Are you interested in starting your own blog, which can turn into a full-time business, making you full-time income (or a secondary full-time income stream)?
Or what about becoming the YouTube star you have always dreamed of becoming?
If you want access to a step-by-step blueprint of becoming a successful blogger, as in, a blogger that knows how to get traffic to their site and does not only write for their friends and family, then I would highly recommend joining Project 24 by Income School, which is the course I am following that helped built this site.
Without that course, I probably would not have any traffic right now or would not have known how to become a successful blogger.
If you are interested in saving money when traveling by finding cheaper airfares, using international SIM cards and travel SIM cards strategically, or services that will enhance your travel experiences, then you should check out my Travel Resources page.
I will talk about Project 24 a bit later, but first, let's go through the resources I use or have used to start this site and business.
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links. At NO additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you make a purchase. In some cases, you can get a discount on a product or service when using a particular affiliate link. If you are ready to start your online business and would like to support what I am doing, using these links is one way to do that.
To start a website, you need to have a domain name (like phonetravelwiz.com) and a web host. If you want to create a blog, then using WordPress is the way to go.
You have probably visited many websites that use WordPress, but they do not look like your typical blog. That is because 35% of the internet is powered by WordPress, and WordPress websites can be customized in any way you want them to look like.
Bluehost is, by far, the best Shared WordPress Host out there for new websites. In fact, they are recommended by many well-established bloggers on the scene, mainly because they are SUPER affordable.
Their admin panel is easy to use, and WordPress is installed for you with a few simple clicks (unlike many other hosts out there).
What makes it better is that you can get a FREE domain name for the 1st year if you host your website with Bluehost. Score!
Be aware that Bluehost is a Shared WordPress Host, meaning that you share a server with multiple other websites that use Bluehost. If the server gets overloaded because another website on that server is getting a lot of traffic, your site will slow down a bit.
The same applies to when your site is getting a lot of traffic, your site performance will suffer, and the same counts for the other websites on that server.
However, this is not something you have to worry much about as a new blogger. Plus, Bluehost's servers are not that fragile – they can handle a lot (like up to 100 000 pageviews a month, according to Income School that had Camperreport.com on Bluehost until they reached 100 000 pageviews a month).
Once you start getting more than 30 000 page views per month, then I would consider moving to a Managed WordPress Host, like WPX.
Intermediate & Advanced Hosting: WPX Managed Hosting
WPX is the best and most inexpensive Managed WordPress Host out there. Sites that are getting a lot of traffic on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis certainly want to move away from a Shared Host to a Managed Host for performance reasons. The server response time with WPX is incredible fast.
Not only is WPX‘ interface easy to use, but its customer service is also incredibly fast. Terry Kyle, the co-founder of WPX, promises that a customer service agent will get on the chat with you within 30 seconds. I have chatted with WPX many times, and they have never broken that 30-second promise.
If you decide to move hosts (like from Bluehost to WPX, for example), WPX will migrate the website for you for FREE. Not only that, but you get access to a Content Delivery Network (CDN) for FREE too, they create back-ups of your website for FREE, detect and remove malware for FREE, and fix your site if it is down for FREE. So many FREE things (okay, I will stop with the FREE caps… for now).
Although I said that WPX is an inexpensive Managed WordPress Host (which they are compared to their competition, like WP Engine), they are significantly more expensive than a Shared Webhost, like Bluehost. In fact, WPX is 10 times more expensive than Bluehost.
I moved Phone Travel Wiz from Bluehost to WPX relatively early in my blogging journey because a lot of my readers come from countries where internet speeds are, sadly, slow. By being with WPX, the site loads much faster for everyone. Thus, improving the user experience.
To be honest, there are so many websites where you can buy domain names from, and all of them do what they promise – give you a domain name. And the thing is, you do not have to buy a domain name from your web host.
Simply get a free domain name if you purchase your web hosting with Bluehost. If you are going straight with WPX because you are ready to take your blogging journey to the next level (which I actually recommend), you can purchase a domain while ordering your hosting.
Website Advertisements: Ezoic
The advertisements (ads) you see on this site are run by Ezoic, an intelligent platform built for publishers that serves ads.
If you are a new blogger, you probably will start with Google Adsense (because no other reputable ad network will accept new websites, except for media.net, but those ads are difficult to set up, and they looked ugly when I used them for a short period).
Once you reach 10 000 page views per month, then you can join Ezoic and see a MASSIVE increase in ad revenue because of how Ezoic's AI works. It is not uncommon to see a jump in revenue between 25% to 50% while with Ezoic.
However, if you join Project 24, you can have Ezoic ads on your website WITHOUT having to meet the page view requirement. Seeing some dollars trickle in the beginning will be an INCREDIBLE motivation booster early on your blogging journey.
