A lot of people ask me what I use to run my business and what products/books/courses I recommend. Here they are all listed in one easy to reference guide.
First, my own products, because what kind of business man would I be if you didn’t know about my own stuff? Lesson #1: Don’t be afraid to tell people that you have something for sale.
- Luxury of Less is about my philosophy on living a minimalist lifestyle. I usually call How To Live Anywhere my life’s work, but Luxury of Less, based on feedback, might be my most important work. I cover everything from depression and how I overcame it to my philosophy on minimalist relationships and minimalism as it pertains to clear thinking and healthy living.
- How To Live Anywhere (not currently available) is my guide about living and working from anywhere. It covers the mindset, logistics, and specifics about how to start a small online business and travel the world. If you don’t want to travel the world you’ll get a lot out of it as well.
- Mind Control Method (not currently available) is my goal setting system that I have been using successfully since the age of 8. I know that sounds a little insane, but I’m a little insane. :) This is the anti-Law Of Attraction. If you believe in manifesting things out of nowhere this will not work for you and you shouldn’t even read about it.
Blogging has changed my life. It can change yours as well if you want it to.
Whatever you do, customize your site somehow. As you can see, my site doesn’t look outstanding (I did it myself), but at least it’s somewhat unique. Thesis Theme (below) helps with that, although it’s definitely not the only option. The sad reality is, while content is very important, it will not usually make up for a generic looking site. (There are exceptions to every rule, of course.) Custom designs cost money, but you don’t have to get a complete custom design. Just having a custom header is a huge step in the right direction. If you want a low cost design check out my friend Sarah’s portfolio. Sarah did a site for me (NoMeatMondays.org) and did a great job.
That said, I use Charlie from CharfishDesign.com for almost all of my design needs. He has done every single one of my products (the PDF eBook design / corresponding images), a full Web site design (RollerCoasterTour.com), and is redesigning RidiculouslyExtraordinary.com soon.
- WordPress: Free, easy to install (using the webhost below), and pretty darn versatile.
- Thesis Theme: Thesis takes WordPress up a notch and I’ve used it since Day 1 of this blog. Thesis is not only highly recommended, but the creator, Chris Pearson, is a really smart guy who I’m happy to support.
- WordPress Plugins: For my full list of plugins check out Extraordinary Insights Volume 1 (it’s free).
- Bluehost: Great when you’re starting out. Lots of bloggers use this host, including me.
- Amazon S3: I host all the images/files on this blog separately from BlueHost. Hosting the files separately means I don’t have to worry about huge spikes of traffic crashing my server. The cool thing about S3 is that you only pay for what you use so there are no upfront costs. The most I’ve paid in a month was about $50, but that’s because I used over 300GB (gigabytes!) of bandwidth that month. Most people will never use anywhere near that much.
E-mail list management
An e-mail list is the #1 way to grow a long term sustainable business. E-mail is not dead, it’s still thriving. If you’re not building an e-mail list you’re not building a business.
- Aweber: I’ve used them for many years, but I’ve tested everybody else. There is not an e-mail list company that has better deliverability, better features, or better customer service around. They’re big enough to make things happen and small enough to care about you.
- E-junkie – I use e-junkie to deliver every single one of my own products and I’m also an affiliate for a few other people who sell their products with e-junkie. It’s not the end all and be all shopping cart solution, but it works very well. For only $5/month you can’t beat it.
- Paypal – I’ve been using them since the year 2000 and they have been outstanding.
Building A Successful Blog
- I joined A List Blogging Bootcamps by Mary Jaksch and Leo Babauta in August of 2009 and it changed my blog career forever. Read this article about how I got 12,258 unique visitors to my blog in just 7 days. If you’re going to take any blogging training (you don’t need to, of course) this is the only training I recommend. Who better to learn from than Leo Babauta, who has built ZenHabits.net to over 200,000 subscribers and was named one of Time Magazines Top Bloggers of 2010? Nobody, that’s who.
Show Me The Money
Because if you want to live a life of freedom you’re going to have to run a business.
- Affiliate Marketing For Beginners by Corbett Barr. Corbett is a friend of mine and provides solid advice with hand holding.
- How To Turn Traffic and Trust Into Sales by Nick Reese. Nick is also a friend of mine (it’s a common theme, I’m thankful to be friends with such extraordinary people) and blows me away every time I speak to him. Even if you don’t buy his book you should follow what he’s up to.
