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Friday Freebies

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Free is a very good price

The market may be slow in your area or not, but either way, we can all take advantage of some great free tools to help us in our day to day lives. Here’s a roundup of the ones I use frequently and ones I would use more if I were an honest-to-goodness REALTOR®.


Listing Syndication/Widgets

Postlets

Postlets.com – Personally, one of my favorites because it is so incredibly simple to use. It generates code for Craigslist (simply copy & paste) and syndicates your listings out to a variety of sites, including Zillow, Trulia and Google Base. They are also what I consider a soft sell, they have paid upgrades available, but they aren’t heavily pushed while using the system. Postlets also creates a variety of widgets for your blog or other personal site.

Next up is vFlyer.com which I know is an old-time favorite. vFlyer has a lot of great features including the ability to generate some decent looking flyers for print or PDF purposes. They also syndicate your listings like Postlets as well as generating code for Craigslist. They do appear to force feed the paid options quite a bit more than Postlets, but they still do have a free plan. Also, apparently vFlyer requires a bit more tech-savvyness because I have found it to be much easier to provide phone support to people I work with for Postlets than vFlyer (apparently the home page is a bit cluttered/confusing for some).


Single Property Web Site

I know there are a lot of great paid options for single property sites, but I’ve (so far) only seen one free one that holds a candle to some of the paid versions.

RealBird Listing Publisher has been getting some really good reviews in the community lately. Unlimited photos (which we know help sell real estate), excellent Google Maps integration including street view (where available), the ability to embed 3rd party widgets, printable flyers, market stats from Altos Research…the list goes on and on. Best of all, it’s free.


Photo Manipulation

I went a bit more in-depth into this on my site, but without being a Photoshop pro, there are two programs I recommend for basic work with photos, again free.

Picnik.com is a web based photo editing tool. It offers some of the very basic functions like resizing and rotating to more advanced features like exposure control, red eye removal and color adjustments. If you do decide you want more advanced features, it’s less than $25 per year for their premium version. The only bad part is it is web-based, so if you’re not online, you’re out of luck.

But not completely out of luck. Picasa, from Google, fills the void nicely for a basic image manipulation application. Even though I’m a Photoshop guy and I love the way Vista manages my photos, I still love Picasa for its simplicity and image viewing and cataloging capabilities. A hint: if you want to resize an image, you have to click on the export button near the bottom.


Office Freedom

Like Ben mentioned, sometimes being in the office isn’t always the best for state of mind. For my day job, I travel to several different offices every day, so I have a lot of practice with these tools.

GrandCentral

Have one phone number with GrandCentral.com. GrandCentral was recently purchased by Google and technically they are still in an invite-only beta program, but invites are pretty easy to come across (here’s a good site to get connected with invites for a variety of sites). The idea is you can get a local number that you can have forward wherever you would like. Tell it to go to the office or your cell or home, it doesn’t matter. Very easy to use and again, completely free.

Keep organized and drive safely with Jott.com. Jott offers incredibly good voice to text capabilities. Setup your online address book with friends, family, clients and coworkers and call a free 866 number to have your words quickly and (fairly) accurately transcribed into text, which is then emailed. Or tell it to remind you of something and it will email you a reminder. I keep Jott on speed dial so I can keep my eyes on the road.


I know there’s a lot of great services out there, these are the ones I would keep on my tool belt (which I always wear) as opposed to my tool box (which sits in the garage). Please share your favorites in the comments below.

Nick runs a new media marketing consulting company helping real estate professionals learn how to implement new media tools into their marketing arsenal. He frequently gives presentations on generational marketing, green marketing and advanced online promotion. Nick is active on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

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28 Comments

28 Comments

  1. Andy Kaufman

    March 28, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    Adobe just announced a free version of Photoshop called Photoshop Express yesterday. – https://www.photoshop.com/express/

  2. Jennifer Wilson - Agent Solutions

    March 28, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    Ney Nick!

    Now this post was NOT a waste of time. You have listed some awesome tools there. I use many of them regularly with the exception of Grand Central. I looked into this service but found, again, it is only available in the U.S. Would you happen to know of a similar service available in Canada?

    I have to say; I LOVE Picnik, Picasa and vflyer and I use them all the time. I’m still trying to get into the habit of using Jott.

    Great post! Ciao!

  3. Missy Caulk

    March 28, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    I have used many of these, Vflyer is great. I’ve thought about checking out RealBird and now maybe I will. See ya on Twitter.