Blogging & YouTube Resources
There is SO much information out there on how to start a blog and how to start a YouTube channel. Trying to follow all of that advice will be a challenge because some of them are contradictory (some will hurt you in the long run because of shady tactics).
Luckily, I managed to find a few blogging- and YouTube-related resources that helped me built Phone Travel Wiz.
Blogging & YouTube Course: Project 24
Project 24 by Income School is a course with the purpose of “starting a project to replace your current income with money from passive income websites in 24 months.” This project could either be a blog or a YouTube channel. It could also be both, like in my case with this site and the Phone Travel Wiz YouTube channel (this is the recommended approach).
During my internship at a kitesurf school in Copenhagen, Denmark (Frozen Palm Tree), I had to learn many things about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and blogging. One of the resources my internship coordinator gave me was the Income School YouTube channel.
The Income School channel has A LOT of valuable and free information related to building an online business, and I would recommend watching a few videos of theirs to get a better idea of what Ricky and Jim, the founders of Income School, do and stand for. Like this hour-long webinar down below.
After writing a few blog posts for Frozen Palm Tree, like this one (which has been translated into Danish – good luck with understanding that) and getting to know more about blogging and SEO, I thought it would be cool to start my own blog.
I was already imagining traveling full-time while generating income from my online business – that is the dream of every Gen Z'er (or Zoomer, but that term is a bit weird). Which, at the time of writing, I am doing right now (greetings from Tainan, Taiwan).
After following their YouTube channel for a few months, and after finishing my internship, I finally decided to join Project 24. It has been the second-best decision I had made in 2019 (besides meeting up with a Tinder date in early 2019 while I was in Los Angeles, who has now been my partner for more than 1.5 years – that has been the best decision I made in 2019).
Project 24 comes with 20 courses to get you started with your online business career, such as:
- 60 Steps to Blogging Success
- 60 Steps to Success on YouTube
- How to Monetize your site (with ads and info products)
- How to do SEO properly
- Building authority in your niche/industry
- Search analysis
And many more. Did I tell mention that those courses are all part of Project 24? Those are not individual courses you have to buy separately. Moreover, they create and release new courses all the time.
When I joined Project 24 in August 2019, there were 13 courses. Now, there are 20 (and probably a few more ones at the time you are reading this).
Some of the original courses have been revamped to make them up to date and relevant because the industry is constantly changing – that makes Project 24 so valuable, unlike some other courses that never get updated once released.
And if you are not sure what niche (topic) you should choose, Project 24 offers 1000+ niche site ideas to get you started. However, it is better to choose a niche you already have experience with or are passionate about.
I could have created a generic travel blog, but there are so many out there that it would be hard to compete in (but it is possible if you do your search analysis right, which Project 24 teaches you).
A blog dedicated to phone travel, however, is not something you see a lot (and would be a weird topic – only a crazy guy would do that. Wait, what?).
Since I traveled a lot and bought SIM cards all the time, it was relatively easy for me to choose my niche – phone travel/traveling with your phone.
If you are serious about starting an online business, whether it is a blog, a YouTube channel, or both, then I cannot recommend Project 24 enough.
As a disclaimer, I am not at full-time income yet (because of the pandemic and my site falls under the travel niche, so ad rates and traffic went down a lot), but the business grew exceptionally fast when compared to the Project 24 timeline pre-pandemic. I could have been a full-timer by now, but who knows.
YouTube Video & Channel Assets: YouTube Starter Kit Bundle
If you ever searched about starting your own YouTube channel, then you have probably heard of or seen Roberto Blake. He is a Creative Entrepreneur, Public Speaker, and Business Coach.
He has a lot of videos on how to start a YouTube channel and how to grow it. To get you started, he created a YouTube Starter Kit Bundle that comes with assets to get your channel started. From YouTube Thumbnail assets to channel artwork, from End card templates to royalty-free music, it is the YouTube Starter bundle every new YouTuber needs, including 100+ ideas for YouTube videos.
There is also something called the Creator Academy Group Membership, which comes with exclusive YouTube training, online business development, and many other perks.
As I am already part of Project 24 that also deals with YouTube development, I did not join this membership program because that would be overkill.
However, the program has a lot of positive reviews, and it could be something to consider if you want to solely focus on building a business around YouTube.
Video Editing Software: Sony Vegas Pro
I have been using Sony Vegas Pro, which is now simply called Vegas Pro, since the days I created Call of Duty commentary videos, which I explained in my personal story section in my about page (do not bother searching for those videos – they are gone already, ha).
Sony Vegas Pro has also been my video editor when I made vlogs (which you also cannot find anymore).
I am still using Sony Vegas Pro 13, even though Vegas Pro 18 is out now. I do not know how to use more than 90% of the features Sony Vegas Pro has to offer (mainly because I keep my videos simple), and it has been working well for me for more than half a decade. So there is no need for me to upgrade.
