How freelancing let Karla move countries, start several companies and save money

CloudPeeps
Nov 28, 2016 · 5 min read

Meet Karla Cordoba, a Freedom Creator and freelancer focusing on communications, design, writing, community development and sustainability. Karla has an incredible story of how she came to be a freelancer and the impact her career choice has had on her personal life.

She has built several products and service companies over the past few years alone. And she’s saving more money than ever! Learn more about her journey below.

I had been working for seven years full-time for a Costa Rican environmental NGO called Fundacion Neotropica as Communications and Corporate Liaisons Coordinator. Was a wonderful job! My favorite part were the field trips and the environmental education program with little kids!

But it was also a lot of work! My husband is from Brazil. He lived with me in Costa Rica for three years, working from home as an independent researcher and consultant. So, he had full control over his time, and I didn’t. And that pissed me off! haha. No, really, you know, after so many years in the same position, I was wondering if there were another way to work! And I always had the wish to live abroad.

One day, I asked my husband: what do we need to go live in Brazil? And his answer was: just make the decision! And he was right. Sometimes that’s all that it takes. There is nothing really holding you back (even when we feel there is). So with that decision in mind, I started looking for options. I landed my first freelance gigs with a couple of nonprofits in US and UK. And I totally loved the feeling!

I’ve been freelancing for almost two years, living in a beautiful island called Cananéia, in the south part of São Paulo state, practicing my Portuguese, eating fresh fish, taking long walks along the estuary and working for nonprofits and brands in different parts of the world (including my own country). We also created our own project called Sustainability School!

There is a saying: you need to plant a tree, have a kid and write a book. Well, I’ve already planted lots of trees (mostly mangroves!), have two four-legged children (Preta & Luna), and now I wrote a book! Checked!

I wrote it with my husband. It was a long process, really interesting and challenging. And we had this amazing opportunity to share it on CNN (in Spanish). It was a short interview, but it felt so good to share our ideas about money and sustainability with so many people and try to make an impact! My friends and family sent me so much love and positive comments, it was very powerful and motivated me even more to continue doing what I’ve chosen to do. That was a beautiful experience.

“Having the opportunity to be there for my father when he needed to travel for a surgery — that was priceless.”

But having the opportunity to be there for my father when he needed to travel for a surgery — that was priceless. I spent three months with him in Costa Rica after his first intervention, and then three additional months in Colombia for a second surgery. And that would never have been possible if I had been working full time. It makes a total difference.

Well, actually I’m not flying solo. At least not completely. I do have projects when I work alone (mostly graphic design and communications strategy). But since the beginning of this freelancer journey, I’ve been working with different colleagues for different projects.

“I always choose clients and projects that are aligned with my personal values — things I care about. That way I know I will always love the work.”

Sylvia is my partner when it is about fundraising and writing (we founded Experts for Good an online agency). I work with Leo when it is about online marketing and websites. Jose is my associate for digital content in TreeBoxStudio. And we have an amazing team in Sustainability School (we all work for the love, for now!). I guess it is nice when you can join forces with other fellow freelancers, and support each other. And I always choose clients and projects that are aligned with my personal values — things I care about. That way I know I will always love the work.

In my case, it’s being away from my family. I feel truly blessed because my Brazilian family has been great making me feel loved and welcomed but it’s always hard to be away of your relatives and friends. Thank God for technology! We stay in touch all the time through apps and social media. My goal is to travel one or two times a year to say hi and hug everyone (and eat everything!).

Live simple and invest in the things and experiences you care the most. You won’t believe me but my first year in freelancing was actually the first year when I managed to save money. I spent almost 10 years total working full-time previously, and never saved anything.

“You won’t believe me but my first year in freelancing was actually the first year when I managed to save money.”

Now, I take care of my finances, think carefully about my purchases and I’ve discovered I don’t need a lot of stuff to be happy. Happily for me, Brazil has a lower cost of living than Costa Rica, so If you are planning to move abroad, look for places with lower cost of living and good public transportation (so you can avoid having a car… less spending and less ecological footprint!). And invest some serious time learning other Languages… that will open you a lot of doors! My next goal is French. :)

You can connect with me through my CloudPeeps profile!

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Freedom Creators

Freedom Creators is a Medium publication dedicated to stories from the freelance, remote work, lifestyle design, and creative communities. Curated by CloudPeeps.

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Freedom Creators

Freedom Creators is a Medium publication dedicated to stories from the freelance, remote work, lifestyle design, and creative communities. Curated by CloudPeeps.