Meet Digital Nomad Girl Kay: Brand Storyteller & Communication Strategist

Meet Digital Nomad Girl Kay: Brand Storyteller & Communication Strategist

In our Digital Nomad Girls interview series we feature interviews with Digital Nomad Girls from around the world with interesting location independent jobs.

This month we talked to Kay Fabella, brand storyteller and communication strategist.

Introduce yourself!

Hi there, I’m Kay, a Filipina-American expat entrepreneur based in Madrid. I have an ongoing love affair with Spain, my Spanish husband, and Sriracha. And I not-so-secretly wish my life was a musical.

What is your location independent job?

I am a brand storyteller and communication strategist. I help businesses to stand out with their story, to meaningfully connect with their customers, and boost their revenue through targeted online communication strategies.

We’d love to hear your story! How did you get into professional storytelling?

When a work contract fell through with no warning, I had to reinvent myself… fast!

I had always loved communication, languages, and helping people connect. So I looked into Master’s degrees in online marketing. But all of the Master’s degrees wanted someone with experience. And all the companies where I could get experience wanted candidates with Master’s degrees! What started as a way to build my portfolio as a freelancer to apply for a Master’s turned into my full-time business.

Now, I help solopreneurs to Fortune 500 companies in English and Spanish. I was also published as a storytelling expert in the Huffington Post and in El País, the largest Spanish language newspaper in the world.

What advice do you have for others? How can we use stories to help us in business?

Too many entrepreneurs I see focus on “how I sell my thing” rather than “how I can be of service.” It comes across as too pushy, too aggressive, and ultimately ends up being disastrous for their business.

No matter what industry you’re in, you have to communicate what you do in a way that connects with, convinces, and converts your audience into customers. And sharing stories is a great way to do that.

In the age of the social media, people care more about WHO you are + WHY you exist > WHAT you sell. So don’t be afraid to go past the shiny Instagram posts and show your human side once in a while, because that’s what people relate to most.

When everything on the market looks the same, your story is what determines if people like you, if they trust you, and, most importantly, if what you have to offer is worth their time. The decision as to whether or not they buy from you depends on how you make them feel. So if you don’t try to create an emotional connection with your audience first, you’ll never gain their permission to sell what you do.

kay-fabella-digital-nomad

What made you pursue a location independent life? Have you always loved travelling?

As the daughter of Filipino immigrants growing up in Los Angeles, I was exposed to many cultures at once. So I think it goes without saying that I’ve always loved travelling!

Before college, I had spent a month living in Paris and a month living in Mexico. I fell in love with the idea of travelling “deeper,” rather than checking a bunch of sights to see off a list. So I leapt at the opportunity to study abroad in Spain while at university. I came back in 2010 with the intention of staying for a year… met my now Spanish husband… and the rest is history.

I realized how lucky I was to have a business I could run from anywhere when my grandmother had her second stroke back in California in 2015. At a moment’s notice, I was able to book a flight to be with her, without having to worry about vacation days or checking with a boss.

So my idea of a location independent lifestyle has definitely evolved. I may not be a nomad moving from one country to another with my laptop. But I love that my business lets me work from wherever, especially if it’s close to the people I love.

Did your friends/family/colleagues think you’ve gone crazy or were they supportive?

I’m lucky to have an amazing support system here in Madrid, back in the US, and all over the world. And though I think my parents still don’t understand exactly what I do… they framed my El País interview even if they couldn’t understand it!

What’s been helpful is finding people who are also running online businesses, the ones who are “your kind of crazy”. Tribes like the Digital Nomad Girl group are super helpful for connecting with like-minded people who you can swap resources and experiences with!

kay-fabella-digital-nomad

What do you struggle with most when it comes to running your own business?

I’d have to say patience. You may have a grand vision for what you want to see happen. You may have certain expectations and objectives. But when other people, technology, and so many other factors are involved, you have to be willing to step back, reassess, and pivot if need be.

There’s a great quote by Bill Gates that really resonated with me: “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.”

And I couldn’t agree more. So my new personal project is learning not to let my own ambition get the better of me. It’s a very humbling exercise, but having a strong support system and team has really helped.

What item should every Digital Nomad Girl pack on her trips?

Just one? 😉

I’d have to say all the chargers and adapters for your digital gear. And a good pair of sneakers to go exploring when you turn off your laptop.

What are you up to next travel or business-wise?

I just got back from marrying my husband in San Francisco, renting a Mustang and driving down the California coast for a month!

As for my business, I launched my first online coaching program for women entrepreneurs to help them sell with confidence using their story: Move Hearts Make Profits.

