Resources for Online Businesses

laptop typingThis resources page is built with travel bloggers and other digital nomads in mind. Specifically for building out your online site these are a few of the products, books, and services I have found and love, and a few even saved my sanity over the years as I juggled the long travel days with all the time needed to upkeep this blog. None of these are affiliate links unless noted, just sites I like and recommend, starting with the ones I use here on A Little Adrift, and then a more general list.

  • Website designer: Hannah from Further Bound did the logo and design work on this site. She is very talented and comes highly recommended.
  • Website theme: I use WooThemes (the Canvas theme) and it was chosen for good reason: clean code, responsive designs and great customer service. I do SEO for a living, so I knew I needed an affordable premium theme with clean, responsive code.
  • Hosting company: I started out with a low-cost hosting company when I first started out to save money and for the ease. Once my site was larger, I switched to Media Temple. I host most of my sites there, but it’s pricier than other options. Then, in spring 2015 I moved A Little Adrift to Web Synthesis because I had too much traffic for my MediaTemple plan. For new bloggers, something like Bluehost is likely the best option, it’s a long road before you need to upgrade to the big hosting companies that charge more.
  • Newsletters: The first step for any business; I love MailChimp heaps and heaps.

Setting up a Travel Blog

I created an entire post to walk you through this process, step-by-step

  1. WordPress: Right now the best option for a self-hosted site (if you want to own your domain name). If you’re not sure if you want to own your own blog, or rather just share some photos and tales from your travels consider these other options.
  2. HostingBlue Host is a good bet for general sites and is a cheap and fairly reliable option and has a very simple backend if you just want an easy WordPress installation and no fuss. They also allow you to register a domain name for free, so that’s an extra when. If you know a bit more about servers or have a bigger site, I used to use MediaTemple, which I switched to once my site was larger and so that I could host several sites. Now I use WebSynthesis, which is a huge price difference. If you are first starting out, Bluehost will likely work at about $4 per month, I currently pay $50 per month for WebSynthesis to keep this site running.
  3. SmugMug: I love this site for hosting and storing all of the photos for my blog. I used to use Flickr, but I like the SmugMug interface heaps better and that you can integrate it into your site URL. Other viable options include Picasa. If you’re running a travel blog, host your photos off-site or you will massively slow your site down. This is an affiliate link to SM because I love it so much and have used for 4+ years now.
  4. Woothemes: This company generally has very on-trend, clean, and reasonably priced WordPress themes that take very little techie knowledge to make look good. Paying a bit for something that is well coded is a good start for your site and a wise investment. Genesis is a solid option too, and a one-time fee.
  5. SEO Resources: Over the years I have spoken about SEO for bloggers and I pay my bills through SEO/Web marketing consulting. So, here are some thoughts and resources I have gathered over the years to act as an SEO boot-camp for you.
  6. Start a Newsletter: Right away, do this straight off and start building up people who want to hear from you every month. I use MailChimp and love the site (and the first 2000 subscribers are free); Aweber is also a very standard choice though.
  7. Other RTW Travel Blogs: A comprehensive list of current and past round the world trips, sites, and others in the travel community. This is your new community, read other sites, comment on them, share, and get the word out with these people as they are your new best friends and will help your blog succeed.
  8. Learn Social Media: To get your blog off the ground you should network with other bloggers and join the social media networks where your future readers are active. Every online brand needs to be on Google+, then consider: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, as well as any related to your very niche interests. Each of those links goes to a great tutorial page on how you should use and get started on those networks.
  9. Build a Community: Building a business and a blog are two totally different, but both benefit by looking at the long-term goals and always building a community around your shared ideas. I wrote a bit here with tips and ideas about how I started and grew this site.

Random Other Things Related to My Online Work

  • Evernote: This tool makes me a more effective human being and I could not imagine life without it. It organizes bookmarks, blog post research, clients sites, future project ideas, information I want to access in the future. Everything.
  • Trello: I work as a freelance writer, SEO consultant, and I run social media feeds for startups. That’s a lot to keep track of on the road, so I use Trello to manage all client work, blogs, and some of assistants I have working with me.
  • Seth GodinRead his blog and if you’re building a brand and a fresh way to look at marketing, read his book Tribes, you’ll never look back.
  • Paypal: This is how I get paid by many of my online clients; it’s a standard across the internets so get an account if you plan to start working and accepting money remotely.
  • Dropbox and Google Drive: A quick and easy way to sync some folders across computers, or to share documents, images, and such with others. I use this to hold files others might need to download from me. It’s free for a basic amount of storage though this link gives me an extra boost of storage if you use it. :)
  • Moo Business Cards: I love this company heaps and have used them for more than 5 years now. They are high quality and you can add your travel photos to every card, with up to 50 images per pack. I use my favorite 25 photos from these last years on the road and they are always conversation starters when I hand them out.

Tools and Software for Blogging and Online Work

  • Photo editing: I use Lightroom to edit and process all the photos on this site (since 2010) and couldn’t live without it.
  • Lumix GX7 Camera: A micro-four-thirds camera; buying this took my photography and this site to a whole new level. I only wish I had used it for all of my travels since there is a noticeable difference in quality when I upgraded from a point-and-shoot.
  • iPhone: An unlocked iPhone can be used anywhere in the world with different SIM cards. Very nearly essential for running a digital business overseas—consider getting an older phone version unlocked for cheaper than buying new.
  • Resources for everything else: This is a great list of tools for starting up a website or new business, as well as this one. Each resource page has heaps of solutions to common problems you face when you’re just starting out.