Those who use Apple devices may want to consider Final Cut Pro, which has been hailed as the best editing software for Mac.
I have never used a Mac product myself, so I cannot vouch for Final Cut Pro, but many friends of mine can. Plus, Project 24 has a dedicated course about video editing with Final Cut Pro. Still, the techniques taught in that course apply to almost all editing software out there.
My Camera: Canon EOS 600D/T3I
The Canon EOS 600D, which is known as the Canon EOS Rebel T3i in North America, is a camera that is a decade old now (released in 2011). Yet, I still use it, and it is still working fine to this day.
When I bought it in 2014, it was the best entry camera for those who wanted to start vlogging.
The Canon EOS 600D was discontinued by Canon many years ago. However, it is still possible to buy this camera online or second-hand. Since it is so old, they are sold at bargain prices right now. I would, however, still recommend getting this camera if you are not too fussy about certain technical aspects.
Remember, the camera is a decade old now, which is why my videos are not in 60 fps or 4K quality (but who actually watches YouTube videos on 4k anyway?). However, it does the job for both recording and taking photos.
I am not planning on upgrading my camera anytime soon, but there are many good cameras out there that support 60 fps and record in 4k (and even 8k, but those will be expensive).
Camera Recommendations: Sony a6400 or Sony a6600
Jimmy from Income School recommends the Sony a6600 because it is small, light, compact, and has an LCD screen that you can flip up (excellent for vlogging). Moreover, the a6600 has impressive video quality.
Do note that although the Sony a6600 supports 4k, it does not support 4k 60fps. 1080p 60 fps and 2k 60 fps are, however, supported.
My friend Danny from SDG Danny, with more than 1000 subscribers, has the Sony a6500. It is also a great camera, but it does not have a front-facing LCD. Even then, the video quality is terrific, as you can see in Danny's videos. Here is a video where I am featured when I visited Danny in Vancouver in 2017 (and I even used it to record some bits for that vlog – quite a cool camera!).
It is good to have friends like Danny. I am not really a camera expert. I mean, look at this.
My Microphone: RØDE Stereo VideoMic Pro Rycote (Camera-On Mic)
When was the last time you watched a video on YouTube where the video quality was not so great and that it bothered you? Probably not often or ever. Viewers can forgive bad video quality.
However, when was the last time you enjoyed a video that had awful audio quality? Probably never. Some even claim that audio quality matters more than video quality, but that is debatable.
If you are using a dedicated camera (as in, not your phone) to record your videos, you should use a camera-on microphone, like RØDE Stereo VideoMic Pro Rycote, which I use for my videos. Without it, the audio quality would be awful.
I bought this microphone for when I was still vlogging – it is a great microphone for vlogging and when outdoors. However, the audio recording always has white noise, even when inside.
When vlogging outside, the white noise would not matter that much because of all the other external noises, but when inside, it is annoying. Yes, you can edit it out, but that can be tricky (editing it too much makes it sound like you are talking into a can).
Here is one of the first videos I posted on the Phone Travel Wiz channel. If you listen closely, especially at the beginning of the video, you can hear the white noise. Even when the music is playing (which is a bit loud in this video, I have to agree), you can still hear the white noise. That is why almost all of my videos have music in the background.
Most viewers probably will not notice it, but it is one drawback of this particular microphone. However, it is relatively affordable and does the job well.
Do note that you have to speak louder than you used to when using this microphone. Else, the audio volume will be low, as in the video above (in my defense, I recorded that video at 6:00 (AM) and did not want to wake up the neighbors and had a flight departing at 10:00 (AM)). I am a bit louder in my newer videos, though, like this one.
Unlike standalone (Lav) microphones, you do not have to sync the audio with the video footage with a camera-on microphone (like the RØDE Stereo VideoMic Pro Rycote), which can SAVE A LOT OF TIME in post-production.
Recommended Microphone: Tascam DR10-L (Lav Mic)
Standalone microphones, also known as Lav microphones, often sound much clearer than a camera-on microphone. I cannot tell you why, because I simply do not know, but it is how it is.
Here is a great example. Emma from Emma cruises (or Cruising Isn't Just For Old People) has both the RØDE microphone and the Tascam DR10-L. The left video below was recorded with the RØDE, the right video below was recorded with a Tascam DR10-L. The difference is night and day.
Soon, I will be upgrading to the Tascam DR10-L because the audio quality is so much better than my current microphone. Plus, I will not have to almost shout anymore when recording videos, which my neighbors will appreciate.
Remember, you do have to sync the audio with the video footage when editing your video, which will make the editing process a bit more complicated and time-consuming. However, the effort is worth it, I would say.
WordPress Themes & Plug-ins
Remember when I stated that you have most likely visited a lot of WordPress websites without even realizing it because they did not look like your traditional blog? That is because WordPress has so many themes and plug-ins to customize your site the way you want it to be.
