Today we talk about an important topic, how to take time off work as a digital nomad girl (guilt-free!).
This past month has been quite turbulent as I’ve moved from Munich to the UK after 3 months, did a pit stop Disney vacation in Paris, then off to the International Rebellion in London for a week. I also onboarded 2 new team members at the same time. Oh and did I mention there was Oktoberfest?
Needless to say, I had to take some time off work.
Now the good part is that I feel less and less guilty for taking time off. Although it’s taken me years to get there and I’m still not 100% guilt free and consistent. Baby steps amirite?
So the other day I mentioned struggling with this and asked whether any of the girls had some advice for me on how to take time off as a digital nomad girl.
As usual, our brilliant members came to my rescue and sent me some brilliant advice, which really, would be selfish to keep to myself.
So I put together some of the great tips I got for you. I hope you enjoy it and find it helpful for the next time you take time off work as a digital nomad girl!
Simple, Practical Tips on How to Take Time off as a Digital Nomad Girl
Ines had some short but sweet advice: “I find that planning your come-back before actually taking time off is really useful.
I already set a to-do of the things I will have to tackle when I get back (including some extra time for new stuff that will come up while on vacay – and to remember all these without actually working on it, I just dedicate a note to that where I can dump them). This reduces the overwhelm.”
Plan in Advance
Lyda Michopoulou who is a business coach and trainer shared some brilliant tips that she’s learned over the years:
“In the past let’s say that I didn’t take time off and was afraid that if I leave, my clients will prefer someone else to continue and not me. In the last two years, I’ve got over this unreal fear/self-doubt.
So now, before taking time off I go through a specific process.
First of all, at the beginning of each new year, I figure out my vacation days & digital detox weekends and put them in my calendar. Then, I inform my clients two months ahead of the vacation week/digital detox weekend so they know that I won’t be there to reply to their emails/posts/requests/DMs/whatever.
For my personal work, I try to finish all urgent and important things before I leave and finally, I leave my laptop at home, with friends if I’m travelling or at a safety deposit box, if I haven’t made such close friends at the location I am at that moment.
And then, off I go!
Important here, during that week/weekend I don’t check my email accounts or any related work chats so I don’t have to think about work. Cause our brains need a vacation too!
And when I come back, I take it slowly. Easing myself back to everyday life and not trying to answer to all my emails on the first day back. Having specific time-slots where I answer my emails, helps a lot.”
Create a ‘Status of Projects’ Document for Clients
Ashley Scoby who is a freelance writer had some awesome advice which highlights the need for a good process:
“Something I started doing for one of my clients and that I do now for almost everyone I work with before I take time off is creating a “status of projects” document.
This is a list of everything I’m working on, what the status is (waiting on review from X, will be working on when I get back, ahead of schedule so on hold, etc), as well as any other info that someone would need to know (who to contact in my absence, if it’s a team setting; pieces of info I need from the client, etc).
At the top of the doc, I include the EXACT dates I’ll be gone, what days I’ll be completely 100% off the grid, what my availability is on other days (if I plan on working for an hour each morning, for example, this is where I would include it) + the time zone that I’ll be in.
I’ve found that this method helps me a lot not only stay organized with everything I need to do before taking time off, but it’s also a great tool to provide a client so they can have easy access to what’s up when I’m gone (instead of sending me emails or texts 🙂 )”
Underpromise, Over Deliver!
Sally Townsend, co-founder and editor of The Bride’s Tree, had some great advice for me, specifically about the Christmas holiday season: “My clients are small-medium business owners, they’re advertisers. Advertisers are demanding, man!
But I have found they all generally want to take the time off, or at least slow down, as well. I schedule content ahead of time and I make it really clear in advance that I’m taking some time off.
Personally I feel most challenges in business relationships can be solved by following this one principle: under-promise, over-deliver. So I’ll sneak in an unexpected e-newsletter and/or schedule some helpful advice content in our private Facebook group as well.
