It’s terrifying to take the step from a sedentary existence into a digital nomad life. Even if you have enough money saved up, it’s a leap into the unknown. After several years out here, I’d kind of forgotten that. But the more I talk with those who want to take up the life, the more I’m reminded of how I too used to wake up in a cold sweat at night. I spent days worrying at the question if heading out or staying in was the bigger mistake.
Just like these people I was talking to, I’d wished I had a bit more certainty. I wondered if I knew enough about the travelancer life. I questioned if I had the right personality to be a digital nomad.
I dealt with the first question last week. So this week I’ll deal with the second one. And if you’re going to ask any questions about personality, well then you have to turn to psychology.
So, for a second time in a month, I’ve put on my psychologist’s hat. After a bit of research, I realized there’s a lot out there – far too much to cover in one article (here are two more about our need to belong and about mental mistakes).
Continue reading Do You Have The Right Personality To Be A Digital Nomad?
Many are attracted to the traveling freelancer life. Does that include you? Do you sometimes think, “I could be a digital nomad. I could lounge around in fancy hotels, fly first class and work two- hour days with a Mai Thai in one hand”?
I hear you. I sure could.
The thing is, the digital nomad life isn’t some drawn out hotel commercial. Because of the many myths floating about, it is probably nothing like how you imagine. What digital nomad put in their travel mags and Instagram is just as filtered as the baby pictures your friends fill your social media feed with. The digital nomad life isn’t heaven. It isn’t hell. It’s a life. Nothing more or less. Like any life, it has its ups and downs. It might be perfect for you. It may not be. That’s not for me to say.
Instead, this article is about making you aware of some of the realities of setting up a freelance life on the road. It will discuss the things you need to know – like what you should do before you leave, what you can expect, and how you can make things easier for yourself.
Continue reading 8 Things You Need to Know About the Travelancer Life
For the last four years, I’ve had two bags and about 30 kg (65 pounds) to my name. This includes my clothes, my toiletries and my entire freelance ‘office’. I could take more, but then I’d have to carry it. And, after an 18-hour bus journey where they once again dumped you miles outside of town, the last thing you want is more weight. So I’ve learned to pack effectively – taking what I need and leaving the rest behind.
The truth is simple. On the road lots of things you think you’ll need you won’t. While other things – things you haven’t considered – turn out to be essential to the travelancer life.
I learned this through trial and error. I’ve seen a lot of puzzled faces. Sometimes it was because I was offering people in some far-flung place my perfectly good hand-me-downs. At other times, because I was looking for something they didn’t even know existed until I asked for it.
Continue reading How to Pack Effectively for the Digital Nomad Life
Is the house on fire? Are we at war? Is there an earthquake? Quick, what do I do first, grab my work laptop or wake my girlfriend? As I chide myself for thinking that (what can I say, protecting one’s words is a writer’s knee-jerk reaction) the nails-on-chalkboard sound comes again.
It shreds the last cobwebs of sleep. With a groan, I slump back onto my pillow.
It’s just the Colombians returning. You’ll always know when that happens. The older sister will always unfailingly remind you how funny she thinks everything is. She greets even the most mundane pronouncement with pearls of laughter.
Don’t get me wrong, that’s a great attitude during the day. It is a great deal harder to appreciate at 3 o’clock, though, when behind closed eyelids you were having tea with the Mad Hatter.
Continue reading Echoes of Laughter: Reflecting on a Vagabond Existence
I’m not going to pretend I’m raking it in as a freelance writer. Of course, that doesn’t mean it won’t do so. I’ve only been doing it full-time for a little over a year. Who knows what the future may hold? More importantly, I have achieved one thing. I’m making enough money for my girlfriend and me to see the world.
In this year we’ve gone from barely scraping together enough to live, to being able to travel across three continents (If you want to know more about that kind of life read my article 8 things you need to know about travelancing). Most months we break even and some we even end up ahead.
