A lot of people ask me what I have used to run my businesses and what products / books / courses I recommend. Here they are all listed in one easy to reference guide. Where it’s relevant there are affiliate links below.
- Luxury of Less is about my philosophy on living a minimalist lifestyle. 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. Over 5,000 copies sold.
Blogging has changed my life. It can change yours as well if you want it to.
Whatever you do, customize your site somehow. The reality is, while content is very important, it will not usually make up for a poor looking site. (There are exceptions to every rule, of course.)
Charlie from CharfishDesign.com handles a lot 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 4 iOS apps for me. And he’s an OnlyIndie.com co-founder (so he obviously designed that site as well).
Niall Doherty designed & coded Karol.Gajda.com (you know, the site you’re currently reading) and was a pleasure to work with. He’s also traveling around the world without getting on a plane while also building his design business, so extra points for that.
- 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: Lots of bloggers use them, 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.
Shopping Cart & Credit Cards
- E-junkie – I used to use e-junkie to deliver 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.
- Stripe – Holy crap. Merchant accounts suck. I hate them. But Stripe? I can’t praise them enough.
Show Me The Money
Because if you want to live a life of freedom you’re going to have to run a business.
Read all of the following.
- Anything You Want by Derek Sivers. Be sure to read every article on Derek’s blog as well.
- Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Dr Robert Cialdini. Eye opening, informative, and battle tested.
- Everything by Seth Godin, but I specifically recommend The Dip.
- How To Win At The Sport Of Business by Mark Cuban. A true hustler.
Because it’s fun and it’s important. In the words of Henry Rollins, “Knowledge without mileage is bullshit.”
- 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. :)
- HipMunk.com – This is my favorite of the flight search engines. Their Android app is cool too.
- MileWise.com – An airline miles search engine. This makes it much easier to use all those miles you’ve scrounged up.
- 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.)
Productivity While Traveling
- Productive Anywhere by Fabian Kruse is a great resource. You’ll find an interview with me inside this course.
- 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.
- HTHWorldwide – What I think about insurance companies.
- CouchSurfing.org – 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 random people in new places, 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 don’t eat animals 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.
- American Express Platinum – This is the only credit card I travel with. 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 20 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. (There’s a trick to get a $200 “refund” but I can’t share it publicly.)
Living In The Cloud
Because if you’re living in our modern times you should be living in the cloud. It’s more fun that way. It’s also easier and less stressful.
- SugarSync – I use SugarSync to backup my files. 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.)