  4. mike simonsen Altos

    March 28, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    Get yer free AltosChart here!

    https://www.altosresearch.com/altos/website/AltosChartsAndStats.page

    Real-time local market stats. (Just launched a nice partnership with the RealBird listing publisher too!)

    Thanks to andy for the twitter

  5. Benn Rosales

    March 28, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    Note from the spam guard – me!

    I’m allowing more freebee spam (here in the comments) so long as you fit the formula Nick has so brilliantly laid out.

    aside: I’m diggin free over here! photoshop express? yummy!

  6. Cheryl Allin

    March 28, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    One of my recent favorite freebie finds (say that 5x fast) is Team Viewer – free desktop sharing and remote control. It’s easy for anyone to setup, secure and allows you to access your PC from another location.

    https://www.teamviewer.com

  7. RealBird

    March 28, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    Nick,

    Thanks for the reference. We just released a quick upgrade, now using the Street View API. No more manual embedding, it’s now automatically part of the single property website. Hopefully, Google will speed up the addition of new cities, now that developers like us going crazy with this new API.

    — Zoltan
    RealBird.com

  8. RealBird

    March 28, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    Freebie: Clicky Analytics ( https://www.getclicky.com ) Free for most of the features.

    Beats Google Analytics, when it comes to quick, real-time access to important metrics and external links. When reacting to blog posts about you or a topic, it is important that you have real-time access to the buzz. Google still delays data by half a day or so. Mike – nice to see you here !

  9. Carson Coots

    March 28, 2008 at 9:02 pm

    Zoltan… when is realbird going to cover Houston? I know that it would be a hit here.

    Great list Nick…

  10. Brad Coy

    March 29, 2008 at 2:31 am

    Solid list Nick. I’ve checked out all of these and am a frequent user of Picassa, Picnik, Vflyer, and Jott.

    Two things: 1. When will RealBird be in SF. Come on guys, I love the new street view API thingy. 2. Whosgot a GrandCentral invite? Anyone??

  11. Bob in San Diego

    March 29, 2008 at 11:07 am

    Free is such an ambiguous term these days. Here is the catch with the “FREE” Adobe photoshop Express:

    Adobe does not claim ownership of Your Content. However, with respect to Your Content that you submit or make available for inclusion on publicly accessible areas of the Services, you grant Adobe a worldwide, royalty-free, nonexclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, and fully sublicensable license to use, distribute, derive revenue or other remuneration from, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, publicly perform and publicly display such Content (in whole or in part) and to incorporate such Content into other Materials or works in any format or medium now known or later developed.

  12. RealBird

    March 29, 2008 at 11:41 am

    Carson, Brad,

    The free RealBird Listing Publisher (single property website service) is available for Houston and San Francisco. The RealBird Map-based IDX Search service (not free 🙂 is not yet. Now that the Bay Area MLSes are merging data, SF coverage will hopefully be available soon. Regarding Houston, we definitely considering it as one of our upcoming coverage.

    Bob,

    I agree. Nothing is free, it’s subsidized by someone paying for something at the end of the chain. Free in this case refers to “free for the target audience”. For example: the RealBird Listing Publisher is FREE with all no feature limitation and no advertising on the sites, because cost and profit is covered by those members who pay for another RealBird service (happily and willingly I may say). vFlyer is FREE for up to X number of listing flyers, those vFlyer members who pay for more services, cover the free members. But for agent A, who never has more than X listings, the service IS free. Then there are the other services, which are truly FREE, in terms of monetary fees, but you pay by giving up some sort of rights, like you example of Adobe Photoshop express, so you pay with your intellectual property, which is your asset, just like cash asset used for paying for service is. Or advertisers are happily subsidizing the cost associated with your Google searches. There are many models and combination of models and a whole economy built around free, and the successful models are those, in which the paying entities intentionally or unintentionally, but gladly pay on behalf of the free participants. In such model however, it is still free from the perspective of those, who get the benefit without monetary fees or with fees (like giving up intellectual property rights) they do not perceive as cost.

    Here is a very good article from Wired on this topic:
    https://www.wired.com/techbiz/it/magazine/16-03/ff_free

    — Zoltan
    https://realbird.typepad.com

  13. Maureen Francis

    March 29, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    I was going to add Get Clicky, and am glad to see it is already here. I am a big VFlyer fan too.

    I’d be interested in a free fax to pdf/email tool if such a thing exists.

