This post is a little different than my usual cruise related content but it definitely worthwhile if you are interested in the worlds of blogging, youtube or becoming an ‘influencer’ as it’s often called.
Below you’ll find a list of products and services that I use to save myself time and to produce the best content possible.
If you are a blogger who is seriously looking turn their hobby into a business, I recommend joining Income School. I’ve been an Income School member for a little over a year and joining was the best decision I’ve made in a long long long time. More about that later.
The links in this post may be affiliate links if the company that I use has an affiliate program available.
Let’s start by talking about this website. It’s always a little strange to me that most people know me as a YouTuber as I very much started as a more traditional blogger, I have over 260 posts on here which average about 3000 words. I publish a couple of new posts per week at the moment. I work in Insurance by day so spend my evenings and weekends researching and writing.
I started this website in 2016 and originally started with a word press hosted website. A wordpress hosted website is free to use but it does mean that you have to have a URL like wordpress.emmacruises.com which isn’t ideal. It isn’t impossible to get traffic with a URL like this but I would strongly advise you pay a host to host your website for you.
This website is now self hosted with Siteground but it is still run with WordPress. My day job involves a lot of coding and the last thing I want is to have to code my website too! WordPress makes it very easy and WordPress is free to use.
I picked Siteground to host my site primarily because they are fast and seem relatively easy to use. I’m not sure that there is a massive variety within hosting companies but Siteground do a good enough job for me and I’ve never had any problems. When I break my website they are always there and able to fix it.
URLs: 123 reg and 1 and 1 Ionos
I actually own three domain names, cruisingisntjustforoldpeople.co.uk, emmacruises.com and emmacruises.com. I originally started with .co.uk so all posts on that website now redirect to a .com version.
I also bought emmacruises.com so that I could create shorter URLs like emmacruises.com/course for example.
The domain names weren’t very expensive but if you are buying one I’d definitely pay more for the .com version. People in the UK are much more likely to click on a .com domain than Americans are on a .co.uk domain. I’d also recommend a domain which isn’t as long as emmacruises.com, I still can’t type it right first time.
Website Ads: Ezoic
The website ads that you see on this website are run by Ezoic, they pay a lot more than Adsense so if you are a blogger who’s on Adsense, change ASAP (page view requirements are at least 10,000 per month).
They work relatively well and I’ve been able to customise how many ads show up on the page. The main problem with ads is that they slow down your website but my theme is fast so this isn’t really a problem. When I first put ads on my website I was worried that they would annoy readers or that it would somehow affect my websites growth, that didn’t happen at all. When I added ads to my website nothing changed, at all. Most people are ad blind.
Email Hosting: 1 and 1 Ionos
I pay per month for 1 and 1 Ionos to host my firstname.lastname@example.org emails. I used to use email@example.com which I do still have but this is far less catchy and it’s SO easy to make a mistake when typing that! Emma@emmacruises.com feels much more professional to me too. It’s only £1 a month.
Email Provider: SendInBlue
I used sendinblue to send my weekly newsletters and organise email drip campaigns. For example when somebody clicks a button to download a file sendinblue sends that and adds them to a ‘downloaded file’ list which is very useful for me.
Email hosting is generally speaking really really expensive. I used to use mail chimp which was okay but upgraded to sendinblue when I launched my cruise course as I needed more functionality.
Sendinblue seems to have all of the features that more premium services have but for a decent price.
Course Host: Teachable
My cruise course, How to Cruise for Less is hosted on teachable. Teachable is a service which you pay for by the year and then teachable takes a percent of each sale. I found teachable to be very easy to use as they host the videos within my course and look after everything. Teachable handle all of the payments and most of the customer service.
I use the cheapest basic plan which cost $360 for the year. Initially that does feel very expensive but I suppose really it’s an investment in yourself and if you think your course will sell more than that value, it makes sense. They do have other plans that cost 3x or more but the basic plan does everything that I need. An alternative is Thinkific but they seem to be almost identical.
