Traveling Made Me A Better Freelancer (How 2 Years and 13 Countries Changed My Business Mentality)
Last week I met an entrepreneur at the coffee shop I’ve been writing from in Los Angeles.
This week he came back in for a coffee and stopped by to talk with me for twenty-minutes. We talked about self-employment, having a service as your product, and what it’s like to have your own business. I make less than six-figures a year. Based off of the clients he’s working with, I assume he makes $250,000 a year.
In twenty-minutes he gave me a few compliments about my business mindset, one sticking out more than any other.
“You’ll be successful in business because you’re so calm about all of it.”
He left shortly after to take a meeting and I reflected on our conversation for a few minutes. That particular compliment kept resurfacing.
One year ago, I was extremely anxious about being a freelance writer. I was so anxious I even thought about running back to the corporate world just to relieve myself of the stress. A weekly paycheck and being able to walk out of work and not have to keep thinking about it sounded like a luxury.
I was a year into my life as a digital nomad and my life was in pure chaos.
The best way to describe how I was feeling is this meme:
I was in Arugam Bay in Sri Lanka. The Wifi only worked in my hostel from 7am-8:30am, the Wifi at the cafe down the street was so sporadic I didn’t dare try to type in a Google Doc, and I had a deadline looming.
The Sri Lanka air was only half of the reason I was sweating — I wasn’t going to make my deadline and it was because I couldn’t get online for long enough.
Now multiply this experience by ten. I can think of at least ten times in the past two years that I’ve had a deadline looming and I didn’t have access to Wifi to write articles or send the articles to clients in time.
My anxiety was through the roof and I was terrified to work with big clients because I wasn’t sure that I could deliver on my promises. What happened if I found myself in a new city and I couldn’t get the Wifi I needed to email clients, write the article, and send it to them?
My name was on the line and I was hyper aware that I was going to brand myself poorly if I kept traveling.
I decided at the end of 2019 that I was going to find a place to live for a few months and take a break from backpacking. I moved to Los Angeles and I have never felt so confident, focused, and calm in my life.
When you travel for two years, you get a stamina that other people don’t have.
You learn what it’s like to be alone and lost and in a foreign country at 2am and suddenly your business woes seem like inconveniences instead of problems. You experience looming deadlines paired with no Internet access and you learn how to trouble shoot. You learn that anything is figure-out-able, it’s just a matter of how badly you want it.
Had I not traveled the world solo for two years, that entrepreneur wouldn’t have sat across from me and told me that I was going to succeed because of my mindset.
He probably wouldn’t have sat down with me again in the first place. What has made me stand out as a content writer is the travel experience that taught me what a real problem is and isn’t, how to troubleshoot impossible situations, and how to hustle for a solution when the odds are against you.
My clients consistently tell me what a pleasure it is to work with me and how much they appreciate my hustle. For me, this is just how I work — to them, this is something they never find in a freelancer.
My travel experience has made me a more valuable freelance writer by raising my EQ — and that’s making me stand out from the competition.