It could look like a blog, like Phone Travel Wiz, or it could be like a “normal” looking site, like a news site, or a corporate site. You would be surprised how many government-agency websites around the world use WordPress.
Below are some recommended themes and plug-ins for your WordPress site.
Fastest WordPress Theme: Acabado
A WordPress theme can make or break your website. When I say break, I mean literally break. Remember back in the 2000s when sites had flashy animations all over the place, a visitor counter hoovering around, and background music blasting as soon as you arrived? Yeah, that will not fly nowadays.
There are many WordPress themes out there, more than 7700 of them (and those are just the ones in the WordPress themes directory – there are many more). I would highly recommend going with a premium theme, which is a theme you pay for, as free ones usually lack many functionalities and look ugly.
I use Acabado on Phone Travel Wiz, which is the World's Fastest WordPress theme, and is created by Income School (at least, according to them). Setting Acabado up is easy, quick, and straightforward, unlike many premium themes out there. Plus, the theme looks clean.
Moreover, as the theme is lightweight, your site will be blazing fast which is good for Search Engine Optimization (SEO – speed is a ranking factor, according to Google) and user experience (a website that takes 30 seconds to load a page is a no-go nowadays).
If you are a Project 24 member, like I am, then you get access to Acabado for FREE. Otherwise, you can purchase it for $50/year or $99 for a century.
Yes, it literally says a century, aka 100 years. I was kind of puzzled about this pricing strategy when I initially saw it, but their explanation makes sense.
Once you get a license, you can use the theme on as many sites as you want (unlike many other themes that will charge you per site), which is awesome.
All-in-One WordPress Management Plug-in: ManageWP
ManageWP is a great plug-in that can do several things. It can create back-ups of your site, it can shoot you a message if your site is down for some reason, does performance checks to see if your site is (still) running fast or not, check SEO ranking, and so much more.
Many of the ManageWP features are free, while you have to pay for some. But the prices they charge are SO low.
I use the premium back-up feature ($2/month) in addition to the back-ups WPX creates daily (just in case), the premium broken links checker ($1/month) to see if pages or sites I link to are still working or not, and the SEO ranking tool ($1/month) to see the performance of certain keywords (if they are ranking better or worse on Google).
If you have watched any of my videos, let's say the Buying a SIM Card in Botswana video guide, then you probably have heard me say to head over to phonetravelwiz.com/botswana-guide to learn more about buying a SIM card in Botswana. Below is a clip where I actually encourage the viewer to go to that post for more information.
The thing is, the actual link to that article is phonetravelwiz.com/buying-a-prepaid-sim-card-in-botswana-guide – no way anyone would want to type out that URL in their browser. But phonetravelwiz.com/botswana-guide is much easier.
Pretty Links allows you to make… well… pretty links. This is especially useful when wanting your audience to visit a particular page on your site without having to type out a long URL.
It is also an excellent tool for tracking which links your visitors click on when reading your content, and it is a powerful tool for affiliate marketing.
For example, this link to my Buying The Best Local Prepaid SIM Cards Around The World page (which is the hub page for all the SIM card buying guides I have written) is a pretty link. Instead of www.phonetravelwiz.com/local-sims, which is the direct link to that page, it has the phonetravelwiz.com/stay/local-sims path in it. This way, I can see that a reader clicked from a particular page to another page of mine.
If I had just used the direct link, phonetravelwiz.com/local-sims, then I would not be able to see where the visitor actually came from. With Google Analytics, you can see how many views a page got on a day, week, month, etc., but it does not show you the visitor journey, unlike with Pretty links.
Or if someone from a YouTube video decided to click the link in the description or pinned comment to check out the article.
Or when promoting products I love, like Surfroam (which, if you are an avid reader of this blog or watched a few videos of mine, then you have heard of the phonetravelwiz.com/go/surfroam link before). The actual affiliate link is https://surfroam.com?tap_a=22019-573852&tap_s=634217-58e74b, which is straight-up ugly and nobody would type that out.
It is also a good tool to keep your links up to date. For example, SimCorner, one of the travel SIM card sellers that I recommend, changed affiliate platforms earlier this year, which meant that my affiliate link changed. By then, I had written more than 200 articles, and many of them had a link to SimCorner too.
Another example. Vision Global Wifi is a mobile hotspot provider. I used to recommend them until they suddenly suspended operations because of the pandemic. Almost all my articles had a link to their site.
Instead of me having to go through 200 articles and remove those links, I could change the target destination to the mobile hotspot section on my travel resources page, and delete the links once I have the time to do so.
Image Optimization: ShortPixels & Resize Image After Upload
Smartphones nowadays can take amazing photos. It is not uncommon to see a low-end smartphone that can take pictures in 20 megapixels or higher (apparently a Xiaomi phone has a 108-megapixel camera – crazy!).