So not only do they get their promotion to my audience, they still hear from me personally about their business and it shows that I’ve not forgotten them and I care. I also sometimes write them a Christmas poem, because I am a cheesy geek 🤣
Key to success for this: I start basically now, adding a little scheduled content each week so it’s not a big rush before I take my time off. Definitely do it – it’s so important to take a break yourself and recharge! You started this so you could design your life, right? Well, make sure that you’re taking care of you by design.
Schedule and Automate
Also – automate EVERYTHING. Email responder on and forget. REALLY forget. It’s like this thing I heard once early on in my working life: there’s no point taking a personal day if you’re going to spend it feeling guilty. Make the call, then push aside any associated guilt, because it’s done now, and it’s a waste if you ruin it for yourself.”
Thank you to all the girls who sent me their great advice. What I’ve learned over the past few years is that the key to taking time off successfully and guilt free as a digital nomad girl is to allow yourself to actually do so fully (no checking emails, no quickly posting on Instagram etc) and to plan ahead accordingly.
We’re in this lifestyle for the long run, so we definitely need to learn how to take time off to recharge and come back to our businesses with new inspiration and energy.
If you’ve got any tips on how to take time off work as a Digital Nomad Girl, please comment below and I might add them.
In our current blog series ‘Online Job of the Month,’ we share the most interesting online jobs with you. There is actually a huge number of interesting (and profitable) jobs out there for aspiring Digital Nomad Girls, and we really hope this blog post inspires you a little bit!
This month, we are talking all about being a graphic designer! We talked to Morgan Reid, Meredith Norwood, and Jianna Caronan who are successfully working as Graphic Designers while travelling the world. Let’s get straight into it!
What exactly is a Graphic Designer? What do Graphic Designers do?
Design is a vague and big word, so let’s break down what it actually means to be a graphic designer!
Morgan says that as a designer, she is “responsible for creating attractive and fully functional assets such as websites, product packaging, marketing materials, etc.
I organize information to design assets that will provide viewers a unique experience while still communicating a message and accomplishing the overall goal – such as conversions, exposure, or impact. It’s a lot more than just ‘making things pretty’ – but it’s still a lot of fun.”
Similarly, Jianna loves her work and says that she does anything from “branding (logos, favicon, etc.) to social media graphics and animation. I also design the occasional website because I have some coding experience!”
On the other hand, Meredith, as a Product Graphic Designer, designs “surface patterns for physical products in the home fashions, apparel, and gift industries. I also design the physical form of objects in some cases, but the majority of what I do is graphic work for products.
Some examples of my major categories include stationery, picture frames, mugs, socks, decorative storage pieces, piggy banks, & travel products. Another major part of my freelance work is logo design for brands.”
What kind of skills do I need to become a Graphic Designer?
Jianna and Morgan both say the most important skill is creativity!
Jianna adds: “Having the ability to think outside of the box is key. This role requires you to come up with unique and compelling ideas, which normally means figuring out how to execute a certain effect or element!”
Other skills that all three girls agree important:
Ability/willingness to learn
Eye for detail
Jianna says it is essentially your job to “take a client’s ideas and bring it to life.”
But don’t forget about the relevant softwares, technical skills and tools you’ll also need! Meredith personally really likes her digital devices and predominantly works in Illustrator and draws vectors all day.
The skills you need will, of course, vary greatly depending on what type of graphic design work you’d like to get into!
Do I need any qualifications or certificates?
The unanimous answer?
Morgan says the proof is in the pudding – clients just want to see your samples and know that you can create something that they love! “They want to quickly be able to see what you’re capable of and how you’ll be able to elevate their business,” she adds.
Meredith also agrees that design is a skill that can be entirely self taught. Meredith writes, “As they say, artistic talent is given, but I think there are a lot more variables and skills that are learned.
To work as a designer though I don’t think you’d need any certifications at all.”
