Free Resources for Mac User Groups
Whether you’re just starting your Macintosh User Group, or if you’re trying to grow and offer new services, there are things you need to help you function. You can pay for them, or, if you don’t mind a little advertising, you can get many of them for free or almost free.This section will give you some ideas. And if you stumble across one we’ve missed that you find useful, please let us know! If we agree, we’ll add it to the list and give you credit.
Phone Number And Voice Mail
Everyone needs a phone number, and unless you have a staff or someone willing to use their home number, this will be a resource you will probably have to pay for. A service you may be able to use is eVoice, which gives you “free voicemail for your home phone.” This is another advertiser-supported service, but your callers never hear the advertising: only you do when you pick up your messages. Or you can listen to your messages on the Internet.
Another option is K7.net, where you can get a free account that delivers the message to your email account and also can be used to receive faxes.
Another option which you can coordinate with another free service is voice mail from eFax where you can also get free fax service (see below).
A fax number is an essential part of your communications strategy. Fortunately it won’t cost you a cent! Visit eFax and sign up for your own free fax number. This is a number for incoming faxes; they will be converted to eFax’ proprietary graphics format and delivered to you at an email address you select. For a fee you can access eFax’ outgoing faxing capabilities but the incoming is totally free.
Again, check out K7.net as an alternative.
.mac is an obvious choice for a MUG’s email (and web site presence). At present, Apple offers free .mac accounts for recognized user groups (though ambassadors are required to pass certain Apple Sales Web courses. Even if your group doesn’t qualify, at $99, it is still an option you should consider.
For a nominal charge, visit Net Identity and pick a domain appropriate to your group or your Apple orientation. These are also POP email accounts.
A web site gives your group a presence, both in your local community and in the global community. And while your own domain for email and web site are nice to have, there are many, many places you can post your own Web site for free. (Be sure to check out the MUG Web Site Tips section as you design your site.)
Itsamac Free Hosting Program
Itsamac offers free hosting to recognized Macintosh User Groups in exchange for a banner ad on the free site and mention of their user group discount to the MUG’s membership. They offer a in exchange for a banner add on the free site, and mention of our discount to the MUG members. They feature a full Mac OS X powered hosting package, which includes plenty of bandwidth, server space, and email addresses as well as cgi-access, PHP & MySQL, to the MUG’s. Get the information on them on our Vendor Programs For MUGs page.
Don’t forget that Apple offers recognized user groups a free .Mac account, complete with web site options that many groups use as their home page. Details about the Apple User Group Program are available here on The MUG Center.
NOTE: The mention of the products and services in this piece do not constitute, nor should they be considered, an endorsement. They are offered and described as-is; anyone considering the use of these resources should carefully examine their Terms of Service to determine the appropriateness of their use for your purpose, and any changes in those terms since originally listed on this page.