Although this great when posting these photos on social media, large images are terrible for websites because they make your page load slowly.
Remember when you visited a site and an image was loading in parts, like a loading bar? That happens when you upload a large image file on a site that serves (shows) them slowly. Imagine the page containing 30+ photos, like this one, all loading slowly – you would probably leave because of the awful user experience.
After ShortPixels did its thing, the file size got compressed to 33 kb! That is a file size reduction of more than 97%.
Plus, the image quality is still good. Sure, it does not look as clear as before the compression. But what matters is that you can see the camera and recognize that it is a camera (you do not want to compress the image so much that you can count the pixels on the image).
ShortPixels has two pricing tiers. Monthly and One-Time plans. I recommend going with the One-Time plans. Unless you use more than 100 images for each post you write, and you post 100 articles a month, you will be wasting your money on credits you will not be able to use with a monthly plan.
I bought 10 000 credits in August 2019, Exactly a year later, I still had more than 4000 credits left to be used.
If I had chosen to stay on the smallest plan ($4.99 for 5000 credits/month), I would have wasted almost $60 and would have hit the 5000 credit mark a year later.
Back to image sizes, in particular, image dimensions. I currently use a Microsoft Surface Book 2 (15″ variant) that has a resolution of 3240 x 2160 (it is a powerful laptop, btw. Back at home, I have a gaming desktop with 3 monitors. All other laptops I have had were not powerful enough or slowed down within a year – the Surface Book has been an excellent replacement and has not slowed down (yet), although I miss having three screens).
If I take a screenshot of a page and insert it in an article, that one screenshot would take up the whole screen of the reader (on desktop, at least – WordPress serves smaller images on mobile). You have probably been on pages where you had to scroll so much because the site used a lot of huge images – not fun.
In some of my reviews, I take up to 30 screenshots and insert them into the review. This would result in you scrolling a lot just to get the information – not cool.
Resize Image After Upload, which is a free plug-in, makes the image sizes of the photos you upload on your sire smaller so that images do not have to take up the whole screen on a desktop or laptop.
Even that particular screenshot was resized by Resize Image After Upload because it exceeded the max image dimensions rule I set up.
Table of Contents: LuckyWP Table of Contents
Some say that having a table of contents plug-in on your site will do your harm, as visitors will only read the section they are interested in and leave.
The thing is, most readers will come to your post and scan it (usually the headings, marked-up texts, images, and tables). If they are not convinced that your post will not answer their question or solve their problem, they bounce (which is a bad indicator to Google, which could hurt your article ranking).
Sure, it would be better if every reader would read the whole article, but we are not living in a utopia. And I know you do not read every piece of content out there in full (even I do not, especially if they are not formatted well).
Having a table of contents block early on in your post will help your readers quickly assess whether your post will be useful for them. This table of content block should, preferably, be insertec after the compelling introduction or hook.
For example, I have a best SIM card in * section for my SIM card buying guides, where I tell you which SIM card(s) is/are the best for that particular country, like in Equatorial Guinea.
Although I explain why the particular SIM card is the best, you would probably want to learn more about the SIM card and the operator, like the exact mobile coverage, SIM card prices, and bundle packages.
Those things get answered later in the article, and that is clearly shown in the table of contents block for that article. This shows the reader that the article will answer their questions.
Additionally, a table of contents plug-in like LuckyWP Table of Contents, which is free, can create something called HTML anchors. When you click on such an anchor, the anchor will jump to the specific heading.
When I clicked on the Getesa link, it jumped to the section where I cover Getesa in-depth.
Moreover, these HTML anchors can also be useful on Google or other search engines, which will allow a potential reader to jump to the specific section related to their search query, which is amazing for SEO.
Site Analytics & Performance: Site Kit by Google
As a blogger, you will undoubtedly use Google Analytics (which is free) to keep track of how your site is doing. The same counts for Google Search Console (also free) so that you can see how your site is performing on Google specifically.
If you are early in your blogging career, you will most likely use Google Adsense (or you can go straight with Ezoic if you are a Project 24 member, as Project 24 members do not have to meet the 10k+ page views a month requirement as part of a special deal between Income School and Ezoic).
Site Kit by Google, which is free, integrates the aforementioned Google products (analytics, search console, and Adsense) into one WordPress plug-in, which you can then see and use in your WordPress admin panel. This will give you a quick snapshot of how your site has been doing over the past 28 days.
Just like the other Google products, the Site Kit plug-in is free, so why not use it?
Some hate them, some love them, but emails are part of everyone's business Moreover, you do not want to communicate with potential sponsors and clients with an @gmail.com, @outlook.com, or @yahoo.com email address. Let alone using a relatively inappropriate email address (you have seen them – I do not have to give you any examples).
Below are some email (marketing) tools I use.
