Sunday, October 24, 2010

Free custom watermark to protect your photos online

Are you concerned about your online images being used or downloaded without your permission? We hear stories about photos being used in promotional materials or websites without the consent of the individuals in the photo. Adding a watermark to your photos would make them a little more secure. is a free tool that allows you to instantly add customized watermark on your images and makes it easy for you to put your “own stamp” on them without the need to register, verify e-mail, or install anything. is very simple to use and works in three easy steps: Upload; Add text or image; and Download. It saves you time by allowing you to upload multiple photos at a time and do batch processing. However, each photo file size should not go over 500 kb. Once you have uploaded your photos, proceed to adding a watermark. This is where the fun starts. You can choose to either upload an image, or type a text to use as your watermark. You can use your logo, company name or website instead of the usual copyright symbol. There are also options for font, size, color, angle, or to have your watermark tiled. You can resize or compress your images to fit your purpose. For example, you can resize your image to make it suitable for a blog post. Once you have decided on the styles, click “Process Photos” and the website will immediately begin processing your photos.  Depending on the number, this may be really fast; sometimes less than 20 seconds for one to two images!  Finally, download the watermarked photos onto your PC.

While is a very useful tool, the developers may want to consider including a link feature to social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, or to photo sharing sites like Flickr or Photobucket.  This would make it more convenient to post your watermarked photos quickly. 

Copyright infringement is so rampant on the web and with the “right click”, anyone can claim your images as their own. But with, you can protect your photos from unauthorized use.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Four free social media tools to update your status

Social media has become a part of almost every company's publicity plan. So, it's not surprising that a lot of Internet marketers and public relations professionals have come up with an "editorial calendar" for their tweets and Facebook status updates. If part of your job is managing several Facebook pages, Twitter accounts or other social networking sites, then you might find these four free social media tools handy when scheduling your updates. 

Later Bro is a very simple and very direct way of scheduling your tweets and status updates. No registration is required. Just link your Twitter and/or Facebook accounts and pre-schedule your update. It also saves your post, so you can resend it for another day. Their website is also very clean and simple. It takes you straight to what you need to do – update either your Twitter or Facebook account.

Later Bro covers only Twitter and Facebook. I’m not sure if it covers Facebook pages or groups; so for now, I would say that this is best for personal accounts and making sure that you won’t forget to post a birthday greeting on a friend’s wall.

Still in its beta version, Social Tomorrow allows you to be well, social tomorrow by pre-scheduling your tweets and updates today. Social Tomorrow is similar to Later Bro in a sense that it only covers Twitter and Facebook, although this one covers Facebook Pages and Groups. It is also very easy and simple to use.  A free account allows you to send 10 messages each for Twitter/Facebook Profile, Facebook Pages and Facebook Groups in a month.

Sendible is another free tool to help you manage your social media accounts. Unlike Later Bro and Social Tomorrow, Sendible covers almost all the major social networking sites, from Bebo to Twitter. A free account lets you send up to 100 messages a month.

Sendible boasts itself as "a one-stop-shop for all your marketing needs" because it also covers e-mails and blogs and for paid accounts, SMS. Moreover, it provides analytics on the updates you post.

I've had a few connection errors when I used it the first time. Also, I had a hard time figuring out where to start. But as soon as I've figured out everything, it wasn't difficult at all to start scheduling my tweets and updates.

Represented by an image of an owl, Hootsuite is similar to Sendible wherein it allows you to cover multiple social networking sites (five social media profiles for free accounts). Also, it allows you to check your accounts in one page through different tabs/streams and gives you the option to be notified by e-mail once your updates have been posted. And, if you have other people managing your accounts, you can also add them as "team members" to schedule the updates.

Since Hootsuite covers live stream, this is best for those who update their profiles and accounts actively. At first, the live stream was kind of confusing to me because I felt like there were so many things happening at once, until I've discovered that you could personalize that live stream. It worked out better for me.  

I wish I had known about these free social media scheduling tools when I was managing Facebook pages and had to update them by a specific time. I don't have those fancy smart phones, so I had to use a computer with an Internet connection to update the pages. I would be in the dog park watching our beagle play with other dogs only to realize it was time to go home to update a Facebook page. If I had known about these free web tools, managing those pages would have been easier.

For detailed and unbiased reviews of the above social media tools and for more sites similar to these, check out these two articles from trustworthy links:

Article in Mashable by Erica Swallow
Social @ Blogging Tracker by Chin Ya

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

How to calculate the value of your charitable donations

Have you ever wondered what expenses can be deducted from your taxes? For example, church tithes and donations to church projects, trips to volunteer activities, or tickets bought for a fundraising cause? Now there's a free and easy way to find out if "it's deductible." is a free website service by Turbo Tax that is designed to help you calculate the value of your contributions.

I first learned about this free online tax calculation from a dear friend who regularly donates clothes and other items to non-profit organizations like Goodwill. So when my husband and I did some "fall cleaning" recently and ended up with eight big bags of items for donation to The Salvation Army, was very useful in calculating the values of all the items we gave away. helps you keep track of your donations whether they are cash, bonds, items or gas mileage, so you don't need to guess their value. More importantly, the value given is in accordance with the IRS' "fair market value."

To use, simply create an account and declare your filing status and estimated income range. Once you've provided the info, the website will then calculate your estimated federal tax rate. You can now begin recording your donations. For items donated, the categories are extensive - from clothing to furniture to pet supplies. The resale values are dependent on the style and condition of your donated items. For example, a men's sweater in very good condition (described as "high") is valued at $18, while a sweater in good condition (described as "medium") is priced at $9. You can also add your own item if it's not listed in any of the categories, such as leather jackets or motorcycle helmets.

It's always nice to save money, and with tax time quickly on its way, it's never too late to follow up on your deductibles with

Note: is only applicable to US taxpayers.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Free Certificate Templates

Awarding a certificate is a great way to recognize people for their work, service or accomplishment. It’s a great motivation tool, too. And if you’re the one receiving a certificate, the experience can be rewarding.

I just stumbled upon this website called Certificate Street that contains tons of free certificate templates. All templates are grouped into categories such as sports, business, schools, etc. They also have free blank certificate templates which can be customized for different occasions and events. Furthermore, there’s a category for “relationships” which I think is a good idea. Sometimes we forget to thank those who are dearest to us and giving them a certificate can be a unique way to express our gratitude.

Certificate Street is really a great tool not only for school teachers and volunteer coordinators, but also for companies and families. I like the story of how this website was born. The web owners were looking for a certificate to hand out to their students, but couldn’t find the perfect one. So, they started to create their own.  I can totally relate to their story. Most of the time, I would need a certificate for some people I’d like to thank, but I usually end up not finding the right design or the right words that match my need. I want the certificate to feel personal and not just another certificate template, so that the person receiving it would feel really special.

Certificate Street
offers unique and creative certificate designs that are lively and colorful which are available in .PDF format. Their certificate designs do not contain the usual common clip arts or borders that you see on the web or in an MS Office suite. The site is also very easy to use. No need for registration, account sign in or passwords. Just download the certificate template you like, fill out the needed text and print.

I think my only two suggestions are to include the ability for the user to change the font and to include a mail merge function, which would be great for anyone giving out more than 10 certificates. Also since I love pets, maybe there should be a category for animals/pets? But then again, who am I to complain? The site is 100% free...and I love it!

Related post: For other free templates, check out my post on Free Brochure Maker and Free Name Tag Creator.