What is your favourite business/travel/self-development book you’d recommend to other digital nomad girls?

I’d have to say the Suitcase Entrepreneur: Create freedom in business and adventure in life. This year, I had the pleasure of meeting the author, Natalie Sisson, who was one of the first digital marketing gurus I followed!

And last: Do you have a favourite inspirational (or cheesy) quote you’d like to share?

“Imperfect action > perfect inaction.” It’s my go-to motto whenever I’m nervous about taking a step outside of my comfort zone… as long as you’re moving, you’re learning!

You can find Kay on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin. Check out her website in English and Spanish and visit the Story School here.

Meet Digital Nomad Girl Meg: Travel Blogger and Podcaster

Meet Digital Nomad Girl Meg: Travel Blogger and Podcaster

In our monthly Digital Nomad Girls interview series we will feature interviews with Digital Nomad Girls from around the world with interesting location independent jobs.

This month we talked to Meg Collins, travel blogger, podcaster and co-founder of the Travel Blog Monetization Summit

Introduce yourself! Where are you from, how old are you, if we may ask 🙂 and where are you currently living?

Howdy, most people call me Meg or Megsy. I’m a 32 years old Aussie gal who grew up just outside of Brisbane. Along with my boyfriend Tom we have been a digital nomads since April 2013 and we are currently hanging out in Tbilisi Georgia.

What is your location independent job (or what are you working towards)?

We are travel / food bloggers and photographers and we also run the Travel Blog Monetization Summit which teaches travel bloggers how to make money and keep travelling.

meg-collins-travel-blogger

How did you get into this line of work?

We realised that the regular 9-5 – buying a house etc was not the life for us – so we looked into ways we could do what we loved most – travel – and sustain it through an online income source.

What did you do before you became a Digital Nomad?

I was working as a wholesale travel agent specialising in Cruise Sales at Infinity Cruise Australia.

How can others do the same?

Study, study, study the profession you want to go into. Work really really hard. Sell everything and give it your best shot!

What made you pursue a life as a Digital Nomad?

We wanted to travel and have our own business. We were tired of working for other people.

Did your friends/family/colleagues think you’ve gone crazy or were they supportive?

They were all very supportive – but I don’t think they really understood what we were planning on doing. Nor do I think they realised that we could potentially travel for this long. I think they figured we’d be back home, working and starting a family like normal people long ago….

meg-collins-travel-blogger

What is your favourite city/country/beach/mountain destination to work?

For work i.e having other bloggers around and learning, we really liked Chiang Mai as there was a great community there. For affordable living, a great lifestyle, with really good internet – Tbilisi, Bucharest or Athens are some of our favourites.

What do you struggle with most when you travel and work?

Reliable internet. Plus feeling guilty about not seeing some parts of the cities we are in because we have to get work done. You can’t have it all.

How do you connect with and meet new people while travelling?

Couchsurfing meet ups are really great – plus we have a pretty large network of friends online all over the world. Also shout outs to groups like this are a good way to see who’s around.

meg-collins-travel-blogger

What item should every Digital Nomad Girl pack?

The first thing I thought was menstrual cup – lol. You don’t realise how difficult it can be to get the products you like using around the world – once I went menstrual cup I’ve never looked back!

What advice would you give a girl friend who wanted to start out as a digital nomad?

Do it – but realise it’s not all beaches and beers – it’s hard work and you need to have many back up sources of revenue to make sure you can be secure in not running out of money.

meg-collins-travel-blogger

What are you up to next?

Off to GREECE!!!! We loooved Greece and we have booked an airbnb apartment in the heart of Athens for almost 3 months to really experience local life.

What is your favourite business/travel/lifestyle book you’d recommend to other digital nomad girls?

Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy? LOL.

For the single girls out there (or even not so single girls like me) I just finished reading Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari – really interesting look into dating in today’s world of technology!!!

And last: Do you have a favourite inspirational (cheesy optional) quote you’d like to share?

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” – Hunter S Thompson

You can find Meg on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and check out her blog at http://foodfuntravel.rocks.

Meet Digital Nomad Girl Stella: Online Social Entrepreneur

Meet Digital Nomad Girl Stella: Online Social Entrepreneur

In our monthly Digital Nomad Girls interview series we will feature interviews with Digital Nomad Girls from around the world with interesting location independent jobs.

This week we talked to Stella, online social entrepreneur and founder of 22 STARS.

Introduce yourself! Where are you from, what’s your background and where are you currently living?

