Nowadays, if I told you that it really is possible to get your dream job and use it to fund a never-ending experience across the world, do you think me?
Before, the idea of the’digital nomad’ lifestyle — having a location independent job which allows you to travel the world as you please — was a fantasy for most people.
Now, however, it is far more prevalent than you might imagine.
An increasing number of people are waking up to how a traditional 9 — 5 office occupation is an archaic structure, together with employers and employees equally leaning towards flexible working to boost morale, loyalty, and productivity (yep — individuals are in their most productive when they are happy, who understood!).
A few decades back, I was among these individuals sick to death of the office grind.
I’d come home feeling unchallenged and frustrated each and every single day, and question how I’d fallen into this trap of dwelling to work already.
I wanted the freedom to put my own work, pick my clients, my income, and also to have the time that I wished to do what I truly love.
So, I built a freelance writing firm, stopped my job, also started traveling the planet.
Being a digital nomad is not a pipeline fantasy anymore — I’m 100% convinced that it’s possible for anyone with the ideal mindset and motivation.
My journey from office employee to location independent freelancer wasn’t simple, and I’ll not be one of those cheesy people that tells you’I will make your dreams come true’.
I didn’t alter my life in a matter of months: in fact, it took months of long days and hard work, and much more time to take my company from working to thriving.
That being said, you will find clear, actionable steps you can take to make building a freelance business of your own a fact in time.
Following are a few of my very best tips for building your own freelance business — and making it sustainable enough which you are able to travel the planet, no return excursion needed.
1. Build your business foundations before you start traveling
The notion of dramatically quitting your job and hopping on a trip to the other side of the earth may sound romantic, but it is not exactly the best way to construct a sustainable place independent business enterprise.
Obtaining your freelance business to the point where it may replace a fulltime income and finance whatever lifestyle you need does take time, so don’t rush into this and take some risks (i.e. quit your job) before you can afford to.
I worked on my freelance writing company for about 4 weeks before I felt confident enough to hand my notice in for my office job. In that time, I concentrated on:
- Setting up a professional site for my organization
- Construction my portfolio by blogging (see the following point!)
- Media on societal websites with different freelancers
- Acquiring clients (and experience) where possible, and turning them into long-term contracts.
It was just when I had a few long-term customers that made me more than half my earnings from my office job which I decided to leave my job and start traveling.
2. It’s all about your portfolio
Too many people focus on finding jobs and creating their professional site excellent when in reality, you ought to be focusing a large proportion of your efforts on developing a strong portfolio in the first days.
I’ve got my own website to show my portfolio, but I also have a PDF with personal customers whom I send to prospective customers too.
Your portfolio should contain the best examples of your own writing, ideally having been published online by legitimate businesses and bloggers. Of course, the greatest paradox is that you need jobs to build your portfolio, but you need a portfolio to get those jobs.
Luckily, there are many ways to go about constructing your portfolio as a brand new freelance writer (traveler or not!).
- Start blogging — You could write about your travels, or about something else completely. As soon as I launched my freelance business, I also started my first blog in precisely the exact same moment. This not only gave me a fantastic platform to showcase my writing — but it actually brought clients directly to me personally!
- Do work free of charge — My next greatest strategy for building my portfolio was supposed to provide free content to my friends and family who owned their own business. This ranged from upgrading the copy in their site to writing a couple of great excellent blog posts for them.
- Guest posting — In case you do not want a website of your own, guest posting to get based blogs may be a good means of building your portfolio. You must note, however, that many blogs are increasingly only accepting articles from other bloggers.
3. Manage your expectations
I’m willing to bet nearly everyone has this vague idea of being a digital nomad within their head:
You’re at the shore, likely on a hammock or a sun-lounger, laptop on your lap and a cocktail in one hand. You are setting up the sun at the same time you do a couple of hours work before heading back to your own shore home and getting ready for a night on the town with your buddies.
So, okay, which may be an exaggerated stereotype of a digital nomad, but it’s an image that’s wrongly been depicted to us by blogs and social media.
The truth is, the digital nomad lifestyle is awesome — but it’s not all glamour. You will get views like that occasionally, sure, but it is important to deal with your expectations.
Some days you are going to be stuck in your hotel room all day because there’s nowhere else with good WiFi. From time to time, you will have the worst WiFi connection you’ve ever experienced, and you are going to be frantically running around town hoping to satisfy your deadline.
On some occasions, you’re going for days without meeting anybody that you connect with, and that can get incredibly lonely.
And should you ever take your notebook to the beach — that is going to be the last time since expensive sand and gadgets just don’t mix.
None of that is believed to put you off: I love the life I have today.
However, it is crucial to manage your expectations and also to know that for every fantastic day of freedom you’ll have, there’ll be another nightmare situation where you wish you’re in at a comfy desk with a secure internet connection for once.
4. Ethics and cost arbitrage
Turning to the digital nomad lifestyle is actually a great move when you’re just starting out as a freelance writer.
Why? But if you start your freelance business from home, the odds are that you live in a state with a comparatively higher cost of living, together with things like a mortgage or rent, bills, and other expenses you need to have the ability to repay.
