Oh wow – has this post been a long time comin’! After almost 4 years of being “on the road” (a.k.a. working online & traveling), I think it’s about time we took a sec to look back on our journey to Globetrotting Girl Boss success and figure out how in the heck did we even get here?
I mean… 4 years?! Say whaaaat girl?!
And believe it or not: it wasn’t all sippin’ cute little margaritas on a perfect tropical beach somewhere.
There were giant ass spiders the size of golfballs (We’re lookin’ at you Guatemala), expired passport dramas, missed flights, epic wifi failures, client frustrations and, well, I think you get the picture here.
So maybe you’re thinking, “Why then? Why did you still decide to do it?”
Why we started working online + traveling the world:
It never made sense to us why we had worked our asses off (pardon my francais) in University to just graduate, enter the “real world”, despise our cubicle jobs, build somebody else’s dream and live less adventurous lives.
Our coworkers would say, “This is just the way it is.” or “Get used to it because you’re gonna be doing this for the rest of your lives.” or “Welcome to #adulting!”
And if you don’t already know the feeling, let me just say, the reality of this was seriously soul-crushing.
So, we thought: If we have to work regardless…
- Why not build our own businesses that we’re passionate about?
- Why not give ourselves the freedom to live life on our own terms?
And that my friend, that was the driving force behind our decision one day to ditch the cubie, build online businesses and join what is now epically called “The Remote Revolution”.
If you’re thinking, “But what about your student debt? What about your responsibilities?”
We still have the same responsibilities. We’re just choosing to work on what we want, when we want, where we want!
And if you need further reason, here’s a 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.
Heck – we can even pay off our student loans faster!
So, without further adieu, here are the exact steps that we took to create our full-time online businesses that give us the freedom to travel the world. Let’s get to it girl!
We Bought One-Way Tickets To Mexico
Without any genius plan, we each booked one-way tickets to Playa del Carmen, Mexico with the hope that once we got there, we would just figure it out.
Youthful naivety? Maybe. The best decision ever? Absolutely.
To this day, we still believe that if we’d stayed until we thought we had the perrrrrfect plan, we probably would have never actually left.
And, moving to a country with a low-cost of living also took away the financial pressure while we figured out what the heck we were doing.
To give you an idea of of how freakin’ low our costs were:
- Cost of rent for our sweet 2 bedroom apartment (with a rooftop pool!): $400 /month
- Cost of a meal: $5-10
- Cost of groceries: $38 /week
- Cost of a latte: $2.50
- Cost of a bike: $60 (one time cost)
(*Costs are approximate, in US Dollars, and for one person)
So, with a fire under our butts and margaritas to pay for (ha!), this is when the magic happened. We tapped into our inner entrepreneurial spirits and our serious go-getter attitudes to start freelancing online.
We Mastered The Top Online Skills
But how did you learn these top online skills?
First of all, we were eager (ahem, desperate!) to learn so we started scouring blogs, watching youtube videos, reading blog posts, devouring ebooks, attending online workshops, taking online courses etc.
Basically consuming everything and anything we could get our little hands on to learn more and refine our skills!
With my new-found knack for writing and basic graphic design and Shay’s for social media, we took to the online freelancing world.
Here are some of the services we offered:
- Social Media Management
- Blog Post Writing
- Blog Management
- Graphic Design
Did we know it all? No. Were we incredibly experienced? Definitely not.
But now, 4 years later, we’re proud to say that we’ve mastered the top online skills in design & tech!
If you’re thinking, “But, I don’t have online skills!”, don’t worry, we got ya covered girl!
We Created Killer Freelancer Profiles
Girl, did you know that freelancing is one of the easiest, fastest and most effective ways to start making money online? Actually, Forbes predicts that:
- 1 in 2 people in the US will be working as freelancers by 2020
Crazy right?! So, where does one go to land clients and get money in da’ bank? Enter: Online freelancing platforms.
We learned that freelancing platforms are basically a go-to hub for clients from around the world looking to hire remotely (a.k.a. our first clients! woot!)
Stoked about our new client pool, we set-up killer freelancing profiles on PeoplePerHour to start gaining experience and bring in the dough.
Check out our killer profiles…
And this one…
“But, how did you know which jobs are legit?”
Well, when you spend more time on freelancing platforms than on Facebook #nojoke – you begin to develop a finesse for finding the right jobs and perfecting proposals.
Some of our first freelancing jobs were:
- Managing Twitter for a new beauty care line in the UK
- Managing all social media for a tech company in Canada
- Writing blog posts for a real estate company in the US
- Creating graphics for a start-up fashion brand in Dubai
We Built Basic Websites to Showcase Our Services
You knew this one was comin’ didn’t ya? Nowadays, it’s easy-peasy as pie to setup a basic (and beautiful!) website with platforms like Squarespace.
We realized that by working remotely, a freelancing profile and a website were basically our digital storefronts! By building a basic but professional website to showcase our services, this allowed us to stand out from other freelancers on PPH and it allowed us to network and land clients in other ways like:
- Entrepreneur Facebook Groups – our fave: Savvy Business Owners
- In-person at coffee shops
- Through family referrals – seriously though, parents & family can be the best biz kickstarters!
