I am about as far from a digital nomad as you can get. I have lived in the same place for the past 20 years. I am married with four kids and a mischievous puppy.
I love to travel, but because of costs, schedules, and logistics, we haven’t yet traveled internationally as a family.
But, over the past six years, I have consciously built a location independent business.
When I first began freelance writing, a lot of the advice I heard and read told me to start with local businesses because I would have an easy connection.
I ignored that advice. It was the right decision for me. Having a location independent business has some unexpected upsides. Here are five of them:
1. No In-Person Meetings
I’m an introvert. I hate inefficiency. Meetings are my own personal Hell. I have no desire to go to networking events. I don’t want to chat with the marketing team at a local business about what I can bring to the brand. I want to work on my schedule.
Because my clients are all over the world, I never have to go to in-person meetings. I also only have to deal with one person at a company at a time. By not having to drive downtown to meet people, I’m increasing my hourly rate and my level of personal satisfaction.
I also don’t have to worry about what to wear to a meeting. Should I wear a tie or go business casual?
I also hate wearing socks.
The only in-person business meetings I have are with myself, and I’m pretty loose with the dress code.
2. I Can Easily Earn Extra Money
This benefit took me many years to figure out. Like most new freelancers, I never had enough clients and was making far less than I needed to be. But, because I’m ornery, I kept plugging away until I had made just about every mistake you could make and still stay in business.
Eventually, I figured out how to find new clients. Even better, I figured out what to do when I had a deal fall through or when I had some big expenses coming up. Because I hadn’t limited myself to my local region, I could reach out to a variety of former clients, cold contacts, and colleagues to scrounge up more work fast. This would be much harder if all of my clients were local businesses.
Last year we wanted to add an expensive extra to your family vacation. It was outside of what we had budgeted. We were leaving on vacation in two weeks. I spent three days sending out email messages. By the end of the first week I had secured enough work to pay for our desired extra.
Currently, I’m working on building passive income streams into my business. This will improve my income security and make it even easier to travel as our kids get older.
3. Firing Clients is Easier
I live in a small community. If I fired a client, word would get around fast. It would be much harder to scale my business and raise my rates if I was stuck worrying about offending a client. It would also be harder to expand my service offerings.
Over the years I have experimented with several different services. It was three years before I even started offering my two most profitable services, email writing and video script writing. If I had a local business, I would still be pigeonholed as a “blog writer”.
Being location independent, it’s easier to tell a client that it’s time for both of us to move on. It’s less awkward, and I don’t have to worry about a jilted client ruining my reputation.
4. I Can Work from Anywhere
I may not be a digital nomad, but I don’t like having to work from home every single day. I like being out at different coffee shops. I often do my work from 9:30 am, after all the kids are in school, until noon when I take a long lunch. I spend my afternoons running errands. If I have more work to do, I hammer it out at night after everyone is in bed.
I have a colleague who has all local clients. She hates going out in the day because she frequently runs into clients who joke about how nice it must be not having to work. She feels like they don’t value her as a professional.
Because my clients all live far away, they aren’t able to judge how I spend my time.
Sometimes, I will head over to the coast for a few days and work on complex projects and take breaks walking on the beach. I’m not worried about needing to have an emergency meeting. I can onboard new clients no matter where I am.
I love this freedom from external expectations.
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5. World of Possibilities
I don’t travel as much as I want to. But, when opportunities do come up, having a location independent business means I can jump on them. As our family dynamics evolve, we will be traveling more.
My work is not an obstacle for us. It is completely portable.
I also love knowing that if for some reason we needed to, or wanted to, move anywhere in the world I would be able to support us without skipping a beat.
You don’t have to be a travel writer or an Instagram influencer to build a location independent business. Even if you want to have a home base, creating a location independent business gives you an amazing amount of freedom. It allows you to keep your options open.
I have made mistakes in my career. A lot of them. But, one thing I have done right from day one is deciding to structure my business to be location independent.