Live Anywhere as a Freelance Writer: How to Create a Location-Independent Career

by | Apr 15, 2014 | Freelancing | 39 comments

Have you ever imagined moving with the (nice) weather? Winter in Bali, summer in the States, with a quick sojourn to Europe in between.

Do you want to see the world and run a successful business simultaneously?

If so, think about taking your freelance writing business on the road.

You can work from anywhere

Perhaps the biggest benefit of freelance writing is location independence. Escaping the drudgery of a morning commute and working from home is a privilege many freelance writers hold dear.

But, why stop there? As a freelance writer there are no physical limitations on where you do your job.

Seeing the world while simultaneously running a business may seem like a dream existence for many, but for freelance writers, it can become a reality.

Imagine relaxing on the beach with a margarita, laptop in hand, or going for an early morning scuba dive before starting work. While it may not always be quite that ideal, running your freelance writing business from a tropical island is a real possibility. Some of the most remote places on Earth enable you to run a business just as effectively as if you were sitting in your living room.

Global internet coverage and unremitting connectivity make it insanely easy to connect with editors and publish blog posts from the other side of the world.

You don’t need a Starbucks with lightning-quick broadband; you can write from literally anywhere. When I lived in the Bolivian jungle, I went old school with pen and paper, before hitchhiking to the nearest village to publish my work on the web.

So, why live abroad?

At one time, running a business and moving around the world may have been considered lunacy, but in today’s economic climate, it’s fast becoming a sensible option. As more companies look to streamline their businesses, there are enormous opportunities for astute freelancers. Sean Ogle created a business, Location 180, that helps people make this dream a reality, and the guys behind 37signals published a book on the rise of the remote work phenomenon.

Financial savings are still perhaps the foremost incentive to live abroad as a freelance writer. Imagine paying $100 a month in rent instead of $1000, or spending $3 for lunch instead of $30. Reducing overheads is a major goal for any business, and writing is no different. The economic benefit of living in a developing country as a freelancer can be drastic.

Quality of life is also an important factor. Living on a sunny island next to the ocean or close to your favourite outdoor activities can be the ultimate reward for taking your business abroad. Imagine hiking in the mountains or doing yoga on the beach to unwind from a busy day of work.

I’ve lived in Argentina, Colombia, Vietnam and China, with a healthy amount of travelling in between. I’ve had experiences I could never have imagined. All of the quirky, downright crazy moments are stories that one day, I’ll be proud to tell my grandchildren. All because I took a leap of faith and blazed my own trail.

Leverage the fact that as a freelance writer, you’re completely mobile and free to enjoy the world. As a travelling scribe, you have the autonomy to choose how, and where, you work. (Like this idea? Click to tweet it.)

Taking the leap

Ok, so now you’re motivated. How do you manage the logistics?

First, pick your paradise. Look at a map of the world and decide where you want to go. The only consideration that will make your life considerably easier is to choose somewhere with reasonable internet access — though as you can see from my experience in the jungle, it’s not a deal breaker.

Next, buy your ticket. Many people say they’ll move “when the time is right.” Unfortunately, the time for such a lifestyle change is never perfect. Give yourself a deadline to avoid procrastination or paralysis, but allow a reasonable window before departing to save money. Moving to a new country is stressful enough without the worry that a lack of funds could cut short your expedition! Don’t treat the move as a short holiday; view it as a lifestyle investment.

Consider completing a TEFL course before you leave, which will qualify you to teach English as a foreign language. Even if you already have a successful freelance business, it’s good to have a fallback option. I’ve found teaching English one of the best ways to supplement my income when required. Also, you can generally choose flexible hours, which provides enough time to run a freelance writing business on the side.

What happens once you’re there?

When you arrive in your dream location, seek out any local English language publications and ask them if they could use any help. If you’re new to freelance writing, consider asking for an internship, which would let you to hone your skills in a collaborative writing environment. Additionally, contact your country’s embassy or the local tourism board to inquire about any writing opportunities in the area.

Get out and explore. Go on trips to remote places, sample regional foods, and talk to local people. Use your experiences as material for extraordinary articles and blog posts. Editors are often looking for contributions from exotic locations.

Be social and make connections. The expatriate community is notoriously friendly, making it easy to form profitable relationships with those in high places. One day you may be chatting to a CEO or ambassador, and the next you could be having a beer with an English teacher. Use this tight network to your advantage in building your freelance writing business.

Go forth and conquer

It takes bravery to say goodbye to loved ones, relocate a business and move overseas. Working remotely is not for everyone, but if you choose this path, the rewards can be great. As a business, freelance writing is well-suited to this adventure. Will you give it a try?

What do you think of location independence? Have you taken your writing on the road?