How To Build A Freelance Writing Business While Travelling The World

These days, there is a lot of waffle on the internet about becoming location independent.

I’ve seen countless ads pop up on my social media feeds featuring a guy relaxing by a pool with his laptop, with promises of making your dreams come true.

It is only when you click on the link do you find that it is for a dodgy MLM scheme or a course that promises to help you ‘become a digital nomad’ but provides no actionable steps.

This is not one of those posts.

A few years ago, I had reached the end of the rope with my desk job.

I was sick of working eight hours a day (minimum), five days a week, only to make money that I didn’t have time to spend.

I was in my twenties, and yet it felt like I’d reached a dead end already. I was working all day in a job that made me miserable, to make enough money to live how I wanted, but then I never had enough time to spend my money doing the things I loved.

I craved the freedom to set my own working hours, find my own clients, and to be able to up my income far quicker than the average 3 – 5% annual raise that most office workers get for their hard work.

So, I decided to make a change, and I set about building my own freelance writing business.

Oh, and I decided to fly across the world to Thailand and start traveling shortly after – there’s no better motivation to succeed than moving to a new country and leaving your cushy office job and stable salary behind!

Over the next few months, I worked – hard. I built the foundations of my freelance writing business and then continued to grow that business into a real, thriving career while I traveled the world.

Now, I’m entirely location independent and get to do a job that brings me so much joy.

That first year contained a lot of stress, long days and little sleep, but it was worth it for the freedom I’ve created for myself.

The best part? I can say, without a doubt, that anyone can build a freelance writing business – and you don’t need to buy a digital nomad course to get there. If I did could do it, anyone can.

Also check out: Best Freelance writing remote jobs websites

Below, I’ve listed some of the critical steps you should take to set up a freelance writing business while traveling the world (and avoid some of the stress of figuring it out all on your own).

Ready to travel and build your freelancing business? Here is how:

1. Lay The Foundations Before You Leave

While I did manage to build a freelance business while traveling successfully, the task would have been a lot harder had I not prepared the foundations of my writing business before I left my full-time job.

If you have not yet leaped into the digital nomad lifestyle (i.e., you still have a stable income and are living in one place), my most significant piece of advice would be: lay the foundations of your business before you take any risks.

Personally, I waited until I had several long-term clients secured, and was making at least 50% of my income from my office job before I decided to hand in my notice and start traveling.

2. Build an Online Presence: Write, Connect, and Engage

A digital nomad is just someone who works exclusively online (and thus has complete location independence).

To build an online business, there is one simple thing you need to do first. Any guesses?

You’ve got to get online!

This may sound obvious for some and a lot of you may laugh, but for me, setting up social media accounts and actually using them was an alien concept.

I was always a lurker online. Now, I make time every single day to share my blog posts, connect with other freelancers, bloggers, and businesses, and get involved in my online community.

Building an online presence is essential if you want to run a freelance business successfully, and even more so if you will be relying on online interaction to connect with others as a digital nomad.

This will:

  • Increase your exposure to potential clients
  • Be a great showcase of your personality and skills for clients checking out your services as a freelancer
  • Help you connect with leading freelancers in your niche (and maybe even lead to referrals from them!)
  • Identify you as an expert in your field too

Read: How to Build a Personal Brand (and Why You Need One)

3. Create a Portfolio

Whether you’re building a freelance writing business from your home, or on the move, one thing remains the same: you need an excellent portfolio to guarantee you continue to land quality clients.

By quality clients, I mean companies that are willing to pay for your worth. There are far too many low-quality jobs online these days, and unfortunately, there are a lot of people that underestimate their worth and take low-paying jobs without seeing any other option.

Your portfolio will:

  • Showcase your highest quality writing samples
  • Show what styles you are most experienced at writing in (long-form articles, witty social media posts, web copy etc)
  • Highlight specific brands/industries you have worked in and can offer valuable experience to future employers

One of the biggest mistakes I see many new freelance writers making is to either pitch for jobs without having a portfolio, or to pitch for a job and send one link!

