Ok this one’s gonna be a liiiiittle bit controversial, but I really, really hope you’ll hear me out. I’m going to share some of the “behind the scenes” 👀 of my community and business, and honestly, I’m a bit nervous. 😨
How it all began
I started the DNG Facebook Community nearly 5 years ago after I had just begun working online as a freelancer. I was doing all sorts of jobs, from translation to social media management, web design to writing.
And I had SO many questions. ALL the questions.
And I’d had enough of being shut down by some bromads in business-related FB Groups (even some I had paid to be in). 🙅♀️
So I decided I would start my own Facebook Group, it would be just for girls 👭 and it would be different. It would be fun, friendly and supportive 💜, and there would be no bullying allowed. 🛑 Ever.
I called it Digital Nomad Girls, invited the girls I had met so far on the road and in coworking spaces – and encouraged them to invite their friends.
I didn’t have a massive plan with this group, none whatsoever actually. 🤷♀️ To be honest, I wasn’t even aware that I was building something here.
But I was.
The girls I invited, they invited their friends. And they invited theirs. 💌 And so we grew, organically and steadily, to nearly 30k members in 5 years. 🤯 That number still blows my mind daily.
We could have grown MUCH faster, in fact, I’m sure we could have 50k, if not 100k members by now. But I’m really strict about who is approved and I remove members that don’t stick to the rules or are mean to others.
Because that’s how I make sure the group stays a safe, supportive and friendly space that isn’t flooded with spam, like so many other FB Groups.
I have a small but mighty team of moderators (my mum included) who help me approve posts and members and keep an eye on everything. It’s a full-time job in its own way. Just not a paid job.
All the free things
Honestly, for the longest time I’ve been hiding behind my community, as if it was an accidental achievement – as if I’d had nothing to do with it. Because I didn’t plan it all in advance.
But I had everything to do with it.
For almost 5 years I have nurtured this community 🤗, created daily content 📲, highlighted & interviewed members 🗣, shared my own lessons 👩🏫, and cheered on my friends and members 🙌 along every step of their nomad & business journeys.
🥂 I organised local meetups and then helped members organise their own meetups abroad.
📧 I shared jobs & resources, even created a newsletter where we curate all the jobs shared in the group every week.
💬 I’ve invited experts to share their knowledge in FB Live Q&As.
📅 I run an annual Virtual Advent Calendar with 25 surprises, one for each daily door.
📑 I’ve created free workbooks, video series, challenges, checklists. Even pretty desktop wallpapers.
And I love all of these things. I love that I can be creative and come up with fun ideas and try them out.
I have learned so much, I have met so many amazing people, I have grown as a person and become 10x more patient, diplomatic and tolerant in the process.
But I have also done all of this for FREE.
She means business
Through sheer trial and error, determination and passion, I have turned this brand that I “accidentally” created into a business. One that pays my bills.
Because here’s the thing that most people, including most of my FB members, don’t realise: A Facebook Group is not a business. It’s a channel, a platform.
No matter how successful it looks from the outside, none of my 29k+ members pay a cent to be in the group.
I’ve turned DNG into a business by running retreats for my members 🌴 (four so far), by running our paid member’s club, the DNG Inner Circle, which is a Virtual Coworking Community & Social Club 👩💻 🥂 (you should really join > >), and through my brand new course 👩🏫 for aspiring digital nomad girls, Stop Dreaming, Start Packing. 🧳
And while I am now 100% financially supported by this business, it’s taken many years and I’m no way near bringing home that online business holy grail of a six-figure income… yet. 💰
And I’m being honest about that because I want to see more honesty around these topics in online business.
As soon as the coronavirus sh*t really hit the fan I knew I had to step up for my community. I didn’t want anyone to feel lonely or too isolated. I wanted to be there for you. All of you.
So I went into overdrive.
“I should run free events every month! No, every week! No, better, every day!!!”
“I will create a free course for everyone!”
“I will run a 24-hour Zoomathon for charity!” (ok, that I’m still debating, it sounds fun)
Thankfully I stopped myself and decided to “only” run 2 free events every week. I wanted to do more, but I also had to look after my own time 🕑 and mental health 💆♀️ – after all, I’m already running several live events for my paid community every single week.
So I ran 2 events every Friday. I met new members, we chatted. We played games. They met new people. And we had fun. It was lovely. 🥰
Then it ended. I always invited the girls to join the Inner Circle, in case they were really lonely and needed more support, which most of them said they really needed right now.
Yet, most of them didn’t join. They’d see me next week at the free event, they said. Cool, I said.
But I was also a little sad. I had a weird feeling about it all. 😔
Then, of course, I felt guilty because I’m shouldn’t be in this for the money, I just want to help my community. Just like when I started DNG 5 years ago, right?
So I kept running the free weekly events. But some girls kept postponing – they said they’d come next week. After all, I’m doing them every week, right? Right.
After 6 weeks and 12 free events for my community, I had to take a break. 😫 I’d given up my only call-free day a week to host them, and I was a bit knackered and not even sure what I was doing it for anymore.
And if I’m 100% honest, which I want to be, I was a little disappointed.
Because I thought that some of the girls who joined and loved the free events would also like to join the Inner Circle. They said they were looking for something just like that. Yet, they didn’t join.
