How I Built My Freelance Writing Business While Travelling the World
Do you currently work remotely, or hope to be soon? Freelancing and working from home are on the rise. A study from FlexJobs suggests that more than 2.9% of the US workforce now work remotely, with this figure showing a steep increase in the years before.
In 2016, I didn’t work remotely. I was chained to an office for 8 hours a day, 5 hours a week – and I was miserable.
I hated having an allocated amount of time I had to spend in one place, no matter if I sped through my work or went at a snail’s pace.
I hated that my evenings and weekends were spent packing in as much fun and adventure with friends and family as possible, only to leave me feeling exhausted when Monday rolled back around.
I want more freedom, and more flexibility. I wanted to choose my working hours, dictate my rates, and to choose the types of companies I really wanted to work with.
So, that’s exactly what I did. I hustled (and then some!) alongside my office job, and then I quit my job and built my freelance writing business while travelling the world.
It sounds like one of those romantic, if-only stories you’ll see popping up on your newsfeed every so often, but it’s not. Anyone can replicate this success with the right tools.
Below, I’ve outlined some of the essential points you need to know on how I built my freelance writing business while travelling the world – and how you can, too.
1) Preparation, Planning, and Precautions
I would never ever advise someone to quit their job today and pursue their dream with zero preparation done first.
The people that take that approach often come home from a whirlwind trip with empty pockets. We’re aiming for a sustainable business to make this dream a long-term lifestyle.
Before I officially left my office job, I worked for several months beforehand building up my freelance business.
I built a website, grew my online presence, built my portfolio, and secured several long-term clients before I even handed in my notice.
Yes, those months were filled with stress and extremely long working hours, but they also built the foundations of a stable freelance business before anything was really at stake.
Be smart and prepare for this leap into working on the road before you take any real risks (like leaving a stable source of income for nothing!).
2) Steady and Slow Wins the Race
I built my freelance writing business to the point it’s at today over several months while travelling through Asia.
Why? Two reasons:
- To see the world! I didn’t want to spend 8 hours a day, 5 hours a day chained to a desk like I had been back home, so I built my business steadily and gave myself plenty of time to enjoy the new countries I was travelling through.
- To avoid system overload. Managing a freelance business if you’ve never been self-employed before means learning a lot of new skills. If I tried to expand too quickly, I know I would have been overwhelmed and ended up disappointing my clients.
A slow and steady approach meant I knew when it was appropriate for me to take on more clients and grew my business, and when I had enough on my plate.
3) Virtual Tools are Your Best Friend
There are so many virtual tools available online to make building a freelance business when you’re on the road so much easier to achieve.
I came to rely on multiple tools that helped me manage my workload, meet my deadlines, and keep my clients happy even when we were in wildly different time zones!
A few of my absolute favourite tools I’d recommend include:
- Trello (for project management and planning)
- Google Hangouts (for virtual meetings)
- Slack (for instant messaging – great if you work in a team!)
- Headspace (a meditation tool that I find invaluable for re-setting and relaxing after a busy day)
4) Research Your Destinations
Building a freelance business when you’re constantly moving is definitely more challenging than doing the same thing while you’re in one place.
For one thing, finding a solid WiFi connection and a comfortable place to work can be a complete minefield.
I quickly learned that being a freelancer on the road means you can’t be quite as carefree as a traditional backpacker. You have to do your research.
I joined multiple Facebook groups for digital nomads and remote workers, and would also read through a few articles on travel blogs about my next planned destination. These resources are a fantastic way of getting a feel for the place you’re hoping to head to.
If you keep finding a lot of comments on poor WiFi or bad reviews from other people that work on the road, re-jigging your travel plans to a more work-appropriate place can make life a lot easier.
5) Making Use of Your Connections – Online and Offline
One of the most important factors that helped me build my freelance writing business while travelling the world – and really stand out – is the pure fact that I was travelling the world.
That interested people. I had a lot of conversations with people super interested in how I was making money and travelling at the same time. Afterall, it is a dream for a lot of people.
The thing is though, these conversations lead to a lot more exposure for my freelance business! I connected with the people I met on social media, stayed in touch, and a few months later several of these people had friends reaching out to me with work they needed doing.
Likewise, I connected with a lot of travel bloggers and digital nomad bloggers online, some of whom often need writers for their websites.
Take advantage of your USP of being a worker on the road, and don’t be afraid to start this conversation with the people you meet. You’d be surprised how much referrals you can get from a simple, honest conversation!
When people ask me how to become a freelance writer, my biggest and best piece of advice is to just start. Whether that’s setting up a professional Twitter account for your business, or asking a handful of your trusted friends if they know anyone who might be looking for a writer for their business.
Once you’ve made that first step, the leap seems a lot less scary!
Yaz Purnell is a freelance writer and business owner. She creates long-form technical content for online B2C businesses while managing her business from the road. Interested in becoming a freelance writer yourself? Check out her free course Thriving Freelance Writing to learn more!