Jianna makes a final recommendation to set up “a portfolio of previous work and know how to use industry-wide software. Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator are the most common but I personally use another software and my clients don’t mind at all!”
Where do you find jobs as a Graphic Designer?
The top suggestions from the girls are:
Referrals and using your current network
Morgan recommends this method since “your current clients clearly love what you do – and guaranteed they know someone else that could benefit from having you on their team!”
Online freelancing sites like Upwork
Meredith has used sites like Upwork to find and land roles, though she has also started moving more to using channels outside of the platforms.
Online freelancing platforms can be a great way to get your foot in the door and begin growing your online network of businesses!
Finally, Jianna recommends our very own Digital Nomad Girls facebook group as a great place to land clients. Jianna highlights the importance of networking online and a great deal of that happens in Facebook groups!
How much can I earn as a Graphic Designer? How do people in your field price their services? Hourly, per project etc?
Morgan, Meredith and Jianna all say that this depends on a few factors.
But they all agree that the most common pricing structures are hourly, per project, or value-based!
Specifically, Morgan says that “when you’re just starting off – you can easily earn $15 – 25/hr. Once you’ve established yourself in the industry, it’s less about pricing per hour or per project – you need to price your services based on the value you are providing.”
Jianna says that high-end designers can easily make 6 figures salaries, and hourly rates range from $25 – $100/hr once you’re a little more established.
There is also the option of pricing per package for things “like website design, a set number of social media graphics, or one-off projects like flyers/banners/business cards,” Jianna suggests.
Meredith prefers project-based pricing herself as there is less of the time pressure. “If I know I need to design something, I like to have the freedom to take my time on it and think it over as much as I please.”
Jianna’s recommendation? “I have clients on retainer that can buy a set number of hours per month. I recommend these for on-going client relationships or when subcontracting for a larger agency.”
Is it easy to work as a Graphic Designer while travelling?
Morgan says, “Absolutely! I love travelling as a designer – a lot of what I do doesn’t need internet so I can really cram in a bunch of internet (distraction)-free work while I’m flying or otherwise.
I’m picky and I like to use a mouse for extra precision, but that’s pretty easy to bring with me whenever I’m moving around.
Jianna similarly writes, “Absolutely! I love this job because all I need is my laptop. I don’t even need WiFi really unless I need to send files over to clients or need to go online for design inspo. As long as you have the software, you can create graphics anytime or anywhere.
Jianna also has a few tips for taking the show on the road and still staying organized: “It helps to have project management tools like Asana and Toggl. As well as payment/invoicing tools like PayPal. These 3 things plus my website are essentially the bulk of my business.”
What would you recommend to other nomad girls who’d like to get started working as Product Graphic Designer?
The resounding advice from the 3 girls is to practice, practice, practice and GO FOR IT.
Morgan explains, “Practice is what got me to where I am today. Apply for every gig you can get your hands on, even if you don’t fit their requirements 100%. It shows initiative and willingness to learn. Don’t give up! Keep upskilling and learning so you’re always up-to-date with the latest trends and programs.”
Meredith says product graphic design is a lot about touch and feel, and that often times, “the best way to get started is by working for a larger company. Take a year to see how it works in an internship or starting level.”
Jianna advises: “Just go for it! I am 21 years old, and have nearly a decade of design experience. I’ve never been formally trained yet I have worked with a variety of brands and businesses.
If you love what you do, there’s no such thing as too hard/difficult. I’m self-taught and credit a lot of my skills to practice, practice, practice (and a bit to Google and Youtube). There are so many tutorials and courses out there!
And if you’re ever stuck with a project just start with what inspires you! I’ve spent a lot of time over the years doing things just for fun.”
Are you an interested in becoming a Graphic Designer? Please share below!
