How to independently build a freelance writing business while traveling the world
These days, there is a lot of nonsense on the internet about becoming a freelance worker.
I’ve seen countless ads pop up on my social media feeds featuring someone relaxing in a pool with their laptop, with promises of making your dreams come true. It’s only when you click on the link that it says it’s for an MLM or course that promises to help you become a “digital nomad,” but doesn’t offer actionable steps.
This is not one of those jobs.
A few years ago, I had reached the end of the rope with my desk job.
I was tired of working eight hours a day (the minimum), five days a week, just to make money that I didn’t have time to spend.
I was in my twenties, and yet I felt like I had already reached a dead end. I worked all day at a job that made me miserable, to make enough money to live how I wanted, but never had enough time to spend my money doing the things I loved.
I longed for the freedom to set my own hours, to find my own clients, and to be able to increase my income much faster than the 3-5 percent annual raise most office workers get for hard work.
So, I decided to make a change, and with that I set out to build my own freelance business.
Oh, and you decide to fly across the world to Thailand and start traveling soon after – there’s no better motivation for success than moving to a new country and leaving the comfortable, well-paying office job behind!
Over the next few months, I worked really hard. I built the foundations of my freelancing through writing and then continued to grow that business into a real thriving career as I traveled the world.
Now, I am completely independent of my work site and get a job that brings me a lot of fun.
This first year contained a lot of stress, long days and little sleep, but it was worth it for the freedom I created for myself.
The best part? I can say, without a doubt, that anyone can build a freelance business — and you don’t need to buy a digital nomadic course to get there. If you do that, anyone can do it.
Below, I’ve listed some of the critical steps you should take to create a freelance writing business while traveling the world (and avoid some of the stress of figuring it out on your own).
Are you ready to travel and build your freelance business? Here is how it works:
1) Lay the foundations before you leave
And while I’ve been able to successfully build a freelance business while traveling, the task would have been much more difficult had I not prepared the foundations for my writing career before quitting my full-time job.
If you haven’t made the jump to a digital nomad lifestyle yet (i.e. you still have a steady income and live in one place), my most important piece of advice is: Lay the foundations of your business before you take any risks.
Personally, I waited until I had several clients for a long time and made at least 50% equivalent income from my office job before I decided to hand in my resignation and start traveling.
2) Create your online presence: write, deliver, and share
A digital nomad is just someone who works exclusively online (and therefore has complete site independence).
To create an online business, there is one simple thing you need to do first. Any guesses?
You must connect to the Internet!
This may seem obvious to some and many of you may laugh, but for me, actually setting up and using social media accounts was a strange concept.
I was always online. Now, I make time every day to share my blog articles, connect with other freelancers, bloggers, and businesses, and get involved in an online community.
Building an online presence is essential if you want to run a freelance business successfully, and even more so if you are going to rely on online interaction to connect with others as a digital alternative.
This will lead you to:
Increase your ability to meet potential customers
Create a great showcase of your personality and skills for clients who review your services as a freelancer
Connect with top freelancers in your niche (and maybe get referrals from them!)
Define you as an expert in your field as well
3) Create a Portfolio
Whether you’re building a freelance business from your home, or on the go, one thing remains the same: You need an excellent Portfolio to ensure you continue to serve quality clients.
By quality customers, I mean companies that are willing to pay for their value. There are a lot of low-quality jobs online these days, and unfortunately, there are a lot of people who cheapen their values and take advantage of low-paying jobs without seeing any other option.
Displays the highest quality writing samples
Show you the most experienced writing styles (long-form articles, clever social media posts, web copy, etc.)
Highlight specific brands/industries in which you have worked and could offer valuable experience to future employers
One of the biggest mistakes I see many new freelance writers make is they either submit jobs without having a Portfolio or they submit a job and send one link!
So, how do we build those samples for a seriously robust Portfolio?
There are many creative ways you can create a Portfolio without having to get a job first. Some of the most effective methods I’ve used to build a strong Portfolio that helped me qualify for my first handwritten post:
Blogging: Start a blog today, and start writing about any topic that really interests you. It could be anything from entrepreneurship, to pets. The key is to showcase your writing style and personality. Learn how to create a blog on the WordPress platform in 20 minutes.
Guest Posts: There are many sites on the internet that allow you to submit a guest post to share with your readers. Some of them are hard to accept (thanks again, Harsh!), while others don’t necessarily require you to be an established blogger yourself before they’ll let you write on their behalf. Guest posts are a great way to build a qualitative inventory of writing samples on established and already respected websites.
Write to friends and family: This was one of the first steps I took to build my freelance business while I was away. I called friends and family with their own businesses, asking if I could write them some new web content, a blog post, or anything else I thought I could help with. At first, I did this work for free to add samples to my office portfolio—but as time went on, I had enough experience behind me that I was able to charge reasonable fees for my services, too.
4) Know where you are going
I think many people have a romantic idea of traveling with their business to the most remote and exotic places on earth.
However, the reality is that working out on the road comes with a few big hurdles: one of which is finding a secure Wi-Fi connection so you can actually work out.
This is one of the biggest differences you have to keep in mind between starting a home freelance business and building your site on the go.
I always recommend that you research where you are going before choosing a new destination. This will take the spontaneity out of your trip a bit, but it’s worth it knowing you’ll be able to meet your deadlines and work comfortably.
Trust me, no one enjoys working on the road when you’re desperately trying to send an article using your phone’s hotspot and sitting in the middle of a paddy field at night surrounded by cows (yes, it really happened!).
5) Make virtual tools your best friend
Another inevitable hurdle you will face when you are building your freelance business while traveling the world and having to communicate with clients and meet deadlines in completely different time zones.
If you’re not careful, you could find yourself at 3 a.m. frantically sending emails — or worse, missing a deadline for good.
The best way to overcome this is to start using virtual tools that will make your life much easier.
I use virtual tools to manage my projects, communicate with clients, host virtual meetings, and automatically schedule social media posts for both my blogs and for my clients.
Some of my favorite virtual tools include:
- Hootsuite or Buffer to automate sharing on social media
- Trello for project management
- Slack for instant messaging with remote clients/teams
- Google Hangouts or Zoom.us for virtual meetings
Calendly to schedule meetings
All of these tools have a free and premium membership (I only use them for free!), so I always make running a business on the go easier.
the main meals
The above steps are some of the most important lessons I learned while building my travel writing freelance business, and they will make starting your own travel writing business that much easier.
To finish, I want to share some of the key points I learned from this lifestyle that are important to remember:
There is no way to get rich quickly
Making money online and becoming a freelancer, whether you’re a freelance writer, blogger, or something else entirely, doesn’t come quickly.
Those schemes you see online promising to help you make hundreds in a matter of days sound too good to be true because they are. I’ve built my freelance writing business to the point where it is today over the course of a whole year – it took some time, a lot of hard work, but these are the two things that really pay off
The digital nomad life is great, but not amazing
Yes, running my own writing business while traveling the world is a dream come true. I would not trade this freedom for anything.
However, don’t believe all of these awesome “laptop on the beach” shots you may see online. The truth is, I often work in my hotel room or a crowded coffee shop, and then head out to explore a new city. Constantly commuting, traveling, packing light, and whatever comes with working on the road isn’t for everyone—and that’s okay.
Have you been thinking of creating your own freelance business website while you are traveling? I hope these tips helped bring you one step closer!