  14. Wayne Harriman

    March 29, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    Hi,

    I use Postlets already and like it a lot. I checked out RealBird (and signed up), but unless I’m mistaken, the single property website aspect of the service is NOT free. It costs $14.99 a year for the domain name. Is this accurate or did I miss something?

  15. Bob

    March 29, 2008 at 7:19 pm

    Realbirb, I understand. The catch with Photoshop is that they hid that disclaimer and are now taking heat for it. As a result Adobe says they’ll have their legal guys change it.

    https://www.news.com/8301-10784_3-9906064-7.html

    I wasn’t putting the rest of these offerings in the same group as Adobe.

  16. RealBird

    March 29, 2008 at 7:39 pm

    Wayne – It’s true. The domain name cost money. Nobody provides domain name for free as it has hard cost associated with it. So either it is packaged into an overall price of a service, sold at cost or one has to pay for it as an add-on. The definition and distinction between online flyers, single property websites and virtual tours are mostly in the semantics of the marketing terms used (with a few feature exceptions) All 3 promotes and presents real estate listings online for remote viewers. In my opinion, the RealBird service is a free single property website as it provides your listing its own online presence with no outgoing links to other, competing listings (like on portals) and is dedicated to marketing a single property. The only difference is that by default (for free) the site exists on the realbird.com domain name. On the other hand, if the street address domain name defines the marketing term “single property website”, than it is true, it cost money with RealBird as well. We do not however make it mandatory to purchase the domain, one can get it at any other sources and mask it to the RealBird site. Of course, vFlyer and Postlets are single property websites as well following the same logic.

    My apologies Nick to spend so much time on your blog talking about ourselves 🙂

    Here are some more free services in exchange:

    Maureen – Both Jfax.com and eFax.com provides free fax receiving services (and upgrades for premiums):

    https://www.j2.com/jconnect/twa/page/pricingComparison

    https://www.efax.com/en/efax/twa/productOverview

    It seems that jFax has more features for the bucks (for free I mean) than eFax. Both delivers fax to your email as PDF attachments.

    — Zoltan
    https://realbird.typepad.com

  17. RealBird

    March 29, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    Bob,

    My guess is that Adobe had the disclaimer with such strong terms to protect themselves from liability in the future and as news.com says, it seems that their legal team went overboard. Being an online service, intentionally and unintentionally they may end up using derivatives of the photos edited with the service. I would assume that they still want to make money by upselling high-end Adobe products. I may be wrong, but I doubt that they have a business model of selling and licensing the images created with Photoshop Express; but using client photos in marketing etc. may raise legal issues unless their TOU protects them.

    This topic is absolutely fascinating . There are so many combination of “free business models” and many experiments are going on due to the flexibility of the online services and business models.

    Another freebie (out of the box): High quality stock photography used to cost up to hundreds of dollars a piece or more. One can now get great, high res photos for “free” from Flickr users by searching for Creative Common licensed photos. Such license (the proper variation) enables the royalty free reuse of photos by requiring to give attribution and link back to the photographers page in most cases. So the high quality photo is free, in terms of monetary compensation, but in exchange you share a small portion of your traffic with the author. I can imagine somebody distributing stock photos for free and getting custom, paid gigs from people who eventually visit his or her page. I am not sure if this is a sustainable business model, but certainly a variation of the free. To get Creative Commons licensed photos from Flickr, do an advanced search at https://www.flickr.com/search/advanced/ and make sure to check all three checkboxes at the bottom for Creative Commons license. Make sure you review and agree with the terms

    — Zoltan

  18. Suz

    March 29, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    I just signe dup for Realbird and it seems pretty cool. I didn’t incur any charges and haven’t finished yet…but it sure looks good. I like the map feature alot..I know there is more…I’ll get there too!

  19. Misty Lackie

    March 30, 2008 at 11:11 am

    Also check out ClassifiedFlyerAds.com for an alternative for listing flyers, single property sites, syndication, widgets, virtual tours, posting HTML and more.

  20. Suz

    March 30, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    Has anyone had experience with postlets, classifiedflyerads and realbird to say which of these products offers the best features overall? I’ve used postlets alot…looking quickly at classifiedflyerads.com it appears to have search engine benefits that others may or may not have. I certainly could dig into it more as I just did a quick review, but I thought if someone already knows…I could tap into your brain 😉

  21. Toby Boyce

    March 30, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    Suz – I use a combo of Real Bird and Postlets.

  22. Keith Kreuer

    April 7, 2008 at 9:14 am

    I have utilized many of these sites like Jott and PostLets and find them to be great!

