Alice works for and sometimes I do too. Now, Your Virtual Assistant is a great little company, and Justine’s workforce is all completely digital. They do work on Auckland time, for Auckland clients, but the work can be done anywhere. In fact, she doesn’t have a central office. I rebuilt her website in 2011 and after that through sheer determination her business has grown leaps and bounds. She now hires my wife to do work too, and together we both work for Justine while we’re on the road. It’s an easy fit, but took 5 years to build the trust and the relationship. I’m rebuilding Justine’s site again and it’s going great!
Secondly, my previous job, Phosphor Essence, has been really great to me, and is using me as a test case for remote working. They want to see how it works and then use it in the future to expand their markets. I think it’s a great idea and I benefit from this too. I can keep helping the clients who like working with me (most do, lucklily!) which continues to free up my other team members from having to do any work I might have otherwise left behind. I reckon this is a good way to go if you are considering being a digital nomad – don’t burn the bridge, in fact pitch your services (I’ve committed 4 hours a day to them and we’re seeing how this goes, billing by the hour) and your current employer might just go for it if all its employees are on board with it too. I probably wouldn’t be able to do this if my coworkers didn’t fully support it (and also like working with me).
The most important thing here is being responsive and organised. If you can prove that you are both in person, the trust can then extend to you when you’re away. It remains to be seen how this will work long term, the relationship may change or the workload lessen over time, but so far so good.
The other thing we’ve done is to put our shingle up and start taking on any work that comes along. A previous client sent me a website job and I ended up getting it, and a friend of a friend offered me a website job which I’m in the running to get, but this won’t come through for another month or so. I think you want to get into a position where you’re having to tell people when you can do something, and that’s a good problem to have! Saying no is bad salesmanship, instead say when you can do something. Unless the website needed to be live yesterday, the project can work around your other work. Keep in touch with your clients regularly so they know what to expect, and you can get a lot of leeway.
While we’re away our goal is really to break even. I think it’s unrealistic to think everything will go perfectly so that we’ll get rich doing this (if we had a solidly established business we might be able to pull off a profit) so breaking even feels closer to the truth.
Another way to lower expenses will be us doing some house sitting. This will take networking just like building our digital business has done, but we’re keen to put in the time and sort it out. Imagine taking care of a sweet house in Spain, making sure the dogs, horses and whatever else are cared for? That appeals to my simpler side. The side that likes going to bed with that good tired feeling, knowing I was on my feet working hard all day.

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Nathaniel Flick