This usually means you may need to work long hours juggling your full-time occupation and freelance business for longer before you can comfortably replace your earnings.
Travelling, nevertheless, gives you the opportunity to reside in states with a lower cost of living and therefore requires the strain of fitting your regular salary off.
For example, once I started traveling, my monthly income was half my income in my office job — but because I traveled in South East Asia, my income still greater than my living costs.
This type of cost arbitrage is very popular with electronic nomads and is an efficient method to live with a lower income while you focus on building your business up.
But, you should also be mindful of the ethical impact living like this can have on the country you are staying in.
To make sure I was also benefiting the countries I traveled and not only myself, I did things like:
- Shop and eat at local restaurants to support the neighborhood
- Prevent large chain hotels and stay at guesthouses and independent hostels
- Recognise your privilege — you’re extremely lucky if you’re in a place to visit a foreign country at all, let alone remain inside a longer period of time. Recognise this privilege and accept that you may need to pay more as a foreigner in certain areas.
5. Know where you’re going
As somebody who has been both a backpacker along with a location independent freelancer, I can safely state that there are huge differences (not just an age gap!) In the 2 styles of travel.
Backpacking can be as impulsive as you need with actual worries about where you are heading. Working on the street, however, requires a little more planning and preparation.
Ideally, you want every location you visit to have at least:
- A good WiFi connection
- a couple of spaces to operate (especially if you’ll be staying in loud dorm rooms!)\
The above photo taken in Thakhek, Laos, is a key illustration of this — although it could look pretty sweet to be surrounded by hills and cows grazing only a few meters away, I actually had to increase to this little hut daily to have a WiFi connection at all!
To research this until you decide, hunt online. I google’destination + digital nomad testimonials’ or, failing this, browse travel blogs about the destination I am thinking of heading to.
These can normally give you a fantastic idea of where you’re heading, and if each potential destination is excellent for electronic nomads.
Just do not forget that not every place will get killer WiFi and plenty of cafes to work out of — but should you at least do a little research beforehand, you can prepare for all those places that may be a little more tricky to work around.
6. Making use of the location independent lifestyle to grow your business
A fantastic benefit of this location independent fashion is that you will meet so many more folks than you would sit back in your house office.
When I first started traveling, I would always find myself in discussions with people so interested in freelancing, how I built my company, and what type of job I did.
Without a doubt, you will find yourself in similar discussions too. Take advantage of this curiosity to network and make contacts with people that you meet along the road.
Does the friendly hostel owner you got speaking to need some help with their website? How about the self-employed small business proprietor who’s also location independent, but not a natural writer?
As a digital nomad, you’ve got the exceptional opportunity to meet people all over the world — and one of these folks is always the chance to bring on some fantastic long-term customers.
7. Keeping your clients happy
So, you’ve been traveling for a little while and you’ve successfully taken on several long-term clients. Everything’s looking great — so the main thing you ought to be concerned about is maintaining things looking great.
The last thing you need is to your time zone or traveling plans to come into bthe attle with an agreed contract you have with a customer.
Here’s the way I look at it: the client is paying you, so you need to bend to your own needs. That may mean staying up all night so it’s possible to take a meeting within their deadline — but again, you are the one that gets to learn more about the world, so it is worth the sacrifice!
I found making virtual tools a part of my daily routine invaluable for keeping my clients happy when traveling. A few of my best recommendations include:
- Trello — A wonderful job management tool with both free and paid subscription options. It’s possible to share boards with your customers so if they require an upgrade on a job, or want to bring a task for one to perform, they can simply add it to the board for when you next login rather than need to contact you directly.
- Slack — Slack is an excellent immediate messaging service that’s especially useful if you are working inside a distant group. You can send a message that will then be stored on the conversation until your staff members log in and watch.
- Google Hangouts — This really is a fantastic tool for holding virtual meetings and sharing screens with your customer or coworkers when you have to discuss a project in more depth.
- Google Drive — A priceless instrument for an independent writer! Google Docs save automatically as you write, so you don’t ever need to fear your laptop suddenly dying and taking all of your unsaved content with it! It is also amazing as has cloud-based storage can be retrieved from any device, and easily shared between clients.
Over to you
Hopefully, your answer to my query at the start of the article is yes.
Building your dream company and making it sustainable enough to travel the entire world long-term sounds like a pipe-dream, but you simply need the time and discipline to lay the foundations, be consistent, and also slowly level up your freelance business.
2 decades ago, if you told me I would be self-employed, running a business I love with the freedom to live anywhere on the planet, I’d have laughed in your face.
Now, I wake up every day eager to leap right into a new adventure. Therefore, in the event that you crave the freedom of working on the street — what exactly are you waiting for?
Yaz Purnell is a freelance writer and blogger in Untraditional Office, managing her businesses and helping other people build their very own as she travels across the world. Interested in finding out more, or becoming an independent writer yourself? Check out her free class, Thriving Freelance Writing, packed with all the information and advice you want to kickstart your dream business.
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