Here’s my top 8 list of invaluable free tools and software for the Virtual Assistant.
1. Express Scribe
Express Scribe is FREE audio player software for PC, Mac or Linux. It will play most digital audio file formats (including encrypted dictation files). It’s really easy to download.
You will need a way to control audio files if you offer transcription services. I have found this to be an invaluable free tool for offering my services. I have now actually got the paid version as the free version didn’t support a format that I needed. It was only around £22 which is a great investment.
It is controlled using a transcription foot pedal or using the keyboard (with ‘hot’ keys).
When I first started out and I only did a small amount of transcription I used the ‘hot’ keys.
Once I started to do more transcription I purchased a foot pedal which greatly improved my speed.
To find out what other equipment you require to provide audio typing services click here.
Sending large files via email can take a long time and sometimes they never arrive.
SendThisFile has a free plan but unfortunately it does not allow you to put a free upload box on your website.
The paid version allows your clients to upload 5 files at a time.
Another alternative for sending large files is to use Dropbox which has a basic free plan for 2GB of storage.
myHours.com is a time management, timesheet and time tracking solution.
It enables you to track your work time, projects you work on and tasks you perform. It is web based and can be used from any location at any time.
myHours.com is free at the time of writing but states on their website “when we will start to charge or the use of myHours is still unknown”.
It is free for individual use.
Pdf995 offers three products Pdf995, PdfEdit995 and Signature995. These are all free to download but will display a sponsor page in your web browser each time you run the software. You can pay for the software and the sponsor page will not appear.
5. Filezilla FTP
Filezilla FTP is a software program that you use to upload files to a server. Filezilla is one of the best FTP programs I have used and it’s free.
It’s easy to use and only took me a couple of minutes to download.
GIMPshop is a free program intended to replicate the feel of Adobe Photoshop.
It is said to have a steep learning curve but there are video tutorials available to help you.
7. WordPress – one of my best invaluable free tools
I love WordPress. It is no longer just a blogging platform.
I have used it to create a website for my business and even an e-commerce website. There are so many free templates available.
This site is also using WordPress and if you want to start a site or blog then WordPress is the most popular content management system.
OpenOffice is opensource (free) software created by Sun Microsystems with the following products:
WRITER is a fully equipped word processor or desktop publisher software.
IMPRESS is a tool for creating effective multimedia presentations.
MATH is a tool for creating equations and formulae for your documents.
DRAW is a drawing package.
CALC is the spreadsheet program.
BASE is the database software.
You can save the documents in numerous formats and OpenOffice has the facility to export your documents as PDFs.
There is a learning curve if you are used to Microsoft Office. As I have Microsoft Office I have only used it to export PDFs as it maintains all the hyperlinks in the document.
Now though Microsoft Word allows you to save your document as a PDF and I tend to use that instead.
If you are starting out and want to save some money then Download OpenOffice here
A lot of the above software is invaluable to me and I hope it is to you.
Please feel free to add a comment below and let me know what are your invaluable free tools.