So it’s January 2018. And in true cliched fashion I’ve been reflecting on what happened last year. 2017 was a total whirlwind. I’m still confused where the hell it’s gone – and how so much can change in just one year.
I started the year off – a naive, passportless Brit in Colombia, on sabbatical from my job in a London advertising agency.
I ended the year – still a naive Brit, but with a passport (thank God), and living the digital nomad dream.
How did it happen?
Before I left the UK, I didn’t even know what a digital nomad was.
There was no way I thought I could ever be that person, travelling the world full time.
I’d worked in account management, building client relationships, and managing advertising campaigns.
Boozing with clients and swanning round photography studios didn’t give me many transferrable skills to becoming a digital nomad. I had as much confidence in my ability to get a remote job, as I did with speaking Chinese.
So, I put it down to 4 things:
1. My location.
I was living in Medellin, one of the most popular cities for digital nomads.
I made friends who told me I could ‘easily find work on Upwork.’
Initially I didn’t think I was capable of joining this world of work. So I flew to Cartagena looking for a Workaway hotel job instead.
But the seed had been sewn, and when I was getting paid $1.25 per hour of painful hotel work, I looked on Upwork out of desperation.
2. This blog.
I set my blog up, as a way for me to remember where I went (I have a really bad memory).
I had no idea it would open so many doors.
Not only have I taught myself proper skills like how to build a website, and understanding SEO through it…
But one of my friends that I met in Medellin, Arthur, read this post about how I was looking for work. He asked if I wanted to help his girlfriend, Erin, with her online matcha tea business. She couldn’t pay loads, but it would only be part-time and she could mentor me at the same time.
6 months later, and I’m still working for her. I’m learning LOADS. And it’s all super useful stuff – building her sales, marketing and SEO.
And it’s all because of the blog.
3. My determination not to fail.
I was so obsessed with not going back to my office job, that I went a bit bonkers.
In the space of 9 months, I’ve worked the following jobs:
- Transcribing a 40-page diary of a sweet old lady… with horrendous handwriting. (March)
- Transcribing interviews with members of the US Navy. (April-July)
- Marketing for matcha tea company. (June-Present)
- Personal assistant to the founder of an US Real Estate company. In reality, this was managing an email campaign – sending out 1 million emails to leads that he acquired illegally. (One day, July)
- Social media advertising for a record label. (July-August)
- Copywriter for Brazilian luxury swimwear website. (August)
- Content writer for social media start up agency (September-December)
- Marketing for pork crackling company. I never told them I was veggie. (September-December)
As well as all these jobs, I spent a while trying to export Colombian fruits and set up my own brand of fruit juice. And then I wanted to export Mexican cacao, and set up my own brand of chocolate spread.
This may be why a friend once emailed me, addressing it to…
And while I definitely wouldn’t recommend trying to master everything – each job has increased my confidence. They’ve shown me that I don’t need to rely on managers to teach me things anymore. Instead, just turn to Google. It has the answer to (pretty much) everything.
For example – I took the social media job for the record label, as I wanted to learn how to schedule social posts. I searched how to use Buffer, and shortly after, I’d scheduled a whole month of tweets.
As long as I knew what I wanted to do – I could learn it myself.
4. And finally… Reading.
I used to hate reading. So much so that I couldn’t even finish Harry Potter at school.
But last year, I found Tim Ferris’s ‘4 Hour Work Week’ – and I was hooked. It’s an old classic but it inspired me to take control of my work life balance – and all the books I’ve read since have helped me work out the core values by which I want to live my life.
For me, these books have shown me that I need two things in my life right now: adventure and learning. Hence why I’ve worked so many different jobs, so I can sustain my digital nomad life.
Some of the books I found useful are:
- Awaken The Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Life
- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
- Principles: Life & Work
- The One Thing (recommended by the same friend who accused me of being the jack of all trades, “entrepreneur, blogger, DJ social media manager, transcriber”…ETC)
I don’t think I’d be where I am right now, if 1 of these 4 things didn’t happen.
If I hadn’t been in Colombia…
- I wouldn’t have met my digital nomad friends.
- They wouldn’t have told me I could look for work on Upwork.
- I wouldn’t have met Arthur – who read my blog post, and suggested I work with his girlfriend, Erin
- …who’s been mentoring me and helping me set my own business up
- …as well as suggesting I read those books, so I can work out what I want from work and life.
Now- if you want to become a digital nomad, I’m not saying just go to Colombia and everything will fall into place!
But for me, it was easier to take plunge while being around other people who helped me build my confidence up.
Without going all Sliding Doors, I do sometimes wonder where I’d be if I didn’t go to Medellin – or if I didn’t start my blog. Would I have found the light, a different way? Who knows. Who cares. I’m happy where I am, and can’t wait to continue the adventure in 2018.
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