Don’t get me wrong, I really love nothing more than running virtual events 💗 (it’s why I started my members’ club!), but I’m also running a business, and I need to earn money. Otherwise, it’s just an expensive hobby. #truthbomb
Then, as chance would have it, I came across a podcast called “How to Handle Baby Birds”, which was about why you should NOT give away all your best content for free, and why it’s not actually serving your audience.
What? It’s not??
I was flabbergasted! 😲 For years I was taught you should give, give, give.
Your best content. Great value, more value. More freebies. Workbooks, challenges, events.
And I did it all. Whenever I felt stuck in my business, I gave away even more.
I mean, 25 days of free content in the DNG Advent Calendar. Hello!?
Because if they like my free stuff, they’ll come and pay me for my paid stuff right?
Well, yes. But also no, not if you give everything for free and then hope someone will pay you.
Then it hit me.
The podcaster was right. I really wasn’t serving my members best. And here’s why.
Why I’ve stopped giving my best stuff away for free
It’s not been an easy decision to make – I’ve thought long and hard about this. But here’s why I stopped giving my best stuff away for free (and why I’m happy with that decision).
1. I’m burning out.
First of all, I’m exhausted. 😖 It takes a lot of energy to run an active and engaged FB group, and keep it happy and engaged. Countless women have told me over the past 5 years that it’s their favourite FB Group by far. Achieving that has taken a lot of time and energy.
And if I burn out from giving more and more for free, I won’t be able to sustain this long-term, which won’t serve my free or paid communities. Or me.
Now, more than ever, I have to put my oxygen mask on first.
2. I want to be a good example
I want to walk the walk and show up for myself in the same way that I do for my business besties. 👭 If they were giving everything away for free, I’d tell them that enough is enough – that they’re offering so much value and creating something special, and they should be paid for that. 💵
So that’s what I want to do for myself. It’s always been super important to me to be as transparent and honest as I possible about my business. Because I know a lot of you are a few steps behind me and I don’t want to be another “guru” 🛑 who sells the dream without showing the ups and downs. 🎢
This is a real business lesson and it deserves to be shared.
And finally, by far the most important reason:
3. I want to give you the absolute best I can
I’ve always tried to go above and beyond to create great experiences 😍, whether that’s at my DNG retreats, in the Inner Circle events, or even in our free Advent Calendar.
It’s the same for the free events I’ve been hosting since coronavirus struck.
But sadly, I wasn’t doing that.
Because what I was offering was a series of unconnected, one-off events. Yes, they were fun, the girls really enjoyed them. But then they went away and never saw the other members they met again. Or they’d show up again next week to a whole new set of people.
That can be fun and a great distraction, but it’s not compatible with my core values, which include creating meaningful experiences for my community.
The difference between these free events and the events that I host for my paid members in the Inner Circle is that the paid members can hang out with each other every week. Or even every day if they like. 😃
I create dozens of different settings and events for them to really get to know each other (from book club 📚 to feedback sessions 🙋♀️, Happy hours 🥂 to Ted Talk nights 🗣, Virtual coworking sessions 👩💻 to crafting hangouts 🧶, and lots more!).
They get to hire each other. Refer each other to clients. Start projects together. Travel together. And, you know, become real friends. 👭 Build a real network.
I simply can’t offer this through free one-off events for the whole 29k+ community on Facebook. It’s not possible and I want to deliver the best I can.
(Let’s not even get started on the Facebook algorithms and the fact that most people weren’t even notified of the weekly free events)
When I launched the DNG Inner Circle, I knew what I was doing. I had a real vision for what this space would be like. And that’s what it has become. A true community, our online family. 🤗 We support each other through ups and downs. We cheer each other on. We’re friends.
A 29k+ member FB Group can’t compete with that.
There’ll still be resources and job posts and FB Lives with experts and all sorts of other fun stuff.
But I won’t be hosting free weekly events anymore. I’m not saying that I will never host free events again, in fact, I’ve always enjoyed hosting free coworking sessions, but that used to be maybe 3-4 times a year. And they served as a sneak-peek into the Inner Circle so you could see how awesome it is.
I know not everyone will agree with me on why I stopped giving away my best stuff for free, and some might even get annoyed. But that’s ok. Because I’m sticking with my values and I choose to show up for my community – and myself – in the right way.
I don’t know about you, but as a business owner and digital nomad, I often feel totally overwhelmed and out of my depth. So today I thought I’d share some tips on how I deal with overwhelm when it hits.
So, yesterday I shared a little poll in the DNG Facebook Group because I wanted to write a blog post to get back into a content creation routine, but I was totally confused, overwhelmed and overthinking what to write about. Here’s what I shared:
“OMG I’m in a total overthinking loop right now!! Help me! 😖 I want to start blogging again and can’t decide what to write about first, ugh! Which blog post would you like to read?”
I gave a few options and then my friend Sonia Jaeger (who is an online therapist and long-time nomad) added the poll option “OMG I’m in a total overthinking loop right now – and how to get out of it”.
I see what she did there 😉
And guess what, lots of people voted on that option.
In the meantime, I had tried to write about a different topic (how to create structure while working at home – despite hating structure; coming soon!).
