From the May 1999 issue of Startups

Nowadays, you can get loads of stuff for free -- that's right: you won't pay a cent -- and this even includes merchandise and services that you'll actually want. The Internet is awash with freebies, as businesses exploit the Web to reach new customers. Want a free fax line? Free long-distance calls? Free software? Maybe a free energy drink to get you pumped up for using all the free stuff you'll find? Keep reading, because we've gathered together some of the Web's best offers. Feel free to take all you want, glorying in the fact that none of this will even dent your budget.

Business

Sales Leads
Find 'em by the bushel at SmartQuote, a Web site where buyers can meet sellers with little hassle and no strings attached. Registration is free, and once registered, you're eligible to get leads and post requests for products and services you want to buy.

Mailing Labels
Get a free batch by clicking your mouse here. Although the company sells batches of 200 labels for $105 (to be used on mailings, property ID or anywhere you might stick your name and address), use this sample request form and you'll get a freebie.

Iron-On Transfer Paper
It sounds more complicated than it is. Use a piece of paper (in an inkjet printer) to print a photo-of yourself, your company logo, your pet cockatoo-and then iron it onto a T-shirt. Get the freebie at www.ExpressSuplies.com. Wish you had another sheet? You can find it at www.kcweb.com.

Translation Services
Why pay $25 or more per hour for a translator when you can get the job done for free at Altavista's Babelfish. Languages include French, German and Italian.

Competitive Intelligence
font color="#000000" size="-1">Big companies pay big bucks for information on their competitors, customers and alliance partners. The good news? You can get similar intelligence for free. Company Sleuth delivers free reports on up to 10 companies of your choice, while BusinessVue 2.0 is free software that automatically searches the Web for info on the businesses you request.

Communication

Free Faxes
Tired of paying upwards of $15 per month for a fax line that sees ever less use as you become an e-mail junkie? Dump that line, and get a free incoming fax number from eFax. Incoming faxes get transmitted to you as e-mail attachments, and eFax provides free viewer software that allows you to print out copies for your files. The catch? The viewer software displays a small ad-that's what pays the freight for this service. This freebie isn't for those with heavy fax volume, but if you're getting only a few pages each week, check it out.

Or, if you want to send faxes for free, go to TPC. The fax server operator may include an ad on the cover sheet and TPC doesn't serve all area codes (check the site for more info), but service is reasonably swift and reliable.

Phone Calls
Sign up for Freeway service, and you get this deal: For every 10- to 15-second ad you listen to, you earn two minutes of long-distance phone service. Want to make a 10-minute call? Listen to five ads and bunch the credits together.

Voice Mail
Get a free voice-mail box at TeleBot. Messages, limited to a maximum of one minute per call, are forwarded to you as e-mail attachments (wav. files). With telephone companies charging up to $10 per month for voice mail, this is definitely worth checking out.

Internet

Internet Access
Surf the Web for free by signing up with Net Zero, an advertiser-supported service (meaning you'll always have ads on your monitor when you're online) with Net-access numbers in many U.S. cities.

E-mail
Free Web-based e-mail is ubiquitous-everybody from Yahoo! to the Jerusalem Post now offers it. Web-based e-mail has its drawbacks (mainly that it's slow), but if you're paying an ISP a premium for a second or third e-mail box, cut that cost by signing up for Web e-mail. Where? A good choice, if we say do so ourselves: Entrepreneur Media, where it's easy to toggle an account to retrieve POP mail (mail at your ISP). This means you can use the Web-based account to check e-mail at your ISP from a cyber cafe or hotel business center when you're on the road.

Webmaster Freebies
Want counters, a guestbook, and the rest of the bells and whistles for dressing up your Web site? Put a search engine on your site by visiting Free Find. A guest book is available at www.FreeGuestBooks.com. Know how many visitors stop by your site by using the counter at www.WebStat.net. Need space to put up a Web site? Get 20MB free at Fortune City -- or unlimited free space at Xoom. Once your site is buffed out, get free banner ads to promote it at Link Exchange and Smart Clicks.

Miscellaneous

Coupons
Okay, so you'll have to pay for the stuff you purchase-from lunches to office supplies-but you'll reduce the outlay by printing out coupons from the Web. Where to find them? Top sites include CoolSavings, HOT Coupons and eSmarts. Recent offers have included $25 off at Office Depot, a 20 percent discount at Alamo car rental, and $5 in savings at Crown Books.

Wish coupons would simply come to you? Try e-centives, which asks you a few questions about your interests, then regularly e-mails you pertinent coupons.

