When I was barely 18 my mom called me one evening furious I was late for dinner. The truth was, I was actually going to be four days late to dinner since I was in the process of boarding a flight to Cabo and ready for some (legal in mexico) tequila!
Travel is the ONLY thing I’ve ever wanted SO badly, that I’ve willingly changed my entire life around to accommodate it. It’s also the only reason I’d ever bail on mom’s homemade gnocchi and risk a side of Italian-infused temper. 😉
The real-world dilemma for us wanderlusters though is this – those of us who are addicted to travel burn through jobs faster than reality stars burn through friendships. We work one job JUST long enough to save a little bit of money- go away for a few months and then have to start ALL over and explain to our next employer that the years between 2010-2012 can be categorized as Bali, Paris and Thailand.
Or maybe your story is a lot more like mine – where you HATE waiting tables or bartending, but it’s the only seemingly flexible job on the planet that puts fast cash in your pocket. So you take orders, refrain (maybe) from spitting in drinks and deal with the general public and all their glory. You save some cash. Leave for a few months. Spend every dime and then come home and fight for shifts.
For me, that was the personal hamster wheel of death – and it motivated me like no other to find something better and make it work. That something ended up being freelance writing.
I won’t bullshit you. It takes some maneuvering, courage and good old fashioned hard work to create a successful freelance business. Not to be crude, but you’ll need a set. However, if you REALLY want to live an extraordinary life then you must be willing to do extraordinary things. And take it from someone who knows, getting to work from any corner of the planet is the BEST gift a born travel bug can give themselves – and worth the hard work.
If you’re like me and traveling more is non-negotiable here are six-steps that can help you get your freelance business up and running just a few weeks and YOU traveling all summer long!
Start Where You Shine
Are you a great writer? Do you have an eye for design? Can you code? Start with your strongest skills and investigate how they match up in the business world. Marketing teams are filled with creative geniuses who have discovered how to turn their creative skill into a sellable service. And yes – ALL of those positions are available in the freelance world. The best way to “see” your initial path is to Google your skillset + freelancer and find someone who is burning it up that you can gain both inspiration and aspiration from.
Tell Everybody Immediately About Your New Biz
So, what’s the fastest way to get that coveted portfolio? Leverage your network. Let everyone know you’re open and ready for business. People LOVE to refer friends and you’ll be amazed to discover how many people you know (or people they know) that are looking for exactly what it is you’re offering. You can do this via Facebook, cocktail parties, email old bosses, teachers, travel buddies. It may sound simple but the distance between you and a person becoming your client, is merely a conversation. Try and send out 5 emails immediately to people you admire, have your back or to someone(s) who would be downright freakin’ excited for you. Tell them what you’re up to. They’ll be your biggest ally. And in record time.
Tip: Avoid sleazy content mill sites. I don’t care how new at freelancing you are. You don’t deserve to work for 5 bucks and a stick of Juicy Fruit.
Ask for Referrals
Once you finish a few projects for your portfolio and after EVERY single project you do from here on out, ask for a referral. For the portfolio pieces, let the client know how much you enjoyed working with them – and that you’d love to find a way work together more. A lot of times, there will be ongoing work just waiting in the wings (meaning grab your passport, you’ve got remote work coming in!)
Make it a habit that every time you turn in a project and your client is HAPPY, that you immediately ride that emotional wave and ask if they wouldn’t mind referring you. When a client is excited about the beautiful new website you designed, or amazing sales page copy – they are more likely to remember to refer you when you’ve asked them during that “emotional high.” In fact, I’ve had people send an email referring me to their colleagues RIGHT that minute.
Tip: Simply asking for referrals every, single time increased my business by 50%.
5 New Contacts a Day
The key with freelance is building, nurturing and loving the shit out of your relationships.
Keep meeting new people. Keep talking about your business. Keep adding them on social media. If you want to earn enough money as a freelancer to travel and work at the same time, then expanding your network is going to be key. I would aim for 5 new strategic contacts a day. You can easily make professional friends on LinkedIn, Facebook Groups and Instagram – especially via blogs and blog comments. Five a day is of course the minimum, so be sure to social it up.
Scope out The GOOD Job Listing Sites
Before I give you the list, I’d like to do so with one GINORMOUS caveat. Successful freelancers don’t find the majority of their work on job boards. They network, build relationships and pitch. However, these job board DO play their part. If you don’t think they are the “be all end all” of a successful freelancing career – you can find some gems as well as small projects that lead to bigger opportunity. You only want to spend about an hour a day tops (but DO check in daily) on the following quality sites:
Media Bistro (there is a freelance board)
Craigslist (look under multiple cities)
Indeed (type in what you do + freelance)
Freelancing Writing Dot Com (for writers, obviously)
Juiicy.com (for designers)
Test The Waters at Your Current Job
If you’re working a 9 to 5, but your work could easily be done on the road – it may be time to transition! Employers are getting more comfortable with remote working situations (as well as what they save on benefits etc.) In the last year, I’ve helped several aspiring freelancers pitch new working arrangements with their current employer – and it worked! Suddenly you’ve gone from starting a freelance business and quitting your job – to scoring your largest most reliable client. Remember, when pitching this new set-up to really focus on how you want to still be part of the company family and you had some ideas. Does it always work? No. But does it work enough where it’s worth a shot? Absolutely!
When I first started my freelance writing business I was also getting ready to leave for Paris and didn’t want to worry about money on the road – or come home to financial uncertainty (i.e. pennies). For the several weeks before the trip, I sent out 6-12 emails, pitches, introductions and responded to posted gigs – a DAY. The result? I had TWO awesome clients I could take with me to Paris (and beyond) and I continued working for both of those clients for the next year and through several more trips! In that year’s time I added even more clients – and I’ve never sacrificed travel for the work- money dilemma again.
What do you think? Are you ready to work on the road? Travel your heart out and not miss out on a dime? Come join the conversation and scope out freelancing tips and travel stories over at www.jennyberes.com .