  23. Cyprus Resale Properties

    January 5, 2010 at 4:47 am

    Great set of tools, really liked looking at Picnik, great for those times when you really don’t need to fire up photoshop!

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Business Marketing

Ghost Reply has us asking: Should you shame a recruiter who ghosted you?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Ghost Reply will send an anonymous “kind reminder” to recruiters who ghost job candidates, but is the sweet taste of temporary catharsis worth it?

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Stressed woman at a laptop with hands on head, considering if she should send a Ghost Reply.

People hate to get “ghosted” in any situation, personal or professional. But for job seekers who may already be struggling with self-esteem, it can be particularly devastating. Ghost Reply is a new online service that will help you compose and send an email nudge to the ghoster, sending a “kind reminder” telling them how unprofessional it is to leave someone hanging like that.

Ghost Reply wants to help you reach catharsis in all of this stressful mess of finding a job. Almost all of the problems and feelings are compounded by this confounded pandemic that has decimated areas of the workforce and taken jobs and threatened people’s financial security. It is understandable to want to lash out at those in power, and sending a Ghost Reply email to the recruiter or HR person may make you feel better in the short term.

In the long run, though, will it solve anything? Ghost Reply suggests it may make the HR person or recruiter reevaluate their hiring processes, indicating this type of email may help them see the error of their ways and start replying to all potential candidates. If it helps them reassess and be more considerate in the future and helps you find closure in the application/interview process, that would be the ideal outcome on all fronts. It is not likely this will happen, though.

The Ghost Reply sample email has the subject line “You have a message from a candidate!” Then it begins, “Hi, (name), You’re receiving this email because a past candidate feels like you ghosted them unfairly.” It then has a space for said candidate to add on any personal notes regarding the recruiter or process while remaining anonymous.

I get it. It’s upsetting to have someone disappear after you’ve spent time and energy applying, possibly even interviewing, only to hear nothing but crickets back from the recruiter or HR person you interacted with. It’s happened to me more than once, and it’s no bueno. We all want to be seen. We all want to be valued. Ghosting is hurtful. The frustration and disappointment, even anger, that you feel is certainly relatable. According to several sources, being ghosted after applying for a job is one of the top complaints from job seekers on the market today.

Will an anonymous, passive-aggressive email achieve your end? Will the chastened company representative suddenly have a lightbulb go off over their heads, creating a wave of change in company policy? I don’t see it. The first sentence of the sample email, in fact, is not going to be well received by HR.

When you start talking about what’s “unfair,” most HR people will tune out immediately. That kind of language in itself is unprofessional and is a red flag to many people. Once you work at a company and know its culture and have built relationships, then, maybe, just maybe, can you start talking about your work-related feelings. I believe in talking about our feelings, but rarely is a work scenario the best place to do so (I speak from experience). Calling it unprofessional is better, less about you and more about the other person’s behavior.

However, it’s unclear how productive Ghost Reply actually is. Or how anonymous, frankly. By process of deduction, the recipient of the email may be able to figure out who sent it, if it even makes it through the company’s spam filters. Even if they cannot pinpoint the exact person, it may cast doubts on several applicants or leave a bad taste in the recruiter’s mouth. It sounds like sour grapes, which is never a good thing.

There may be any number of reasons you didn’t get the job offer or interview, and they may or may not have something to do with you. Recruiters answer your burning questions, including why you may have been ghosted in this recent article in The American Genius.

Ultimately, you will never know why they ghosted you. If it makes you feel better or at least see the issue from both sides, the amount of job candidates ghosting recruiters after applying and even interviewing is equally high. Some people simply either have awful time management skills or awful manners, and at the end of the day, there’s not much you can do about that.

Focus on your own survival while job hunting, instead of these disappointing moments or the person who ghosts you. It will serve you better in the long run than some anonymous revenge email. There are other ways to deal with your frustration and anger when you do get ghosted, though. Try the classic punching your pillow. Try taking a walk around the block. If it helps to put your frustration into words, and it very well may, then do so. Write it on a piece of paper, then burn it. Or type it all in an email and delete it. For your own sake, do NOT put their email address in the “To” line, lest you accidentally hit “Send.”

The sooner you can let it go, the sooner you can move on to finding a better job fit for you.

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Business Marketing

Free shipping is everywhere… how can small businesses keep up?

[BUSINESS MARKETING] Would you rather pay less but still pay for shipping, or pay more with free shipping? They may cost the same, but one appeals more than the other.

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Person standing over pacakge, sealing with masking tape.

