How To Travel The World As A Freelance Worker
In today’s digital gig economy, more and more individuals are choosing independent short term work opportunities over the traditional 9-5. While it’s certainly not a lifestyle for everybody, these “digital nomads” have constructed reliable income streams that they can tend to from virtually anywhere around the world.
It’s important to understand that while there are many attractive characteristics to working as an independent freelancer, in many cases it can be a grueling process that requires intense focus and intrinsic motivation. We’ve written this short guide to help you out on your journey:
TOP 5 TIPS ON HOW TO BE A DIGITAL NOMAD
With basic modern technologies such as laptops and smartphones, you can conduct online businesses from anywhere; you’re no longer locked in to an office cubicle or specific work desk.
Travelling freelancers leverage portable hardware (and software) to create an accessible client base online, composed entirely of clients whose work can be fulfilled from anywhere using the internet.
#1: DEVELOP AN INDEPENDENT-WORK BUSINESS MODEL
In the vast majority of freelancing cases you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to make a living. There are plenty of “tried and true” job pathways that vary in complexity and duration but they all have one thing in common – a skill set.
Picking Out Skills
Figuring out and ranking your strengths and weaknesses is a great way to prospect your skills. All forms of work require some level of improvable talent, knowledge, and experience. Since everyone is unique, there are no “better” or “worse” freelance opportunities – it’s entirely subjective.
As a general rule of thumb, when building a successful freelance profession you should search for work that is inherently fulfilling. In other words, you’ll have a more pleasant time carrying out tasks that involve skills which best suit your personality.
When determining these skills, try to achieve a healthy balance between things you like to do and things you are good at.
Types Of Freelance Opportunities
Freelance work, at its core, is simply the monetization of a marketable skill set to fulfill service requests. Typically instead of being paid directly for your time, you get compensated for completing tasks.
Some widely popular examples (but you’re not limited to these few) are: writing/blogging, photography/videography, copywriting, and consulting.
By scouring the internet you can find a seemingly limitless amount work opportunities – if you’re diligent enough. There’s a plethora of websites where you can both discover job postings and market yourself as an independent worker such as: Fiverr, Upwork, LinkedIn, Craigslist, and more.
#2: PREPARE FOR YOUR JOURNEY
First and foremost, if you’re new to the independent work grind it’s vitally important to take the time to map out your goals and ideas.
Packing your bags and travelling the world without a proper business strategy can easily lead to financial ruin if you’re not careful. The effort you put into planning at the beginning will pay dividends.
Covering The Essentials
There’s nothing glamorous about making a list and checking things off, but truthfully it’s necessary for your personal development as a digital nomad. Making a spreadsheet that contains all of the tools, services, and personal items that you’ll need abroad is a great start.
In this phase, make sure to think about your surroundings as well as your business plan. Remember, you’re not travelling solely for the purpose of vacationing, so you’ll need to consider optimal internet access and offline productivity before booking a flight.
Short Term Safety Net
Also make sure that you’ve noted down and agreed to a few work contracts to keep you busy and financially stable for the short term. The reality is, freelance work (especially as a rookie) can be unpredictable, and you may experience a few periods of zero income.
Leaving your country to work as an online freelancer is risky enough as it is, anything you do to mitigate this risk is crucial.
#3: RELY ON DISCIPLINE INSTEAD OF MOTIVATION
Without the extrinsic motivational sources that come from having a standard career path or a manager, it can be hard to find the drive to grind out tasks independently.
Since you’ll most likely be working alone, your financial situation is entirely your own responsibility. Productivity is the name of the game, so as a freelancer your time management skills are just as important as your job skills.
Form Habitual Processes
Once you get into the freelancer rhythm, you should start noticing certain key operations that keep your business afloat. Regardless of how you schedule your working hours, make sure you’ve determined these drivers and turn them into habits:
- CLIENT COMMUNICATION – Part of your job as a freelancer is to be as transparent and informative as you can be, within reason. No matter where you’re traveling to next in the world, always stay in touch with current and former clients regarding your work progress and availability.
