Featured post from the Family Freedom Project
by Liisa Vexler
Also, listen to our conversation on freelance writing jobs as writers, and our interview where Liisa shares her experiences!
Over the past couple of years, I have been able to create a portable, flexible, and scalable writing business. When I set out to build my freelance writing career, my primary goal was to make it portable so I could live abroad and travel with my family while still earning an income and growing professionally. Over time, demand for my services and the seasonality of the work required it to also become scalable and flexible.
Today, I work as much as I want. I hire other writers when I am busier – in work or in life – and I do more work myself if I want more cash.
How did I build a portable business as a writer so I can travel the world or just be with my kids when it’s important? Here’s how it worked for me. . .
Big Picture Tips
Keep it portable: I started my business with the idea that it should be portable. This meant that I immediately thought globally and started looking for clients all over the world rather than looking locally. In order to quickly develop a reputation and a portfolio, I worked through a freelancer site – in my case oDesk, which is now called upwork.com. I worked for low rates to start, but within a month or two, gradually raised my rates without objection.
Stay present: When we left Canada, I stayed in touch with friends, colleagues, and family regularly via Facebook to prove that I am online and accessible regularly. I was careful to share some less personal posts publicly so anyone who searched my name would see a regular online presence. Using social media works both ways, I was able to identify opportunities with acquaintances while keeping in touch with loved ones.
Have a website: The first thing I did for my business was create an informative and professional website outlining my services. In order to show clients that I am constantly online writing and working, I made sure to link my professional website to my travel writing website. At first I was afraid that the travel writing and lifestyle work that I do would scare away my medical writing clients. I was wrong. It has made me more approachable, according to some of my new clients. I just landed a large regular client who found me while traveling in Costa Rica with his family.
Specific tools that are useful to writers who travel
A good laptop: Before we left in 2012, I made sure to invest in a new laptop. It’s a Macbook Air and I love it. A light, fast, and fun-to-use laptop is a must. I cover it with a colourful silicone keyboard cover. I eat and drink when I work and I can’t afford to be without my computer because I’ve spilled my coffee. The pretty teal colour makes it more fun to use too. Keeping your computer clean and functional becomes critical when you are hours from the nearest Apple store.
Apps: I have tried many apps for my business, but the ones I rely on for my business are Scrivener for longer writing pieces, MailChimp for newsletters, Skype for communication, Dropbox for file sharing, and Google Drive for collaborative work and/or document sharing.
Tips for working as a writer while traveling (or anywhere)
WiFi is essential: Before I book any accommodation, I ensure that it has wifi, and I ask for specifics on whether it’s just in the lobby or in the room. In addition, I ask at the time of booking, for two back up places where you can find good wifi, usually local restaurants or cafes.
Email first: When I take on a new client, I communicate only by email at first. I put off any calls so that we get most of the groundwork done ahead of time in writing. If they really want a call, we’ll have hashed out most of the details so any call is short and sweet. I also give prospective clients an hourly rate for calls. Most of the time, clients are fine not speaking live if they have to pay for it. By not needing to do live calls, skypes or chats, you can work when you want, in whatever time zone you are currently enjoying.
Listen to our Write Along Radio episode featuring Liisa and our discussion on freelance writing!
In 2012 Liisa started a medical content service that specializes in providing quality online content for business related to medicine, health, fitness and nutrition. She is also the ghostwriter of several health-related books. Liisa founded her content business as a way to take her skill set online, a key part of her family’s lifestyle design process. To-date, Liisa, her husband and her boys have enjoyed a 6-month and two one-year stints in Costa Rica, as well as multi-week trips to Mexico, Europe, and the Caribbean.