Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA
Why did you decide to become a digital nomad?
Honestly, I did it because I needed to on a soul-level. I was living in Denver, working my butt off, and fighting off some serious depression and anxiety (later diagnosed as Adjustment Disorder). At some point, I realized that I needed change - in a big way. I needed a change of scenery, a place to reset, a way to jostle myself out of everything going on inside my head and change my focus.
I was already freelancing full-time, already working with clients around the US and rarely ever required to be in person in an office, so when I realized traveling while working was an option, I also realized that it might be exactly what I needed.
About 6 - 8 months later, I locked up my rental house for the last time and climbed onto a plane and then train bound for Edinburgh, Scotland, with my hiking backpack and my small dog, Luna.
How do you make a living as a digital nomad?
I work primarily as a copywriter and content strategist, which essentially means I write websites, billboards, brochures, and all kinds of other marketing materials and help companies be strategic about their communication both online and off. I also occasionally make money writing travel articles for magazines or websites, publishing travel guides, and helping small businesses put together their website start to finish (from strategy to writing to design and code).
What is your schedule like?
I woke a little after 6 with the light. It's been about four or five years since I've really used an alarm clock, so instead my waking and sleeping hours are really determined by the sun and my body's natural rhythms. Today, in early spring in a fourth-floor apartment with lots of natural light, that meant an early wake-up.
My first-thing morning routine includes taking my small (12 pound) dog (who travels with me full time) for her morning potty break and then putting together her breakfast (today: tuna and carrots), drinking lots of water to rehydrate after sleep, and getting dressed for the day. Even though I'll be working in the apartment, I pretty much always change out of my pajamas and curl/braid/otherwise style my hair.
While Chad was still catching some zzzs and Luna (the dog) went back to bed to snuggle him, I tackle my first project of the day: a survey I was hired to write by one of my content marketing clients. I finish that and send it over, then tackle a few emails before Chad moseys into the living room and we sit down for breakfast.
Breakfast was a chocolate croissant that our Airbnb host kindly left for us (us being myself and my partner, Chad, who has been traveling with me for almost a year now). We just arrived at our place in Dubrovnik last night and the grocery stores were closed, so our host thoughtfully left us a well-stocked pantry with plenty for dinner and breakfast. She also left us some homemade orange jam, rich cherry liquor (also homemade), and a basket full of sweet treats, which we munched on throughout the day.
After breakfast, while Chad gets ready for the day, I work my way through more emails. Today is a Monday and I've been offline since last Wednesday in transit from Rome to Dubrovnik (with stops in Venice; Villach, Austria; and Zagreb, Croatia), so my inbox is bursting. I generally give myself 1 - 3 goals per day and today's are: write that survey, which is due today (check), make it through my entire email inbox, and deal with a relatively urgent website update for one of my start-to-finish website clients.
At about 9 or 9:30, we head out to the grocery store. It's our first day in Dubrovnik and day one is always full of little urgent errands - finishing any unpacking, getting essential groceries. We walk to a big street with several options and grab a bunch of foodstuffs - chickpeas and ground beef for Luna, pastas, onions, tomato sauces, bottles of cider for us. By 10:30, I am back on the couch with my laptop in my lap working through emails again, mostly confirming deadlines and writing assignments, getting back to people asking about advertising on my blog, and answering website questions.
We stop around 11:30 for a lunch of simple meat, cheese, and onion sandwiches on fresh bread, lightly grilled. After lunch, I take a shower, make myself some tea and settle in for an afternoon of finances. It's the beginning of a new month, which means balancing last month's numbers in my budget spreadsheet, entering new receipts into the spreadsheet and the online tracking software Chad and I use to split expenses. Then I make that one urgent website update and wrap things up for the day.
I'm done around 3:30, which is a long day for me. Normally since I wake so early, I try to wrap up just after (or even before) lunch, before I hit my afternoon exhaustion wall. Today I pushed through it so that I could hit all three of my big to-dos and get the finances off my plate for tomorrow.