Building A Small Business
- SmallTopia by Tammy Strobel. Maybe I am completely biased, but I love everything Tammy writes. You know how sometimes you simply connect well with what others are saying? I get that when I read Tammy’s work. I contributed a short section to SmallTopia if you want to learn a bit more from me. I contribute to a lot of products, but that doesn’t automatically mean I will promote them.
- Empire Building Kit by Chris Guillebeau. If you want to build your own small world dominating empire Chris has your back. I bought the $249 version (there are 3 different levels) on launch day and I’ve learned a ton. That’s saying a lot considering I’ve run my own small businesses since the year 2000.
Because it’s fun and it’s important. :)
- FlyerTalk.com Forums – If you have the time to weed through these forums you’ll learn a lot. But don’t make a newbie mistake and post a question that has already been answered. Forum search is there for a reason. :)
- FareCompare.com – This is my favorite of the airline search engines. Almost every time I’m not using frequent flier miles I use FareCompare to book my flights. It’s solid and their CEO Rick Seaney is responsive and accessible.
- ThePointsGuy.com – This site is filled with lots of good info, although some of it may be a little overwhelming. It is updated constantly and more quickly than other similar sites. (Which can be important since sometimes deals go fast.) There are paid versions ($35/year or $125/year), but the blog itself is free to read and provides essentially the same info as the cheaper membership. (You’ll get even faster updates if you upgrade.)
- Language Hacking Guide by Benny Lewis. There is absolutely no better information on learning languages. This isn’t Rosetta Stone repetitive BS. This is the truth from a guy who has learned 8 languages (and counting). Benny is also a friend of mine who I visited in Germany when he was on his German language mission. He blew me away with his language skills after being in the country for only 2 months. (I also lived with him for 3 weeks in Austin, TX while he was learning sign language. There is no language stone he will leave unturned!)
- Other language advice: Whether we like it or not English is becoming a more and more common language. That said, it is disrespectful to go to a new country and not learn at least a few words in the language. Hello, please, and thank you at the bare minimum. You can learn these online before you leave or on the flight over to your new adventures. You will probably pronounce words incorrectly. People will love you for trying anyway.
- WorldNomads – There are a lot of travel insurance companies out there. I’ve only used WorldNomads so I can’t recommend the others.
- CouchSurfing.org – This is how I meet up with cool people everywhere in the world. Almost every city in the world has a forum (called Groups) that you can post in to find people to show you around. You can also use CouchSurfing if you want to stay with locals, but check out the CouchSurfing Black Book I wrote if that interests you.
- WikiTravel – User submitted reviews / information about any destination you can imagine.
- HappyCow.net – Because, if you’re vegan like me, it’s cool to see where the veg restaurants are located. :)
- Schwab – Free ATM transactions (via ATM fee refunds) anywhere in the world. No international exchange fees. Enough said. If you’re based in the US, an international traveler, and you don’t have a Schwab account you are insane.
- Capital One No Hassle or Venture – 0% international transaction fees. These are both rewards cards as well.
- American Express Platinum – Free airline lounge access, free Regus business lounge access at over 1,000 office buildings (500 cities; 85 countries) around the world (I’ve used about 10 of them!), and $200 refund on airline fees per year. It’s also a rewards card which you can use through Amex or transfer to various airlines and hotels. $450 annual fee, but worth it for me. Sometimes they have miles transfer bonuses. I recently transferred 36,000 Amex Rewards Points to my British Airways mileage account and got 54,000 BA miles.
Living In The Cloud
Because if you’re living in 2011 you should be living in the cloud. It’s more fun that way. :)
- SugarSync – I use SugarSync to backup my files, including my music so I can listen wherever I am in the world even if I don’t have my laptop or iPod. :) SugarSync has beautiful photo galleries and their MP3 streaming rocks. To read about my full transition check out my article Transitioning To The Cloud.
- Google Docs – I use Google Docs a lot because I write a lot. If I’m writing for the blog I usually write directly into WordPress (save as draft), but almost everything else goes in Google Docs. You can also use Google Docs to create free surveys.
- Gmail – If you’re not using Gmail for e-mail you’re either insane or you hate Google knowing too much info about you. :)
- Boomerang – A Gmail plugin that is one of the most useful pieces of the puzzle for me. It can do so much that I can’t explain it here but it’s free, so check it. (I pay for the super duper unlimited version, but the free version will probably suit you.)
Life and Love
OK, there is nothing here about love, but life is love so it works. :)
- Sell Your Crap by Adam Baker. If you’ve been thinking about minimizing your possessions you will not find a better how to guide than this. Baker breaks it all down, including hundreds of photos/screen shots so you don’t mess up when you’re selling your crap. :)