Email Hosting: Microsoft 365 or WPX
I am a big fan of Office products, such as Word, Excel, and Outlook, which is why I have Microsoft 365 for Business (formerly Office 365 Business). Some hosts, like WPX, offer free email with your hosting so that you can have a professional email address with your domain name (like email@example.com – come and say hi!).
If your web host offers emails, then there is no need for Microsoft 365. In my case, it is worth it because of the office products.
Email Provider: SendInBlue
If you have signed up for my newsletter, which you should by the way, then you have received the newsletter through SendInBlue. You have probably seen the form below if you have read any of my articles.
Moreover, if you have a small email list, you will not even have to pay for their services, which is excellent. You pay per email sent instead of how many users you have in your mailing list (like most email companies out there), which is a game-changer.
Starting a business can be an exciting, yet challenging endeavor, especially the legal aspects of it. In some countries, setting up a business is easy. In other countries, it is a complicated bureaucratic mess.
Moreover, there are many business types to choose from. Sole proprietorship, (general) partnership, limited liability company, corporation, and many more, depending on the country you are from. Being a freelancer usually means that you have a sole proprietorship, as a freelancer is usually not a legal business form.
If you want to start a proper business where you are not 100% liable for when things go wrong, starting a limited liability company would be the best because of the limited liability (this does not mean creditors cannot come after your personal belongings if your company is debt. That really depends on the laws of your country, and it can even differ per state. Talk to your local attorney for more information).
Unlike a sole proprietorship, which often can be set up without a lot of hassle, setting up a limited liability company requires much more time and money. Luckily, it is possible to set up virtual companies (useful for freelancers) with service providers or even start a limited liability company in a different country than the one you reside in, like in Estonia.
In my case, Aduable OÜ, which is the legal entity that owns the Phone Travel Wiz brand, is a limited liability company incorporated in Estonia. If you have read my about page, then you know that I am a Dutch citizen. I will explain why I decided to have my company registered in Estonia instead of the Netherlands, how it has benefitted me, and how you can do it too.
Estonian E-residency Program: A Pathway To Doing Business In The European Union
The E-Residency program allows non-Estonians to access to Estonian services such as company formation, banking, payment processing, and taxation. Moreover, E-Residency allows digital entrepreneurs to manage their business from anywhere, entirely online. Perfect for digital nomads like me (which is a term I do not like using, but w/e).
Those who are not living in the EU or are not EU citizens can directly gain access to the EU market by becoming an Estonian e-resident and starting a European company. However, EU residents and citizens can also apply for Estonian e-residency, like me. More on that later.
Sure, you can still conduct business with EU-based clients when having a company somewhere outside of the EU. However, things will be more complicated, depending on the regulations of your country and the treaties they have with the EU (if they have any).
Also, corporate taxes in Estonia are simple – a flat corporate tax rate of 20%. However, Estonia does things a bit differently. The business income tax is not assessed on the profit earned every year. Income tax is assessed monthly and only when profits have been distributed (like paying yourself a salary, paying dividends, etc.).
This means that if you consistently re-invest any profit you make back into your company, then you would not have to pay any corporate taxes. This is useful for when your business is still small, and when you cannot afford to pay yourself a salary yet (but you will soon if you follow the Project 24 blueprint).
Back to E-Residency – becoming an Estonian E-resident DOES NOT make you a resident and does not allow you to live in Estonia without a valid visa (except for if you are already an EU citizen. EU citizens have the right to move to any EU country to live, work, study, look for a job or retire).
However, the Estonian government recently announced the Digital Nomad Visa, which allows those who are interested in kickstarting their Estonian business to work and live in Estonia for up to one year.
So why did I become an Estonian E-resident and establish my company in Estonia instead of the Netherlands, as I am already an EU citizen?
In my about page, I explained that I have not lived in the Netherlands since the summer of 2016 because I studied in Denmark for 3.5 years and then started traveling around the world.
As I would not be physically conducting my business in the Netherlands, or have any Dutch clients (because I do not have clients – I write for the general public – consumers), I had a hard time convincing the Dutch Chamber of Commerce to start a Dutch business while not living in the Netherlands.
So I had to find another way to start a business that would allow me to perform my duties remotely – that is why I chose Estonia and the E-Residency program. It suited my needs perfectly.
Becoming an E-Resident is not expensive and not complicated (unlike Hong Kong and Singapore, who also allow you to start a business remotely, but it is SO expensive and complicated).
You have to fill in an application form, pay the state fee of €100 (and an additional €20 if you pick up your E-Residency card at a foreign representation, such as the Estonian embassy in your country or a country nearby. In my case, it was at the Estonian embassy in The Hague, The Netherlands).
Once you have completed your application, the Estonian Police & Border Guard Board will conduct a background check and will notify you by email when the process is complete. This process can take up to 8 weeks – my application was processed in 16 days.
