5 Reasons To Give Thanks To The Cornucopia Online (Some Of The Best Things In Life Are Free)

Later today, I will be one around a large dinner table, taking my turn at saying why I’m thankful. I’ll leave my personal blessings to my extended family and loved ones, but this year more than ever I feel drawn to publicly enumerate a few items that I’m thankful for professionally.

At the highest level, I’m thankful that my “occupation” is to be occupied with something I can’t get enough of. I more than like my job—I  the Internet. Working in financial services first appealed to me intellectually years ago. Rock The Boat Marketing is a self-styled crusade to help investment managers see that there’s so much more to be done online.

What I practice, what I advocate, what I believe is influenced by a motley collection—let’s call it a cornucopia—of companies, Web sites, bloggers, podcasters and other innovators I’ve serendipitously came across online. (While I still engage with companies and people in the physical world, I really need to verify them on the Web before I can muster up any enthusiasm. Really, am I alone in this? I don’t think so.)

Today, I’m pausing to give thanks for these five:

  • The For Immediate Release podcast, a twice weekly hour-long podcast that has been expanding my world view (example: the social media travails of an Irish breadmaker) for two years, and they’ve been at it for four years. I still can’t believe that I’m asked to pay nothing for the insights of Neville Hobson and Shel Holtz and their correspondents about online communications and public relations.
  • Google Analytics—A powerful Web analytics tool that we’re in and out of all day. 100% free. Just when I was about to take GA for granted, Google has gone ahead and launched advanced segments and custom reporting, supported by YouTube video training. Some mutual fund, ETF and other investment companies continue to pay for powerful Web analytics reporting packages when their needs could be met by this free application.
  • Compete.com—While Compete offers subscriptions for “professional” analytic capabilities, the site gives away a lot of competive intelligence. See our recent Special Report for a look at the site analytics possible. Limited search and referral information is also available at no charge.
  • Blogbridge—I mentioned this RSS reader on steroids previously but it belongs here, too. Again, I am just incredulous that something so powerful, that I rely on for the core of my business, is free. The company makes its revenue on a range of information services and consulting.
  • AP Mobile News network (available in the iTunes Store)—All of the content delivered via this smartphone application is available on the Web and you could say that my reaction is more to the device (iPod Touch, in my case) than to the app. I can’t separate them. Text, video, images all just waiting to update me for free. And they keep improving it! I can access the same information from a computer, a Blackberry and an Amazon Kindle. For my money, Mobile News provides the best experience.