Web workers do pretty much everything else online, so why not use Internet phone service, too? Besides our natural technology addiction, there are actually compelling financial reasons for why using VoIP (voice over IP) services can be a good idea.
The cost savings can be significant over traditional landline phone services, depending on the needs of your business and whether you make a lot of long-distance or international calls. Here’s a look at the top four ways to cut your web worker budget by using a VoIP service.
Get a business phone number at a fraction of a landline’s cost. Using VoIP can save money on a business line in both service and installation costs. Service for a landline into my home office from our phone company would cost around $30 per month for local service, with long-distance calls additional.
In contrast, VoIP provider Skype offers numbers for pay-as-you-go customers for only $60 per year, plus per-minute usage fees. For infrequent phone users, this is a much cheaper option than a landline. For heavier users, Vonage (s vg) offers 1,500 minutes of outbound calls to the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico (and unlimited incoming calls), a free dedicated fax line, call waiting, voicemail and caller ID for $39.99 per month.
Installation with VoIP can also save money over a landline if your office is not pre-wired for a phone line. New phone wiring can get extremely expensive, depending on the office location. But VoIP installation can be much cheaper, or even free, depending on your choice of equipment, provider and office Internet connection.
As an added bonus, if you have a lot of business contacts in another area code, you can request a VoIP phone number that will be local for those clients.
Make long-distance calls for free or cheap. Even if you don’t want a VoIP phone number, it can still save you money on long-distance phone calls. Computer-to-computer calls are free using most VoIP services, so if your frequent contacts use a service like Skype or GTalk, you can talk or even video conference with them for free anytime you are both at your computers.
Calling from your computer to a non-international phone number is also extremely affordable with services like Skype, which charges only $0.021 per minute to numbers in the U.S. It’s only slightly higher for Europe or other countries. If you have an iPhone (s aapl) or Windows Mobile (s msft) phone and a Wi-Fi connection, Skype will also let you place calls from your cell phone. Vonage is also working on an app for smartphones.
Save cell phone minutes on the road. If you keep a minimal minute plan on your cell phone, the usage spike of occasional travel can consume your minutes fast. Using a VoIP service to make calls from the road can keep you under your plan’s limit and avoid cell overage fees being added to your travel budget. I use Skype for lengthy calls home from my hotel in the evenings.
An added bonus is that my autistic 6 year old won’t talk on a regular phone but will when she can see me via a video call.
Video conferencing can reduce the need to travel. Sometimes it is helpful to do business face-to-face, or you need to share visuals during what could otherwise be a phone conference. VoIP services (like GTalk or Skype) can create a face-to-face meeting for free, and allow for the use of visual aids or even screen sharing. And since computer-to-computer calls are usually free, it definitely saves over the price of travel.
Do you use VoIP for business?