Work Online, Travel The World + Live Creatively
4 Essential Steps To Start An Online Business And Travel The World!
You’re sitting in your cubicle at work scrolling through your Insta feed and you stumble across a stunning picture of a sun-kissed girl sunbathing on the white sandy beaches of Bali…
You click to her feed and continue scrolling through her gorgeous travel pics that literally never seem to end. Seriously?!
You think to yourself, “What the heck does this girl do for work?! How does she travel around the world full-time?!”
You close the app and miserably put your head down on your desk.
“There seriously has to be more to life than this 9-5 grind”, you think…
Well, spoiler alert: This was me 4.5 years ago.
I secretly despised my job.
I would drag myself out of bed every morning, get to the office and stare at the clock all day waiting for it to hit 5 o’clock. I lived for the weekends, and of course, those precious two weeks of vacation a year.
If I was being blunt, I couldn’t help but feel totally lost, stuck and uninspired with my entire life – not exactly the #dreamlife I had planned for myself after I graduated college.
So, I made the only decision that made sense at the time:
I quit my job and booked a one-way ticket to Mexico.
Youthful naivety? Maybe. The best decision ever? Absolutely.
Fast forward to today, 4.5 years later, I’ve built a six-figure online business with my best friend while traveling around the world full-time!
We wake up every morning with a passion for life and the ability to choose when we want to work and where we want to work (hint: it’s usually barefoot, by a pool in Bali with coconuts and acai bowls delivered to our desks! #aintcomplaining).
Quick snap of our office setup ???? …
In a nutshell, we’ve built a six-figure online business and career that not only makes us 20x the income than our previous 9-5 jobs, but more importantly, it gives us the freedom and flexibility to actually live our lives to fullest.
So if you’re anything like I was, you’re probably thinking, “How is it even possible to work online? Where do I even start? What’s the first step I should take? But what if I have no experience?”
…followed by a million other questions *gulp*…
Well girl, you’re in just the right place because today, we’re going to walk you through the exact steps YOU need to take to build a successful online business that gives you the freedom to travel the world full-time!
Plus, answers to all those juicy questions you have (psssst…be sure to take notes because we’re getting down to the nitty-gritty!)
Let’s get to it!
Step 1: Define Your Online Skills
You’re probably thinking, “What the heck are online skills?” Glad you asked girl 😉
Online skills are simply skills that you can offer as a service to clients online. This service is commonly referred to as “freelancing”, which is one of the fastest ways to start making money online since you’re using skills that you already have.
Check out this quick stat from Upwork:
- 60% of freelancers who left traditional employment now earn more. Of those, 78% indicated they earned more freelancing within a year or less.
And this one from Forbes…
- 1 in 2 people in the United States will be working as freelancers by 2020
Essentially, your online skills are many of the same skills you use in your current job – just now done digitally!
For example – let’s say your current job is an office manager. One of your skills may be organizing and managing multiple calendars for the company. This skill can be transitioned into an online skill by virtually managing the schedule for a busy entrepreneur using a platform like Calendly or Google Calendar.
You’d actually be surprised at how many online skills you already have!
But how do you figure out what your unique online skills are? We got you girl!
1. Dissect your past experiences. Think about your past education, jobs, internships and passion projects. Make a list of the daily tasks that you were responsible for by dissecting each experience.
2. Highlight the tasks you enjoyed. Once you complete your lists of daily tasks, highlight the tasks you enjoyed doing most.
For example, in the image below, I dissected my summer marketing internship from college where I worked in the marketing department at an ethical jewelry company.
I used a mind mapping technique to list out all of my daily tasks like researching popular bloggers, brainstorming marketing campaigns and reaching out to bloggers for features. Then, I highlighted those tasks I enjoyed most!
3. Choose 3 online skills for each experience. Of the tasks you enjoyed most, choose 3 skills that can be transitioned online for each experience. You should end up with a solid list of your online skills!
If you’re struggling to decipher which skills you have that can be transitioned online, keep in mind that some popular online skills are:
- Social media management
- Copywriting and copyediting
- Email marketing
- Website design
- Graphic design
- Virtual Assistant work (managing calendars, projects, team members etc.)