I was born in Germany but moved to the Netherlands at age 6. Following in the footsteps of my parents, I lead a very active life and have travelled all over the world.

For the last couple of years I have literally been living nowhere. At the moment I am travelling in a Land Rover through West Africa: Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, Congo, and DRC while working on my new 22STARS project: bridging cultures through fashion and design.

Stella Interview Digital Nomad Girls Online Social Entrepreneur

You created a social enterprise called 22STARS. Tell us a bit about it and how you got inspired to become an online social entrepreneur!

In 2008, I decided to travel around the world alone for about eight months (South America, Hawaii, new Zealand, Australia, South Africa). Wherever I went, I was regularly confronted with poverty and injustice. For that reason I decided to do a master’s in Public International Law where I learned that the best way to help people out of poverty is by making sure that they can provide for themselves. I wrote my thesis about girl child soldiers within the Lord Resistance Army and visited Uganda in 2009 to volunteer at an AIDS Information Center and do research for my thesis. This is how my passion and interest for Uganda started. I interviewed a couple of women who were making jewellery from recycled paper.

A few years later I founded my social enterprise called 22STARS. I help post war victims in Uganda designing their paper jewellery and find international and national market to sell their products. I also raise money for school fees for the children and I help women get small business skills. Travelling is a huge part of my life. Twice a year I spend months at a time in Uganda making new designs with the women and checking on production and quality.

From Uganda I ship all the products to the Netherlands in big 30 kilo boxes. Shipping costs and import taxes are always way more expensive than people expect. Whenever I’m not in Uganda, my work is a big mix of everything and I can do it all from my laptop. Designing new collections, writing product descriptions and stories for the website, social media, finding new retailers, keeping contact with customers, making special edition collections, editing videos and pictures; the list goes on.

Stella Interview Digital Nomad Girls Online Social Entrepreneur

Why was it important to run your business as a social enterprise?

I want to help people directly in improving their life and making an impact. In particular, I choose people to work with who have no other chance on the job market because they are illiterate and ill. The story of one of my artisans, Susan Laker, is very touching.

Susan was born in Northern Uganda. When she was only 13, she had her first child. Her husband was a soldier, and soon left her, never to return. Susan fled to Kampala because of the war, where she found out that she was HIV-positive, had tuberculosis and cancer. She was extremely weak. When she got better she started working in the stone quarry in the Acholi Quarter. A terrible place to work with not much hope for the future. After Susan started working with us, she was able to build a new home for herself and her three children. Before that, they were all living in a tiny room, perhaps 1.5 by 1.5 metres, with no electricity or running water. With our help she went back to school, improved her English and now helps us as a translator. Susan’s dream was always to become a fashion designer. Recently we bought her a sewing machine and are now paying a teacher so she can start making bags and clothes. In this way she will not only be making products for the western market, but also for her local market. All her three kids are in school and doing really well. It is hard to imagine, but if these women were not working with us, they most likely would still be in the stone quarry, or would be dead by now.

Stella Interview Digital Nomad Girls Online Social Entrepreneur

What advice do you have for other women who’d like to start a social enterprise?

I would recommend to just get started. Just give it a try and see how it goes. Talk to a lot of people and see if there’s a market. It helps a lot if you go to meetings with other startups and entrepreneurs so you can get ideas and follow a course, and just really talk to people.

I would definitely suggest to go out and sell the product at a market. Even if you don’t make a profit, you still get a lot of customer experience, and you can talk to your customers right there, which is really helpful for an online store. Have your own website and see if you can collaborate with bloggers or magazines.

The best marketing effort I’ve found is to partner up with bigger companies. I don’t have a large marketing budget, but what I’ve done is partner with a website called Discovered, they put more effort into marketing and have a higher margin.

What are the biggest challenges you face in your business?

It is really a challenge working with artisans who have no phone, no email address, had little education, are HIV positive, war-traumatized, cannot read and write, speak only Acholi and have very large families. So that is definitely my biggest challenge. But that is also the main point of my business. Making fashion that gives back. Part of our net profit will be used to finance our 22STARS projects, educating our designers and their children.

Back to travel and the nomad lifestyle. What is your favourite city/country/beach/mountain destination to work from? What is important to you when choosing your next destination?

I have a lot of favourite destinations, but Cape Town is definitely one of my favourites. Obviously I travel many times to Uganda and to Africa, because I need to go there for my business. The rest of the year I love to hang out with other Digital Nomads, and I have a nice group of girls who are also location independent who I see now and then in different places. I went on the Nomad Cruise twice already and will join again this year. I also joined Coboat and some other workation camps.