Posters
Stop paying for wall decorations-a blizzard of posters are yours for the asking. Most are blatant product promos, but some are nifty-for instance, a handy U.S. time-zone and area-code map from ImageAbility or a stylish "Girl Power!" poster from the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information.

Bumper Stickers
These, too, are everywhere to be had for free on the Net. One that catches the eye is "Debt Sucks." Too visceral for your car? An alternative is "Debt Is A Four Letter Word." Get them at Debt Counselors of America.

Soy Sauce and More
What home office is complete without soy sauce? Get a free sample from Kimlan by calling (800) FREE-SOY. And there are plenty more free food items to be had, everything from Butter Buds (fill out a form) to Vitalyze, a legal pep pill and Sports Energy, a drink that supposedly revs you up. If all this free food is making you queasy, get a free Tummy Tamer, a pill for upset stomachs.

Books
Thousands of books are yours to download via Project Guttenberg. Titles range from Plato's Sophist to Shakespeare's King Lear; it's a classics library in plain-text format for fast downloads. Wuthering Heights, for instance, should take less than a minute to retrieve- even with a poky 28.8 Kbps modem.

Maps
Going places? Don't leave home without your free map and complete directions at Map Quest. Click the Door to Door directions button, and you'll never get lost again.

Greeting Cards
Send free greeting cards-congratulations, holiday cards and more-with a quick stop at 123 Greetings. Numerous sites offer free greeting cards, but the cards here can be highly customized for personal impact.

PC Freebies

Mouse Pads
Fill out a brief questionnaire at IBM and they will send you a free "Burn Rubber" mouse pad. Of course, sponsor Big Blue wants a chance to sell you a smokin' Windows NT workstation, but there's no obligation to buy. Or risk the luck of the draw and order a free mousepad at www.freemousepads.com, where advertisers pay to get their logo on the pad you'll receive.

Computer Guru
Although you can't get free tech help to sort out your computer problems, but the next best thing is free. Access to Macmillan's Personal Bookshelf provides the full text of more than 150 computer how-to books, covering topics from using word processors to computer-aided design (CAD). Such books usually cost more than $20 each, so this is potentially a real money saver.

Sort Of Free Software
Hundreds of computer programs-including name brands such as Paint Shop Pro and Hot Dog Professional-can be taken for a free spin at Download.com. Most of these applications require you to purchase a license, usually within 30 days, or they'll self-destruct. But at least this way you'll know whether the program truly serves your needs.

Absolutely Free Software
Lots of other terrific computer programs don't cost a dime, and freeware gems-Internet tools, graphics editors, financial planners-are easily found at Freeware Web, Freeware32.com, and ZDNet's download library. Titles to hunt for include EditPad (dramatically better than Windows' Notepad) and Calc98 (a full-featured robust calculator that replaces Windows' feeble calculator). Score both at ZDNet. More gems are the many Net programs from Ferret -- don't miss PhoneFerret (it searches online directories for numbers) and WebFerret (it queries various search engines to give you one-click results when you're seeking info on the Web).

File Storage
Who wouldn't want 20MB of space (roughly the same as 14 floppies) for online storage of critical files-a Quicken checkbook, say, or your business's financial records? The crucial advantage: Even if disaster strikes your home, the key data you need will be off-site and safe. Get that space at Free Drive. The price you pay is watching a banner ad when you use the service.

Templates
These pre-designed computer forms save you time by letting you fill in the blanks to create a personalized document. Create them for free, and it's an unbeatable deal. Locate several dozen useful templates-business plans, marketing plans, equipment leasing and more-at Quicken's Small Business site. Users of Microsoft's Office get still more freebies at http://officeupdate.microsoft.com/downloadcatalog/dldword.htm, where piles of free templates (for invoicing, tracking time on a project, amortizing loans and so on) are available to registered users.

Better Than Free

The only thing better than getting something for free is actually making money. If you like making money, you'll love BonusMail, which rewards you for reading e-mail with gift certificates good at Macy's, Sprint, Virtual Vineyards and many more retailers.

Want still more freebies? Offers come and go, but one thing is constant: Numerous offers can always be found. Keep track of what's new and free by checking out sites devoted to monitoring free stuff. Top choices include:

The Free Site:http://www.thefreesite.com

FreeShop:http://affiliate.freeshop.com

FreeForum:http://www.freeforum.com

FreebieLand:http://www.freebieland.net

Prospector:http://www.prospector.cz