Whenever I tell fellow travelers that I’ve been traveling for almost a year now, I get the same saucer-eyed stare, and eventually the time-tested question: how do you do it? The answer is simple: freelance writing gigs.
Traveling as a freelance writer sounds pretty glamorous. Many people think it means I’m going on-destination to write pieces about luxury hotels perched on remote tropical islands, or getting paid to party like there’s no tomorrow at Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. While these are certainly life goals of mine, being a freelance writer on the move generally means that I’m holed up in some random hostel bunk bed, writing stories on market research, and trying to get Insta-famous. Other times it means I’m hiding behind a cow to siphon off Wi-Fi from the only Wi-Fi-rich restaurant in town to check client emails.
But quitting my nine-to-five job and having the chance to travel indefinitely is still, beyond a doubt, a dream come true — and this is something I also relate to anyone who asks. Hence, the next question I normally get is, “how do I do what you do?” Well, no worries, my fellow wanderlust friends. I’m here to spread the gospel.
Save first, make money later
Unless you already have a client base, you need to make sure that you have enough savings to keep you on the move, fed, and able to pay for the medical bills that sometimes come hand-in-hand with your street food addiction.
When I started traveling, I had one client, but I also had a decent chunk of cash from my previous nine-to-five. Thus, I was able to remain abroad while I expanded my client network.
Insider tip: While you’re living off your savings, travel in cheap countries! Most places in Asia are a good place to start. Whereas in India you can find a nice room with a view and an attached bathroom for $3 a night, in Ecuador you’ll be looking at roughly $10 a night for a bunk bed and a shared bathroom down the hall.
Find freelance writing gigs
In today’s highly-connected world, it is easier than ever to find freelance writing gigs. So as long as you’ve got a Wi-Fi connection, you can generally find work. Some of my favorite sites are Upwork, Growth Geeks and Word Geeks. You can also check out Freelancer, Fiverr or even search for freelance writing gigs on Craigslist.
But don’t pout. In the beginning, it’s all about building that portfolio so you have something to show to the next client, and the next client, and the next … Well, you get the point. Plus, once your clients discover that you’re a pretty badass writer, they’ll start recommending you for other jobs.
Generally, I post my work on my social platforms because I’m proud of what I do, but I’ve definitely had the delight of a Twitter message from so-and-so company asking about my services or an unexpected share. The more you get your name and reputation out there, the more opportunities you will have to keep your travel dream alive, my friend.
“No” is not in your vocabulary
While you build your client-base, you don’t really have the luxury of turning offers down — at least that’s how I saw it. In order to achieve my travel dreams, I knew I had to accept everything and anything that came my way.
Meaning, oftentimes I found myself scratching my head at an assignment on high-performance SD-WAN solutions or uptime as a service. Do you know what those are? I sure as heck didn’t, but I do now.
You should still do the work you love.
A lot of the initial work is about branding yourself and building connections. While you might be doing a number of assignments that you don’t necessarily enjoy, don’t stop seeking out the ones you do.
For me, this means pitching stories to travel publications or women’s magazines (and oftentimes getting rejected). When I do land a freelance writing gig, it often means doing the same amount of work, if not more, for much less cash. However, it comes with perks like free homestays and tours, referrals to higher-paying gigs, and of course, the unparalleled joy of seeing your name in the byline.
What I’m saying is, do the writing you love, even if it doesn’t pay much. It will pay for itself in the long-run.
Begin your adventure
My dear wanderlust friends, I hope you have found this information useful. Look up freelance writing gigs, buy your plane ticket, and take that leap. You might be surprised to find that a net will indeed appear.