But wait – it gets even better…
Take Our Free Course!
We created a totally free video course to walk you through this entire process of discovering, finding and defining your online skills with worksheets (and printable mind maps!) to guide you along the way!
Did I mention it’s completely fo’ free?
“But what if I don’t have enough experience?” Or “Seriously, I have ZERO online skills!”
We all have to start somewhere (even Beyonce did…just sayin’).
What I mean is, if you’re not feeling totally confident about the online skills that you have to offer, then it’s time for you to learn new online skills that clients are hiring for.
With the Internet, anything you want to learn is right at your freshly polished fingertips. Woot!
“But, do I need a formal degree to start an online biz?”
Spoiler alert: You don’t need a formal degree to work online. In the online world, it’s all about producing high quality work and results.
So put on your go-getter attitude and start watching YouTube videos, reading blog posts (you’re doin’ that right now – you go glen coco!), listening to podcasts, devouring ebooks, attending online workshops and taking online courses (like our sweet e-courses!) to learn new skills, gain more experience and feel more confident in the services you want to offer!
Here’s a quick peek into the backend of our online courses and all the new skills you can learn, anywhere, at anytime…#heckyes!
You might be wondering’, “But How do I know which skills are the most valuable to online business owners?”
Well, it boils down to two categories: design skills and tech skills.
Before you start getting freaked out by thinking you need Mark Zuckerberg’s coding skills, let me ease your worries – you don’t need to be a coder – *ah* #sighofrelief.
Here are a few of the top online design skills:
- Designing logos
- Branded marketing materials
- Social media and website graphics
And tech skills:
- Managing social media accounts
- Setting up email marketing campaigns
- Building websites
If you want to learn even more about the top online skills in design and tech that clients are hiring for, why they’re so valuable to clients and how much money you can make by offering these services, jump inside the free mini course girl!
Step 3: Define Your Services
Now that you’re feelin’ confident and rockin’ your new online skills – it’s time to define the online services that you’re going to offer to clients.
This IS an online business you’re about to start runnin’ after all 😉
“But how do I choose which services to offer?”
In the beginning, it’s important to offer a variety of services so you can gain experience, begin testing out your workflow process and get a sense of which services you really enjoy.
Start with 3 services.
For example, you may start by offering:
- Social media management
- Blog post writing
- Email Marketing
In this phase, it’s important that you get specific about what is included in this service and convey why it’s valuable by explaining your service in more detail – this step will become very important later in the game!
For example, you can define a Social Media Management service like this:
“As a successful entrepreneur, you know the power that social media has to connect to your community and ideal audience. But, are you struggling to find the time to curate new post ideas, schedule them and implement new strategies? I’m here to not only take your social media tasks off your hands, but authentically grow your community!
My Social Media Management service includes:
- Scheduling new content via Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest
- Creating and organizing a content calendar
- Engaging with community members and followers
- Implementing growth strategies
“But what if I’m struggling to decide which 3 services I should offer?”
Totally feel ya girl! But trust me, it’s best not to overthink this part. The magic is in doing it and just getting started. One of the best parts of being your own boss is the freedom to change and refine your services as you grow! #callinyourownshots
Once you have your core services defined, you’re probably thinking, “Now how much should I charge for my services?” You’re a freakin’ genius 😉
Step 4: Define Your Hourly Rate
Now for the extra exciting part – gettin’ money in the bank!
In the beginning, as a newbie online girl boss, it’s common to charge a lower hourly rate while you’re getting your feet wet with this whole freelancing thing. Remember though, this is temporary!
Here’s how to figure out your initial hourly rate:
1. Use a freelancing platform like PeoplePerHour to research what other freelancers are charging at a similar level to get a general idea of the industry.
For example, in the image below, I searched for “social media marketing” and these are some of the first freelancers that popped up, along with their hourly rates.
2. Determine your hourly rate by determining your monthly lifestyle expenses, personal expenses, business expenses and cost of living.
Essentially you need to make sure that you’re making enough money to cover your expenses.
