This article was first published on LinkedIn.
Four months ago, I decided to leave a relatively comfortable, well-paid and enjoyable job in London to become a freelance, remote, digital nomad. That meant swapping 7am wake-ups, sweaty Tube journeys and sitting at a desk eight hours a day for working when and where I want to, exploring new cultures, speaking new languages, and even writing this blog from the comfort of my own office.
I left my job to go freelance and begin placing the foundations for my own copywriting business while travelling the world with a company called Remote Year. It was a big career step and somewhat of a gamble, but a decision that taught me to become more conscientious and hard-working and more dedicated to my professional development than ever before.
Life as a digital nomad
I’ve just finished up four months of living in South America, which included one month apiece in Santiago (Chile), Lima (Peru), Medellín (Colombia) and México City, and I’m now a week into life in Hanoi (Vietnam). I’ve quickly learned that living in new countries brings you interesting nuances, surprises and shocks — some that you can foresee, such as having to speak different languages, and some less so.
As a silly example, for years I’ve been living under the assumption that the C tap = cold water. But, shock horror, in places where they don’t speak English this may not apply, which I found out on the first day of living in Lima. Cranking up the F tap left me very confused when the shower was absolutely freezing then I got a nasty shock when the C tap resulted in a nice toothpaste melt. So, in Spanish-speaking countries, C = Caliente; F = Frio. Lesson learned.
That aside, the biggest difference has been my work-life balance. Finding work as a new freelance copywriter is unquestionably tough, especially when you’re living in a new country, but I’ve thrown myself into it and found a series of projects that are interesting, challenging and diverse.
For example, in the last four months, I’ve written articles about the FBI’s cybersecurity services, Everything-as-a-Service, various elements of online identity, email management, and a Colombian charity that’s helping civil war victims to live better lives. At the same time, I’ve climbed pyramids, been sand-duning in a desert (see header image), seen a Giant Panda and a snow leopard, experienced the madness of South American football fanaticism, dodged varying levels of traffic chaos, and survived multiple crazy public protests turned full-blown riots.
Remote working misconceptions
However, one of the biggest frustrations I’ve encountered is the difficulty in finding projects thanks to misconceptions about remote work. Remote working isn’t simply “WFH on Friday” because you had a jar or two too many after the impromptu Thursday team night out. Now, entire teams can work from all corners of the world and collaborate, communicate ideas and share skills with each other just as easily, if not even more easily, as they would if they were sitting in the same office.
As proof, during my month in Colombia, my productivity levels went through the roof. I wrote at least 40 blogs of circa 1,000 words and during one week my Grammarly tells me I set a new personal record of checking 442,023 words. In comparison, back in August when I had a busy week in my old job as a content writer, Grammarly checked 140,841 words. So, in other words, I’m now three-times more productive as a remote freelance writer.
The idea of working with someone on a completely different timezone may not sound ideal but it is totally doable in most jobs. In fact, I firmly believe the remote employee is likely to be more productive than people stuck at their desks from 9 to 5, Monday to Friday.
I can’t remember a single occasion during the last nine years when I sat at my desk and actually worked for an entire day. Be it Facebook, BBC Sport, playing table tennis or FIFA, or chatting to colleagues on Skype or Workplace, even the smallest of distractions was enough to drag me away from the task of doing work.
Now, however, I am my own boss and I need to work to survive and grow my own career, so I am the most conscientious, proactive and productive I have ever been.
In short, life as a digital nomad is awesome and I’m excited about what it’ll bring me in 2020. I’m always on the lookout for new work and some recently came to me in the form of a series of articles writing for a new digital comparison website called Soda.com. You can see a couple of examples I worked on below:
I’m actively looking for new projects so if you need a freelance copywriter to bolster your creative team in 2020 I’d love to hear from you. Just get in touch on LinkedIn, Twitter or email me on email@example.com.