I spend the rest of my afternoon feeding Luna her dinner (rice, carrots, and ground beef), snuggling her, and then making an early dinner for Chad and I (pork-filled pasta with a homemade sauce of olive oil, salt, green onions, garlic, and tomato puree with a side of olive oil with a dash of salt and pepper for dipping bread into). He has a business call at 6 and we're not late night people, so we sit down to dinner around 5, leaving plenty of time for eating, chatting, and dishes-doing before the call.
After dinner, I watch a little TV while Chad has his call, then I hop on here to share my day with you. :) It's about 7 now and once Chad's call is through we'll probably watch an episode of Big Bang Theory and head to bed between 9 and 10.
It's not the most exciting day ever, but it's actually pretty typical of my nomadic experience. Some days I spend the whole day on everyday tasks - groceries and dog walks and catching up on email - and other days (especially sunny days) I knock off work early and spend the whole day hiking or exploring or just enjoying the sun and new scenery.
Why did you become a digital nomad?
My husband and I used to work in San Francisco as software engineers. The goal was to get as much experience as we could to start working remotely and traveling the world. I wanted to be able to work remotely while traveling. I was also interested in working for myself, manage my own hours, and work on projects I was interested in.
How do you make a living as a digital nomad?
Since November 2015, we have been working as freelancers. Building websites, hybrid phone applications, and now VR projects! I have started my own development agency, Cassiopeia, and work with multiple clients on a regular basis. The work ranges from individuals needing a website to a small business needing rebranding.
What is your schedule like?
I woke up at 8:30 am because I went to sleep early last night (11 pm). The time I wake up at varies because I love sleeping in and I never schedule any meetings in the morning for that reason. I then started reading the news on Twitter, checked if I had any urgent emails to respond to and went to check in on my husband who had been working for about an hour already. I should be eating breakfast, but I rarely do, the morning is kind of my 'me' time where I read the news, catch up on youtube videos or tv shows, talk to my family (back in Europe), etc...
I did have a call with a new client at 11 am. Then, I had lunch with my husband between at 11:30 am. We usually chat about what we need to do today or talk about our next travel plans. Today we decided that we wanted to spend a couple of days in Connecticut, so we canceled the Airbnb we had booked and reserved a new place in New Haven for a week. That's why we love being digital nomads. If we ever change plans, feel like going somewhere else, we can just pack up and go.
I had another call with a client at 1 pm and started responding to emails which usually take me about an hour on busy days. I am planning on working until 5:30 pm and then we are heading out to a Women Who Code networking event. I will probably come back home and work until 11 pm because I have a call with a client in Australia at 10 pm tonight.
Where can we find you online?
In this episode I chat with Catt Small about two major things: getting kids interested in programming, and her e-book: How to Become a Public Speaker in 1 Year: Gain the confidence to engage audiences on and off stage. My favorite quote from the episode:
“Fashion and makeup and all these things that are pushed toward young women: that’s a big space where they could be learning more about programming and coding.”
On Teaching Kids To Code
We talked about how her love of fashion inspired her to start coding as a pre-teen, and how I can *hopefully* get my little niece into coding too. Catt uses game development to teach people to code through the process of creating games, so I'll try that next! Here is a cool repo she uses to help kids figure out how games work so she can teach them how to code: https://github.com/cattsmall/Phaser-game
How to Become a Public Speaker in 1 Year
I read the book myself, which inspired me to reach out to Catt for an interview. I loved that the book comes with worksheets that you can easily print out, and scribble on. We dug into why she decided to write the ebook, what conferences she speaks at, which conferences she skips, and how to tailor your talk to the right audience. She also explains how speaking at conferences has helped boost her career.
Episode Sponsor link: Domainr
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Welcome! My name is LaToya and I'm the founder of SheNomads. I've got nothing but love for all things tech, travel, remote work, and self-care. I'm building an inclusive community around those things, and I can't tell you how pleased I am that you're here. Let's get to know each other! @LaToya
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