So, how to build those samples for a super strong portfolio?

There are several creative ways you can build your portfolio without having to land a job first. Some of the most effective methods I used to build a solid portfolio that helped me land my very first paid writing job include:

  • Blogging: Start a blog today, and start writing about any topic that really interests you. It could be anything from entrepreneurship, to pets. The key is to showcase your writing style and personality. Learn how to make a blog on WordPress platform within 10 minutes
  • Guest posting: There are many sites online that will allow you to submit a guest post to share with their readers. Some are harder to be accepted on to (thanks again, Harsh!), while others don’t necessarily require you to be an established blogger in your own right before they allow you to write for them. Guest posting is a great way to build a quality stock of writing samples on already established and respected websites.
  • Write for friends and family: This was one of the first steps I took to build my freelance business while I was traveling. I contacted friends and family with their own businesses, and asked if I could write them some new web content, a blog post, or anything else I thought I could help with. At first, I did this work for free to add samples to my writing portfolio – but over time, I had enough experience behind me that I could reasonably charge for my services too.

Also see:

4. Know Where You’re Going

I think many people have the romantic idea of traveling with their business to the most exotic, remote places on earth.

However, the reality is that working on the road comes with a few big obstacles: one of which is finding a secure WiFi connection so you can actually work.

This is one of the biggest differences you’ll definitely need to bear in mind between building a freelance business from home, and building yours while you’re on the road.

I recommend always researching where you’re going before you choose a new destination. It does take the spontaneity out of your trip a little, but it is so worth it for knowing you’ll be able to meet your deadlines and work comfortably.

Trust me, no one enjoys working on the road when you’re desperately trying to send off an article using your phone’s hotspot and sitting out in the middle of a paddy field at night surrounded by cows (yup, that really happened to me!).

5. Make Virtual Tools Your Best Friend

Another inevitable obstacle you’ll face when building your freelance writing business while traveling the world is having to communicate with clients and meet deadlines in completely different time zones.

If you’re not careful, you may find yourself up at 3 am frantically sending emails – or worse, accidentally missing a deadline altogether.

The best way to overcome this is to start using virtual tools which will make your life immensely easier.

I use virtual tools to manage my projects, communicate with clients, host virtual meetings, and schedule social media posts both for my blogs and for my clients automatically.

A few of my favorite virtual tools include:

All of these tools have free and premium memberships (I only ever use the free one!), and make managing a business while you’re constantly on the move so much easier.

Key Takeaways

The above steps are some of the most important lessons I learned while building my freelance writing business on the road, and will make starting your own business while traveling so much easier.

To finish, I want to share a few key takeaways I’ve learned from this lifestyle that are important to remember:

Making money online and becoming location independent, whether you’re a freelance writer, blogger, or something else entirely, does not come quickly.

Those schemes you see online promising to help you earn hundreds in a matter of days seem too good to be true because they are. I built my freelance writing to the point where it is today over an entire year – it took time, and a lot of hard work, but those are the two things that really pay off.

Yes, running my freelance writing business while traveling the world is a dream come true. I wouldn’t trade this freedom for anything.

That being said, don’t believe all those glamorous ‘laptop by the beach’ shots you might see online. The reality is that I’m often working in my hotel room or a busy cafe, and then go out exploring a new city. Constantly moving around, traveling, packing light and all that comes with working on the road isn’t for everyone – and that’s okay.

Have you been thinking about setting up your own location independent freelance business? I hope these tips have helped get you one step closer!

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Authored By
Yaz Purnell is a freelance writer and blogger at UntraditionalOffice.com. After building her own business while travelling the world, she now focuses on the ways others can emulate the same lifestyle.