The best part? I’ve become a better – and faster – writer because of it. That means that for the most part I only work around four hours a day. So we’ve got plenty of time to see the sights. So I’d say I’ve succeeded at my attempt to launch a successful freelance writing career.
So how did I do it? And, more importantly, how can you?
Continue reading How to Launch a Successful Freelance Writing Career
Much like Sucre, where we spent a month and a half, we ended up in Coroico almost by accident. We heard about it while having a few beers in a bar. Some Scandinavian guy was singing its praises (or maybe he was just speaking, I can never tell with Scandinavian English). As it was only three hours away, we decided to give it a try.
And boy, are we glad we did!
It was an absolute gem. What’s more, as I’ve explained in Slow Travel, when you hear about a place like that it might be the real deal. Why? Because it hasn’t yet been advertised in ever magazine and website. That means they aren’t as likely to be overrun by tourists. Nor are the locals as keen to gouge you.
Like I’ve said before, on the road a place is a lot like a lover. You don’t want too many people to have gone there before you.
Continue reading Freelance Abroad From Coroico, Bolivia
It’s hard to be working on projects while you’re folded up around your laptop on a 24 hour bus ride without a wifi signal. Similarly, you’re going to struggle to work when one eye is watching your bags and the other is scanning when your plane boards. For that reason when you freelance abroad, you’ve got to stop and go.
The question is: Where can you go to stop a while?
For if you just pick at random chances are you’re going to end up in some horrible dingy motel without any windows. The veteran travelers know the kind of place I’m talking about. Those locales where the internet is even flakier than the paint on the walls. The kind of places where it is a running question if you’ll manage to finish your article before the bedbugs have finished with you. (When I’m in one of these places, I always worry all they’ll find of me after a night is a mummified husk).
Of course, you can follow the suggestions of other travelers. Sometimes they’ll point you true. The thing is, they don’t freelance abroad. Instead, they are therefore focused on completely different things like hikes and adventure. And so, they often steer you wrong despite their best intentions.
Continue reading Freelance Abroad From Sucre, Bolivia
Two things together form the holy grail of writing: Writing better and being able to write more when you do write. In a seperate article I’ve handled writing better (and expanded on it here and here), while yet another post covers making your words fly. Today I’m going to focus my attention on writing more, as in the last year, as I’ve launched my freelance writing career I’ve made some very big strides in my productivity.
I remember how it used to be.
I would struggle to get more than a few hundred words down a day in the beginning. On most days, the first book I wrote was trench warfare. It was a war of attrition with me against the written word. Every battle was hard fought. On those I came out victorious I would be able to add just a few inches of territory, while those where I lost I ended up deleting whole stretches of text in self-disgust.
I’m sure we’ve all been there; your inner critic like a hard wall against which you repeatedly have to bang your head.
Continue reading Want to Write More? Here Are My 5 Secrets.
I’m sure you’ve read those stories where they claim: I made 5000 dollars in my second month! I paid off my university debt in less than a year! I only have to work an hour a day! They’re all over the internet – freelancers and their claims of success.
For a time as I worked to launch a successful freelance writing career, I read them all, trying to figure out their magic. I analyzed them, dissected them, put them back together again and tried to apply all the advice to my life. I woke up early, worked ten hours per day, applied in certain ways, put myself out there, and wrote pitches till the cows came home.
It didn’t work half as well as they suggested.
Continue reading Freelancer Success Stories: Grain of truth and a bucket of salt
Being a traveling freelancer is awesome. You get to live on the road, see beautiful places, get numerous physical and mental benefits and find unexpected inspiration. And today there are more reasons to leave than ever. At the same time, it is not the same as a never-ending backpacking trip. This is a life, not an escape from one. And let’s face it, for most people backpacking is far closer to the latter than the former.
That means that though having traveling experience certainly helps, just because you’re good at backpacking, doesn’t mean you’re necessarily also a good traveling freelancer. A little more is needed.
Continue reading 11 Characteristics of a Successful Traveling Freelancer