When it comes to competing with huge corporations like Amazon, there are plenty of hurdles that smaller businesses have to cross. Corporations can (and do) undercut the competition, not to mention garner a much larger marketing reach than most small businesses could ever dream of achieving. But this time, we want to focus on something that most people have probably chosen recently: Free shipping.

How important is free shipping to consumers? Well, in a 2018 survey, Internet Retailer discovered that over 50% of respondents said that free shipping was the most important part of online shopping. In fact, when given a choice between fast or costless shipping, a whopping 88% of those surveyed chose the latter option.

Part of this has to do with the fact that shipping costs are often perceived as additional fees, not unlike taxes or a processing fee. In fact, according to Ravi Dhar, director of Yale’s Center for Customer Insights, if it’s between a discounted item with a shipping fee or a marked up item with free shipping, individuals are more likely to choose the latter – even if both options cost exactly the same amount.

If you’re interested in learning more, Dhar refers to the economic principle of “pain of paying,” but the short answer is simply that humans are weird.

So, how do you recapture the business of an audience that’s obsessed with free shipping?

The knee jerk reaction is to simply provide better products that the competition. And sure, that works… to some extent. Unfortunately, in a world where algorithms can have a large effect on business, making quality products might not always cut it. For instance, Etsy recently implemented a change in algorithm to prioritize sellers that offer free shipping.

Another solution is to eat the costs and offer free shipping, but unless that creates a massive increase in products sold, you’re going to end up with lower profits. This might work if it’s between lower profits and none, but it’s certainly not ideal. That’s why many sellers have started to include shipping prices in the product’s overall price – instead of a $20 necklace with $5 shipping, a seller would offer a $25 necklace with free shipping.

This is a tactic that the big businesses use and it works. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, right?

That said, not everyone can join in. Maybe, for instance, a product is too big to reasonably merge shipping and product prices. If, for whatever reason, you can’t join in, it’s also worth finding a niche audience and pushing a marketing campaign. What do you offer that might be more attractive than the alluring free shipping? Are you eco-friendly? Do you provide handmade goods? Whatever it is that makes your business special, capitalize on it.

Finally, if you’re feeling down about the free shipping predicament, remember that corporations have access to other tricks. Amazon’s “free” prime shipping comes at an annual cost. Wal-Mart can take a hit when item pricing doesn’t work out. Even if your business isn’t doing as well as you hoped, take heart: You’re facing giants.

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Business Marketing

How many hours of the work week are actually efficient?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Working more for that paycheck, more hours each week, on the weekends, on holidays can actually hurt productivity. So don’t do that, stay efficient.

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Clock pointed to 5:50 on a plain white wall, well tracked during the week.

Social media is always flooded with promises to get in shape, eat healthier and… hustle?

In hustle culture, it seems as though there’s no such thing as too much work. Nights, weekends and holidays are really just more time to be pushing towards your dreams and hobbies are just side hustles waiting to be monetized. Plus, with freelancing on the rise, there really is nothing stopping someone from making the most out of their 24 hours.

Hustle culture will have you believe that a full-time job isn’t enough. Is that true?

Although it’s a bit outdated, Gallup’s 2014 report on full-time US workers gives us an alarming glimpse into the effects of the hustle. For starters, 50% of full-time workers reported working over 40 hours a week – in fact, the average weekly hours for salaried employees was up to 49 hours.

So, what’s the deal with 40 hours anyway? The 40 hour work-week actually started with labor rights activists in the 1800s pushing for an 8 hour workday. In 1817, Robert Owen, a Welsh activist, reasoned this workday provided: “eight hours labor, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest.”

If you do the math, that’s a whopping 66% of the day devoted to personal needs, rather than labor!

Of course, it’s only natural to be skeptical of logic from two centuries ago coloring the way we do business in the 21st century. For starters, there’s plenty of labor to be done outside of the labor you’re paid to do. Meal prep, house cleaning, child care… that’s all work that needs to be done. It’s also all work that some of your favorite influencers are paying to get done while they pursue the “hustle.” For the average human, that would all be additional work to fall in the ‘recreation’ category.

But I digress. Is 40 hours a week really enough in the modern age? After all, average hours in the United States have increased.

Well… probably not. In fact, when hours are reduced (France, for instance, limited maximum hours to 35 hours a week, instead of 40), workers are not only more likely to be healthier and happier, but more efficient and less likely to miss work!

So, instead of following through with the goal to work more this year, maybe consider slowing the hustle. It might actually be more effective in the long run!

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