50% Cruise Course Commissions
If you would like to become an affiliate of our cruise course please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We offer 50% commissions on all sales. To find out more, click here: Cruise Affiliate Program: Cruise Course: How to Cruise For Less
Stock Videos, Photos and Sound Effects: Envato Elements
I use Envato Elements for the b-roll footage you’ll see in most of my videos as well as the photos I use for Pinterest. It costs around £15 per month and is well worth it in my opinion. When I added b-roll like this into my YouTube videos I saw my audience retention increase which YouTube definitely likes, plus, it’s just fun.
I also use their sound effects in my videos for things like woosh or pop and I add their stock photos to some of my Pinterest pins.
Stock Music: Epidemic Sound
I don’t currently use Epidemic sound just because I don’t really make ‘vlog’ style videos anymore and paying £10 a month for something I was only using once or twice a month seemed very silly. If you are looking for music though Epidemic sound is probably the best place. It’s easy to use, they have loads of music and £10 a month isn’t too bad.
I have had a few ‘copyright strikes’ on Facebook where I’ve used Epidemics music. I just had to appeal each time and say ‘I have paid for the music’ and then Facebook went away. No biggie.
Editing Software: Final Cut Pro
I use final cut pro to edit all of my YouTube videos. I originally used iMovie which was fine but I became frustrated with some of it’s limitations like only being able to layer two things together. I find final cut pro really easy to use but I’m sure that I only actually know about 10% of the functions. That said, it works!
In my videos you may see graphics like subscribe buttons or sidebars, most of these are plugins bought from FCPEffects. I’m sure that I could make some of these things if I had the time but quite frankly, I don’t. It takes me HOURS to edit my YouTube videos, we’re talking about 8-10 hours for a 10 minute video sometimes so anything that can save me time I appreciate.
I make all of my thumbnails on Canva. I used the free version of Canva for years which is great but decided recently to upgrade to their paid version. I decided to do this because it gives me access to their stock photo library and tools like being able to resize graphics and remove backgrounds. So far it has been well worth it.
I use Canva to create pins for Pinterest, YouTube thumbnails and all graphics that you’ll find on my Facebook/Twitter/Instagram.
Live Streaming Software: Streamyard
It is completely fine to just press the live button on YouTube and go live but I wanted more functionality so I purchased Streamyard. Streamyard allows me to put things up on the screen like comments or questions and also allows me to stream on both YouTube and Facebook at the same time.
As far as live streaming software goes it is one of the most basic but that also means one of the easiest to use which is good for me.
YouTube At Home Camera: Canon M50
I use the Canon M50 to film my YouTube videos. I love it, it’s so easy to use, it’s light, it’s relatively small and pretty much idiot proof (which is something I definitely need when it comes to cameras). I don’t really use it when I am on cruises it’s my home studio camera.
YouTube Ship Tour Camera: Go Pro 7 Black
I use a go pro 7 black to film my ship tours. It’s small, easy to use and most importantly for me it creates really stable footage without the need to carry around a big gimbal. I think that the quality of the footage is great considering how small it is and how little it costs compared to more traditional cameras. There is an 8 version out at the moment so the 7 version is a pretty good price.
A word of warning though, every go pro that I’ve ever had has had a problem with overheating and the battery life is very short. If you are going to buy a go pro I’d definitely recommend buying a few spare batteries so that you can change them over when the first runs out. The overheating hasn’t ever caused me a problem, and I still think it’s the best camera available for this type of thing, but it’s just something to be aware of. Footage example here: Norwegian Encore Tour.
Microphone: Tascam DR-10L
I do have a rode microphone for my Canon m50 but I usually only use it when I forget to use my Tascam Dr-10L. The Tascam records the audio onto it own memory card and I sync this with my video in final cut pro. It’s great for doing voice overs and ship tours. It is quite expensive but I’m glad that I invested in it and I think it makes the audio sound much better.
Audio with Rode microphone: Here.
Audio with Tascam: Here.
Social Media Resources
I don’t use any scheduling tools with my social accounts. I post manually everyday on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and have for YEARS. I update my Instagram story multiple times a day and don’t worry too much about updating the actual feed, once or twice a week seems to be enough. I update Facebook everyday and tweet however many times a day I feel like it. I don’t have a fixed schedule or plan for social media content.