Do you have a funny/crazy nomad story you’d like to share with us?

Recently, I arrived in Marrakesh in the middle of the night and got picked up by two other digital nomads that I know from some FB communities. We drove to Agadir in the middle of the night, arrived around 4 am, just put a mattress on top of the land rover and some blankets, and then the three of us were sleeping there! Around 5 am we woke up because some Moroccan kids discovered that our spot was great to have an after party and played loud Moroccan house music. Luckily I fell back asleep again, but woke up around 9 am to the sound of tourists standing next to us sitting on a camel!

Stella Interview Digital Nomad Girls Online Social Entrepreneur

How do you connect with and meet new people while travelling?

Often through Facebook groups, but also by just bumping into people in bars. I also have a tinder profile which clearly states: no mating, no dating, and that I am into people who share a passion for music, travelling, love, adventure, sports & changing the world. So far I met great people through it. And since I use it more as an app to hang out with people, I would also take my male friends with me. I had already a couple of guys thanking me for bringing them along to my “tinder dates” because they became really good friends afterwards. Haha.

What item should every Digital Nomad Girl pack?

Swiss Army Knife. Babybell. Tabasco. Lipstick. Mascara. Perfume. Good luck 22STARS bracelets.

What advice would you give a girl friend who wanted to start out as a digital nomad?

Don’t prepare yourself, just go! And while falling off the cliff, you will learn how to fly. Quite often I hear excuses from people, “but what if this” and “I need to do first this”. All nonsense. Just get yourself on the plane, and see from there!

What are your future travel plans?

In October I will be back in Uganda, I will be visiting all the schools and checking how the kids are doing. November is still open, perhaps the USA or Europe. In December I will be on the Nomad Cruise for the third time, travelling to the Dominican Republic.

And last: Do you have a favourite inspirational (or cheesy) quote you’d like to share?

“What you do for yourself dies with you, what you do for others lives on forever.” I would recommend every aspiring entrepreneur to keep that in mind, and make it an incentive for starting their business. Always ask yourself whether you’re giving back with what you do and, if not, how you can make that happen. Also surround yourself with positive people that believe in you and uplift you. And try to not get distracted from your end goal, or let any setback bring you down.

You can find Stella on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and visit her site at www.22stars.com.

Meet Digital Nomad Girl Lani – founder of Gynopedia!

Meet Digital Nomad Girl Lani – founder of Gynopedia!

In our monthly Digital Nomad Girls interview series we will feature interviews with Digital Nomad Girls from around the world with interesting location independent jobs.

This week we talked to Lani, an English teacher and founder of Gynopedia.

Introduce yourself! Where are you from, how old are you (if we may ask 🙂 and where are you currently living?

My name is Lani Fried and I’m originally from San Francisco, CA. I’m currently based in Hanoi, Vietnam and I’m 31 years old.

What is your location independent job (or what are you working towards)?

At the moment, I have two part-time jobs, one of which is online. These jobs involve teaching English, SAT prep, etc. In the past, I have also worked as a writer/editor and software product manager.

You started a website called Gynopedia, tell us a bit about it!

Gynopedia is a free resource for sexual, reproductive and women’s health care. It’s a wiki, so anyone can contribute or edit information. Here’s how it works: You search for a city — for example, “Bangkok” or “New York City” — and Gynopedia provides information related to birth control, emergency contraception, STI tests, gynecologists, abortion clinics and more. Think of as like WikiTravel, but for your ladybits. This information comes from real people who have shared their experiences, or from careful research (after scouring the web!), also conducted by real people. Overall, the goal is to provide practical, non-judgmental information so that users can feel empowered and make informed decisions.

Screenshot of Gynopedia Digital Nomad Girls

How did you come up with this idea?

From 2010-13, I lived in Istanbul, Turkey. During those years, I constantly struggled to find high-quality and affordable women’s health care. For example, I was slut-shamed by a gynecologist for not being a virgin (and unmarried). I tried to get STI tests at two separate facilities, both of which didn’t conduct the tests that I asked for. I could only find tampons at select stores in my neighborhood. Then, I moved back to the States, where I supposedly had more health care resources. But I was unemployed and uninsured, so I dealt with the American type of difficulty that accompanies women’s health care. The same cycle kept on repeating itself: lack of information, lack of resources.

So, when I began planning a year-long trip through Asia, I realized: This was going to happen again. I wouldn’t know where to get birth control. I wouldn’t know what to do if I got pregnant. And I probably wouldn’t even know where to buy tampons in some places. This lead to an “aha” moment — and it just seemed so obvious: There should be a comprehensive resource for sexual, reproductive and women’s health care. That way, we could all share our recommendations (and warnings), and women could finally get the information they need.

