Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Eight Things You Should Know Before Becoming A Digital Nomad Or Starting Online Freelance Career




I just left my one-year old night shift job yesterday. It felt like there was a big and long sword pierced in my chest right where my heart is has been taken out. My colleagues say I wait until December after the full 13th month pay has been given. This is the month actually that we are paid the highest since I belong to the BPO industry because we have work the whole month of December including the first two days of January. This means a lot of double pays but I just can’t bear anymore every single second I am spending my time in a work that I don’t love to the point it seems I am killing myself already.  I just realized I couldn’t stand it and I feel suffocated inside the office. And also I have spent the last ten years of Christmas and New Year inside the office working sadly while the rest of the world is at the comforts of their homes rejoicing with their loved ones. I just don’t want that to happen again. The higher payout after the holidays just don’t suffice the emptiness inside me so I need to change the course of my life again.    

I will spend at least a week of rest before I start my online freelance fulltime job. This week of rest actually is not literally about not doing anything. This is all about transition and preparing all the requirements I need before I start a location independent work.  I admit I am scared because of the uncertainties of a life of a self – employed but at the same time beyond happy that I have more freedom doing my work anywhere and I have a flexible schedule to complete it.

I have only spent a year in this job.  It was  October in 2014 I decided to go back to the same industry I spent eight years when I failed the first time I tried freelancing – I was selling local tour packages  by partnering with dozens of accredited travel agencies in the country. It went very well for the first six months but there were too much challenges that came and I was not able to conquer it all. I was a newbie online entrepreneur then.  

I thought I can balance a life of having a corporate fulltime job while I travel, blog and do my online stuff. I was totally wrong during the whole year I was a regular employee.  This time I would say I am much courageous and I have a few more means of making money online that can help me afford the minimum lifestyle I need to survive here in Manila and support the minimal financial money I need for my trips because most of these are sponsored anyway.

To those who are planning  to ditch their regular jobs in exchange of an online career  especially to those who want to be a digital nomad, someone who plans to travel long term at the same time only needs an Internet connection to make money this blog post is for you.
I have listed the basic things you need to know before you throw yourself amidst the raging waves in the ocean.

1. Secure a Paypal account
Paypal payment is the top way of paying workers remotely. Make sure that it is verified and of course no one knows your login here.  You need to get a debit card first then hook it to your Paypal account. I just got my Unionbank EON card for  Php350 or USD 8. Choose the Personal account which works for accepting payments but you can still use it for online payments such as booking your flight or buying a stuff at your favourite online store. The Business account is only used if your business is registered and you are the one billing the workers.

2. Find A Coworking Space
I have never thought of doing my online work inside my house every day for eight hours. I am a very social person, I feel motivated and inspired whenever I get to talk  or learn about a successful individual in the freelancing, startups and entrepreneurship worlds.  Recently I visited a coworking space that offers the lowest rate.  I am thinking of spending there the first few weeks of my work and see if it is worth it. The rate though it is already the cheapest still eats a big chunk of my budget so I am thinking of working there for the first four hours then the remaining I can do it elsewhere at home, inside malls and other places that offer free wifi.

3. Make sure to pay government tax, health insurance et cetera
The worst part of having a freelance career is that you are in charged of paying your taxes and other types of insurance. Most of the time you will forget or usually the pay online are smaller for first timers  so you are tempted not to give your share. But emergencies do happen so better to be full gear than not.
                    
4. Have a very good online presence to top freelance websites such as Upwork (formerly Odesk), Freelancers and for fellow Filipinos, the Online Ph Jobs. You’ll never know once your project ends if there will be another one to follow so always make sure you have some options. This also includes Linkedin, please update your profile stating your current and detailed freelance skills.

5. Never settle for one freelance job only at a time
Sure it says you have a contract  but at least get one small freelance gig whenever you can that wont affect your current priority. Freelancers are expected to be multi-taskers and earning a bit more is never a good idea.

6. Hone yourself to be multi-skilled freelancer
The more skills you know, the more opportunities of getting paid comes your way. No need to explain this further. Me I am not really multi – skilled so I will stick to many forms of writing tasks such as blog writing to other sites, curating travel guides and anything related.  I hope though that I learn a few more ways like social media management and seo so I can have more options of getting paid to.

7. Connect with fellow freelancers and join freelancing meetups around the metro
You will never know what other opportunities will come your way. When I started blogging I don’t know anyone from the blogosphere. I don’t even know what to post. But because I widen my network and connections of fellow bloggers and travellers,  that’s when I was able to  learn about so many events I can join and topics I can write.

8. You need to adjust your  lifestyle 
Whether you like it or not, you need to start living within your means. When I was in my previous job for eight years, my pay was really nice. I am able to buy Starbucks coffee every payday, buy a new dress and eat in a fancy restaurant.   Right now I don’t do these anymore but I am still thankful as a blogger in some events I get to drink an expensive coffee, eat a food I cant afford and a lot of perks I cannot say one by one.

There you go, a freelance career is not for everyone I would say.  At one point I regret meeting those individuals who inspired me to travel and do online work because by now If I stayed in my longtime job, I would have been already a Manager and earning so much more.  But I would rather risk myself to a new environment than get stuck in doing the same crap everyday. I wish this way I can now spend more time travelling. I am not dreaming to be a huge digital nomad who hops from country to country for now. I would like to take this one step at a time.

From now on your laptop, smartphone and other digital devices will be as precious as your body parts! You will take care of it tens of times more than the usual way of using it to just watch movies or browse Facebook before. 

Just to tell you, I am not using a laptop for the past 4 years but I was able to blog almost twice a week. I was only using  Internet shops. Since I lost my laptop I have never bought one because I always save the money for my trips. 

But now it happened that my brother is lending me his laptop (actually a notebook with a few keys not working, the one I brought in Cambodia) so I am using it for I guess a year or until I get one myself. I also dont have a digicam (I got robbed months ago), I just use my smartphone to take photos. But since I will have a serious online fulltime job, I will most probably get a new laptop soon. I just would like to prove that there is nothing impossible for any goals you do so long as you have the grit to make it happen. 

The picture by the way at the top is  inside  a mall where the wifi is so strong. I go here every now and then to save from data connection bills. Only one hour is the free use so after that I hop to another mall which is around 20 minutes away from each for another hour. This takes a lot of walking too, not to mention carrying a heavy laptop.    

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