About a year ago, we published a list of the digital nomad tools we used to launch Nomadica and transition to a nomadic lifestyle. As our business and income strategy evolved, so did our toolset. In this post, we share the digital nomad tools we’re using to run our remote businesses, as well as lifestyle tools (digital and otherwise) that make life on the road easier.
This is a lengthy post, so we’ve organized our 2017 digital nomad tools across seven categories – Blogging, Online Retail (Nomadica), Trading, Finance, Writing, and Mobile Lifestyle
Adobe Photoshop ($10/mo) A resource that needs no introduction; We use Photoshop to edit and optimize images for our blog, product marketing and stock photography.
Pixabay (Free) We prefer to use stock photography for featured images on our posts. This ensures a consistent aesthetic across he blog and reduces work to get each post out. Pixabay is offers plenty of free stock photography. You may also “tip” the photographer when you download their work.
UpDraft Plus (Free) It would be a shame to lose all of content due to a server crash or cyber attack. This where UpDraft comes in. UpDraft is a free backup solution that works with google drive to save and securly store our website data.
WordPress (Free) The well known content management service that powers nearly every blog on the web. Yup, this is kind of a big one for us.
Online Retail – Nomadica
Shopify ($29-299/mo) If you’re planning to open an online retail store, you’re going to need a commerce platform. There are a number of options out there, but the slickest out of the box solutions on the market. The basic package provides a number of good looking themes. We decided to use one of the Premium themes and edited the code for our needs.
Sketch ($99 one-time): Sketch offers an intuitive interface to mock up our designs with incredible detail. Our suppliers can visualize our product and even print, cut, and sew patterns created in Sketch. In addition to free form design, vectors can be downloaded to assist in creating wireframes, flow charts, infographics and mobile apps.
TradingView (Free; $120-480/yr) TradingView is hands down the best charting software out today. It has all the essential tools that other trading platforms offer, but features level 2 trading data such as volume profiles, pine script add-ons, an active (and sometimes entertaining) sector segregated chat, and boasts an idea sharing/tracking ecosystem. Whether you go with the free version or paid, TradingView has something to offer traders of all walks.
OptionsExpress (Commissions) I primarily trade futures so while my analysis is done via TradingView, my orders are entered using OptionsExpress. I’ve yet to research alternatives, but the accounts integration with Schwab makes it very convenient.
ZeroHedge (Free) While this isn’t exactly a tool, ZeroHedge’s market commentary is great. Market news on Yahoo Finance, MarketWatch, etc. is more akin to advertising than actual news.
Market 24Hour Clock (Free) This free clock displays the world markets that are currently open. When your trading futures, you are not bound by NY trading times so it’s important to understand which markets are closing or coming online.
FinViz (Free) A really cool tool that displays exchanges and sectors in a heat map form.
Charles Schwab (Free) If you’re an American living abroad, I can’t recommend Schwab enough. They offer refunds on all ATM fees, which can really add up. In tourist hotspots like Playa del Carmen, the ATM fees are ridiculous. I once paid more in ATM fees to draw cash than it was to pay for Sarah and I’s dinner. I also use Schwab for our IRAs and brokerage accounts.
U.S. Tax Services (Custom) Stewart Patton is a US tax attorney and expatriate living with his family in Belize. He offers self-directed courses for establishing an offshore corporation and personal consulting. Stewart helped us form our company structure for Nomadica and files our taxes each year (both personal and business). Stewart is super down to earth and understand tax law from an expat perspective.
Trail Wallet ($4.99) We track every expense via Trail Wallet and have been doing so for over a year now. If you’re serious about budgeting this is hands down the best app out there. It’s super easy to enter expenses, download month-end data, and was designed by another nomad family!
Duotrope ($5/month or $50/year) Duotrope is a submission management and publication research tool. No matter what genre you write, if you’re submitting to magazines, anthologies, or contests, Duotrope has the most comprehensive searchable database of publications. Especially as a new writer, finding the perfect market for your piece is like searching for a needle in a haystack–there are thousands to choose from. Duotrope’s filtering tool allows you to search by genre and sub-genre, payment, simultaneous and multiple submissions preferences, acceptance rate, average response time, which publications users also submitted to, etc. In short, it’s invaluable.
