Self-Employment on the Road
Or: The Answer to, “So, what do you do?”
Short answer: basically what we were already doing.
Christian’s still running his software-as-a-service business, which is basically a collection of websites/extensions/etc. that he’s made over the years that generate the majority of the income funding this adventure. They include:
- DBinbox: a service to easily receive large files on your website
- Textbooks Please: a search engine to find the lowest price for books
- Chrome Export History: a Chrome extension to, you guessed it, export your history
And he always has a few that are up-and-coming.
He wrote about his Macbook developer set-up on his blog back in 2014. (Want more information about this? Email him at [his first name]@gen.co to ask him to do his write-up!)
Right now my “job” is helping with dbinbox customer support (answering emails), keeping up our social media (this blog, YouTube, tweeting), and planning stops. Here’s what I use to do these:
My 2015 Macbook for writing, video and photo editing, and other computery tasks.
Christian’s iPhone 6S for taking photo video (higher quality than my 5C).
For the blog, I try to start writing each day’s post in the morning and add to it as we go to save time in the evening. At night and/or throughout the day, I AirDrop media from Christian’s phone to my Macbook for sorting, re-naming, rotating, and storing. Then I add the relevant media to the blog post so it can be published.
I write using Byword, a text editor. It’s $11.99 and well worth every penny for its ease of editing, and I also sprang for the iPhone app ($5.99) for editing on the go. This hasn’t been as useful since the process of saving files back to Dropbox is pretty tedious.
To publish posts to our blog, I use Blot. For $20/year, I can publish blog posts by simply dragging the text file to a folder in my Dropbox. I can also:
- organize posts by tag folders within Blot
- keep drafts and see previews (letting me check for those pesky rotated pictures!)
- store images (not video, syncing with Dropbox takes too long)
- get tech support super easily by tweeting the creator @davidmerfieId.
Finally, for video editing on the blog, I use iMovie since it came with my Mac. If I’m just splicing together two existing videos, I sometimes just use YouTube’s Editor, but iMovie allows greater control.
The other main tool I use for my ‘job’ that I’ve written about before is Todoist, a free productivity tool/to-do service (with a paid premium version available). I tried several to-do list tools before settling on this one, like Sticky Notes on Mac, iOS reminders, Workflowy (used for most of the wedding planning and a close second), Google Keep, and Google Tasks through Gmail. None of them had all of the features I was looking for (that Todoist has), including:
- Usability across platforms - can I use it on my phone and computer (and now watch)?
- Off-line editing - will I be able to see my tasks when I don’t have wifi/data? Can I add new ones?
- Sub-tasks - can I nest tasks so that all of my shopping tasks are in one clump?
- Projects - can I sort tasks into larger overarching groups? With Todoist, I sort mine by location - computer, phone, RV, a specific location (shopping goes here), and anywhere.
This is apparently also part of the Getting Things Done model of workflow, though I didn’t know it when I started using to-do lists. The goal is to have a way to capture every little thought that crosses your mind - “I need to buy more batteries,” “Christian’s birthday is coming up,” “I wonder if fireworks are legal here?” - and file it somewhere for later. Especially since I’m not always at my computer or even able to get Internet, this allows me to keep track of those tasks that I want to do next time I can get online.
The last main tool that I use for our traveling/working needs is Furkot for travel planning. I was using Roadtrippers, but it was being glitchy for me, and Furkot does everything Roadtrippers does plus some. Also, their tech support is super-accessible, and I can check our route offline on my phone.
Supplemented by TripAdvisor’s “Things To Do” and Zomato’s restaurant reviews, this is how we find quality attractions and eating. To find places to stay, I’ve had some luck with Furkot’s “Sleep” feature that I can use to search for campgrounds near our route, but sometimes just Googling “(location) rv park” works just as well.
A long answer, indeed - with this and our savings (thanks to full-ride scholarships and a cash-only purchase policy), we’re able to travel full-time.
In the future, I’d love to start teaching yoga and/or public speaking workshops on the road, but for now we’re still settling into routines and habits for our full-time RV life.