What made you pursue a life as a Digital Nomad?

Personally, I don’t use the term “digital nomad” to describe myself. But I do feel a connection with other people who work online (which I have done on and off since my early 20s), people who love travel and people who have relocated often. As for my own story, I guess that moving around always seemed natural. Growing up, many of family members were immigrants, so I grew up around people who had lived in different countries. And, like many people, I wanted to see the world. Also, economics played a big role. The recession came after my college graduation — and, realizing that I had potentially bleak prospects for the next few years, I decided to look for opportunities outside the States, which brought me to Turkey. This turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life, but I didn’t realize it at the time.

Founder of Gynopedia on Digital Nomad Girls

Did your friends/family/colleagues think you’ve gone crazy or were they supportive?

There are always supporters and there are always people who doubt you. There is something incredibly inspiring or threatening (depending on how you look at it!) about leaving your old life or old city behind. But I find that most people are supportive. Last year, I was living and working in New York. When I told my coworkers that I was planning to travel around Asia for an extended period of time, I got a really positive response.

Of course I get a lot of questions: How will you get medical care? How will you make money? How can you leave your apartment/career behind? There is a lot of privilege that is a part of travel, and that shouldn’t be ignored. Unfortunately, it is way too often. But there’s also a lot of practical, not so glamorous stuff that people don’t always consider like: You can find jobs in different towns. Medical care is usually cheaper when you leave the States. But, all in all, most people are rather supportive (just slightly baffled by the whole thing).

What is your favourite city/country/beach/mountain destination to work?

Oh man, I wish I could answer this question! I’m too indecisive for favorites — I always like way too many books and movies and everything to pick one favorite. But I guess some places that I have visited in the last few years and loved were Japan, Indonesia and Colombia.

Founder of Gynopedia on Digital Nomad GirlsFounder of Gynopedia on Digital Nomad Girls

What do you struggle with most when you travel and work?

Lately, bad Internet has been a huge pest.

How do you connect with and meet new people while travelling?

I love CouchSurfing. And awkward situations. When you’re cramped in a van with a lot of people, or when you find yourself sharing a table with strangers at a bar, you’re forced to interact, and that’s when you meet some of the greatest people.

What item should every Digital Nomad Girl pack?

This is just me (and I spend way too much time researching women’s health products online). But I wish I had menstrual underwear or a menstrual cup in my travels. So far, I have been in some jams when I really needed a tampon but couldn’t find it (like in the Philippines, where there are so many amazing beaches… and yet so few tampons). So, pack a backup for times and places when you need a tampon!

What advice would you give a girl friend who wanted to start out as a digital nomad?

Focus on the basics. There is a wonderful online world of people who encourage you to move abroad, backpack around the world, work online, or be any sort of wandering type, and that’s great. But I think we sometimes forget the fundamentals because the inspirational stuff is so much more fun. But, if you plan to drastically change your life, you also need to focus on basics like: How will I work? For example, you may want to get a TEFL/CELTA if you plan to teach English, or you may want to build up your portfolio if you plan to do freelance work in translation, writing, design, etc. How will I get medical care? How will I find a home that works for me? There are many answers to these questions, and they vary from person to person. But take the time to really think through and take action on the basics. You’ll discover a lot along the way, and not all of your plans will work out like you expected, but think through what you can. It will help you in ways you don’t yet imagine.

Founder of Gynopedia on Digital Nomad Girls

What are you up to next travel and business wise?

Travel-wise, I am planning to visit Myanmar, Nepal and India next. Business-wise, I guess I’m still figuring things out!

What is your favourite business/travel/lifestyle book (or novel) you’d recommend to other digital nomad girls?

In terms of travel books, I love writers like Paul Theroux and Jan Morris. I think there’s also some great coverage being done by new publications like Roads & Kingdoms. Oh, and Migrationology is great.

And last: Do you have a favourite inspirational (cheesy optional) quote you’d like to share?

I guess I’ll share my favourite quote from my high school days, which I found through Anais Nin — but it’s originally from the Talmud:

“We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are.”

 

You can check out Gynopedia here and please contribute if you have experiences or information to share!

Did you ever have to visit a doctor abroad? Please share in the comments!

Founder of Gynopedia on Digital Nomad Girls

 

Meet Digital Nomad Girl Natalie! UX/UI designer and model

Meet Digital Nomad Girl Natalie! UX/UI designer and model

In our monthly Digital Nomad Girls interview series we will feature interviews with Digital Nomad Girls from around the world with interesting location independent jobs.