If you enjoyed this post, please share it with others who might like it, too, and to find out more about the girls you can find their author bios below:
Originally from Victoria, BC Canada, Morgan Reid is a full-time freelance web and graphic designer currently based in Bali. You can get in touch with her via her Website or her Facebook.
Meredith is a product graphic designer who grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, and lived in Mississippi and NYC for a while. She started traveling nomadically at the beginning of 2018 and is currently in Tuscany. You can find her via her Website or her Instagram.
Jianna is a graphic designer originally from the Philippines but has lived in NJ for the last 10 years. You can find her through her Website or her Instagram.
In our blog series ‘Online Job of the Month,’ we share the most interesting online jobs with you. You might think only web developers and graphic designers can be digital nomads. But there are actually a wide variety of interesting (and profitable) jobs out there for aspiring Digital Nomad Girls. This month we will tell you all about working as a Translator.
We talked to Federica Bruniera, Martina Russo and Maria Sokolova who are successfully working as Translators while travelling the world. So let’s get straight into it!
What exactly is a Translator? What do they do?
Maria says that as a Translator, “I translate websites, newsletters, documents for fashion and travel brands from English (sometimes Spanish) into my native language (Russian).” Alongside that, Maria says that she also edits (proofreads) other translations.
Federica clears up an important misconception. “There’s always a bit of confusion out there between the roles of translators and interpreters. Translators work with written texts, whereas the interpreters’ job is mainly spoken.”
Federica gets specific about the types of awesome hobbies that would not be possible without translators: “We are basically the ones that make possible for you to browse websites, watch your favourite Netflix show and read the Harry Potter books in your native language.”
How awesome is that!
So how does translation work? Which languages do you translate from? Federica says, “we normally work from the foreign language(s) we know into our native one. So, as an Italian native speaker, I could know 10 foreign languages but I can only translate from those ten into Italian.
Translators usually work also as reviewers/proofreaders (revising someone else’s translations) and sometimes as transcribers, subtitlers, game testers, copywriters, depending on their specializations.”
What kind of skills do I need to become a Translator?
Both Federica and Maria agree that the most important skills are:
excellent command of at least two languages (your native and a second language)
good writing skills
Learner & researcher skills
knowledge of cultural backgrounds
Federica also adds that, “Specializing is also of paramount importance. Knowing another language doesn’t mean you can translate everything (I don’t understand legal jargon in my own language, imagine in a foreign one!).
It’s important to pick fields you are passionate about, that you know well or that you are willing to study. In my case, for example, I do:
(obviously) Travel related stuff because I love it and it’s something I have a good experience in,
Football/soccer for the same reason,
Mangas and Japanese fiction because it’s challenging and fun, and
the Medical sector because it seemed interesting, and I started taking online courses on the subject.”
That’s awesome! Specialization is one of those tips that carries across many different types of online jobs, for sure. Specialization allows you to become an expert in a topic and become well known for that specific field!
Do you need any qualifications or certificates?
Maria has a diploma in translation which comes in handy, but says that actually, “I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary if you have good command of both languages.”
Federica also has a translation degree but agrees with Maria that it’s not absolutely essential. She notes in particular though that “Some countries require certification to do official translations (for example, in Canada you need to be certified if you want to translate official documents for immigration purposes), but overall what you really need is expertise in a certain field and excellent linguistic skills.”
Where do you find jobs as a Translator?
Martina has a few suggestions up her sleeve! Firstly, “You can go to industry specific conferences (another reason why it’s important to pick a niche), contact companies directly etc. but when starting out it’s probably easiest to get in touch with translation agencies.”
Maria says that she has been working with an agency for a few years, but that she also finds jobs through her personal network. Federica similarly suggests that when you are just getting started, “it’s easier to work with agencies than with direct clients.”
