Nifty Clicks: LegalZoom, Widgets, PDFs, Cheap Gas

by Andrew Lock

Andrew Lock, irreverent marketing guru and Web host of Help! My Business Sucks, shares more of his favorite cool tools to make your life a bit easier.

Andrew Lock

I’m always on the lookout for the latest and greatest productivity tools, and this week I’ve found five terrific sites to share with you. Without further ado, let’s have a look.

Instant Legal Documents

It’s unfortunate that we need to have lawyers, but every business needs legal advice at some point.

LegalZoom.com is one of the best resources I’ve discovered to take the pain out of the process of creating legal documents. It’s fast, and you’ll save a LOT of money. For example, a typical trademark application would cost around $1,400 if you used a lawyer. Handling the task online with LegalZoom will cost you around $525 including all government fees.

What kind of services are on offer? You can create a business entity, form a will or a trust, handle trademarks, patents and copyrights, file for bankruptcy, and process a small claim. I’m very impressed with this service – it fills a real need in the marketplace.

Wonderful Widgets

Widgets are small applications for online or offline use. If you have Windows Vista, you might have seen some widgets in the “sidebar” area. You can use widgets to get news, information, entertainment, decorations, or whatever else you can think of for your blog or Web site.

Widgets can be useful to you, but more importantly you can offer them to your customers as a way to add value to them and to keep the relationship going. For example, there’s a widget called “baby ticker” that counts down the days of a pregnancy, providing useful tips and suggestions along the way. This widget could be used by anyone in that field, and it’s been wildly popular with pregnant mothers, as you can imagine.

WidgetBox.com is a site that lets you use widgets that other people have created, or you can create your own. Spend a few minutes browsing the site, and you’ll quickly discover the potential. You can browse categories, or search a particular topic to see what’s available. What widget could you put on your Web site or blog?

Online PDF Converter

PDF documents are probably the most widely used in business for a simple reason. You can view them on any computer, and the documents will always look consistent, exactly as you had originally designed them.

PDF is a file format from Adobe, and it stands for Portable Document Format. Although the software reader for PDF documents is free, it’s not cheap to create them. Normally, you’d need special software.

Now you can create your own PDFs on demand, for free, using PDFOnline.com. The site looks complex, but it’s really simple. All you need to do is click on the Doc2PDF tab on the top left-hand side of the Web site. Next, click on the upload your document link. You’ll be prompted you to choose the document you want to convert, and it’ll send the converted document to your e-mail.

Find the Cheap Gas

GasBuddy.com aims to help anyone in the States track down the cheapest gas prices. Simply enter your city and state or your zip code, and in a few seconds you’ll see a list of the cheapest places to buy gas.

Interestingly, there’s also a handy display of the top 10 lowest gas prices by city, so you can see how much you’re getting ripped off compared to your neighbor in another state!

This is definitely a nifty use of the Internet, and you might want to bookmark this site for your next road trip, too. By the way, everyone living in Tucson should feel very happy – they have the lowest prices right now!

Stop the Junk

I recently found ProQuo, a site that helps you stop junk mail, protects you against identify theft and ensures that you get just the marketing mail you want. I like some junk mail, but I wanted to get rid of mortgage and credit card offers, and ProQuo allows you to be selective, which is very helpful.

The interface is very neatly laid out, and the procedure is simple: register an account, and then select which companies you want to opt-out from. In some cases, ProQuo can make a direct request on your behalf to these companies, and in some cases it’ll give you a pdf to print out and send in the mail.

The whole process really is very simple, and I was impressed by how easy they make it. Tell your friends about it, they’ll be very grateful. Oh, and by the way, it’s completely free.

Andrew Lock is a self-described maverick marketer and the creator and host of Help! My Business Sucks,a free, weekly Web TV show full of practical marketing tips, advice and resources to help small businesses "get more done and have more fun."

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This article was originally published on Thursday Jun 4th 2009
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