But my thoughts were so all over the place 🤔 and the imposter syndrome was so strong 🙅♀️ and…. well I got totally overwhelmed. 🤯
I did finish the post but I had all these doubts swirling in my head:
Who am I to share this?
I’m too late, everyone knows this already.
I should probably think of something more important to write about.
And on an on. My Inner Critic was having a field day, I’m pretty sure she was wolfing down popcorn while enjoying the show.
I was almost ready to give up when I realised, hey, that’s all BS, I am overthinking, overworrying, overwhelmed.
And to be super honest I’ve been feeling like that for weeks now.
That’s why I haven’t written all those helpful, valuable blog posts before, the ones I felt I should be writing. 🤷♀️
And that’s exactly the problem right now, I shouldn’t be doing anything at all apart from looking after myself and being there for my loved ones and members.
And I’ve been doing that.
So then I thought, if I’m feeling all this crazy overwhelm around my business and how to show up for my community, how to add value in a crazy time like this….then you might be feeling similar.
And maybe it’s most helpful right now to talk about THAT.
So that’s what I’ll be doing, I’m going to share how to deal with overwhelm and how I get myself out of those total overthinking loops when they happen (all the time fyi).
And maybe one or two things will resonate with you. And they don’t always happen in the same order either, so feel free to pick and choose.
Recognise what’s happening
I’ve spent countless days over the past years (and especially in the last month) overthinking everything I’m doing. I can go round and round in circles driving myself virtually insane. 😧
But eventually, I will realise what’s going on. Like I finally take a step outside this vortex of crazy and realise I’ve been in one of those situations. 🤦♀️
As soon as that happens, I can name it:
“Oh, it’s the crazy overthinking spiral of doom! Hello old friend!” or maybe
“Aha, it’s the Inner Critic in cahoots with Lady Imposter Syndrome. What a team.” 🙄
Once I name it, it takes away some of the power it has over me. Then it’s time to…
Take a step back
Yep, it’s time to literally take a breath. A deep breath or 17. In through the nose, out through the mouth.
I know you might be rolling your eyes right now, I used to roll mine so hard when people told me to breathe. But that shit works.
I’ve used the Calm app which has this cool breathing bubble tool that helps you count your breath, or sometimes I just sit up, close my eyes and breathe. 🧘♀️
Asking for help can be difficult, especially in our businesses. Especially when we think we have to show up as a strong leadership kinda person, you know.
But we all need help, and the sooner we realise that and get on board, the sooner we can create much more meaningful lives, businesses and ultimately a better world.
Woah, that went big quickly hey? 😂
But in all seriousness, whenever I’m stuck with anything, there always comes a point where it hits me. Oh, I haven’t asked for help yet. Why don’t I ask my community what they actually want to read? 😏 Duh.
Or why don’t I ask my members what virtual events they’d like to attend this month?
And it works every single time. Like with this blog post, I knew I’d get a nudge in the right direction. (Thank you, Sonia!)
Shaving the yak means feeling like you have to take 8 steps back before you can take one forward.
The example goes something like this: you want to clean your car, but the hose is broken, so you need to fix it, but you don’t have the tool, so you could ask to borrow your neighbour’s toolbox, but you already borrowed their beanbag and you have to replace the stuffing because it fell out….
So the next thing you know, you’re at the zoo, shaving a yak because you wanted to wash your car. 🤪
I do this in my business all the time and it’s one of the main causes of overwhelm.
Once I notice the yak, I can stop and take a look around.
What is the MVP?
If I don’t want to end up shaving the yak, I need to find something that I can do 🕐 right now, that will take me in the right direction 🛣 and is achievable without me going down the spiral of doom again.
So I think what’s the MVP, the minimum viable product here? Or in other words, what is the simplest version that I can do right now?
If I want to write a blog post, I can either overthink and try to write the next viral hit, or I can keep it simple and think about what do I know right now, that I can share and add value to my potential readers. Something small, a bit helpful or entertaining.
Then do that.
Do what’s fun right now
At the same time, I also really like listening to my gut in those moments. Like with writing a blog post yesterday, it all just felt wrong. Then when I saw Sonia’s idea for THIS blog post, it felt light, and a bit fun too. 😎
I run my business because I love the freedom that comes with it, love my members and creating content for them.
But I also love it because it’s fun. And I think it also should be fun.
When I’m in one of those terrible overthinking moods, nothing feels light and fun anymore. It’s all heavy and too much. 😫 How can I expect myself to create something valuable in that mood? I can’t.
So I look for the fun part. I recommend you try it some times.
Or I give up
Yeah, that’s right, sometimes I just have to accept that it’s not gonna happen right now. I can’t force myself to create something of value and maybe I just need to do something completely different for a while.
Like hula hooping, yoga, water colouring, doodling, chatting to a friend, going for a walk, reading, binging Fairytale Weddings 👰 on Disney+ (my guilty pleasure right now) …. you know, the usual. If you need some ideas on how to spend your time during lockdown, I have a blog post about that here > >
Taking a break and coming back with a fresh mind a few hours later or the next day can do wonders. And in this insanely difficult and confusing time we find ourselves in (in lockdown during the corona crisis in case you’re from the future) we simply have to cut ourselves some slack.
And that’s it. Usually, after a combination of the above, I eventually find my groove again and get into a clearer headspace to actually do good work. But I also know the next overwhelm/overthinking phase is just around the corner, but I’ll totally take on that yak 🐮 when it arrives.