Google Docs (Free) Sarah uses Google Docs as her primary writing and editing program. It’s the easiest method for sharing with beta readers, choosing your commenting or viewing settings, and tracking changes. You can download your final draft in the preferred file format of your intended publication: .rtf, .pdf, .docx, .odt, .txt, html, or epub. It’s helpful to also have a copy of Word installed. Without Word you can still download into the .docx format but you can’t get a true preview and have to trust that your formatting is in tact. For submission tracking and publication research, Sarah uses a Google spreadsheet in addition to her Duotrope account. At one point Sarah explored various writer apps that claim to assist with writing, editing, submitting and tracking, but since she writes primarily short stories instead of novels, simplicity is more desirable for the time being.
TheJohnFox Lists (Free) The more you write, the more you realize that a writing career is as much about organized persistence as it is about the craft of writing. So much of submission success comes down to personal editorial taste, timing, and luck, in addition to the hard work you put into your pieces. Sarah uses TheJohnFox rankings to increase her submission volume and ensure that she’s not self-rejecting by failing to submit to high tier journals. Many of the respected journals on these rankings take months to respond and allow simultaneous submissions. When Sarah finishes a literary fiction piece, it goes out to no less than ten of these journals at a time.
Evernote Scannable (Free): We scan a lot of documents while we’re on the road – receipts, legal documents, contracts, etc. Evernote’s Scannable is a simple scanning app that allows you to compile images taken from your iPhone into a single PDF and export it to Google Drive.
Facebook Groups (Free) Facebook groups are becoming an essential resource for any traveling family. There are groups to find a home, furnish a home, connect with expats, or buy a scooter. To find these groups just search on Facebook the city name along with – expats, buy/sell, nomads, events, homeschooling, worldschooling, etc. Sarah also has also found great Facebook writing communities for sharing advice, successes, and writing discussions.
Instagram (Free) Another way to promote and share your blog posts, and to find like-minded groups of travelers.
M3Server ($20/Mo) Every website needs a host. Last year we used Hostgator, but after a few service hiccups and delays in support tickets we kicked them to the curb. Our new provider is M3Server and we couldn’t be happier. Their team assisted us with the migration and were very responsive to direct emails. We’ve yet to experience an outage since our migration in September 2016.
Monosnap (Free) I sometimes like to include screenshots with emails, social media posts, and trading chats. The easiest tool I’ve found for this is Monosnap. Hot keys make screen capture and recording a piece of cake. In fact, all of these images in this post were captured with Monosnap.
Nomadlist (Free) Pieter Levels has done a fantastic job curating a number of digital nomad resources. Nomadlist is the first ever travel search engine tailored for the digital nomad lifestyle. Find the city that meets your needs, whether that be shoestring budget, gay friendly, or fast wifi. The search engine currently has over 100 filters to help you find your dream location.
oDrive (Free): We continue to use oDrive as our cloud integration service. oDrive makes any cloud storage unified, synchronized, shareable and encrypted. So what does this mean. Well for one, it means you can leverage the free-tier cloud storage across multiple providers. Instead of paying for a plan to expand your storage, you could setup an account with Google, Box, and OneDrive and sync all to your computer with oDrive. This would give you 30GB free cloud storage. I actually organize each service as a folder, so Google is media, Box is work, Onedrive is backups.
The second advantage of oDrive is it’s sync functionality with our laptops. Our local drive shows all files from all cloud storage. If we need to pull something from the cloud to our laptop, it’s a simple double click on the file. No need to determine which service stores it, no need to log into their service to find and download. It’s literally a double click and done.
Skype Number ($52/year) : We use Skype to make all our calls, whether local or international. With just one annual fee, you get a US number and can make unlimited calls over wifi. Calls from abroad are forwarded to your phone, allowing you to avoid pricey international plans.
TorGuard ($60/year) Anyone using public wifi for business should be using a VPN service to prevent fraudsters and hackers from accessing private information. To learn more about VPNs and how they work, see this SecureThoughts article. We’ve been using TorGuard for our VPN service and can recommend it highly. It’s competitively priced, has plenty of server locations, and doesn’t kill our wifi speeds.
Photo Credit: Unsplash, pixabay.com
We hope this list is helpful in making your lifestyle more mobile. We’ll continue to update it with new tools as we adopt them.
Are you a digital nomad, freelancer, or location independent entrepreneur with a tool kit to share? We’d love to hear from you! Please comment below or contact us via our About page.