27 thoughts on “How To Build A Freelance Writing Business While Travelling The World”

  1. Ryan Biddulph

    Knowing where you are going is huge Yasmin. Loving these tips. 7 year full time pro blogger traveler here. We check for connection speed pre trip, every time. Wifey coaches and I sell lots of passive income stuff so we both need to be online for a while daily when not in the air jetting or at the beach. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Excellent work. A lot of posts like this are next to worthless, but in this one, you’ve set out a realistic, accurate account of what you did and how others might be able to pursue the suit. I assume lots of people take encouragement from this.

  3. It’s not all Glomular. I totally agree with this statement.

    I’ve been blogging for a few years now with a decent monthly income. But to be honest, it took me forever to lay down the foundations and understand it well. Automation helps. And outsourcing is really awesome.

    Many ads arefeaturing the money side with a guy relaxing on a beach and a laptop on his leap. They don’t mention the hard working stage of it. Thanks to this article, many facts are clear enough for beginners and others getting started.

    Thanks for sharing. This has been a very nice read this morning.

    1. Thanks, Karim – I agree, I’m sick of those staged beach & laptop shots! Glad you found the article useful.

  4. Rasmus Barslund

    As a guy who has traveled while writing content for myself, some of these tips really will improve the way I work. Never really thought about using Trello, but I will be sure to incorporate that into my list of tools.

    One thing I’d like to add – Making sure the places you stay in have a decent WiFi connection before arriving can be crucial. It’s a tough time doing research and finding images on an ultra slow connection.

    Thanks for the tips, Yasmin!

    1. Hey Rasmus, so glad you found the article useful! Yes, finding a good WiFi connection can be a real killer at times!

  5. Hi Yasmin, would you have your portfolio on your blog or somewhere else? What about ghost writing services – would they be included too in that portfolio?
    Love how you say the first year was a lot of hard work filled with long hours. It’s not an easy thing to start. It does take a lot of work and time. Too many people give up after spending time getting started.

  6. Hi Yasmin, Would you add in ghost writing in your portfolio? Would that portfolio be located on your blog or would it be a pdf that you would send out upon request? You got me thinking here!
    I’m glad you wrote that it takes hard work and time to get started. Too many people get started and quit because they don’t put in the time!
    Thank your for this one and have a great weekend.

    1. Hey Lisa, yes I do include ghost writing in my portfolio. There are of course some clients who would rather not have you linking to their website publicly, so in these cases I have a PDF portfolio that I’ll send directly to clients. Ghost writing is one of the most common types of work you’ll get as a freelance writer so not one to be overlooked!

      Glad you enjoyed the article.

  7. Your story is really inspiring and yeah if we would love to live our own lives then we must have to start freelancing or blogging. Blogging is also one another way of living a happy life and we can easily travel around the world and can manage our websites.

    I have done freelancing for around 4 years but now I’m a blogger and do write for my own blogs and living a happy life.

    Thanks for sharing these interesting freelance writing tips with us.

    Cheers,
    Mary

  8. Paul Banerjee

    Thanks for the inspiration, Yasmin. I have recently done exactly what you did after over 12 years working for an MNC. I am not into the ‘location-independent’ bit yet and don’t need to right now as I have to be here in Hyderabad for various personal commitments. It took me 8 years to build up my content writing business to a level where I could quit my job and go into it full-time. Some good tips there, and yes it isn’t a bed of roses – there’s a lot of hard work and commitment involved.

  9. Yeah, I’m totally agree with you. We have the same goal!
    I’m also a full time freelance designer. but not to long,just a freelance beginner. I also want to travel around the world. As you know, so i have choose the way to work remote. But now, I have to spent a lot of time to learn marketing,find new clients, and in fact I really hope all my time put in to design work. Especially now, I only have a little time to do design. so it’s really make me tired and contradiction. So how do you balance your design time and find client time?
    Thanks

    1. Hey Ali, I totally know where you’re coming from. At the beginning, I felt like I spent more time pitching for jobs than I did actually working on them!

      I’ve found time-blocking to be the most effective approach for me. So, for example, in a day I’ll set aside maybe two hours for finding new jobs, pitching clients etc, and then I’ll block out another two hours for one client, two hours for another project etc… it makes me so much more productive with me time!