After that, your E-Residency card will be sent to the pick-up location you chose during the application. This can take up to 5 weeks, as Diplomatic Mail from Estonia to foreign representatives are mailed once a week. In my case, it took me 1.5 weeks before I could pick up my E-residency card.
Once I had my card, I was officially an E-resident, and ready to start my Estonian company.
Starting and Managing an Estonian Company: Xolo Leap
In the introduction of the business resources section, I mentioned that starting a business can be expensive and time-consuming in many countries. Registering a company, a limited liability company, in Estonia will cost you €220, and can be done entirely online.
This is insanely cheap compared to many other countries around the world. In the Netherlands, it would cost me between €500-€1000.
And that is just the formation of the company. What about accounting, administration, Estonian law, taxes, and everything else that comes to play when starting a business?
Well, the E-Residency program has a marketplace with service providers. From virtual offices, finance, tax, legal, banking, and payments, there is a service provider that can help you with that.
My service provider is Xolo (formerly LeapIN). They actually set up Aduable OÜ on my behalf. However, I am the sole owner of Aduable OÜ – Xolo just helps me with the legal and boring and complicated stuff.
Moreover, Xolo gives you the tools to conduct your online business. Accounting? They take care of that. Annual filings? They take care of that. In need of a VAT number? Xolo will apply for one for you.
Need an Estonian bank account? Xolo will help you with the onboarding process to get a business account with LHV, which is Estonia‘s only Estonian-based bank (there are other banks in Estonia, but they are from other countries, like Sweden, and do not like to deal with e-residents not living in Estonia).
Because of Xolo, incorporating an Estonian company was effortless. Now that I have my company, I have barely spent any time on business administration, which is something many dread, but I actually enjoy administration (in a language I understand, at least).
If you get any company mail, Xolo will digitalize it and forward it to you by email, so you do not have to list your personal address in contracts, for example.
I have to repeat this: with Xolo Leap, you are the sole owner of your company and nobody else. Xolo acts as an intermediary for all the not-so-fun-stuff-but-very-important-stuff on your behalf so that you can focus on growing your business instead of spending time learning about Estonian business laws and regulations.
For example, when I purchased various Malaysian SIM cards for review purposes, I pay for the SIM card with my business debit card (provided by LHV – you get a 50% discount on the monthly maintenance fee when getting an LHV business account through Xolo – nice), I take a photo of the receipt and upload the receipt to the Xolo dashboard with the mobile app, explain what the purchase was for (SIM card review), and Xolo will take care of the accounting part, while I extensively test and review the SIM cards – is that not awesome?
So if you want to start an Estonian business, I would recommend going with Xolo, Their pricing strategy is affordable, and you can choose the plan you want. Plus, the Xolo team is awesome (I paid them a visit to their office before establishing Aduable OÜ to see with who I would be dealing with – they are all awesome, especially Rainer – I should have taken a selfie with him, but that would have been a bit awkward. We did not really know each other).
My accountant, Maris, is always a pleasure to talk to and answers all my questions quickly and in-depth. We have even gotten to know each other on a personal level (to some extent, of course – we have got to stay professional, ha).
What about the Xolo Go option that costs €0/month? That is more for freelancers who deal with business clients (business to business – B2B) and do not need an actual company.
As I do not deal with clients right now (my readers do not have to pay me for the articles I write – imagine that!), I am not eligible for Xolo Go. Moreover, you do not own the virtual company, Xolo does – I really wanted to have my own company, so I went with Xolo Leap (additionally, Xolo Go is a relatively new concept – it was not a thing when I set up Aduable OÜ).
However, you do not have to become an E-Resident to start doing business with Xolo go. So if you know you will be dealing with business clients and want to get started quickly as a freelancer, you can consider Xolo Go.
Depending on your niche, you may want to go all-in on social media to promote your site. For other niches, this will be a waste of time
Personally, I deleted all my social media accounts back in 2019, but I decided to create a personal Instagram again to stay in touch with a few friends of mine (good luck finding that one).
Phone Travel Wiz, however, is not on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or whatever other social media you can think of.
Some say that YouTube is a social media platform, while others say it is not. What about Pinterest? I always thought it was yet another social media platform, while it actually is a visual search engine. It is like Google, but then (much) more visual.
Plus, unlike other social media platforms that will limit the reach of your content if linking to an external site (like your blog or YouTube channel), Pinterest can be a great additional traffic source in addition to Google.
Below are the social media resources I use. In particular, the resources I use for Pinterest because Phone Travel Wiz is technically not on any social media platform.
Pinterest Course: Pinterest Growth Course with Ell
I have spent YEARS dismissing Pinterest because, as mentioned earlier, I assumed it was another social media platform. Moreover, I did not understand it. You have your typical follow button and even a pin button, which can be seen as a retweet.
