By Natalie Sisson.
Imagine watching the setting sun silhouetting the Eiffel tower, while you’re sipping your cappuccino at the quaint little cafe on the street corner.
Suddenly you decide to take out your iPhone, capture the magical sunset, and send it out to your followers on Instagram with an inspiring quote. And while you’re at it, you decide to make it the header image for your next blog post too.
That’s what I love most about being a location independent entrepreneur — the freedom to explore the world, connect with my audience whenever I want, and work on my business, all at the same time.
All it takes is a smartphone and a wifi connection and you too can be sitting at that cafe in Paris and talking to your Virtual Assistant about uploading the next blog post on your website.
It’s not just a smartphone, it’s a business investment
If you are a digital nomad like me, I’m sure you love gadgets and technology too. After all, they allow us the freedom to work from anywhere, and stay connected no matter what.
I’m all about minimalism, but I don’t compromise when it comes to my phone or laptop. I see them as an investment in my business and know that having the best devices and technology to manage my business will pay off in the future.
But it wasn’t until my business got flushed down the toilet (literally), when I dropped my perfectly good iPhone 6 Plus in the cafe’s restroom in Lisbon, that I realized how much we’ve come to rely on technology.
Luckily, I didn’t lose anything important and I was super glad to have everything synced and backed up to iCloud. I managed to recover all of my data, photos, videos and notes.
But I had to start from scratch on my replacement iPhone, when it came to setting up the apps that I used. It gave me a great opportunity to evaluate which apps I actually needed and used on a regular basis to run my business.
Since publishing content and interacting with my audience is a huge component of my business, those were the apps I downloaded first.
I want to show you which smartphone apps I love and recommend, and exactly how I use them to stay productive and publish content consistently while I’m on the road.
The best smartphone apps to track and publish content consistently
1. Google Apps – for all your online business needs
A few years ago I started paying for Google Apps to have my own professional Gmail in addition to using Google Calendar, Google Analytics and Google Drive, which are integral to my business.
Google Drive makes it really easy to share documents and presentations with other members of my team. It is a fantastic tool for collaborating on blog posts for example.
Like this very blog post. I had my team research and come up with ideas and put them in a Google Doc, which they shared with me through a secure link that Google Drive creates.
And I was able to pick it up later (after I was done playing World Championship Ultimate Frisbee), and write the post itself.
Google Drive also saves everything to the cloud, so you don’t have to worry about losing your data. Even if your laptop breaks or phone gets stolen (which, by the way, also happened to me in Portugal, last year).
I still can not believe how easy to use the free Google Drive app is for editing and sharing documents even on my iPhone, the fact that it is free is even more reason to love it.
2. Dropbox – for cloud storage and sharing large files
When it comes to cloud storage and sharing, nothing beats Dropbox (even though there a ton of competitors these days).
I publish my Suitcase Entrepreneur podcast every week and have close to 300 episodes now. If you have ever tried podcasting, you know it’s not as easy as it sounds to get set up.
Aside from actually scheduling interviews with guests and recording the episode, it has to go through the audio post production, audio transcription which gets turned into show notes, plus linking to all the resources mentioned in the podcast and publishing.
And I can’t imagine doing that without the aid of Dropbox. All I have to do is upload the recorded podcast episode to my specific ‘Unedited’ Podcast folder on Dropbox, and my podcast editor automatically gets a notification it’s ready to edit.
Via a specific Asana task set up my Virtual Assistant can also then get to work following my SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) for getting the episode ready for uploading to iTunes and on my blog.
Dropbox works really well when it comes to large files (which Google Drive doesn’t deal with very well), like audio and video clips, and has become an indispensable tool in my business. And it’s free to get started with.
3. Evernote – for noting down ideas for content topics
If you’re a regular on Problogger, I’m sure you’ve seen this post on using Evernote among others. It has become the quintessential notepad for digital nomads, like myself.
It’s essentially the place I dump all my brilliant ideas, and any interesting articles, videos or podcasts I come across that will further my learning or curiosity on a topic, or add to my upcoming content editorial calendar.
I have a few note books setup for various areas of my business such as my new Freedom Plan book I’m writing, my Right2Freedom.com research, as well as ways to improve my online blog and podcast. I clip articles or write notes that go into these specific notebooks.
I also use tags extensively so I can search on keywords whenever I need to find the information in a note I’ve taken.