This month we chatted to lovely Natalie Howard, UX/UI designer, and plus size model.

Natalie UX/UI designer

Tell us a bit about yourself

I was born in Fort Worth, Texas, USA but my family moved around a lot. I’ve lived in Texas, California, Washington, and Ohio. I’m 26, and living in Columbus, OH. I’m saving up some money before I go on my next big trip.

What is your location independent job or multiple jobs?

I am a freelance UX/UI Designer and professional plus size model. UX stands for User Experience, which means I plan out and architect apps & websites and make them better and more enjoyable for people to use. UI stands for User Interface which is the visual design side of things.

Natalie UX/UI designer

How did you become a UX/UI designer? How can others do the same?

I got my first two-year degree in Visual Communications in Los Angeles- which I deeply regretted after entering the very difficult job market in 2010. When I decided to go back to college for a bachelor’s degree- I wanted to make a more informed decision. I started researching companies that I really wanted to work at and seeing what jobs they were actually hiring for. I came across a position for “Information Architect”. I had no idea what it was, but the description sounded fun and interesting, so I began researching it. I decided to go back to school for Interactive Media Design, which included some elements of user experience design and information architecture. To get into UX, requires a lot of self-direction, research, and networking skills to snag an experienced mentor. I’m apart of a Beginner’s UX group on Facebook which has been really helpful for getting feedback on my portfolio and connecting with others in the same boat.

And how did you become a location independent model?

For modeling, my experience goes back to age 15. My parents sent me to a modeling school called Barbizon, and I signed with an agency shortly after. I did small local projects like fashion shows and modeling wedding dresses for editorials. I gave up professionally pursuing modeling while I was in college, but kept on doing time-for-trade shoots for fun with local photographers. I started posting my work on social media and my fan base grew larger and larger. Eventually, a fan suggested I try applying to some agencies again for plus size modeling. I reached out to one of the top plus size modeling agencies in the country and heard back within 10 minutes! I signed with them soon after and was able to get some projects with big retail clients and a national TV commercial. Since then, I’ve branched off and found more success being my own agent and boss, since I found the agency requirements to be too restricting.

To get into modeling, you either have to 1. Build up a large social media following (a lot of agencies won’t consider you unless you have at least 10k fans/followers) 2. Research industry requirements for height and measurements- make sure you fit them. Research modeling agency’s current rosters of models to see if you have a similar look to any of their talent.

Natalie UX/UI designer

How do you manage to juggle both jobs?

I always let my UX clients know about my modeling situation and that flexibility is really important to me in case I want to take on a job. Usually they’re pretty understanding about it. The way I work with clients is based on weekly rates with deadlines for deliverables, so as long as I get the work done by the time I say I will, they trust me.

You use Patreon for your model job. What would you recommend to others if they’d like to get started with that?

With Patreon, you want to already have an existing fanbase on other platforms- it’s not a good place to gain new fans. When I started out, I looked at what other models in similar industries were doing and took notes. Then kind of mixed and matched some of their ideas with new ones I came up with. It takes a lot of time investment up front to define goals and rewards, but it’s so worth it!

What made you pursue a life as a Digital Nomad?

A friend recommended a book to me called “The 4 Hour Work Week” by Tim Ferriss. That was a massive inspiration to me. When I was younger, I was homeschooled- so I was used to being self-directed and autonomous with my work. The 9-5 work schedule never worked for me. I’m happiest when I don’t feel confined to any space in particular.

Did your friends/family/colleagues think you’ve gone crazy? Were they supportive?

Nope, everyone has been really cool about it. I’ve had some confusion from people if working remotely is a totally foreign concept for them, but usually when I explain it they get excited too.

Natalie UX/UI designer

What is your favourite city/country/beach/mountain destination to work?

I love working on trains, especially through Europe. The amount of “flow” that happens for me is just incredible- they’re so peaceful. Really allows me to dig into a deep pool of creative ideas and problem solving. I worked on an app prototype while riding from Berlin to Prague earlier this year.

What do you struggle with most when you travel and work?

Staying disciplined and focused 😀 It’s tempting to want to go see all the attractions of an area. Can be very distracting.

How do you connect with and meet new people while travelling?

Recently, I’ve started chatting up people at restaurants or coffee shops who are sitting alone, because I often think…. nobody  (especially if they’re a traveler) came all this way to this new place to sit alone, they want to meet people too. So that’s been fun- and sometimes I meet people through mutual friends, networking events, Magpie, Digital Nomad FB groups, or even Tindr 😉

What item should every Digital Nomad Girl pack?

