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I’m no stranger to complaining about how intrusive phones, laptops and iPads have become. Our myriad of always-on devices have the ability to own us worse than any 9 to 6 desk job could – if we allow them to.
Every so often though, I pause to reflect on just how fortunate we are to be living in the digital age. Technology affords us tremendous freedom and possibilities when used to our advantage.
Thanks to modern technology, we can run our “office” from anywhere – so long as there’s internet access and phone service available (and sometimes even when there isn’t).
What are my Online Freelancing Options?
Online freelancing was once predominantly limited to writing and programming, but now there’s nothing to stop freelancers in any industry from moving online. If you check out google trends, the world’s interest in working remotely is growing exponentially!
Here’s a list of 10 online freelancing possibilities outside of writing and programming:
- Project Manager
- Game tester
- Virtual Assistant
Nothing catch your interest? Here’s 10 more!
- Video editor
- Book keeper
- Estate Agent
- Proof reader/Book reviewer
- Event planner
- Business advisor
Check out UberSuggest for even more ideas!
If earning while you travel the world sounds appealing, then check out the master of sustainable travel and my good friend Nora at The Professional Hobo. She says:
As The Professional Hobo, I have been traveling full-time in a financially sustainable way since 2007. My adventures have taken me around the world a few times over, and my location independent career has kept the money coming in regardless of where I’ve been galavanting.
Now I’ve had the “freelancer lifestyle” since 2005, but without the “freedom” until early 2013! Maybe I was just slow on the uptake, scared, or both! Freelancing is a great thing, if you take advantage of the freedom it can provide you. Otherwise, your just stuck at your own desk rather than an employers, giving up your time remotely rather than on-premises.
Here are some of the fears that held me back from taking advantage of my freedom, nod if anything resonates:
- If I’m not always online and available and my clients can’t get hold of me, they’ll go elsewhere.
- What happens if I lose my clients and can’t afford to be where I am anymore?
- How can it be possible – everyone around me works in an office all day. I feel bad I don’t have a “real job”.
- I need high speed internet access and phone service.
So lets see if there’s any truth here…
I’ll Lose My Clients if I’m Not Online and Reachable 24/7
Well, there’s only two possibilities here – either you’re right and you have a terrible relationship with your clients, or you’re wrong and you worry too much.
If you’re providing significant value for your clients, they won’t dump you because you’re not available round the clock. However, if your unique selling point is that you are instantly reachable, then your fears may be slightly more founded. It’s an issue that took me a long time to get past – the fear that my service wasn’t good enough, so it needed to be backed up with instant availability.
You’ll have to be smart and start slowly moving yourself out of the hole you’ve dug. Don’t respond to emails and calls immediately – delay by half an hour to an hour at first. If your clients need to keep reaching out to you to check in on the status of things, start introducing new habits to give them more detailed updates.
Make sure that your clients aren’t left anxious and not knowing what’s going on. When you talk to your clients, make sure they know exactly what you’re working on and when they can expect to hear from you next.
It might take a couple of weeks to a couple of months to slowly transition from instantly available to available once every 2 to 3 days. If the client is valuable and you want to keep the work – it’s worth it.
What Happens if I Lose My Clients and Can’t Afford to Continue?
Dumping everything and travelling the world on a whim isn’t the smartest thing to do. It took me about 3 months from getting my mindset straight to setting off on that flight from London, UK to Quito, Ecuador.
Make plans, make backup plans and make sure you have adequate savings. Don’t get too obsessed though, because life very rarely follows our plans anyway. The key points in my plan looked something like this:
- My best clients are A, B and C at the moment. Here are my hourly rates, and project earnings for each client for the next 9 months…
- Here’s a rough idea of what I want to do and what I expect to spend…
- If I was to lose, A, B, C or all 3 of them. This would be my financial situation for the next 9 months…
- Here’s a list of my skills and hobbies, and how I could use them to set up another business or win new clients…
- If all else fails, here’s a list of sites where I’m certain I could win reasonable paying freelance projects…
- If even that fails, I have X in savings and could live happily with no income for at least 3 months.
Full time travel is not expensive! The two years that I travelled, visiting some of the most beautiful sights in South America, having the most mind-blowingly amazing experiences of my life and meeting some of the most wonderful and inspirational people cost about a third of what spending another two years doing nothing in North West London would have.
If you travel the world, living in the most expensive cities and staying in top hotels, then yes, it’s going to be very expensive. You don’t have to choose between spending your life’s savings and slumming it! See what Nora has to say here.
Everyone Else Works in an Office All Day. Shouldn’t I?
Well, good for them. They all have their reasons but none of them ever seemed that happy to me. Maybe they love it and find it fulfilling – I know that I definitely don’t.
It took me a while to embrace freedom – stuck with the idea that “good people work hard in a job all day.” It’s a myth, propagated by industries to produce an obedient work force. It’s a lie! I have my own spin on it – “smart people work intelligently, strive to better themselves, and provide value to others wherever they can.”
Life is short and there’s so much to experience. Even a day sitting in an office cubicle is a day wasted in my eyes.
I Need High Speed Internet Access and Phone Service
This might be a bit more of a legitimate concern – it was for me. I knew I could go a day without internet access and it wouldn’t cause any major problems, but beyond that I was unsure. I had to take a chance and just hope for the best. I did equip myself as best as I could in advance though:
- A long range USB WiFi adapter (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Network-AWUS036NHA-802-11b-wireless-adapter/dp/B004Y6MIXS)
- A global roaming data SIM. (S. America data prices were horrendous and fortunately I only used it once)
This will become less and less of a problem in future. WiFi and broadband are being installed globally, and mobile data prices are coming down.
Do plan ahead for periods of excruciatingly slow or no internet access. I would make sure I had downloaded any resources I needed to my Mac before moving somewhere where I wasn’t confident on the internet access. When I took trips to places where I knew I would have no internet access (and didn’t want access anyway) such as the jungle or to Machu Picchu, I let my clients know in advance I would be unavailable for a few days.
Networking on the Road
I learned more through travelling than I’d learned from any books before. I met more people while travelling than I did in years of forced networking events. I helped where I could (usually solving people’s PC and internet problems) and other people helped me where they could.
Jim Rohn famously said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. I’m now spending my time with smart digital nomads and freedom hackers doing all kind of interesting things – I love it.
Bad Habit: Time Wasting Online
There’s very little point in going to the other end of the world to hunt out internet access to read gossip columns, scroll up and down Facebook and post every moment on Twitter or Instagram. Use your time online wisely and make sure your online freelancing lifestyle is working for you, not the other way around.
Do you travel frequently? Have the urge to get up and take to the road? Leave a message in the comments!