I hope you found some of these tips on how to deal with overwhelm helpful and I would love to hear your own tips in the comments!
Today, let’s talk about coworking and why I love, love love virtual coworking (and what the hell it even is).
First off though, I want to say that I’m a huge fan of coworking. But I hardly ever use coworking spaces. Sounds a bit weird, right?
The truth is, I totally get why coworking spaces work for some people. And in the past, they’ve worked very well for me too.
But now my work is very heavy on live calls, and it’s hard to find a coworking space with private Skype rooms. Plus, I am really extroverted and often I end up chatting more than actually working. #counterproductive
But I also struggle with the same challenges that most Digital Nomads encounter: loneliness and lack of motivation or feeling really unproductive.
I simply miss having colleagues, people to bounce ideas around, vent when I’m having a crappy day at work or share my wins when I’m having a good one.
Thankfully, I found an awesome way to get all the benefits of coworking, without having to change out of my pyjamas or pay hundreds of dollars for a desk every month.
Enter: Virtual Coworking.
Virtual or online coworking is a new trend amongst remote workers and freelancers and I think it’s here to stay. In the DNG Inner Circle we virtually cowork together all the time and I get so many questions about it that I thought I’d share why it’s awesome.
Here are 5 reasons why we love virtual coworking – and you will, too!
First, what the heck is virtual coworking anyway?
Virtual coworking means meeting online with one or more other real people (no robots involved… yet) to get some work done, hold each other accountable, and ideally make some new friends and build a professional network.
In the Inner Circle, we meet via Zoom for 2 hours at a time, set our goals and then work in Pomodoros. It’s fun, it’s productive and it’s totally location independent.
And here’s why this is so awesome:
1. Accountability from anywhere
If you’re anything like me, you might have days where you feel super motivated and get lots done before it’s even lunch time.
But on other days, I end up binge watching the Gilmore Girls until 2 pm or meet friends for a 3-hour brunch. On a Tuesday.
Don’t get me wrong, I love this flexibility and it’s great to be able to do this once in a while. But when it gets a habit, it’s not productive anymore and I start to feel guilty.
The lack of structure and accountability we have a digital nomads is super exciting in the beginning, but after the novelty has worn off, it can actually be a huge burden.
Virtual coworking is a great way to add accountability to your life, no matter where you are, how long you’re staying or whether there’s a big nomad scene.
Knowing that there are other girls working at the same time, getting their work done, is extremely motivating. And by incorporating virtual coworking sessions into your days, you start creating a bit of a routine, which can help so much with feeling overwhelmed or unproductive.
2. Make new friends
This is definitely my favourite part of virtual coworking, it’s a fantastic way to make new friends.
When I say loneliness is one of the biggest challenges not only digital nomads face, but most people who are self-employed or business owners, I’m not exaggerating.
Working by yourself every day sucks a bit, but it’s not always avoidable.
Over the past year or so I have made so many new friends during our coworking sessions, I can’t even count them.
Girls from all around the world join in and they all understand each other’s struggles, help each other out, ask for feedback, hire each other and yes, make friends.
When I used to work in a lab and hit a road block, the first thing I’d do was to share it with my lab mates. Sometimes they had faced the same problem already and could point me in the right direction, other times we tried to figure out a solution together.
It was fun to be able to bounce ideas around, get and give feedback and generally work together, even if we all had totally different projects we were working on. We still had each others’ backs.
When I started working online, I very quickly realised that I was pretty much alone with my questions. That’s why I started DNG in the first place. And virtual coworking spaces take this concept much further than a normal online community could.
During our coworking sessions, we see each other face to face but we can also share screens and links. We’ve audited each other’s websites, helped design workbooks, tweaked web copy and tonnes more.
It’s so great to have a space and bunch of women to ask these things in real time.
4. No more bye-bye’s
If you’ve been around the digital nomad block for a little while already, then you’ve probably tried out a few coworking spaces.
But they are really quite peculiar if you think about it. We want nothing more than escape the cubicle and once we have, we then pay good money to go work at an office.
Of course, I totally get the pros of coworking, I’ve had many a coworking session which was fun and productive.
But the big problem is, as soon as you say goodbye to your current location and move on to new shores, you’re gonna have to start totally from scratch.
It can be quite disheartening and even take a while to feel settled again. You have to reintroduce not only yourself every time you move, but also your business.
I found it easy to lose momentum.
What I love about virtual coworking is that you never have to say your bye-byes anymore. Because you can work together from anywhere in the world, you can stay up to date on each others projects and challenges and help each other out.
5. Get sh*t done
And last but not least, you get lots done. Even though our sessions are just a few hours long, we get tonnes done because we set goals together, check in regularly and also get much better at judging how long certain tasks actually take.
The girls use the virtual coworking sessions for all sorts of tasks, from boring admin tasks that need to get ticked off, to creative work. Others have written whole online courses over multiple sessions, or used the time to pitch new clients.
It’s totally up to you what you work on and the focused time can be beneficial to all sorts of tasks.
For example, I love writing my newsletters during virtual coworking, but I also often do customer support, emails or batch social media content.
After a few sessions, you’ll get the hang of what tasks you like to tackle.
So, is it time to try out some virtual coworking yourself?