I have an expandable, waterproof hip belt I bought from Target that I love. I just put the bare minimum in there- credit cards, keys, etc. Was great for when I was riding a lot of scooters and easily hides under tshirts.

Natalie UX/UI designer

What advice would you give a girl friend who wanted to start out as a digital nomad?

Research! I think logistics are the scariest part- What am I going to do with my apartment? My stuff? How am I going to make money? There’s a lot of people asking the same questions in Digital Nomad communities, so it makes you feel more encouraged and less lonely to meet like minded people.

What are your future travel plans?

I would love to do 3 months in the countryside of France 🙂 Have a slow life by the pool, ride scooters, buy fresh produce and baked goods, drink wine, and seduce and be seduced by Frenchmen.

And last: Do you have a favourite inspirational (cheesy optional) quote you’d like to share?

“A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.” -Tim Ferriss

You can find Natalie on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and her own website is coming very soon! Make sure to check it out: www.nhoward.com

Have you ever considered being a location independent UX/UI designer and/or model? Please share in the comments!

So you wanna be a … Sailboat Captain?

So you wanna be a … Sailboat Captain?

In our brand new monthly interview series: “So, you wanna be a…”, we will feature a kickass Digital Nomad Girl with an interesting location independent job. We’ll find out how she got into the job, what she enjoys about it and how you can follow in her footsteps.

This month we chatted to sailboat captain Liz, a real life sailboat captain and travel blogger at Moxie & Epoxy.

Liz from Moxie & Epoxy on a boat

Who are you and how/when/why did you become a digital nomad?

Hi Ladies! First of all I want to say that I am a huge fan of the DNG group and the strength and support that comes from women of shared interests supporting one another. My name is Liz Gillooly and I am a US Coast Guard Licensed sailboat captain who is also a travel-obsessed blogger – a woman of many hats (some of them far less cute than others). When I was 18 and backpacking through Central America in 2009 I brought a video camera with me and made short videos about that experience. I became a sailboat captain two years ago and when I took my first job on a yacht sailing across the Atlantic I began sending long emails home describing my adventures and pairing them with videos I had thrown together. Somebody suggested that I turn all of this content into a blog and last year I did just that! It has been an incredible experience to begin sharing my journey with an extended audience.

What is your location independent job?

Being a sailboat captain means that I get paid to travel all over the world. I have worked on boats in the Virgin Islands, the Mediterranean and Hawaii. This summer I have my first job in NY (in my hometown) driving a sailboat with my boyfriend as crew. At this point, I have enough experience to choose any part of the world (with a sailing industry) and I can almost always find a job. The other great part about the sailing industry is that so much of the work is seasonal. I can choose a location, work one season which usually lasts only for a few months and then pick up and travel for the next six months to a year on the money I’ve saved – plus it gives me great content for the blog!

Liz from Moxie & Epoxy is a captain

How did you start out as a captain? How can others do the same?

I grew up in Long Island sailing in the summertime. As a kid, I HATED IT! I do not have a competitive bone in my body and my instructors seemed to always push me toward racing which seemed to defeat the whole point of this relaxing, quiet activity I was so fond of. When I was 20 I was offered an unpaid position on an 80ft sailboat leaving Long Island heading down to the Virgin Islands. I put college on hold (again) and sailed away. When I arrived in the VI I fell in love with the peace and quiet and ended up staying for almost four years. I got a job on a local day charter sailboat taking tourists out for snorkeling adventures. I had an amazing all female team and after two years they encouraged me to pursue my captain’s license. My path was a little indirect, and it doesn’t always have to look like this. If you’re interested in getting started in the sailing industry, please check out my new guide: How to Get a Job on a Yacht: The “No Bullshit” Guide.

Did your friends/family/colleagues think you’re a little nuts? Were they supportive?

I went to a very competitive high school in NYC. The majority of my friends from school now have serious jobs in finance, real estate and other competitive industries. I have not talked to the majority of my friends from high school since graduation mostly because our lives are so different, but some of them show support on my blog. My family is INCREDIBLY supportive. I think that after I took a gap year at the age of 18 to travel through Central America (which was definitely not the norm for people around me) they had a feeling that my life was going to be a little different. The fact that I have a blog that allows them to live vicariously through me while keeping them updated makes my lifestyle a lot easier to understand and accept.

Liz from Moxie & Epoxy working on her laptop at the beach

What has been your favorite digital nomad moment so far, or what is your favourite place?

