Do you work from a home base or are you a digital nomad or something in between?
Digital nomad but seeking a new home base.
What is your job title?
CEO, Coach, Entrepreneur.
In a typical week, what does your work entail?
Working with clients as a coach, designing websites for clients, reaching out to potential clients, making videos or blog posts or social media content & promoting it, creating landing pages, doing interviews, responding to press requests, talking to potential partners, talking to affiliate marketers, creating content for online courses. I’d say it’s about a 60% content creation and 40% sales and promotions mix at the moment.
How many hours a week do you typically work? If it varies a lot, what would your weekly average be?
During a launch, as many as 60, but typically 30.
How did you get into this kind of work?
I started my career as a graphic designer, then got an MBA and started working as a product manager and product designer with start-ups. After 10 years of that I started freelancing in UX/product design and that kicked off my location indie life. I stumbled onto coaching and jumped right in because I love teaching and helping people create the lives they want to create. The business building and entrepreneurship helps me support my mission to help others.
What kind of skills do you need to do your job?
Marketing, web design, general business knowledge, technical skills, sales, ability to form relationships, a little bit of fearlessness, and a lot of dedication.
For someone who wants to pursue this kind of work, how would you suggest they start out?
If you want to be an online entrepreneur, start by learning some basic web design and technical skills. Then do the work to decide how you’ll create income and start testing things out.
If you’re interested in coaching, there are two main paths forward – capitalize on your existing experience & really learn to market yourself, or get a coaching certificate and partner with companies that will match you with clients.
What must you absolutely have in order to do your work? Ie computer, wifi, specific apps/software, and so on.
Computer, WiFi, a method of connecting with clients (I use Zoom.us), scheduling tools (I use Google Calendar, Calendly.com, Acuity Scheduling, and a time zone converter), word processing (G Suite by Google), a CRM or email marketing system, a Stripe.com account, a task manager program (I use Todoist for daily tasks and Asana for big project plans) or a notebook and pen, good daily habits, and a quiet place to take calls.
If you’re self-employed, how do you find your clients?
I meet people in the real world and nurture relationships; I meet people on social media and nurture relationships; I respond to press requests via HARO and get traffic from articles, capture leads with email, and nurture relationships.
How long have you been working location independently? And if you’re a digital nomad, how long have you been a digital nomad?
Location independent since 2015, full time nomad since January 2017.
Did you start that job on the side before going full time (if you did go full time)?
I was already self-employed, so sort of. I actually was working full-time when I started nomading the first time – I got permission from my boss to work remote.
What are your most important apps or software (for Windows, macOS, iOS, or Android) that help you do your job better?
Google Apps, WordPress (with Divi), Drip email marketing, Todoist, Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Illustrator, MissingLettr marketing software, Buffer, 1Password, Alfred for Mac, Zoom.us, Brain.fm, Calendly.
Questions for digital nomads
Did you start that job in your home country before you started as a digital nomad? Or did you start it after you realized you didn’t want to go back?
I was working a job when I started nomading and left that job when I realized I wanted to work for myself. I started and grew a freelancing business from home, then left the country to travel full time and started another business. I don’t recommend doing that for most people.
Get a solid start to the business first, then start travelling.
What do you do for benefits/insurance/retirement plan?
I have medical through ING’s Patriot Plan. I have a Wealthfront account for investments and plan to do more retirement investing and planning this year.
How hard is it to find reliable wifi when you travel? What do you do about internet in countries where it’s not always stable?
Really varies by country. Thankfully, mobile data is usually cheap so make sure your phone can be used as a hot spot (most can). And sometimes you just have to move – I left Bali 2 months early for a number of reasons, but one was that we lost WiFi & cell service every time it rained! My clients were understanding, but that wasn’t what I wanted for my business.
How do you pay taxes and to which country?
Depends on where your tax home is. Some countries don’t require you to pay taxes if you’re a citizen and not living there. In the US, you still pay US taxes but you an exemption for the first $100,000 of income.
I am a US citizen so I will pay tax to the US for the rest of my life unless I establish residency elsewhere.
How do you structure your day between work and play?
Depends on my city and what’s going on with my business, but typically I’ll work from “home” in the morning, leave for lunch and go explore and do some fun stuff, come back and work some more in the evenings.
How do you explain to people what you do?
I travel full-time and work online as a life and business coach.
How do you combat the loneliness of working remotely or does that not bother you?
Doesn’t really bother me and was one of the reasons I started working remotely. I’m far more productive when I’m on my own!
How do you deal with worst case scenarios – ie, a stolen notebook, no internet, an erupting volcano or other natural disaster?
The same as you deal with them when you’re at home! Sh*t happens everywhere.
I was in London during the London Bridge Attacks, I was in Barcelona during Las Ramblas, I was in Bali during a minor volcano eruption, I was in Australia after a cyclone, I got food poisoning in Vietnam, I got bit by a dog in Malaysia… All sorts of things happen no matter where you go. You take the next step and hope for the best.
You volunteer if you can and it’s warranted. You go to vigils and you cry with the locals. You hope like hell that all your most recent files were backed up to the cloud like they should always be (I use Dropbox and Drive for every-single-file I create so if I have to replace my laptop I can be up and running in hours) and you figure stuff out. What a lot of people don’t realize about nomadic life is that it’s just normal life in exotic locations. We have the same problems, just a pretty backdrop and our own hours.