There you have it, virtual coworking is awesome and definitely a trend that’s here to stay.
So where can you try out virtual coworking? You can either make a virtual coworking date with a friend, of even better, join our virtual coworking community, the DNG Inner Circle!
We have coworking sessions almost every day now, hosted either by myself or a member. Plus we do other fun ways to foster real community for us nomad girls, like live Q&As, Virtual Mixer Parties, our Book Club Meetups, Monthly Goal Setting and lots more fun stuff.
Settling in is hard. I know this sounds crazy for someone who’s been travelling for over 5 years, but whenever I arrive in a new place, the first few days I’m a bit uneasy, questioning why I even left the last place because I liked it so much and thinking I’ll never like this new place as much.It usually doesn’t last, but I know now that this feeling is quite normal for me, so I give it time to pass.
It takes me a long time. Even if I’ve been to the place many times before, it’s just an adjustment and for me it takes a long time.
It’s important to make the best of your time in a new place. A few years back, I spent 6 weeks in Berlin. We split our time in different apartments and neighbourhoods, and I never fully felt settled. I didn’t have the best experience, and I think part of it comes down to me never feeling like I’d settled properly.
Thankfully I’ve come up with a few tips, routines and exercises that help me settle into a new place when I arrive which I hope you’ll find helpful!
As always pick what works for you and ignore the rest!
10 Rituals, Exercises and Tips that Help Me Settle into a New City
1. Travel Slow
The rule to rule them all: TRAVEL SLOW. I repeat: Travel Slow.
I’ve met dozens if not hundreds of nomads over the past years and one thing most of us learn eventually is that attempting to travel to fast is the worst you can do. I’ve met girls who travelled to over 40 cities in 6 months!! How they get any work done in the meantime is beyond me… but the point here is, it’s not sustainable.
Eventually this kind of pace will take its toll on your health and your productivity.
I know there’s a whole world out there and you want to see it all. right. now. But try to slow down as much as possible.
I now try to stay at least one month, better 3 – 6 months in one place. You’ll have to find your own pace, but remember, slower is usually better as a nomad.
2. Plan ahead as much as possible
One of the keys to settling into a new place is to plan ahead as much as possible.
Some people are planners, other more spontaneous, it’s up to you how much prep you want to do, but a certain amount of planning will not only make the actual travelling part easier, but also settling in once you arrive.
Things I like to prepare:
Figure out what the sim card situation is. Will you need a new one, or can you use your Sim and roam (like in most the EU now), where can you buy one once you arrive. For me, knowing I’ll be able to connect (and use Google Maps) is super important as it helps me feel more relaxed in a new place.
Where are you staying? Sometimes you don’t want to book ahead for your whole stay, but booking a place to crash for at least the first few days will help ease any anxiety you might have about arriving in a totally new place. Then once on the ground, you can find a more permanent solution.
Make some friends pre-arrival. How do you make friends before you’ve even landed? Facebook Groups of course! Whenever I plan a trip to a new place I reach out to other nomad girls in the DNG Facebook group and also join a few local digital nomad, expat or traveller groups. Not only can I ask some question about the new place, but I might even set up a coffee date with a potential new friend or coworking buddy on one of the first days after I arrive.
3. Take your time
Another important rule when it comes to settling into a new place, is to take your time. Some people only need a day or two, others take a week or even two or three. It’s ok. You can’t really change this about yourself, so accept it and be kind to yourself.
My boyfriend for example arrives at an Airbnb or flat we’re renting, rearranges the furniture to his linking, puts away his stuff and finds a cosy working space to set up his laptop stand, mouse and keyboard. Et voilà, he’s arrived!
For me, it ain’t quite that easy.
It can easily take me a week or two to feel like I’m even halfway settled, even in places I’ve been to multiple times before. I know that now and just take it easy.
And despite being a total extrovert, I don’t force myself to be sociable too early on. I need a couple of days just for myself, to feel comfortable at home, buy my favourite groceries (and tea!) and walk around the neighbourhood to get my bearings.
4. Plan your ‘perfect day’
This is a relatively new ritual of mine that I started when we arrived in Medellin, Colombia after living in Las Palmas for over a year and it really helps settle into a new city, plus it’s fun!
If you’re not familiar with the perfect day exercise, it’s a simple visualisation exercise where you write down in great detail what your perfect day looks like, from the moment you wake up, to the moment you fall asleep at night. It’s a great exercise to find out what’s important to you and what you want your ideal life to look like.
As much as I love this exercise, as a nomad I’ve found it really tricky as my perfect day wasn’t always feasible. For example, I love to channel my inner Moana and spend time by the ocean, but in Medellin that wasn’t possible.
That’s why I now go through the perfect day exercise every time I arrive in a place that I’ll stay for longer than a week or two.
For example, in Las Palmas I like to go for a run along the beach a few mornings a week, but in Chiang Mai I’m landlocked, plus there’s a lot of traffic, air pollution and a lack of proper pavements or a park where I could run. So running wasn’t really an option for me there (I don’t like gyms much).
Instead, I made sure the place we were staying had a pool (I wish I could have a pool everywhere!) so I could go for a swim in the morning.
