This article has been contributed by Laura Callisen.
A huge chunk of society is just not “programmed” for a traditional work life. The thought of adapting to the routine and stress of structured work environments, in fact, is so distasteful, that these individuals will do whatever necessary to avoid the 9-5 work and typical urban/suburban lifestyle that we have dubbed “normal.”
Fortunately, normal is now far more blurry – people choose to work from home; they choose to become entrepreneurs or freelancers; and they often choose a lifestyle of living abroad while they pursue their skills, talents, and passions remotely (and feed, house, and clothe themselves along the way). The dream of becoming an expat freelancer, such as Jacob, has become a reality for many, but success takes careful planning and execution.
There are some really important considerations before selling off your possessions and buying that one-way ticket. Without good pre-planning, things can go haywire very quickly.
Do you have a marketable skill? Is it in demand? The only way to know is to test it while still in-country, because knowing how to freelance takes study, practice, and persistence. For more detailed information you can see freelance employment research report. Most successful freelancers have spent time building their businesses and clientele before taking off for the faraway places of their dreams.
Settle in One Place or be a Nomad?
Do you plan to settle in one place or will you be a nomad? Do the research. You may have a region of the world in mind, but you may be pretty naïve about the challenges of living there. A “test run” in the form of a good long trip is always a solid idea. If this is out of the question, get on some of the great sites, like Expat Finder, Expat Focus, or Expat Exchange, read all that you can and start up conversations with other expats living there.
You need to understand both the wonders and the challenges and be certain they are a “fit” for your priorities. One of the biggest factors in your decision will be the cost of living compared to what you are currently earning and what you project your future earnings to be. There is an online resource providing information about living cost worldwide I strongly recommend making a deep research of financial issues before moving. Also see how to pack for a world trip.
Health Care & Taxes
Other important considerations will be health care and taxes. While many countries have free or low cost health care, you cannot expect the quality you may have had, if you are outside of major cities. Check to be certain that the U.S. has tax agreements with countries you are considering for a “permanent” stay. In this way you only have to pay U.S. taxes on earnings over $97,000. You will, however, always be liable for self-employment tax, and you do have to report any bank accounts or funds that hold more than $10,000. On the other hand, if you plan never to return to live in the United States again, you have other options, of course.
How’s your work ethic? Are you passionate about the freelancing you currently do? Freelancing from abroad is as much about your work as it is about amazing experiences and adventures. You do have to support yourself, and you do have to figure out how many hours a week you will need to work in order to live decently in your chosen locale. Southeast Asia and Central America are good options for lower paying work, for example, while any plan to live in a major European city, like Munich or Paris, will require work that is going to bring in substantial income.
Freelance Work that Lends Itself to Living Abroad
A large concern for working and living abroad freelancers is how to find freelance work. The answer should be obvious – it is found in the same way that it is found in the States – networking, getting referrals from current clients, etc. And it can all be done online. Even interviews can be conducted via Skype!
While anything related to IT, e-commerce and marketing, SEO, and web and/or graphic design are the first thoughts that come to mind relative to freelancing from abroad, there are also lots of other opportunities that can be pursued, just have a look on the full skills directory on Elance.
Here are some more online business ideas that you can run at home.
1. Writing of any kind
A great deal of freelance writing is web based and includes such things as managing business blogs for companies, writing articles and blog posts and managing social media accounts for a huge variety of clients. And there are no lack of opportunities to build a business remotely, so long as the freelancer has an established reputation and clients willing to refer. And when regular work is slow, they can always pick up “gigs” via freelancer websites. Nomads might also try travel writing and selling their articles to related websites, blogs, and online magazines. Successful authors often choose to live abroad while they write, as do journalists. And fortunately, writing is one of those fields with many facets.
You can become an Etsy shop owner, and, as you travel, expand your inventory with an international “flavor.” Or set up your own online store. If you already have a moderately successful e-commerce business, taking it abroad should be exciting!
The opportunities for nomad photographers are really exploding. If you are good, there will always be a market for your photos – travel and other websites, online magazines and news publications, etc. Even selling to consumers on the web.
Again, the opportunities abound and are expanding for freelancers. You can sign up with any number of American and foreign tutoring companies and engage in online teaching; if you earn a TEFL certificate, you can market yourself almost anywhere as an English teacher/tutor. One especially entrepreneurial soul even traveled throughout Europe offering speed reading courses to Americans connected to U.S. corporations. He expanded his business into offering online speed reading coursework to students back in the states, as well as to children of Americans living abroad. In fact speed reading skills are worthy to be achieved especially for freelancers.
5. Freelance Combinations
Freelancers tend to be people with more than one marketable talent or skill. If this is you, blend those abilities to expand opportunities. Designers and writers might also teach or tutor; programmers may develop online training for novices and market it; an Etsy shop owner might develop his/her photography skills. Learning how to be a freelancer means thinking “outside the box.”
Freelance discovery has been a God-send to those who cannot abide the traditional employment “scene.” In some cases, the utter inability to conform to a set schedule, to overbearing bosses, and to the stressors of heavy workloads, along with the societal pressures to live a “normal” life, have been so great, that panic attacks, depression, and other emotional illnesses become a constant. More than one successful freelancer living abroad has credited his/her new lifestyle with restoration of mental health.
More Freelancing Resources
- A Guide On How Freelancers Can Compete Against Large Design Studios
- Freelancers: Inspire yourself, Vary your Working Environment
- How to Attract & Keep Better Clients
- The Best Time Of The Day To Do Things As A Designer
- Questions to Ask Yourself Before Becoming a Freelancer
- Design Agency VS Freelance Life
Have any tips for how to be coming a traveling freelancer?
Author Bio: Laura Callisen is passionate traveler, blogger and cultural explorer. Now she is working as an editor at GrabMyEssay writing service. Her interests are graphic design mostly inspired by people she meets around the world and philosophy study. Find her on web: Google+, Facebook, Twitter.