My favorite Digital Nomad moment was definitely my experience in Thailand last October – November. I flew to Thailand to attend a Travel Blogger conference and I was able to network with so many incredible people – in fact I met my boyfriend there! Even more significant than the conference itself was the fact that around 30 of us (all of whom I’d never met before) moved up to Chiang Mai for six weeks to form a little travel blogger community where we shared ideas, held workshops and helped one another bring our blogs from very basic to totally badass from all angles. Chiang Mai will always hold a special place in my heart for the sheer amount of personal growth that I achieved while living there!

Tell us about a time you struggled with the location independent lifestyle.

Last year I moved to Maui for six months to work on sailboats during the whale watching season and I had a lot of trouble making new friends. I was newly sober and living in what I saw as primarily a party town. It was definitely a struggle that I created for myself because there are plenty of clean living people in Maui, but I just didn’t find enough of them and after a while I gave up trying. I was very lonely and I compared the island so heavily with my little home in the Virgin Islands where I had already developed a strong network of friends. Leaving Maui I thought that maybe I was getting too old for travel, but less than a year and four countries later I can say that I was just stuck in my own unhealthy mindset and I feel more inspired to travel than ever!

Liz from Moxie & Epoxy overlooking a tropical bay

How do you connect with and meet new people while travelling?

Working on sailboats is an incredible way to connect with a lot of new people every day. When I’m not sailing, I love meeting new people at hostels. I find that carrying a deck of cards is one of the best ways to start a conversation and make new friends. I love organizing adventures and inviting people to join and I am not shy about walking up to people who look like they know their way around town and asking them for advice on things to do. One of the best parts of travel is being able to connect with people outside of your immediate network and travelers are generally really friendly people who share that value!

Do you travel solo or with a boyfriend/girlfriend/friend/child/pet?

I wish I traveled with a pet – that sounds so fun! Up until 4 months ago I was a die-hard solo female traveler, and (GULP) now I travel with a boyfriend. I was pretty nervous about it at first but it turns out that we have really similar travel styles and we are good at giving space when needed. I honestly never thought that I would enjoy traveling with a partner but once you find someone special, it makes the whole experience even more epic!

Liz from Moxie & Epoxy enjoying the view

What one item should every Digital Nomad Girl pack?

A Lifestraw water bottle. This is not an item that people often think about but it is probably the item that I use most frequently. The Lifestraw bottle has a filter that allows me to drink tap water from virtually any country that I travel to (and puddles and streams when I’m on hikes). They recently went on sale from $35 down to $20 and one filter will last for up to 1,000 liters. This not only saves money while traveling, it helps to reduce the amount of waste that I produce.

What advice would you give a girl friend who wanted to start out as a digital nomad?

If you want to jump into the world of becoming a digital nomad then you are already different from most of the population. You are an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs do not thrive in typical 9-5s – they need to be challenged. If you want to become a digital nomad my advice is to start today. There will be thousands of hurdles in your way on the path to success, start jumping over a few right away.

My other advice is specific to those who want to start a blog:

  • Brainstorm your values:  Make sure that you have set of core values right at the beginning and run every single post through the list to make sure it is up to your standards. Never compromise your standards ESPECIALLY if there is money involved – your readers will see right through it!
  • Highlight what you are good at and what you enjoy: If you are a writer, don’t worry about making videos. If you are a photographer focus your attention on that. Find your strong suits and stick to them! If you HATE twitter but LOVE pinterest, focus your attention on that medium. Keep it real with your followers and they will keep it real with you!
  • Focus your attention on one thing at a time: The difference between people who get sh*t done and people who just talk about their ideas is action. The more focused your attention is, the more you can get done. Make a to do list with action items and tackle one thing at a time.

Liz from Moxie & Epoxy using a sextant on a boat

What’s next for you?

After 8 years of traveling all over I am so excited to be spending 3 months in Long Island close to family this summer. As I get older I value the time with my family more and more! The icing on the cake is that I will be driving a boat all summer (bigger than any boat I have previously captained) and making lots of money. Following the summer my boyfriend and I have talked about road tripping through Africa or potentially buying a sailboat of our own so big things are on the horizon!

And last: Do you have a favourite inspirational (possibly cheesy) quote you’d like to share?

Here’s one of my favorite quotes for aspiring bloggers:

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” – Benjamin Franklin

 

Liz writes about her epic sea and land based adventures on her blog Moxie & Epoxy. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

What about you? Would you love to be a sailboat captain? Please share in the comments!

 

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