Once you have explored the new city a bit and know your neighbourhood, go through your whole day and come up with a perfect day. This will also help you adjust your routine to your new surroundings. Planning to eat dinner at 5:30 pm ever night might work well in North Carolina, but won’t fly in Spain where you might starve by the time your tapas are served at 10 pm.
I created a free checklist for you which also includes a worksheet with the Perfect Day exercise, you can download it here > >
5. Tell Google you’re ‘Home’
As soon as I arrive in a new apartment I whip out my iPhone and do a wifi speed testset my Google Maps address to ‘Home’.
This is super crucial as I have a terrible sense of direction and knowing I have my new home saved, means I can always find my way back without the need for breadcrumbs (couldn’t help myself, sorry!).
If you’re not quite as “orientationally” challenged as me, then you can skip this step.
6. Actually do a speed test
Most of us do this anyway, but knowing I can rely on my wifi at home makes me feel so much calmer. I like to also do speed tests in cafes to see if this could be a good potential working spot.
7. Walk everywhere
Now that I can safely find my way home, it’s time to go explore a bit. In order to get your bearings, it’s really best to just walk around your new neighbourhood, get a bit lost, find cute cafes or shops and your nearest grocery stores.
If you’re in a big city, find out what the deal is with public transport, do you need a monthly pass, what are the operating hours etc.
Also check if there are any local bicycle shares like Mobike in Chiang Mai, if there’s Uber or Grab available and how much taxis cost. Knowing how to get to different places in town will help you feel much more independent and if there are any events or meetups you want to go to, the barrier will be much lower already.
I even do this in places I’ve been to before as things change, restaurants disappear (rest in peace ‘Los Girasoles’), new tram lines appear and it’s just nice to get the lay of the land.
8. Make friends
There’s no way I’d ever really feel settled and comfortable for longer periods than maybe a couple of weeks if I didn’t have any friends to hang out with.
Of course, you can’t expect to make new ‘best friends’ (best friends are a tier, remember, not a specific person) everywhere you go, but I do find it important to have some buddies to explore local markets with, go on adventures and meet up for a bowl of ramen or three.
If you’re more introverted and don’t find it so easy to make new friends, you can also plan your trips around your friends.
So either travel somewhere together or visit friends in different places. It’s always easiest if they’re fellow digital nomads as you’ll get each other’s lifestyles and they won’t be disappointed if you have to, uhm, say… work.
Personally, I work mainly from home for a few reasons which I’m gonna share in a separate post with you soon.
Suffice it to say, I’m a bit of a couch potato when it comes to my work set up, but I do like working outside a few times a week because I find it helps me focus. I prefer working from quiet cafes (or better: tea houses), ideally ones that also serve food as I can then use the need for pasta as a motivator to leave the house and work outside.
Find a couple of places you feel comfortable working so you know where to go when you feel like a change of scenery.
A lot of my nomad friends swear on coworking and even if you don’t want to join a full-time coworking space, you can still cowork privately or virtually.
In many nomad hotspots (and plenty of other cities too actually), you can find local coworking groups, usually freelancers who meet up regularly at cafes or libraries and get some work done together. I love this concept as it’s a great way to combine meeting new friends with being productive and getting out of the house.
If in-person coworking isn’t feasible for you, then virtual coworking might just be the perfect fit.
What is virtual coworking?
Basically it’s like real-life coworking, just that you meet on Zoom or Skype; you can take a look at what that looks like right below!
Sounds crazy? I personally do virtual coworking multiple times a week in our DNG Inner Circle, and some of our members are so hooked, they do it almost every day and plan their schedules around the sessions.
It’s awesome because the barrier to join is extremely low (hello, I sometimes show up with a towel on my head) and it can be very productive and sociable at the same time. Win win win.
Bonus: Have a leaving routine
This is more about settling out than settling in, but knowing what you need to do before you leave a place is equally as important as knowing what to do when you arrive.
I’ve got a new personal rule that I need to know minimum one month in advance what I am doing, otherwise I get super anxious and am not able to focus on anything. That also means know when I’ll be leaving, how I’m getting to the new place and what I need to prepare.
Getting all my travel ducks in a row means I have to stress less which in turn means I arrive less stressed in a new place.
I also allow myself to take the day before travelling off if possible, so I have enough time to pack, say goodbyes, and do any chores that need doing (like last minute mani pedis or equally important stuff).
Phew, who knew I had so much wisdom stowed away about settling into a new place. One thing’s for sure though, as I continue to travel and adjust my travel style, I’m sure my settling in routine will also change.
I hope a few of these tips will help you settle into a new city quicker and with more ease and if you need a bit more help, you can download our Settling In Checklist for free right here.
The Settling In Checklist includes a full checklist of everything to do before you arrive to a new spot, once you arrive and even how to plan your departure and will help you settle into a new city quicker. Plus – just for fun, I threw in our Perfect Day Exercise worksheet so you can get to planning your perfect day in your new city.
Let’s talk productivity today, girls! It’s a topic I see discussed in the Digital Nomad world A LOT. I think it’s safe to say that balancing your own business or freelancing career while travelling the world is challenging. I have yet to meet a single nomad who hasn’t struggled with this.
And yet, the nomadic lifestyle makes being productive both trickier and more important than ever at the same time. After all, you want to spend time on the things that matter to you most, right?
