organized on your computer, and you'll have to have logical site organization.

5. The ability to learn from written instructions. Not everyone has this, and if you do, it will make learning much easier.

6. The ability to grasp technical concepts if they are explained to you. Again, not everyone has this, and if using the computer makes you feel frustrated and hopeless, this might not be the best thing for you to do.

Acquiring Software

There is free software available for every task. It is not always the best software, but it will work fine to get you started. Do a net search for these titles to find the download pages (look on our download page first, we have a couple of them there).

HTML - Recommended Software:

Free: NVU - There simply is nothing better free than this open source program. You build your sites in a visual environment that lets you see what you are creating. It has some quirks, but it does work. Find instructions to use it here: http://www.skinnyshoestring.com/sohotools/nvu.htm  This instructional page has step by step instructions to build a simple site, with lots of pictues, so you can take a look and see what the process is actually like before you dive in! Since the program works very similarly to other HTML editors of that kind, you'll be able to tell whether you could use some better software too.

Low Cost: Namo WebEditor 5.5 or better. You can find a copy of version 5.5 on Amazon for under $50 including shipping. This is the software I use, and it is very good. Download a trial version and test it before you buy!

FTP - Recommended Software: Not everyone needs this kind of software, but it can be easier to use if you have large numbers of sites than the built in FTP function of HTML software. FTP software is the stuff that helps you upload items to your site.

Free: ALFTP - This one works very well, and is simple to use. There are other free ones also, but most have spyware in them or are a limited time version. ALFTP stays free, and is reliable.

Paid: I don't recommend anything in this category, because there is a high quality free version available, and simply no reason to purchase it.

Image Processing - Recommended Software - There is a HUGE difference here between free and paid.

Free: The GIMP - There isn't another image editor that I can recommend at all, The GIMP is simply the best. It is not perfect, it has some annoying quirks, but it does work.

Anything that came with your scanner or digital camera will probably work also, as long as it will allow you to crop, scale, lighten or darken, adjust color tint, and create text.

Paid: Adobe PhotoShop Elements is the best one. It is $100 though. You can get it cheaper if you purchase a Wacom Graphics Tablet, which comes with free image editing software (the graphics tablet is usually cheaper than a separate copy of PS Elements!). An older copy of Adobe PhotoDeluxe will also work if you are using an older computer.

Tips for affording software:

  • Don't buy more than you honestly need. A lower cost option will do fine to get started with, and you can always upgrade later if you need more, once you are earning enough to pay for it.  
  • Try before you buy! Most software has demo versions. USE THEM! Because if someone else recommends something that they just love, it does not mean that YOU will be able to use it like they do.  
  • Get an older version. You can often get an older version (one or two versions lower than the current one) for FAR less than the newest version. They have the advantage of having some of the bugs worked out too. Go to Amazon.com and read the reviews before you buy, and choose a version that will work with your operating system. You'll be able to buy an upgrade instead of the full version when you are ready for a newer version also.  
  • Start with free stuff. Get the good stuff once you are earning. It WILL annoy you some, but it will keep you from risking more than you can afford too.  
  • Keep your receipts. They are business expenses, and you'll want to deduct them at the end of the year.  

AdSense Website building is just about the cheapest business to get into, because most people already have the costly items that they need to startup, and the rest is available free or very low cost. Get your domain name and web host, and the spending is done until you are earning well!

 

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