I’m a big believer that a huge part of creating a successful platform – whether that be blog, business or something entirely different – comes down to what tools you use. Here’s a handy list of all the different tools, resources, books and gear that keep my blog, writing business and my adventures all running smoothly.
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase. Please understand that I have experience with all of these companies, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.
PicMonkey: Don’t have the time, money or patience for expensive graphics editing software? No problem. Most bloggers swear by PicMonkey. Free and easy to use, put together all those headers, banners and logos in no time.
PiktoChart: Another free & infinitely helpful graphics tool – Piktochart is a very clever & easy to use tool for making your own infographics.
Clicky: Clicky gives you realtime stats on your visitors. Like google analytics but more real time, and WAY more user friendly. Free for tracking on 1 website, pro version if you need to track more than that. I look at mine every day, if not more.
Aweber: Aweber is my choice for sending out email lists & newsletters. I love it’s flexibility and list segmenting feature. It’s only drawback is it’s lack of free/getting started option like mail chimp. but, despite that, I believe it’s worth the cost. If you are looking for something with a free version, mail chimp works pretty well too.
The Freelance Writers Den: My absolute lifesaver. A really wonderful community full of great advice & support, frequent webinars, highly informative bootcamps and they will critique your queries, articles and even writer’s website for you.
Pimsleur: The Audio program I used to learn Spanish en-route to Mexico, as well as some basic Thai recently. Really great system, has you speaking from day one. Available on CD or MP3, and a great variety of price points, can buy just a few lessons or the whole package. Really handy stuff.
PayPal: A must have for anybody buying or selling online. I receive most of my freelance payments through PayPal, and also use it to pay for a number of my online services.
Freshbooks: My accounting app of choice. Recommended to my by a whole host of other freelancers, Freshbooks is super simple to use, integrates with PayPal (and hugely reduces the transaction fees of billing from a business PayPal account!) and with the mobile and iPad apps it’s easy to track expenses & send out invoices.
Hostgator: I use Hostgator for hosting both my professional portfolio site as well as this blog. They offer loads of different packages & are really affordable. As a special deal to my readers, if you sign up with Hostgator and use the coupon code jetsettinglivingwell they will give you 25% off the package price of a hosting account.
Travel, Tours & Accommodation
Agoda: Excellent site that covers a variety of accommodation options, from budget to high-class, all around the globe. Great for booking online/last minute.
Urban adventures: Run by Intrepid travel, my all time favourite tour company (and I’m NOT a tour person, not one bit, I am a total independent traveler type). A couple of years back I won the incredible opportunity to fly to Mexico and participate in the first every ‘real food adventure’, I’ve been a convert of these guys ever since (check out my experience here). Where Intrepid Travel offer tours ranging from a few days through to months long,the Urban adventures branch offer short, cheap & affordable day tours in cities all around the world (some of the amazing ones that caught my eye were Tastes and Traditions in Penang and Yangon’s Streets by Night, but they seriously have so many different tours, all round the globe)
SkyScanner: Need cheap flights? There are heaps of awesome resources out there, but my first stop is usually to check out sky scanner. If you’re interested in how I use it, or what some other options are, I wrote a bit of a guide around it here.
Awesome Reading Ahead
I read a lot – seriously. One of the major perks of traveling so much is all of the reading time I get. At the time of writing this, I had just finished reading all 4 of Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon series in just over a week. Reading 2, 3 or even 4 or 5 books in a week is not uncommon for me.
So, instead of overwhelming you with every book I’ve ever enjoyed, I’m just including the ones that have really inspired me or helped with my business somehow. (If you want other reading recommendations, give me an email)
- The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich. This book is first on the list for a very good reason. It has attained almost bible status amongst a majority of entrepenuaers. If you are thinking of starting a business, read this. Otherwise: read this. It is mandatory & inspiring reading for anyone and everyone. Tim Ferriss is an absolute genius, and this is his first of three (all equally amazing) books on improving your life in every way possible.
- The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman. Another Tim Ferriss book. Yes, they are all on my list. I have read all three many times over. The 4-hour body focuses on, well, the body.. obviously. Superhuman really isn’t an understatement, Tim has spent much of his adult life as a human guinea pig trailing and testing everything from exercise, diets, supplements and sleep. This is one impressive book and will really change the way you look at your body.
- The 4-Hour Chef: The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life. This book is pretty much NOT a cook book. Yes, it will teach you some awesome methods for becoming a good chef with minimal effort or time investment, and yes it will also give you a bunch of great recipes (ones that work very nicely with the ‘slow-carb’ diet from the 4-hour body. However, this book is so much more. It is about learning, not just cooking, but anything. Just like the first two, this is a must-read regardless of whether you have any culinary interests or not.
- Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. I’m a writer. Punctuation is important to me. I’m not perfect, but this book has been an amazing (and entertaining) insight into the world of grammar nazis and the importance of correct punctuation.
- The Artist’s Way: Got a spare few months? This program will change your life. I won’t lie, it takes some serious emotional stamina to work through until the end (Let’s take a moment to be honest, I haven’t finished it, but both times I have started on it I have had profound changes to my emotional wellbeing and creativity levels, so I will keep at it until I get to the end!!). 12 weeks of awesome introspection and activities to nourish your true creative self – whether you are an artist, a writer, a poet or just a creative being.
- On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. Fantastic writer, fantastic insights. Stephen King is a world famous writer with some solid insights. This book is half memoir and half guide to writing. I found the tips and hints for newbie writer’s invaluable, and the memoir bit equally as interesting. He has some excellent suggestions around reading A LOT (Wins me over every time) as well as coping with many, many rejections.
- Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. So, you want to write, but only have time for one book? (First tip – you’re gunna need a whole lot more reading than one book, but.. anyhow..) This one. Anne Lamot does brutal honesty, and she does it exceptionally well. She talks about suffering, editorial rejections and horrific writing induced drinking problems. She also talks about her inspirations and love for this job. Despite running through you through the ringer of all the horrible things that are going to happen to you, she still leaves you with a strong message: Just keep at it, bird by bird. If it weren’t for this book, I might just have given up before I was just about to really get there.
- The Red Book: A Deliciously Unorthodox Approach to Igniting Your Divine Spark. This book is an uplifting mishmash of spirituality. A personal guide to creating your own version from the things around you. Touching on a variety of spiritual paths, meditation, dreams, healing and everything you can imagine (and plenty of things you can’t) I return to this book frequently for inspiration and ideas. A light and positive read full of clever ideas and wonderful insights. I adore this book, it gives me passion and re-ignites not just my divine spark, but my creative spark every time I re-visit it.
- The Copy Workshop Workbook The single most important copywriting & advertising book in the business (well, in my opinion and that of many others). It is a required textbook for many copywriting books the world round. Whether you’re a student, a pro, or just interested in writing (or selling!) a little better, this books a vital addition to your bookshelf. So vital, in fact, that I have been carrying it in my backpack (it is textbook sized and heavy!!) across Southeast Asia for the past 5 months just to work my way through it. Important note: Not available in Kindle or electronic form. There is an incredible iPad version, but it only covers the first 7 chapters and is a work in progress.