- PROSPECTING – Also known as the act of seeking clients/contracts. While there’s a huge benefit to having repeat customers, there are times when you cannot solely rely on them for your income. Always be sure to set aside time for networking and developing a larger client base.
Finding A Balance
While it’s necessary to become strict with yourself in terms of following a schedule, you should not completely neglect reward.
Implementing breaks in your work timeline abroad is necessary to keep a level head, since it’ll let you recharge your batteries which enables you to deliver your highest quality of service.
If freelancing just feels like a chore that never gives you time to do what you truly want to accomplish, it defeats the purpose of independent work.
#4: LEARN TO BECOME EFFICIENT
Since being a digital nomad means you get to set your own work hours, you should practice maximizing your focus to make the best use of your time.
Creating Time Slots
Within a 24 hour day there’s plenty of time to get your work done and also enjoy leisure activities. Since your goal here is to travel the world (not to become a workhorse), you should have a general understanding of “when” you do “what.”
Make a conscious effort to structure your activities in specific time chunks. At the beginning, you can be vague and loose with your timing until you figure out your productive capacity. As you make progress, slowly fine tune your schedule as necessary to stay optimized.
A basic example of this would be:
- Answering your emails in the morning
- Carrying out work-related tasks into the afternoon (your standard processes)
- Granting yourself an evening of free time and personal development
- Preparing for the next day at night before sleeping
Tapping Into Max Productivity
Just like basically any other form of work, freelancing is much simpler when eliminating distractions and “hacking” your brain to be in a productive state.
Always complete your work in a calm, minimalist environment – only bring the things you need with you to get the work done. Don’t do anything that can de-rail your train of thought.
You don’t need to constantly check your inbox or other notifications, since these actions delay progress. If it’s something non-work related that needs to get done, schedule separate time for it.
On a daily, weekly, and even monthly basis you should aim to add a degree of importance to your tasks. By recognizing which assignments are more urgent, for instance an upcoming deadline, you can rank them from do-now to do-later.
Unsurprisingly, this leads into making a daily list of things to do. A to-do list is a great tool to maximize productivity since it outlines what must be done each day. It also helps mitigate forgetfulness, since by checking the list often you’ll refresh your memory with important tasks.
#5: ADJUST YOUR LIFESTYLE
There are so many ways to supplement your way of living, both from a quality of life and financial perspective.
Let’s face it – becoming a freelancer isn’t like turning on a light bulb; making the transition can be taxing on both your financial situation and your personal relationships. However, there are a few techniques you could use to become acclimated to the drastic lifestyle shift.
Independent work isn’t synonymous with living every day alone. No matter what corner of the world you choose to travel to and work, you’re likely to find many others with the same principles as you.
With the invention of social media, it’s never been easier to link up with other likeminded individuals that share the travelling entrepreneur mindset. It never hurts to keep in touch with other friendly digital nomads because community can greatly increase your overall fulfillment with work.
If you’ve transitioned into becoming an independent freelancer, you’re likely doing so to escape a work-driven lifestyle. Your time on Earth should be enjoyed, and you shouldn’t be in a perpetual state of distress.
Taking a week or two off to avoid staring at a screen will do wonders for your mental health, and can have positive impacts on your work ethic for when you return.
Your most important client is yourself, so make sure to schedule time to explore abroad during your travels.
Saving Money Wherever You Can
Living a life with irregular income periods can be stressful if you’re not careful with your personal finances. If you want to make sure that you’re prepared for unforeseen circumstances or periods of low income, you need to start saving.
When travelling all around the world you’ll often find yourself making frequent currency conversions. After all, different countries use different money.
Knowing this, it’s crucial that you use foreign exchange services that give you the best rates so you can save money on every transaction.
If you liked reading this article and want to know more about freelancing as a Canadian, here’s an article on how long you can stay outside Canada without losing benefits.