I also put scheduled timers on the more important notes so that Evernote sends me a notification to my email or through the desktop or mobile app to revisit that note, so that it doesn’t get filed away into obscurity, never to be revisited again.
Evernote works really well for you creative types who have a million ideas a day. You can even create an ideas file that you review each week to look at which of your many ideas you can actually consider moving forward into something tangible.
It’s also a brilliant tool if you write many blog posts to gather your research, ideas, quotes and resources into one note that you can turn into a draft post and finesse online or offline.
4. Lastpass – the last password you will ever need
As you might have guessed by now, it’s not just me who’s working on the content for my website. I’ve got designers, WordPress experts, and a VA, who work with me to make sure that the highest quality content gets published consistently, week after week.
This means at least 3-5 different people need access to tools and software that I need to run my business.
Even if you are a solopreneur, you will likely be using different tools to run your business as well as a bunch of different websites and software.
I do not know of a single person who doesn’t juggle at least half a dozen passwords to manage all these different tools and sites.
That’s where Lastpass comes to your rescue. It’s a free software that allows you to store all your passwords securely. All you need to remember is one universal password for logging into the software and it takes care of the rest.
That’s why it’s called Lastpass. And on my iPhone, I don’t even need to remember this one password, as I can use the fingerprint scanner to log in.
Lastpass also gives me the freedom to share my passwords with my team members securely, which means they can’t actually see my password but can still use it to log in to the tools and softwares I use..
So, if you’re still storing your passwords in a text file somewhere, or worse, using the same password on every site, I urge you to give Lastpass a try.
5. Asana – for organizations and project management
If you’re a blogger, you know how indispensable an editorial calendar is for publishing content consistently. I use Google calendar to for setting up my editorial calendar, but it is really cumbersome to look at and it’s hard to get an overall idea of all the topics I’ll be covering.
That is why I also have a version of it on Asana that gives me an overview of what topics I will be covering every month along with what topics need to be published every single week. My team members also have access to it in Asana and I can update them on the individual tasks that need to get done.
The Asana iPhone app lets me keep track of all the projects I’ve got going on, and lets me manage my team, even if I don’t have access to my Macbook. It is one of the best free tools I’ve ever used to simplify my projects, help me plan my days and weeks, manage my team and organize my business.
I would say, on average I save between 2-4 hours per week using Asana to set my own daily tasks as well as those of my team, instead of using emails and other tools to streamline every activity.
If productivity and project management is becoming a bottleneck in your business, Asana can solve almost all of your problems. I am such a huge fan of Asana that I even wrote a mega post describing exactly how I use Asana in my business.
If you want to give Asana a try (which you should, because it’s awesome and free), you can read my mega post here to get set up in just a few minutes.
6. Slack – for communicating with my team
I started using Slack recently and I can tell you that it has been brilliant at streamlining the communication within my team. It has eliminated all the back and forth on email and it integrates perfectly with Google Drive and Dropbox, so we no longer have to scroll through our inbox to find links to the shared files and documents.
As great as Gmail is, there’s just something about Slack that makes it fun and easy to talk with my team members. Between Asana and Slack, I have everything I need to manage my business, projects, and team.
The location independent dream is real
As a location independent entrepreneur I love going off on adventures and exploring new places (69 countries and counting!), but not at the cost of my audience, community and my day-to-day business operations
The fact that I can use my iPhone to set up and manage my projects, communicate and collaborate seamlessly with my team, and publish content consistently for my audience just blows my mind. Between my Macbook, iPhone 6s plus, and iPad Air 2 (and the internet, of course) I have everything I need to run my business from anywhere in the world.
If you want to know the rest of the key tools and apps I use as a digital nomad then you can download my ‘The Definitive List of Tools to Run Your Business From Anywhere’ toolkit.
Natalie Sisson is an Amazon No #1 bestselling author of The Suitcase Entrepreneur, podcaster, speaker and adventurer who believes everybody has the right to choose freedom in business and adventure in life. She’s on a mission to ensure 1,000,000+ entrepreneurs do just that by 2020 over at the SuitcaseEntrepreneur.com.
Born in New Zealand Natalie’s built her multiple six figure business from her laptop over the last 6 years while living out of her suitcase, traveling to 69 countries and she’s dedicated to teaching others how to build a profitable online business by selling their knowledge, skills and expertise in a way that supports their ideal lifestyle and gives them true freedom through her Freedom Plan program.