Aaaaand since we obvi want to make your life a whole lot easier, we’ve created an easy Hourly Rate Calculator for you to simply drop in your expenses and our magic formula will calculate your Hourly Rate for ya! Easy peasy 😉
Thought you might ask 😉
The costs of starting and running an online service-based biz is insanely low because you have very little overhead (“Overhead” is basically a fancy business term for typical business expenses like office space rent, supplies, inventory, shipping costs etc.)
As a general estimate, your initial start-up business expenses should be no more than $150 USD/month.
You might be thinkin’, “So, when can I start charging higher rates?”
As you build your portfolio, gain more clients (and killer testimonials!), increase your confidence and experience, then it’s time to start charging what you’re truly worth.
From here, you can move away from hourly rates and into package pricing or value-based pricing. This will begin your exciting transition from “freelancer” to “solopreneur” (aka bad-ass girl boss fully embracing business ownership!)
But, let’s not get too ahead of ourselves yet 😉
Now you might be thinkin’, “Do I need a resume to showcase my new services and land clients?”
Nope! Resumes in the online business world are few and far between – what you need is a website…
Step 5: Build Your Biz Website
You already knew this one was comin’ didn’t ya? As a location-independent girl boss, your website is your virtual storefront!
Nowadays, it’s easy to setup a basic (and beautiful!) business website with affordable and easy to use platforms like Squarespace.
Like this one – here’s a quick peek at my old site built on Squarespace to showcase my biz and my services…
By building a professional website to showcase your online services, this will allow you to stand out from other freelancers and land clients online across the world!
“But do I really need a website when I’m first starting out?”
YES! We can’t stress this enough.
This is a business you’re building which means it’s important for you to look like one!
Just like you wouldn’t buy clothes from a random person standing on the side of the street, you shouldn’t be selling your freelancing services willy-nilly. #truth
You need a website that acts as your virtual storefront – one that builds trust through the screen.
For example, here’s a screenshot of my “About” page that was built with the main goal of allowing a potential client to connect with me and trust me with their business, without actually having met me in person…
“But, if I’m just starting out, what do I actually put on my website?”
Your website should simply showcase the services you’re offering, who you’re offering them to, how you can help them (i.e. the benefits and value of working with you!) and any examples you have of the quality of your work. Boom.
“But what if I don’t have any examples of my work since I’m just starting out?”
Enter: mockup clients.
Build a portfolio using mock up clients. A client simply wants to see the quality of your work – so it’s time for you to get your hands dirty and create a few portfolio pieces using what we like to call “mockup clients”.
Mockup clients are client scenarios where you implement the exact process and produce the same results as you would for a real-life client!
Here’s an example of a mockup project that I created when I was just starting out to showcase my website design services:
Have fun and get creative with it – you’ll have a solid portfolio in no-time.
But you might be wonderin’, “how can I showcase my tech related skills?”
When it comes to creating a portfolio of skills that are less visual, use an image of the tech platform along with a description of what you did for the project (i.e. how do you use the platform, how did this platform help your client achieve their goals etc.)
For example: Let’s say your skill is “Social Media Management” and you want to include it in your portfolio.
I would recommend putting a screenshot of the social media scheduling tool you use – in this case, it’s Hootsuite. Below you’ll see an image of the backend of the platform, as if I was scheduling for a client:
Step 6: Find Clients
The golden question: so where do you go to find your first clients in the online world?
There are three major ones to start:
1. Online Freelancing Platforms: these are basically go-to hubs and websites for clients from around the world who are looking to hire remotely (a.k.a your first clients! woot!)
We personally recommend the freelancing platform, PeoplePerHour, to start gaining experience, land your first client and start bringin’ in the dough!
For example, in the image below, I searched the job board for “social media management” projects. This is one of the first ones that popped up, which is particularly great because they’re looking for a freelancer to work with them long-term…
Little by little, you’ll develop a finesse for finding quality jobs through freelancing platforms.
Now for our favorite way…
2. Entrepreneur Facebook Groups: Surprise! Facebook isn’t just for stalking that cute guy you ran into at the coffee shop 😉 The social networking platform is filled with entrepreneur groups and quality clients looking to hire freelancers.
One of our faves is Savvy Business Owners group.
