Google is a must!
It is 2016. There is so much technology that is FREE to you if you just get a Google account.I have had Gmail for almost nine years! I got it when you had to be invited to join. The picture here is a screenshot of me inviting someone in July of 2007! At first, Gmail was my secondary email; this was the email that I gave to colleges and newsletters that I was interested in, but did not want junking up my Yahoo! inbox. The simplicity that Gmail has offered drew me in and kept me. I love how easy it is to set up filters. Another important feature is "Canned Responses" where I can store common emails without having to type the same information over and over again. It is much easier to insert a "Canned Response" while composing an email than copying and pasting from a document! I have been without my Yahoo! email for a long time now. Google quickly became my go-to for many of their services. There are alternatives for almost everything that you need online!
- Instead of Safari, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, etc: Use Google Chrome! I love using Chrome because I have Chrome OS devices and Apple devices and all of my bookmarks are synced between all of my different devices. I love the extensions (Ad blockers are probably the most helpful!)
- Instead of Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc.): Use Google Docs! Why pay for Microsoft Office when you can use Google Docs/Sheets/Slides on any web browser (preferably Chrome) and any changes you make get automatically saved. These "live" documents are very handy, especially when collaboration is necessary. Bethel's email is through Google Apps for Education and we use Sheets every day!
- Instead of Dropbox: Use Google Drive! If you have multiple computers and mobile devices, it is very handy to share files between all of your devices. 15 GB is what comes free these days, but you can upgrade to 100 GB for $1.99 a month, 1 TB for $9.99 a month, 10 TB for $99.99 a month and on up. Usually there are special offers when you buy a Chromebook. I got 1 TB for two years for free when I purchased a Chromebook a year ago. Google Docs/Sheets/Slides do not count against your storage. I never save anything to "My Documents" anymore, but opt to download Google Drive so that anything that I save to that folder gets backed up online.
- Instead of SurveyMonkey: Use Google Forms! I have set up several of these. Surveys are very easy to set up and the "Summary of Responses" is awesome; Pie charts and bar graphs are created for your overview of responses. Online registration documents are on Google Forms at Bethel. The spreadsheet data is very handy. There are Add-ons that help do anything you need (and make time to figure out!). Our Campus Visit Request is on Google Forms and it emails us the information and emails the prospective student more information about their upcoming visit.
- Instead of a WordPress or Weebly: Use Google Sites! I love WordPress and Weebly is super easy to set up, but if you need a website on a budget, but you want a custom domain, you can point that domain to Google Sites; there is no need to pay for hosting! (Ex: sites.mcbrown91.com) The online registration forms are put in order by using a Google Site at Bethel!
- Instead of Skype: Use Google Hangouts! I prefer hangouts to Skype. Admittedly, I haven't used Skype in a long time, but one cool thing with Google Hangouts is the number of people who can be in a video call: 10. Group chat is also very handy with the ability to chat up to 150 people in a group.
- Instead of trusting iCloud or your device storage on your phone for Contacts: Use Google Contacts! Ever since I have had a smartphone, I have backed up my contacts to my Gmail. I will not worry about losing a contact again, even if my device gets lost/stolen! Anytime I add a new contact, it backs up to my Gmail. The import and export functions are very handy and if you need to add a contact or two it can be faster typing it in on your web browser.
- Instead of trusting iCloud or Outlook for your Calendar: Use Google Calendar! It is super easy to display a calendar on your website for others to view and like Google Contacts it is very easy to use either on a mobile device or on the web browser. I even used Google Calendar before I had a smartphone, because it would text me reminders before events or meetings.
- Instead of a second phone: Use Google Voice! Have you ever wanted to have a second number that you can give out other than your primary/personal phone number? Google Voice is the answer! You can allow it to call your phone, without giving out your real number. On iPhone, the Google Voice app comes in handy and you can dial out from the app. It will open up the phone app, but ring the person you are calling using your Google Voice number. On Android phones, Google Voice can be an option to call directly from the Phone app! Texting is a huge benefit of Google Voice as well; that is how I text prospective students at Bethel. I don't want everyone having my personal phone number. Otherwise I would have students texting me at all hours. The Google Voice number can also be set up to ring multiple phones.
- Instead of iTunes Match ($25 a year): Use Google Music! You can upload up to 50,000 of your own songs to the cloud. There are applications for all of your devices!
- Instead of backing up your photos to iCloud: Use Google Photos! You can backup an unlimited number of photos in High quality. You don't have to lose any photos ever again! You can also have the photos show up in a folder in your Google Drive.
- Instead of GoDaddy.com: Use Google Domains! You can register a URL through Google Domains. Why create another account if you don't have to? All domain names (example.com) are $12 per year.
- Instead of Mapquest or Apple Maps: Use Google Maps! The dumbest thing Apple ever did was sever ties with Google on maps and creating their own. Google Maps is much more accurate, especially when it comes to live traffic data. Waze data is integrated into the app; realtime social reporting is better than ever! Street view is also very handy if you don't know where you are going.
- Instead of Airline websites: Use Google Flights! This is a very handy tool to look for trends in price and when the sweet spot it to purchase a ticket at a lower price.
- Instead of Livestream: Use YouTube Live Events! This is great for churches and other groups who need to broadcast a live event over the internet for free.
- In addition to Facebook and Twitter: Use Google Plus/Claim your Business! Want people to find where your church or business is located? "Claim my Business" on Google Maps and create a profile to update hours, website, phone number, etc. This can be great for organic traffic to your website. Mobile devices are everywhere and it is important to keep your online footprint up-to-date!
All of these services are very handy and economical. This is vital for business owners, churches and organizations that have a tight budget. Why pay more money than you have to if there is a FREE alternative? Let me know if there is anything that I missed or if I can assist you in any way!
- Non-Google must-have: Mailchimp! Create beautiful email newsletters. If you have fewer than 2,000 email contacts and you send fewer than 12,000 total emails in a month, you don't have to pay anything! Constant Contact and others only have paid options.