I like discovering tools, apps and systems that make that time more enjoyable and less frustrating. So, I want to share some of the tools I am currently using.
If I love it, I will tell you that…If I don’t love it, I’m open to any recommendations you might have.
Finally, some of the products mentioned on this page have affiliate links, meaning if you click and then sign up for the service I may receive some small benefit (normally a free month or the like.)
(I will add to this page over time.)
WordPress – is what I started on when I first began blogging back in 2008. I’ve tried other platforms including Typepad, Wix, Squarespace, etc, but I’ve always ended up back with WordPress partly because it is free, and I’m fairly comfortable using it after 13 years. (Price: Free)
Divi by Elegant Themes. While I love writing, I have never been very regular with blogging. Often that is because I quickly get bored/frustrated with how it looks and instead of writing, I try to tweak the design, or spend time looking at new, relatively cheap themes. And because I normally have 3-4 websites up and running (currently, bobwilson.ie, elizabethwilson.ie, thewilsonsindublin.com, & thetabledublin.ie), paying for themes can add up quickly. So a couple of years ago I purchased a lifetime subscription to Divi by Elegant Themes. It allows me a lot more control, I can use it on each site, and I don’t have to worry about not being able to access the latest functionality that is out there. Can’t say I highly recommend it…it still feels a bit wonky at times….but it works well for me. (They did turn me down for an affiliate link, so that is a strike against them as well:) (Price $89/ year or $249 lifetime.)
SiteGround – [affiliate link] Generally I have found web hosts frustrating. Generally, I sign up for a promotional plan and then once I need to pay full price, switch to another host. This means sometimes I’m stuck in a bad plan. I recently shifted to SiteGround, because of course they had a good promo plan, but more importantly, they work well with Divi…my last host did not. (I use the Grow Big plan as it allows for multiple websites.) The whole process has gone well, after a couple of initial issues trying to figure out some things. Two months in and I’ve already decided that I’ll be renewing my subscription after the promotional period. (Price: Plans start at around €3.99/month.)
Letshost.ie – [affiliate link] This is the service I use to purchase and host the various domains I own. I used to use GoDaddy, although reluctantly, due to some of their advertising. Since we moved to Ireland, we are eligible to purchase .ie domains which are sold by Letshost.ie. We have currently transferred all of our domains there to keep them in one place. They are slightly more expensive than our old alternatives, but have good customer service, are easy to use, and don’t have questionable ads:) (Price: varies)
Resources for Overseas Workers
Substack – I have been writing newsletters since the early 1990s when I typed them out on a Smith Corona and made photo copies. For the past 15 years or so, I’ve sent them out electronically. I’ve used Mailchimp for the most part because it is pretty easy to use, and has a free plan. However, over the past year or so I’ve been stuck on a paid plan. This is one of those areas where I am always looking for something perfect and have yet to find it…so I usually end up back with Mailchimp. However, recently I have switched to Substack. It has all the functionality I need, and I can set up private emails for ministry partners. I had been using Mailchimp for generally email newsletters and Epistle for ministry partners. Total cost about €25/month. I can do both of these using Substack, and it is all free! So far I am really liking Substack.
Chalkline -The upside of email newsletters is how easy it is to prepare and send. The (serious) downside is how easy it is for the receiver to hit delete without reading. I send a couple physical newsletters each year, including one at Christmas. They are quite a bit more expensive, but they are much more likely to be read. For the past few years, we have used a service called Chalkline who prints and mails them for us. We send out less than 200 and with double sided colour printing, envelopes and postage, it comes to about $1 each. They have been great to work with.
Wise – (Affiliate Link) Since I work for a US company, I am paid in a US bank. When we first moved to Ireland getting our money from there to here was CRAZY. I had a little card from my bank that I pressed and got a transfer code, then I paid something like $40 to our US bank and €15 our so to our Irish bank…and the exchange rate was obscene. It works great, and I can’t even track how much money we have saved over the past several years!There are likewise specific organisations that we pay using our Wise account. Wise (formerly Transferwise) (affiliate link) was one of the best shifts we have made. We pay a relatively small fee, they withdraw money from our US account and deposit funds using the best exchange rate into our Irish back.
Taxes for Expats – (Referral Code) One of the fun things about being an American living overseas is that you get to file taxes in two countries! There are very few other countries that require that. And regardless of what other missionaries in your host country tell you, you need to file your taxes there. You are using their services, you need to contribute. We have an irish accountant who handles our Irish stuff. For our American taxes, we have been using a service called taxes for Expats. It isn’t cheap…but they do a good job and understand clergy taxes…if you need that.
Still to come:
Contacts and Calendars