We are excited to have a guest post by Yaz Purnell. Yaz is a freelance writer and the founder of The Wallet Moth, where she shares practical personal finance tips and insights into building a location independent business that works for you.
These days, when I tell people that my job is being a freelance writer for different businesses around the world, I’m almost always met with the same response:
“That’s so cool! How on earth did you manage to get a job like that?!”
They’re right – it’s a pretty cool gig. What they’re wrong about, though, is thinking that sheer luck got me here. The truth is, I worked hard (like, really really hard) to make my freelance business successful. It involved long hours with very little return for a long time – but I didn’t get lucky.
I just did what most people give up on too soon. I get it. When you’re not 100% sure what you’re doing, throwing in the towel when the going gets tough is the easy option. However, if you’re reading this and thinking working from anywhere is the dream then know this: you can make it happen. You really can. I’m going to show you how.
When I first started putting my dream of building a location independent business into action, I was pretty clueless. However, three years on, I like to think I know what I’m talking about. Below are a few essential steps I took to building my business that anyone can follow for success.
Picking A Location-Independent Job
Of course, if you want to start making money with a business you can work on from anywhere in the world, you need to decide what that business is actually going to be.
I was lucky in that I graduated with a degree in English, and worked as a copywriter for a digital marketing agency for a few years straight after University – making the step into freelance writing was fairly obvious.
However, if you’re current skill set isn’t immediately transferable into a remote business, you may need to take some time to build up your experience, or think about what you might like to transition into.
From Office Worker to Business Owner
Sometimes I have to look back to see how far I’ve really come. I used to come home from my office job in tears because I felt so bored and unsatisfied there, and now I get to do a job I love from anywhere in the world.
It wasn’t an easy path, though. I started by working in the evenings while I was still at my office job, building up my portfolio, setting up a website and online presence, and pitching businesses.
Eventually, I had two clients who wanted to keep me on a retainer for article writing every month, and I was earning enough that I could hand in my notice and my full-time job.
What followed was several months of travelling on a tight budget while slowly growing my business from strength to strength. Travelling through South East Asia with a low cost of living definitely took the pressure off, and let me build my business slowly and sustainably.
That was two years ago, and although time and experience is a huge factor in building a stable, sustainable business, I know that I probably wasted a lot of time on trial and error because, simply put, I was often stumbling around in the dark.
That’s why I started writing more about being a freelance writer – and being a “digital nomad” on my blog, because I hated the thought of other people being miserable in their current jobs, but not knowing how to break out of them.
Below are a few of the most essential steps in ensuring the success of my freelance business – and where you should start if you’re looking to take a leap into the world of location independence, too.
1) Be Consistent with Your Efforts
When you start building a freelance business, you can’t flit in and out of it every couple of weeks. You need to be committed to working on your business for at least an hour a day.
By working on your business, I mean doing things like:
- Building a portfolio
- Networking with other freelancers and businesses on social media
- Optimizing your website
- Writing content
- Pitching clients
In the early days, your main focus is going to be creating a portfolio, and pitching clients. You need to throw yourself into this and remain consistent in order to see results – so think carefully about the right time to take this step.
2) Focus on Your Portfolio
Whether you want to be a writer, or build a location independent business in an entirely different niche, having a strong portfolio that showcases your best work is really essential for landing quality clients.
The age-old paradox, though, is that you need clients to build a portfolio, but you need a portfolio to get clients. So, what to do?
When I was first starting out, I took a few different routes to accumulate quality portfolio pieces:
- I started a blog, focusing on long-form, highly informative articles
- I accepted lower paying jobs to give me experience, testimonials, and proof of my work
- I asked friends and family who owned businesses to let me re-write their website copy or contribute an article to their site
- I contacted other bloggers and asked to write a guest post for them
Although I wasn’t getting paid for most of these methods, I was slowly filling my portfolio with work I could be proud of – and more importantly, that potential clients would be impressed with, too.
3) Have the Right Tools
Building a location independent business is much the same as building a business from home. However, one thing you will definitely notice if you start travelling is that you need to be a lot more organized.
Juggling new time-zones, new locations, new accommodation, varying Wi-Fi signals, and multiple deadlines all at once can feel kind of like you’re running on a slippery floor – if you place on foot wrong, everything is going to come tumbling down.
I have a few tools that I always rely on to keep me organized, including:
- Trello (a free project management tool I could not live without!)
- Slack (for communicating with clients or other team members)
- Google calendar
- Hootsuite (for scheduling social media posts ahead of time)
4) Know How to Pitch Your Clients the Right Way
Your pitch to a potential client is your first chance to make a great impression on them. That means you need to absolutely perfect your pitch as a new freelancer if you stand a chance of landing any clients.
See, you could have a super strong portfolio, you could be an incredible writer (or whatever skill it is your offering), but if your pitch fails to impress a potential client, then they probably won’t even bother to click the link over to your website.
After many years of trial and error, I’ve finally honed down my pitching technique to ensure I get a response every time. Check out my guide to pitching perfection to see how.
I hope these steps have given you a better insight into where to start if you want to build a location independent business, and that you can also see that it isn’t luck or anything other than hard work and dedication required to make this lifestyle a reality.
Start today, throw yourself into this opportunity, and you’ll find doors just start opening. Really.
Yaz Purnell is a freelance writer and the founder of The Wallet Moth, where she shares practical personal finance tips and insights into building a location independent business that works for you. Find out how she got started and download her free pitching checklist.