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So, you want to start an online business but, and you’re thinking it’d be cool to do some traveling, but you don’t know where to start to get your online business mobile. Look no further, at Nomad Mom Life, we get the nomad lifestyle, and we’re here to help online business owners take the next step to become nomad business owners.
So whether you’re a nomad too (yay!) or you just want to add a little flexibility and travel to your life without jeopardizing your business, we’ve listed the 26 must have online tools for your nomad business.
So whether you run a blog or you freelance for hundreds of clients through an online business, you need a consistent way to communicate with your clients and your team. Nomads need phones too, especially if you’ve got business and financial goals you’d like to meet. So whether you’re working at the local Starbucks or on the beach in Phuket, here are a few communication tools to keep your online business nomad-friendly.
Vonage. I cannot tell you how much I love Vonage. I’ve had the same US-based number for over 6 years and in that time, I’ve lived in 3 countries and 4, if you count the US. My clients and my team of consultants can reach me where ever I am. And if by chance, we take a vacation to say… Hawaii… Vonage has an amazing call forwarding feature that will ring my cellphone in ANY. COUNTRY. That means if you live in Ohio and want to hit up a beach in California, Florida, or Phuket (bucket list), then you can rest assured your business will stay afloat.
Free Conference Call. This is another perfect service. For a LONG time (like until just recently), I used Free Conference Call for all of my group meetings. It was just easy, and best of all it was free. And in the off chance, I needed to chat with someone in another country, I could use it as a phone. I upgraded to a toll-free number so that no one had to pay international long-distance rates and we just used the conference line. Perfection.
Uberconference. I’ve recently upgraded to Uberconference. They also have a free option, but they have so many more bells and whistles. For instance, I can share my screen and see who’s talking and I can automate each of my calls so that if someone is supposed to participate and they’re running late (or forget), the service will call them and ask them to join the conference call.
Additional communication alternatives: Webinarally and Zoom. Both services are bit pricier, but I’ve heard great things about each.
In my humble opinion, Freshbooks is the only way to go to manage your business accounts payable and accounts receivable. If you have clients and you want to get paid quickly and easily while looking like a professional, this is your nomad tool. You can track your hours, create and send clean and easy to read invoices and receive payment directly through their system. It’s full proof. Even if you just have one client, it’s great to start your business on the right food. Plus, in the US it’s a tax-deductible business expense.
Accounting Tool Alternatives. For those of you who need to compare and contrast multiple software tools, in this article, Top 10 Alternatives to FreshBooks: Popular Accounting Software Solutions, you’ll learn all you ever wanted to know about the various options for small business accounting solutions.
When you do business with other people, it’s usually a good idea to have the terms and conditions of your business relationship outlined in a contract. Sure, an email where both parties agree to terms is ok, but a signed contract is just better. When two people sign the same document, there’s just a general understanding that you’ve both read and agreed to exactly the same terms. Here are a few tools to help you with your contract management.
Lisa Fraley. Lisa is a lawyer turned health coach, turned lawyer extraordinaire for online entrepreneurs. She runs lisafraley.com where she offers 1 on 1 consulting and provides DIY legal templates for bloggers, freelancers, and coaches. She also offers a class to make sure you’re legally covered. I use her services for all my business’ legal needs, and I’ve been really happy with everything she’s provided.
Businessese. Full disclosure, I don’t use Businessese but a lot of my online entrepreneur buddies swear by them. So, I’ve heard a ton of gushing about Businessese. Essentially, Businessese provides DIY legal templates, and they offer two courses for entrepreneurs, Get YOUR Price and Closing Strong. Get Your Price is a course on expertly negotiating your rate while Closing Strong is a course on creating closing campaign client reports. Again, I can’t recommend them because I haven’t taken them, but I have heard good things about this company.
Docusign. Now, once you create your contract, you need to be able to sign it and get your client(s) to sign it. I use this product. As a nomad business owner, your client could be in the same town or on a completely different continent; that’s the power of online business. So, Docusign is a program that allows you to upload your document as a PDF and electronically assign exactly where your client needs to sign. Then the system will email your client the exact contract and once it’s fully executed (signed by you and your client(s)), everyone receives a fully executed electronic copy for their records. No one has to print, sign, and scan EVER again. Brilliant. Right?
WordPress. WordPress is pretty much the standard platform for website development. I host my site through HostGator and use the WordPress platform. When you buy your own hosting and use WordPress, you have a lot more control over your website but there is a bit of learning curve. But it’s nothing you can’t overcome.
WordPress Alternatives: Ok, so I’ve heard about Wix and Squarespace are easier to set up than WordPress. The only downside is that a Wix or Squarespace site may be harder to monetize.
Calendar + Scheduling Tool
If you’re working with clients, you know it can be hard to set up a phone call. These tools are extremely helpful to streamline your client management.
