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My Stuff: Local Wanderer

How tech helped two Vancouver professionals launch a successful side hustle

It’s the stuff of online legend. Taylor Loren and Elaine Rystead are Vancouver tech professionals – on staff at Later and Shutterstock Custom – who hit the jackpot when they launched a small business that caters to their wanderlust. Local Wanderer was born in 2014, when the long-time pals ditched their day jobs for a few months, hit the road and started a blog and Instagram account. Their “localism not tourism” approach struck a chord such that, within weeks, they had 28,000 followers.

Fast forward four years, and now the social media experts have a successful side hustle that takes them all over North America (including Instagram’s headquarters), with 66K fans coming along for the ride and collaborations with brands like Sorel. We spoke with Elaine to find out about the influencers’ favourite tech tools for a business focused on adventure.

“On our Instagram, we try to just use iPhone photos because it gives it that human element,”

My phone

Whether out on the road or toggling between office and passion projects, Elaine and Taylor rely heavily on their smartphones. Both use the new iPhone X because, according to Elaine, “it’s the best tool for anyone who works in social media,” due to its speed and memory. Another big bonus? It has a fantastic camera. “On our Instagram, we try to just use iPhone photos because it gives it that human element,” she notes.

My laptop

Elaine won’t leave home without her MacBook Air. Her full-time job has required her to work remotely for the past three years, and Local Wanderer takes her all over. Since her workspace is flexible (a beach in Mexico, anyone?), a lightweight laptop is essential. “It’s always on me,” she says. “So having something easily portable is key.”

My social media

Local Wanderer owes much of its success to Instagram, and Taylor and Elaine are loyal to the platform and the sense of community they’ve found there. “The fact that some of our best friends today came from an app is quite crazy,” Elaine marvels. They also value how often the brand updates: “Instagram Stories has a lighter feel to content, more casual. It has more of a real touch – less edited. That’s really useful for us, especially when we are on the go.”

The dynamic duo has found the team collaboration tool Slack super useful in delineating business and pleasure.

My photo editing

As Local Wanderer’s resident shutterbug, Elaine uses a range of photo editing apps, including VSCO. “I get really excited about the new filters,” she says. Snapseed is also in heavy rotation; “I really like it for more precise editing, like being able to adjust the highlights or ambience – kind of doing what you’d do on Photoshop, but on your phone.”

My communication tools

The dynamic duo has found the team collaboration tool Slack super useful in delineating business and pleasure. “We always recommend it because it’s so important to keep work separate from your friendship,” Elaine says. “When we started using Slack, we were able to reserve our texting back and forth for our friendship, instead of confusing it with work.

My juice

No tech list, of course, would be complete without a backup power source. Life on the road means unpredictable access to a charge, and Elaine makes sure to bring “a boatload” of external chargers. “Instagram Stories kill your battery!” she says with a laugh.

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