Living The Dream

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Travel… the freedom.. the sense of adventure… the variety… the weather!  Travel plans are a place our minds often drift off to, particularly on a Monday morning, as we sit in our grey office looking out at a miserable morning, dreaming of warmer climates; yet for the majority of people, the only relief from the Great British weather is a few weeks in the sun – and then, like Snow White’s Seven Dwarfs, “Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it’s back to work we go”.

For many, their dream lifestyle is one that allows such freedom they can work and travel anywhere in the world – whether that’s as a single person, as a partnership, and even as a family.  In today’s digital economy there is the opportunity to work remotely, from anywhere in the world, providing you have a laptop and a decent internet connection!  

For many people, “living the dream” no longer features a corner office, fancy title, and even fancier car parked in their driveway… it’s more akin to jetting off to an exotic location and working from their laptop in a bamboo beach hut drinking from a fresh coconut, each morning, that’s recently fallen onto the soft white sand.

No doubt you’ll have heard the tales of people giving up their daily grind in order to travel the world… where they exchange the shackles of the nine-to-five for flexible working hours, and the congested commute for a gentle walk in the sun, from their beach hut to a local coffee shop… and, perhaps most importantly, they swap their tedious “keeping up with the jones’” colleagues for like-minded friends that are on the same wavelength.

The benefits of this remote working lifestyle are clear… there are plenty of people who have exchanged their office cubicle for a beach lifestyle in South East Asia, having a foot massage for a few pounds, whilst working on their iPad, tucking into fresh fruit picked directly from a nearby tree.

However, whilst the beach-based sun-drenched lifestyle sounds incredible, the reality of mosquitos, open sewers, and a mattress made of bamboo fibre – it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.  It can be a hard slog, and for that reason, looking for an apartment for rent in penang or a similar paradise can be a much better option if you’re planning to stay somewhere long term.

No matter where you decide to travel, or the type of accommodation you decide on, the one thing that’s for sure is that you are going to need a decent source of income.  

If you are a freelancer trying to make a decent income, in today’s economy, the general advice is to develop multiple streams of income and a portfolio of smaller projects – rather than depending on one source of income that could be taken away at any time.  

Think of it as a table with four legs vs. one leg.  Even if the one leg provides a significant amount of cash,  your financial stability is inherently vulnerable, as this could be taken away from you at any time.  

The key advice, therefore, is to develop multiple streams of income rather than rely on one particular source.  The next nugget of advice is to develop skills that are in demand, and in particular, skills where the demand is likely to increase in coming years.  

FREELANCE SKILLS IN HIGH DEMAND

With the ever increasing trend for user generated content, and video explainers, the demand for video editing is booming and shows no signs of slow down; basic video editing is a skill you can pick up reasonably quickly, and the Adobe Suite of products doesn’t cost that much for a monthly subscription.  There are plenty of training classes available, and as many of these classes are hosted online you are able to do the course from the comfort of your home (or beach hut) and tailor your learning around current commitments / particular interests.

Web Design is another booming market, and whilst, a few years ago web designers would require an understanding of coding language – today, there are plenty of WYSWYG website builders available, where it is as simple as dragging and dropping elements onto a page, without any need for coding.  Remember, you don’t need to be a designer extraordinaire, you just need to be able to facilitate the tangible outcome that the client wants and be more proficient in achieving that outcome than they are able.

Just as popular as web design and video editing is copywriting where you develop content for a client, whether that’s a blog post, advertising copy, or a description of the business or service.  The more specialised this is (e.g. business plan writing) the higher paid you will be, but someone with a general grasp of creative writing can produce compelling copy that converts website visitors into customers.  Remember, you don’t need to be a J K Rowling, you just need to produce content that is engaging and makes sense.

WHERE TO FIND WORK

Sites such as freelancer.com make popular tasks such as web design, video editing, and copywriting accessible to a global market of freelancers; many of which live in countries with such a low cost of living, they can charge as little as $5 an hour for complex technical tasks – blowing the majority of western freelancers out the water, in terms of price.  However, price is not the only thing clients consider – they want value for money, and if you have specialist skills or are simply able to relate and understand a task better given that English is your first language, many prospective clients will pay a premium to avoid the miscommunication and headaches associated with working with someone from an unfamiliar culture.

In summary, the opportunity to work remotely, and live the freelancing dream is within your grasp – but unless you have multiple streams of income and develop skills that are in demand, you could end up spending most of your time pacing up and down the beach in a state of financial stress worrying about where your next paycheck is coming from rather than the anticipated state of bliss and relaxation.  

The best advice, therefore, is to develop multiple streams of income and focus on skills that are in high demand.

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