“But, what did you actually PUT on your website?”
Ha! Great question – we thought of our website as a creative resume. We focused on what we did (listed our services), who we did it for and how we could help them (the benefits of working with us) and boom! We had ourselves a website.
We Hustled, Hustled, Hustled!
They say Rome wasn’t built in a day – well neither was a killer full-time online business 😉
Aside from lunch breaks at our rooftop pool (the perks of living in Mexico!) and weekend adventures with our flock of friends that came to visit, our days were spent working away in our fave local coffee shop.
It was seriously the best feeling in the world to jump out of bed in the morning, hop online, do werk’ and make those dolla’ bills…on our own terms…in paradise! #LIFEGOALS
Werkin’ up a storm at our fave local cafe:
In just 2 months, we went from making no income to each bringing in $3k-4k per month! Cue running around, screaming with excitement and jumping on our beds like maniacs.
We Started Traveling Around the World
One late night at our kitchen table in Mexico we started writing up an epic Bucket List and said to each other, “Now that we work online, wouldn’t it be so cool to travel around the world and tick off our Bucket List?”
Um, hell yes! And that’s exactly what we did.
Our first stop was Antigua Guatemala where we took a local truffle making workshop (check!) and toured a coffee plantation in the Guatemala highlands (check!).
Then, the United States, Canada, Thailand, Italy, Jordan, Bali…and we’ve been on the road ever since!
“But, how can you afford to travel so much?”
It was important for us to realize that even though we’re traveling the world, this is not a vacation. Sounds weird right?
Here’s what we mean:
- Vacation: Pay $3,000 for a two week vacation at a nice resort
- Our life: Spend $3k per month on rent, coworking space, eating out, transportation, adventures etc.!
In Chiang Mai, Thailand, we each had our own modern studios in a serviced apartment (complete with a pool, sauna, doorman etc.) for only $250 a month! Like whaaaat?
We Defined Our Niches
As we started gaining more experience, we realized the type of work that we actually enjoyed doing and the types of clients that we wanted to work with – as opposed to taking every job under the sun!
In business, it’s common to “niche-down”, which is essentially a fancy business term that means you find a specific market and use your services to fulfill their needs.
Shay started her company, My Bliss Publishing, working with heart-centered online coaches (think business coaches, relationship coaches, money coaches etc.) to help them develop and market their new online products working as their operations business manager.
A quick snapshot of her b-e-a-utiful site:
New services Shay offered:
- WordPress Website Design
- Email Marketing
- Sales Page Funnels
I began helping beauty and lifestyle brands creatively tell their brand’s story with content marketing and graphic design.
And check out this beauty of a site:
New services I offered:
- Branding (logo design, branding style boards, marketing materials etc.)
- Squarespace Website Design
This is when our online businesses truly began to take off! Yaass!
We Transitioned from Freelancers to Solopreneurs
As our businesses started boomin’, we realized this wasn’t just a little thing we were doing to make money “in between jobs”. This was a seriously viable and profitable career for us!
With that mental switch from “freelancer to solopreneur” (truly embracing business ownership), we began researching and experimenting with the best ways to uplevel our businesses.
We started using a life-changing project management system, implemented a streamlined client process that our clients loved, created automated proposals, designed service packages etc.
We’re proud to say that we’ve now charged up to $10k for a project!
In addition to killin’ it with our companies, we now also spend our days right huuuur – teaching and empowering millennial women to join The Remote Revolution through our blog, private Facebook community (click here to join!) and sweet e-courses!
Things We Would Do Differently Next Time
Even though we are so incredibly grateful for our journey, hindsight is 20/20 right? Knowing all the things we know now, here are a few things we would have done differently if we were total newbies again.
1. Find A “Digital Nomad” Community
When we first started traveling, we literally chose a destination by thinking, “Oooh that looks like a cool place – let’s go there!” Ok – maybe a tiny bit more thought went into the decision but not much.
If we were to do it all over again, we would absolutely seek out the top “digital nomad” communities (using tools like Nomad List) to surround ourselves with like-minded peeps.
These digital nomad “hotspots” as we like to call them are also usually filled with other awesome perks like loads of cafes with good wifi connection, low cost of living and sweet coworking spaces…which leads us to the next point!
2. Join An Awesome Coworking Space
Oh girl, we luuuuurv coworking spaces! Our favorite “office” is The Dojo in Canggu, Bali – fresh coconuts and acai bowls delivered to our desk, a pool to take a nice dip, literally a minute walk to the beach, filled with other amazing, driven entrepreneurs, free workshops…need we say more!
It’s not only been a total game-changer for our productivity but it’s also provided an amazing community of globetrottin’ friends – woot!
3. Embrace the Art of Slow Travel
When we realized that we had the freedom to travel anywhere in the world, our minds started racing with all of the places we needed to visit ASAP. Our calendars quickly filled with one city to the next which actually left us tired, burnt out and unproductive.
We’ve realized that it’s not a race (what a concept!) and that we actually enjoy settling into a new city for at least 3 months to truly get to know the local culture. It’s also waaay better for the growth of our businesses.