3. #GETHIRED Job Posts: Yours truly has a thriving free Facebook Community, Bucketlist Bombshells Tribe, filled with almost 10,000 aspiring and seasoned location-independent girl bosses!
Use the ‘search bar’ to browse the hashtag #gethired to find job postings and get hired by a fellow BB in our community. Yay!
Here’s a screenshot of where you can locate the search bar to filter all of the job postings in our group…
“So I’ve found my first client, now what do I do?!”
Well, keep readin’ because you’re in for a treat 😉
Step 7: Manage Your Online Business
Because of new technology platforms, you have the ability to connect and work with clients all over the world!
Gone are the days of needing to step foot inside a client’s office, or flying cross-country to have an in-person meeting. You’ll probably never meet the majority of your clients in-person!
So, how does it all work?
Meet With Clients Using Skype
Yep, you heard that right. Skype isn’t just for keeping in touch with your college BFF. In the online biz world, platforms like Skype are used for business consultations and meetings.
It’s a personable way to stay connected and collaborate with clients – from anywhere in the world!
Manage Projects With Asana
Now that you have project deadlines and tasks to complete, it’s essential that you use an online project management system to keep track of it all! Our favorite, and totally free platform is Asana – it’s a total game-changer for the ease and flow of your biz!
Here’s an image of what the backend of a project in Asana looks like…
Invoicing With PayPal
Platforms like PayPal make invoicing and collecting money from across the world as simple as clicking a button – yes please!
Step 8: Find A City With A Low-Cost of Living
You’ve been waiting for the travel-side to come into play haven’t ya? 😉
Now that you have the freedom to work remotely, we recommend choosing your first destination strategically by choosing a city with a low-cost of living.
This will remove the initial financial pressure as you’re first starting to run your business and get the hang of things.
You might be thinkin’, “So which city should I go to first?”
It’s slightly more complex than just spinning a globe and pointing your finger.
Using platforms like NomadList, you want to choose what we like to call a “digital nomad hotspot” that has:
- At least one active co-working space
- Multiple cafes with wifi access
- A solid community of digital nomads
In the image below, I used NomadList to search “Bali”. The results show all the cities in Bali that are rated by digital nomads – I can then search further by looking at the monthly cost of living, wifi speeds, weather etc. in each location…
“But now that I have the freedom to travel wherever and whenever the heck I want to, can’t I just run around the world ticking off my Bucket List?!”
Well, yes — but no 😉
Keep in mind this isn’t your two weeks of vacation a year.
It’s important to embrace the art of slow travel to avoid feeling burnt-out and to truly be able to devote quality time and energy into growing and managing your online biz.
It’s the money-maker after all!
This also gives you more time to really get to soak up a new country or city – which leads me to my next point…
Step 9: Design Your Own Schedule
Ahh – don’t you just love the smell of freedom?
Being your own boss gives you total freedom to design your own schedule and create a routine that works for YOU.
- What are the times and days that you feel the most productive?
- In which environments do you feel inspired and motivated to get work done?
- At what time of day do you hit a slump and need a break from work?
- What activities do you want to make a priority in your everyday life?
This can be anything from taking a surf break during lunch time or long morning yoga classes before diving into work.
It’s your life, so design your new schedule how YOU want.
Step 10: Dive Into Our Free Mini Course
So by now you might be thinkin’, “UMM HECK YES! I’m ready to ditch my cubie, be my own boss and travel the world”, then it’s time for you to dive into our totally FREE mini course!
- 3 Tricks for Finding the Online Skills That Will Get You Hired
- 3 Quick Secrets to Using Your Past Experiences
- The Top 6 Money Makin’ Online Skills That Clients Are Hiring For
- Our #1 Strategy for Learning the Top Online Skills Today!
And obvi, a whole lot more 😉
See ya inside the free course…or around the world somewhere 😉
Author: Cassie & Shay
Cassie and Shay are the sarcastic and sweet BFF duo behind The Bucketlist Bombshells where they teach and empower millennial women how to build an online service-based business that gives them the freedom to travel the world and live creatively. They’re also slightly obsessed with finding the best latte in each city and believe that dance parties are a cure all.