Calendly. This is a simple tool to minimize the time it takes to schedule client meetings. This application gives you access to public scheduling tools that you can embed on your website and send via email. When I lived in Taiwan, I used this app to schedule appointments with my freelance clients. The app automatically translates time zones and allows you to specify in advance when you’re free for client communications.
Satori. Satori does everything Calendly does. Plus, it allows you to integrate your contacts with your email management system and it will provide automated services such as: deliver email sequences, send contracts via email, take payments, and provide client follow-ups. As a coach or a freelancer, this service is amazing. I’ve used and I love it.
Alternative Scheduling tool: I’ve not used Acuity Scheduling, but it seems to do everything Satori can do. In addition, it looks like you may also be able to integrate it with your financial management/accounting tool.
Email Management System
Drip: So, I use Drip, and I love this service. The customer service is amazing, and the service is really easy to use. Drip makes automation a visual experience, and it’s really easy to segment your list. So you can send one group of people one thing and another group of people something completely different. Drip makes things that could be really complicated on other platforms, really simple. Plus, it’s free to get started with Drip. The thing with this service is that this is a service you want to use when you have 2 subscribers and when you have 10,000 subscribers. Drip allows you to learn and grow using its tools.
Mailchimp. Is a wonderful email management system for getting started. It’s free for the first 2000 subscribers, and the free service allows you to set up automated emails, run e-courses, and send emails to all of your subscribers. It’s a great tool to manage your client and audience email messages.
Alternative Email Management Software: ConvertKit is another great system. ConvertKit caters primarily to bloggers and offers most of the services Drip does. They don’t offer the same segmented services as Drip and they don’t offer a free service. However, they do offer visual automation and, custom lead pages, and pop-ups directly from the email management system. I have many friends who LOVE ConvertKIt. It’s worth trying.
Document Management Hosting
If you have documents that you embed or that you provide via your email management system or you collaborate with others to create files, you need a place to host your documentation. These tools will help you keep your files accessible and in order. Finding a home for your files, your photos, and your business documents is essential.
Dropbox. Dropbox has free and paid versions to keep and manage your business files. Using Dropbox allows you to access your work from anywhere.
Google Drive. Google is another free alternative for managing your business files. They are accessible anywhere and like Dropbox, you can add contributors for all of your files.
Amazon S3. This is Amazon’s file management service. There is a cost to it, but you’re charged for the size/amount of the files you store.
Vimeo. If you’re creating videos, Vimeo is a great place to host your videos. You can keep them private and embed them to your site, social media platform, or anywhere you want. It’s a quick and easy platform to use, and you can even share your video within Vimeo for other users.
When you run a business, your success or failure generally hinges on your leads (to some degree). You need to attract interested people and find a way to capture their contact information so that they can get to know YOU and you can tell them when you do something cool. So, there are tools to use on your website and in social media to capture these people’s information. These are a few of my favorite.
Thrive Leads. Thrive lead is a one-time paid service that gives you access to a plug-in that integrates with your website and allows you to create custom pop-ups, opt-in forms, and lightboxes for your website. The whole purpose is to entice potential clients to join your online community. Thrive lead forms will help you do that. I use them and love them! Plus, they’re constantly updating their plug-ins. So there’s always some new feature to use.
Thrive Pages. From the same people who created Thrive Leads, offer Thrive Pages. These are custom sales pages that you can use to promote a product, service, or freebie you offer. Generally, people sign-up to get access to whatever you’re giving away or selling.
Pop-up ally. This is a free service that allows you to create relatively custom pop-ups (as the name suggests) and lightboxes pages for your website. They are free and easy to use.
Leadpages. Leadpages offers all of the versatility as Thrive Pages. They have templates that you can customize and link to your domain. The big difference between Thrive Pages and Leadpages is the price. With Leadpages, you pay monthly to maintain the service, but with Thrive Leads, it integrates fully with your site and you only pay a one-time fee for lifetime upgrades. Other than the difference in the payment structures, the services are just about the same.
Running a business has a lot of moving pieces. It’s easy to forget a date or get behind on a schedule. Even if you’re the only one on your “team” having a project management software system can keep you organized and completing your assigned tasks on time.
Basecamp. I use Basecamp for my client work. When I’m working with a client, I can give them access to their project (and only their project). I can share updates with them through Basecamp, and they can track the schedule (in Gantt format) and see approve drafts. The system saves the back and forth email game and keeps all our project work in one easily searchable location. It really streamlines the client relationship. While Basecamp isn’t free, if you can afford to pay for a project management system, this is definitely one to investigate.
Basecamp alternatives. Asana is very similar to Basecamp but it offers free access for small teams. Trello also has a free option that allows you to create lots of to-do list and brainstorming lists. Neither one offers the versatility of Basecamp, but both alternative systems will help keep you and your projects organized.
If you own an online business or you’re interested in starting one, these 26 free and budget-friendly tools are all worth researching and considering for your business’ growth.
Do you use any of these tools? Or have I missed a tool that you think I should cover? Leave a comment below.