But before you download yet another productivity app or hack, there are some underlying principles and a few simple habits that can improve your productivity like crazy.
We covered Productivity inside the DNG Inner Circle this month and I invited productivity coach and digital nomad Jo Bendle, who shared her favourite SIMPLE productivity habits with us. I’m going to sum them up for you here to help you get your productivity going.
But before we start…
Let’s talk mindset!
What makes productivity especially tricky for digital nomads is our constant striving for ultimate freedom. Often we struggle to combine routines, habits, systems and plans – all the ingredients needed to become truly productive – with our desire to be as flexible, spontaneous, and free as possible. The last thing we want is some productivity guru forcing a routine and structure on us, as it feels like it’s threatening our freedom.
That’s why mindset is the first thing to get to grips with when we talk about Productivity, and realising that
“It takes discipline to be a free spirit.
It’s ok to set boundaries, use a calendar and even have set office hours (gasp). These won’t hinder your freedom, they will enable it.
So, the sooner we get over the notion that systems and structure are boring and don’t conform with our freedom lifestyle, the sooner we can embrace them as tools to create even more freedom for ourselves. And try to have fun with them!
We need get disciplined
I feel strongly that discipline deserves to be mentioned much more when productivity is discussed.
Let’s face it, it’s hard work to be productive. Especially in the beginning when you are still setting up your systems and settling into routines that work for you. It takes dedication, trial and error and beating bad habits.
I know it sounds easier to try out the latest productivity ‘hack’ that promises to ramp up your productivity 10-fold, than trying to becoming disciplined, right?
But how often do these hacks actually solve our productivity problems? For me personally, never. At least not by themselves, only if they’re part of my overall system.
Thankfully, our productivity expert Jo has some simple and free(!) tips for us to staying productive as a digital nomad girls:
Goals & Focus
Before you can start working on your productivity, you have to know what you’re actually trying to achieve.
There’s a big difference between being busy and being productive and you can only be productive if you’re working towards a specific goal. Whether you set your goals, annually, quarterly, monthly or weekly (or ideally all of these!), goal-setting has to become part of your productivity routine.
Jo recommends setting your daily goals the day before and aligning them with your weekly and monthly goals.
Once you’ve set your goals it’s crucial to keep focused on them. Shiny object syndrome is real, yo. Entrepreneurs and freelancers are usually creative people and you’ll have tonnes of great (and some not so great) ideas that you’d love to follow up on.
But if you want to be successful and productive you have to stay focused on your big goals. No matter what others are doing, or how awesome this great new business opportunity sounds. Stay focused and remember:
“You can do anything but not everything.”
Inside the DNG Inner Circle we have monthly goal setting sessions to help us stay on track and focused on our big goals. Check it out here > >
Of course, goal setting is only the beginning, once you’ve set them, it’s time to take massive action.
Especially in the beginning of your freelance career or of your online business it can feel like you’re constantly chasing your tail, reacting to requests and clients, and not really working ON your business.
A great way to make sure you are working towards your big business goals, while also taking care of the day to day tasks is by setting aside a set amount of time every day. It doesn’t matter if you can only spare 30, it’s better than nothing and will add up.
Switch off all your notifications, tell clients you’re out of office, and work on 1-3 tasks that will get you closer to your big goal.
These tasks don’t have to be massive, ideally they’re small and achievable. Maybe your big goal is to launch an online course this year. One small task can be to pick a name for your course, or draft the outline of the different chapters.
Taking consistent action like this daily will get you to your goals, even if it feels slow in the beginning. Remember:
“A little progress each day, adds up to big results”
And in addition, you’ll feel great for working towards your big goal and like you’re accomplishing something which will keep you motivated.
Review, Tweak & Improve
The last step towards greater productivity is checking in with your progress regularly. Jo has a quote she loves which says:
“High performers self-monitor more than underperformers”
Review your goals regularly and often, ideally daily (seriously!) to make sure you’re on track and not wasting your time.
Jo recommends doing an End of Day Review as well as Weekly reviews in addition to your monthly, quarterly and annual reviews and goal sessions.
Reviewing doesn’t have to be dull, you can make it fun and even turn it into a little ritual you actually look forward to. Write down everything you’ve achieved that day (or week) and take a moment to celebrate your achievement.
Then write down what worked, what didn’t work and what you could improve, before setting your goals for the day or week ahead.
It’s really that simple.
Start by committing to take 5 minutes every day to review what you did and plan your 3 important tasks for the next day. Then block off 30 minutes of time the next day (ideally as early as possible in your work day) and focus only on those 3 tasks that will drive your business forward.
We’ve been implementing these simple habits into our daily and weekly routines this month in the DNG Inner Circle and I’ve been getting great feedback from the girls.
And as always, don’t beat yourself up if you fall off the wagon for a few days (or weeks, or months). You can always start again and get back on track.
I hope these tips are helpful and you’ll try implementing them one by one. Let me know how it goes and comment below!
Oh hi, I’m so glad you’re reading this article. Chances are you probably found it somewhere on Facebook or another social media platform, right? That’s the beauty of social media, it let’s us share great content that our readers will love and will find useful.
Social media has become so powerful that it can easily feel like you need to be on every platform, follow all the trends and try all the shiny new tools to reach your audience and find new clients. No matter if you’re a remote freelancer or starting your own business, social media will definitely play a big role in your everyday life.