  10. The first tip “Lay the foundation..” is the most important one. Most newbies forget to build a base of stable clients before quitting their jobs. And, that’s where they fail or struggle to grow their freelance business. Thank you for these valuable tips!

  11. Hello Yasmin,
    Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. I am new in this online field. I have been reading lot of materials on the internet to help find a niche myself. I must admit that your article is very informative as well as motivating.
    I like this idea of being independent in ones working schedule and not be bounded on a regular 9 to 5 job. I totally agree with you that after few years normal 9 to 5 jobs become bit monotonous and boring.
    Thank you once again, have a good day. 🙂

  12. Hi Yasmin,
    This is the best part of blogging that i love the most! Once you set the system, it requires very less efforts to keep it moving..:)
    Thanks for sharing this wonderful and inspiring post!

  13. Blogging is also one another way of living a happy life and we can easily travel around the world and can manage our websites. Thanks for sharing these interesting freelance writing tips with us.

  14. onlinewrestling.us

    Hi Alex, I am working on creating eCommerce website for selling home decor items. Can you suggest what would be best way to start this work? Moving forward on major eCommerce sites would help or should i start my own eCommerce website……..

  15. Hi Yasmin,
    Nowadays, getting a client from Freelancing sites is like IMPOSSIBLE!
    Even if you apply in sites like Upwork, they demand a unique skill. I don’t know from where to bring that unique skill. Please tell me how to apply and get clients from freelancing sites.
    Thank you

  16. Your brand identity

    Branding is a method of shaping your business to yourself, your team and your external audiences. It may be known as the business’ ‘identity[1]’, but only on the understanding that it embodies the core of what the business is and its values, not simply what it looks and seems like. Customers of all types of businesses are therefore savvy nowadays that they can see through most makes an attempt by company’s to gloss, spin or charm their ways’s to sales.
    The benefits that a strategically defined brand can bring are identical as when public fall crazy with one another.
    When customers connect emotively – because they share a similar values and beliefs because the brand – it ends up in higher sales and better brand differentiation.
    A strong brand encourages loyalty, advocacy. It can even defend your worth in times when competitors have faith in promotional discounts to drive sales.
    Your brand also can provide you with the best platform from which to increase your offering or range

  17. Hi Yasmin,

    Freelancing is one of the best career options at this time. But we should lay a strong foundation in order to get regular assignments. As you said, social media presence is the key factor that will determine the fate of your business in initial stages.

    Thanks for explaining everything in detail. It will be very helpful for the newbies and they can easily start own business by following your guide.

    Best wishes,

  18. If I could only find a way to skip sleeping, so that I can work more. I agree that anyone can make a blog and live the life of freedom, but it takes a lot of time and effort to get there. The biggest ingredient of one’s success is motivation. If you don’t find something that will be ultimate motivation for you to succeed, so that you can endure the painful process of creating a blog and spending months to see some results off of it, you are more than likely to give up at some point. There’s no get-rich-quick in the online world, but it’s much easier and cheaper than starting brick and mortar business. Find motivation, define goals and work hard to achieve them. When you look at it, steps to create viable online business are simple. The question is are you ready to sacrifice your social life for some time to see your business grow?

  19. We read the same things 100 times even but do not take advises seriously to build a profitable business. One who really wants to make money online should be “Karma Oriented”.

    Your steps towards being free-lancer with financial freedom really a true hack. You should also add some proven results that you’ve got “as a result” so anyone who is interested in freelancing business can get to know how rough money making scope is there in a certain time… obviously, skills matters.

  20. Excellent work Yasmin. A lot of posts like this are next to worthless, but in this one, you’ve set out a realistic, accurate account of what you did and how others might be able to pursue the suit. I assume lots of people take encouragement from this.I’m glad you wrote that it takes hard work and time to get started. Too many people get started and quit because they don’t put in the time!

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