As a social media consultant I have the unique ability to work from wherever I have wifi access. Yes, this means I have a lot of flexibility to travel and make my own hours, but it also means that I and I alone am responsible for my successes and failures. There is nobody to look out for me, but me. One of the things that make any traveling consultant successful is the gear they travel with.
Here are a few of things I use on a daily basis, whether I’m traveling or not:
- A laptop is definitely a given, but make sure the laptop is reliable and can travel with you. If possible try to get one laptop and one netbook. Leave the laptop at your homebase and take the netbook around with you when you travel. I’m in the process of shopping for a netbook but I currently use a Dell Vostro 1510 laptop that cost me less than $600
- Wifi is an absolutely must. Whatever you do make sure your laptop can easily connect to the internet. You can either buy an external wireless card or just go to coffee shops that offer free wifi (usually what I do).
- Make sure you have a webcam and microphone. When working with clients a video/voice conversation is the closest thing they can have without you actually being there. Email is tough for client communication. Sometimes you just have to see the person and have a conversation. I use a Microsoft lifecam that I purchased on Amazon for around $30, it has a built in mic and camera so it takes care of everything for me.
- Skype is the tool I use to communicate with all of my clients/contacts when I’m away. It’s simple to use and allows for communication via chat, voice, video, or all of the above. It allows for file transfers so you can really get everything done through one platform.
- Make sure you also have a portable hard drive that you can use to store all of your info. I use a Western Digital 80 gig external hard drive that cost me around $80 over a year ago, you should be able to get one much cheaper now and with more space.
- You have to have something to carry all your gear in right? I have a rugged Targus case that has lasted me for years and has traveled with me across the world. It has a lot of space for my laptop and for miscellaneous accessories such as my external hard drive, power cord, mouse, etc.
- Miscellaneous gear such as headphones to listen to music while you work, a portable mouse that you can travel with, and a USB splitter just in case you need more than a few USB slots.
These are some of the most crucial tools I use regardless of where I am in the world. Even when I’m at homebase in San Francisco, most of my clients are not local so I still rely on all of the above to make business work.
Do you have any other tools that you would recommend for someone that works for themselves?
Jacob is a social media consultant and the Principal at Mighty Mouth Media, a social media consultancy that advises businesses on how to use social media to meet business goals and objectives. You can connect with Jacob on Twitter