Sadly, that can start eating up your time like the hungry, hungry caterpillar. I know, I’ve spent my fair share getting lost in Facebook Groups, scrolling through miles of Instagram feed and getting sucked into the Twittersphere while I actually just wanted to share a cool article on my Facebook page.
It’s normal, it happens to us all. But the good news is, there are a handful of tools that can really make your life easier. I’ve worked as a freelance social media manager for over a year and run all the Digital Nomad Girls channels all by myself. That means I’ve also tried my fair share of social media scheduling and analytics tools over the years. Every time there was a new kid on the social block I tried it out.
Thankfully, those days are over now as I’ve found my favourite tools for the five channels I regularly use. I now only use three social media tools on a regular basis and I’m so happy I found them, I thought I’d share them with you. So, without further ado:
The only three social media tools you need as a digital nomad girl:
My absolute favourite social media tool is SmarterQueue. I’ve been using it for a good few months now and the time I spend posting content in my Facebook group, on the Facebook page and on Twitter has gone down dramatically. SmarterQueue is a super powerful tool that allows you to schedule content, add different categories, discover cool articles, and most importantly for me: re-queue evergreen content.
What is evergreen content?
These are blog posts that are always relevant to your audience and that you can regularly share to get more visibility and traffic to your website. For example, I wrote a guide about the best places to find remote work which is super popular. Without a tool, it would just sit on my blog and most people might not see it when they visit. It’s definitely evergreen as it’s always relevant, so now it get’s shared to my page around once every 3 weeks.
And don’t worry about being spammy. SmarterQueue actually stops you from sharing things too often so it doesn’t go against the platforms’ terms and conditions and most of your followers don’t see all of your content anyway.
Another super cool feature of SmarterQueue is the Discover function. If you’ve ran out of great ideas for content this is a super easy way to find interesting articles and posts your audience will like.
SmarterQueue isn’t a free tool, it costs $19.99 per month and you can connect up to 4 channels (e.g. Facebook group, Facebook Page, Twitter & Instagram). They are planning to add Pinterest soon which will be super interesting for me. If you’d like to try it out, you can use my link here and you get a 30-day free trial to test out all the features, that’s double than their usual free trial. I think it’s the best value out there, especially compared to other tools like Meet Edgar which costs about 4 times as much.
Oooh, Planoly is my absolute favourite new social media toy on the block! It’s only for Instagram and it will seriously change your Insta game. Planoly allows you to create, schedule and organise your Instagram posts.
The real beauty of Planoly (besides its pretty design) is the grid preview function. It allows you to drag and drop your pics around to beautifully arrange your Instagram grid. You can even add placeholders in your brand colours, for example if you want to add quotes or other images that aren’t ready yet. This makes it sooo much easier to stay on brand, find content that matches your overall look, and it’s also really fun to play around with.
There’s also a cool discover function where you can search Instagram directly inside Planoly by hashtags or accounts to find great content to repost. And the cherry on top of the Planoly icing is the hashtag save function. You can create multiple custom hashtag groups for different themes or topics and then add your hastags with one click. No more switching between apps,copy pasting from Evernote. This is so much easier and saves a lot of hassle.
And best of all
Planoly is totally free to use for up to 30 uploads a month! If you want to upload more photos or plan your content ahead for multiple months, you can upgrade for only $7/month if paid annually, or $9 a month paid monthly. I use the paid version and I absolutely love it and feel it’s great value for money. In one day I’ve planned out and scheduled Instagram content for 2 months, whereas before I’d make it up on the go, which takes way more time and I wasn’t being consistent at all.
Just a word on Instagram tools and Planoly: Whenever your scheduled post is ready to go live you will receive a push notification from Planoly on your phone and can then post it on Instagram. This is the same for all legit IG tools as it’s against their T&Cs to automate posting, so the last step is always manual.
Last but not least, let’s talk Pinterest. Pinterest is definitely the channel I’ve neglected most and that’s really silly considering DNG is for women and travel related, therefore prime Pinterest content. The good news is, there’s a little tool called Tailwind.
Tailwind has been created for Pinterest scheduling but you can also use it for Instagram, it’s just a matter of preference. Tailwind lets you create a posting calendar with as many slots as you want and you can then fill up the spots with your own content and repins of cool things you find all over the internet. It has a handy Chrome extension which allows you to add any content you find on social media or on blogs to your Tailwind queue.
A really nice feature is that you can add content to multiple boards and space out when the pins are shared. Tailwind also suggests the best times to pin based on your audience and past data.
It comes with really in depth analytics so you can get a really good idea of what’s working and what isn’t. I find the user interface very intuitive and have used it successfully for clients for a long time. I saw huge increases in traffic and repins and am planning to do the same for DNG now too.
That’s it! These are the only three social media tools I use for Digital Nomad Girls at the moment. They have saved me a tonne of time over the last months and as I get to know them better I’m sure I’ll save even more. Paying for these three tools means I don’t have to hire a social media manager or VA for now, and once I am ready to outsource my social media it will be super easy to show them how to do it.
What are your biggest social media time sucks? Share with us in the comments below!
Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links, meaning if you click on the link and sign up to that tool or service I might get a free month or an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend tools I’ve actually used and I love. It’s a win win!