However, Pinterest is a visual search engine. Later.com described Pinterest this way:
Pinterest is a social network where people can find inspiration and ideas for their interests and hobbies. Every idea is represented by a Pin, which is an image that is searched and saved by Pinterest users. Pins can also link back to websites, which is why Pinterest is great for driving traffic and salesNikki Canning, Later.com – The Beginner’s Guide to Using Pinterest for Business
The last sentence is particularly interesting for us as digital publishers: “Pins can also link back to websites, which is why Pinterest is great for driving traffic and sales.”
Getting organic traffic through SEO is the best way to get traffic, but it can take time before your articles start ranking, especially if you are in a competitive niche.
Social media platforms limit the reach of your content when linking to external sources, which would be your site in this case (but you can pay to boost your posts – no thanks).
You can run ads to drive traffic to your site, which can be useful if you have an eCommerce site, but wasteful if you have a typical blog.
So how to get traffic from Pinterest to your site? Well, I had no idea until I heard of the Pinterest Growth Course by Ell from Boss Girl Bloggers.
Project 24 has a course on Pinterest marketing. However, it is probably their most useless course because it does not contain any (useful) actionable steps (unlike all their other courses – I hope they update the Pinterest course one day, though).
Ell's Pinterest Growth Course goes through everything you need to know about Pinterest from a blogger's perspective, keyword research for Pinterest (which is different from search analysis for search engines), how to create converting pins, and proven Pinterest strategies.
I have to say: the course is amazing and reasonably priced. If I knew about this course earlier, then I would have been on Pinterest much earlier. I knew that I have to create Pins for Pinterest, but I just did not know how. And more importantly, why. Ell's course helped me with that.
If you are wondering how my Pinterest page is doing; it is getting there, but I am more focused on creating content (on the site and YouTube) than creating Pins (my partner, who is an architect, creates Pins for me, but he has more important things to do than creating pins for me and only makes two a week, at most :( ). However, I have seen some success so far.
Pinterest & Instagram Management: Tailwind
You have probably heard about social media management tools for Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. There are so many out there that I do not want to list them all (moreover, I do not use them, so I cannot vouch for them).
There is a Pinterest management tool, which is called Tailwind. With Tailwind, you can schedule Pins in bulk, and the tool will publish them for you so that you do not have to manually pin all your pins (which can be time-consuming).
Ell recommends pinning at least 20 pins per day, but not all at once, as Pinterest would think you are a spammer or a bot. Because Tailwind will spread your pins over the day, your account will be fine and safe. So you could spend an hour or two creating pins on Sunday and get them all published the next week.
As of recently, Tailwind can also be used to manage your Instagram account. As Phone Travel Wiz does not have an Instagram account, I cannot tell you if the Instagram scheduler is good or not. However, I can vouch for the Pinterest scheduling tool.
Graphics Creation: Canva Pro
One of the reasons why I did not deal with Pinterest is that I had no idea how to create visually compelling pins. I am a writer, not a graphic designer. And I know that Adobe Photoshop is expensive nowadays.
Canva, however, is a graphic design platform that allows your to create social media graphics, like for Pinterest and YouTube thumbnails, and for many more things (for presentations, posters, and documents).
The thing with Canva is that it is SO easy to use. Moreover, they have so many templates to pick from, even for YouTube videos and Pinterest pins to get started.
Canva on itself is free. The free version comes with 8000+ templates, 100+ design types, and thousands of free stock images that you can use for your pins and YouTube thumbnails. However, the editor is rather basic with the free version.
The pro version, which is what I use (well, mainly my partner), comes with 60 000+ templates, 60 MILLION premium stock images, graphics, and videos, and many more things.
The premium stock images part was my primary reason to go with Canva pro because premium stock images are EXPENSIVE. Like, really expensive (do a quick Google search and see how much some sites will charge you per image).
So paying $10/month for 60 million stock images is a bargain.
Yes, you can use free stock images from several sites, like Pexels, Pixabay, and Unsplash (I have used stock images from those websites in my older blog posts). However, the libraries are often relatively small, especially if you are trying to search for something specific and unpopular.
Trying to find free stock images related to Equatorial Guinea, for example, is a challenge (mainly because I always get results of Guinea Pigs or the site tries to refer me to a premium stock image site that will charge me an arm and a leg).
I do have to say, even with the Pinterest course by Ell, it may take some time to understand the subtle elements of creating compelling graphics. Here is a Pin my partner made for me for my Buying a SIM Card in Cambodia guide.
You probably already knew this, but there comes a lot to play when trying to start an online business. The resources I listed on this page are the ones I use. You may not (want) to use all of them, and that is fine.
The resources I listed on this page are the ones that have helped me with my online business journey and have been seeing success so far. However, there is always a long way to go.
Good luck with your online business journey!