Writing monthly columns for various business publications requires a lot of research and time on the web.

Over the years I’ve collected many web sites that have proved to be invaluable to me both as sources of information as well as major time savers. And the really great part is all the information is free.

Here are a few of my favorites. Check em out.

refdesk.com– I often tell people who attend my seminars, “If it’s not on Ref Desk, you don’t need it.” This site has links to almost any topic you can name.

You’ll find everything from Grey’s Anatomy to the Taipei Times.

Links to all major newspapers and columnists, dictionaries, and conversions for almost anything you can think of. It’s a great site just to have some fun on too.

census.gov– This site has the compilation of all that information you filled out in the last year of the census.

The government counts us and collects all types of information about us every ten years. You can easily find the demographics of customers in your area in the quick facts area.

Although some of the information is updated regularly the only way to get all the data is every ten years when we fill out the forms. Use it as a guide — not for exact numbers.

bestplaces.net – If I’m looking for information on a local economy, housing costs, religion, cost of living, crime, climate or voter registrations I go here. There is also a brief profile of whatever zip code you enter in the search box.

hometownlocator.com – This is another great site packed with facts and figures on almost any city in the country. There are maps, economic info, real estate and much more.

SCORE.Org - Here you will find MS Word and Excel documents to help get your business up and running. There is a business plan for both new and existing businesses. There are spread sheets in Excel with all the formulas plugged in for you. There is a break-even analysis and a lot more. They also have a section specifically for Veterans.

melissadata.com – Not sure who Melissa is but I think she’s great. Just click on “lookups” on the home page and you can find the income tax information for any zip code, how many people moved into or out of a specific area, who gave to political candidates and how much. I can also find which mailing carrier routes are wealthy, upper middle class, middle class, lower middle class or poor. Maybe you need the assets and income of every non-profit in your area. Melissa can do it all.

50states.com – Here I can find the state flower, state legislature, highest and lowest point and other fascinating information about the 50 states plus territories. You never know when knowledge of the state bird is going to come in handy.

marketingexperiments.com – This is a must visit site if you are selling anything on the net. These people take real products, real web sites and real money and track the results using various experiments. They test web pages, email marketing, landing pages, price, offers and a lot more. You will also find webinars and seminars too. Clients pay $5,000.00 per month for their services and you get the results free. This site can save you thousands of dollars in mistakes on your web site.

findarticles.com – When I research a topic for a blog I find it never hurts to see what the competition is writing about it. Here I can search articles in over 200 magazines and newsletters. It’s also a great source of information on your own industry to keep you up to date.

businessballs.com – This site has the largest collection of business articles of any site I know of. This site covers virtually every conceivable aspect of business. It’s a must bookmark for every small business owner.

Some Final Thoughts

In my opinion, business or personal success is directly tied to information. The more you know about any topic the fewer mistakes you’ll make.

I hope you find these ten sites as helpful as I have. If you have a great business or information site let me know about it. I’m always looking for a good source of information.

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