Pinterest Management: Tailwind
I used Tailwind to schedule my feed on Pinterest and honestly I couldn’t imagine doing anything on Pinterest without it. My tailwind is currently set up to schedule out 45 posts per day, if I had to do that manually well… I just wouldn’t.
Tailwind is quite expensive so don’t do what I did and sign up then ignore Pinterest for AGES. If you are going to give Pinterest a go you need Tailwind and you need to dedicate quite a bit of time to Pinterest.
Pinterest Course: Pinterest with Ell
I have spent YEARS hating Pinterest. I’ve never understood it and couldn’t ever work out what I was doing wrong with it. I took a Pinterest course and now it’s working well for me. It’s a simple, cheap course (1/10th the price of some others) but it took me through step by step what to do and I’d definitely recommend it if you want to learn how to use Pinterest for traffic/growth.
Finances and Accounting:
Note: I am in the UK so this part may not apply if you’re from the US or other countries.
Booking Software: Quickbooks
I use the quickbooks self employed app to keep track of my income and expenses. I have a separate bank account for business transactions which makes things a lot easier, the bank account is connected to quickbooks and expenses/income is automatically sorted. I can then download the data when its tax return season. Easy peasy.
Accounting: Tax Scouts
I use Tax Scouts to help me with my tax return. It’s like having an online accountant who takes your information and submits the return for you, it’s a £119 flat fee and in my opinion it’s well worth it to have an accountant on hand to ask questions to. The interfaces on the websites are really easy to use and it makes the whole tax thing less horrible.
T-shirt Design: Fiver
** Use the link above to get 20% off your first order **
I hired a graphic designer on Fiver to design T-shirts for me. I can’t remember exactly how much I paid but it was a brilliant rate. I believe the guy who did it was from Lithuania! I’d definitely use Fiver again if I ever needed another freelancer to work on something for me. You just put up a description of what you’d like and various freelancers will make you an offer. You can see examples of their work on the site.
T-Shirt Selling: Teespring
I have T-shirts for sale on a Teepspring store here: Emma Cruises. Teespring is great because they do everything for you, they print the T-shirts, post the T-shirts and deal with all customer service. Having my own T-shirts definitely is fun but it isn’t a very good way to make money, on a T-Shirt sold I think I make something like $3. I did set the price of my T-Shirts quite low and you can increase the price if you want to make more money but I didn’t want to do that.
Everything I Know: Project 24, Income School
Around a year ago I joined Project 24 from Income School. I’d been a follower of the Income School YouTube channel for a year or so before I finally made the leap and I’m so glad I did. Income School has taught me not only how to do practical things like drive traffic to my website and build a YouTube channel but it’s helped me to build a real business around something that I love doing.
The purpose of Project 24 is to help people to make a full time income from blogging in 24 months. There are hundreds of videos, lessons and podcasts which are constantly updated as the blogging world changes and a community which helps me with blogging related things every day.
I’m not at the full time income yet but my business has grown more in the last year than the first three years. Covid-19 and the cruise industry being COMPLETELY CLOSED hasn’t helped but I’m still feeling very optimistic about the future, mostly because of the support I receive from Project 24 and Jim and Ricky who run the course. I feel as though pre Project 24 I was just running around all over the place bumping into things, now I have a direction and a plan.
If you are really serious about turning a blog into a business, I can’t recommend Project 24 enough. It definitely isn’t for the faint hearted, it is a LOT of work but for me it’s been well worth it. You can learn more on the website here: Project 24.
That’s All Folks
If you have any questions about anything mentioned in this post feel free to send me an email at email@example.com or drop me a message on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
As you can see, running all of this is pretty expensive! If you’d like to support me for as little as $5 per month you can do so by joining us on Patreon here:?? Emma Cruises Patreon
Want to learn how to cruise well on a budget? Start here: How to Cruise For Less
Facebook Group: ?? Cruising Isn’t Just For Old People
YouTube Channel: ❤️? Emma Cruises
Weekly newsletter: ?? Weekly Newsletter