Federica has more tips for you for finding jobs! “Translation portals have good visibility and a lot of jobs get posted on there every day. I would recommend using those portals to look up agencies that have good ratings and then check their websites and apply directly there.” Martina, Maria and Federica suggest the following websites for getting started:
Martina specifically says: “Use the directory at https://www.proz.com/business to filter agencies according to specific criteria, e.g. score (on a scale o 1 to 5, I wouldn’t touch an agency with less than 4.5 with a barge pole – double check every agency’s score here: https://www.proz.com/blueboard), location, language pairs, and once again niche.”
Okay… what about applying? How should you apply?
Martina says: “ Once you have a list of agencies (or companies), you want to reach out to them. You’re better off sending up to 10-15 highly personalised emails rather than blasting off 100s per day that all starts with DEAR SIR / MADAM.
An agency gets dozens of emails and CVs a day – even I do, and I’m not an agency – and most of them look like spam, and I promise no one is going to bother and open your email or read your CV if it’s not to the point and attention grabbing.
As with everything marketing related, make sure you speak to them and about them, how you can solve their issues etc rather dwelling on your skills and qualifications.”
Federica agrees with Martina and adds that, “CV spamming at the beginning is normal, but do your research first and make your CV and emails relevant and personalized to improve the chances to get the attention of the project managers. Then, of course, networking is a gold mine. I got my best jobs from colleagues, people I met at conferences and events, friends of friends. Never underestimate the power of networking!”
So key tips are: attend events, use translation portals, find agencies to work with and don’t forget to network!
How much can I earn as a Translator?
As with any job, it really depends!
Martina says: “The money you can charge will depend on your experience, your confidence, the market segment you’ve positioned yourself in, your client’s budget and willingness to pay / invest in translation and how efficient you are at communicating your value. Obviously, you can’t command 10K from a company that makes 30K gross per year. Hence the important of positioning and market segments.”
Federica says, “I would recommend asking at least 0.06 – 0.07 euros per word when starting out and then working your way up. The higher-end translators charge up to 0.50 euros per word in their fields, there’s really no rule. It’s totally up to you to study your market, decide where to position yourself, your value and charge whatever you’re comfortable charging.”
Martina specifies: “Specifically, To start out with agencies, I would recommend NOT going below 0.07- 0.08 € per source word, but would aim at 0.10 €. Always best to start higher to allow room for negotiation. From there, depending on your niche, you can go as high as you want to and your market allows.
What you charge is up to you and do not let anyone dictate what you should do or tell you you’re ruining the market, there is not such a thing as ONE market. To convert these amounts into hourly fees, you should know your productivity and output. Generally, unless you use MT and other technologies, you’ll translate around 300-350 words per hour.”
“Money is a big taboo among translators and I don’t know why, I feel that if we were all more open on the subject it’d be easier to help others navigate through what’s possible and out there. ” – Martina Russo
Maria says, you can make around $2,000-$2,500 on average, up to $5,000, and Federica knows translators who make 6-figures doing translation work!
So overall, Martina, Maria and Federica all agree that you can make great money doing translation!
How do Translators price their services? Hourly, per project, per word?
Long story short: “It’s usually hourly for proofreading, and per word or per page for translations” says Maria.
Federica says it really varies, but agrees that “most translation projects are priced per word (or per line like in Germany). Asian languages are often priced by character, since there’s no space between words and getting an actual word count would be extremely time-consuming.
There are many exceptions though and ultimately it’s up to the translator to choose the best format depending on the project. For example, in manga translation we define a price per page, in video game testing it’s mostly by the hour, subtitling is charged by minute of video.
When you are starting out and have less negotiation power, try to have a price per word and an hourly price ready. Then, as projects get more complicated, you can start considering other solutions. For multi-services or multilingual projects, a price per project is totally acceptable as well.”
Is it easy to work as a Translator while travelling?
So… what’s it actually like to work as a traveling Translator? Are you able to balance traveling and working set times?
Federica says absolutely! She says as long as you have your laptop and Wifi, you’re good to go. Additional things that might come in handy may be “two monitors, external keyboard and other equipment, but I’m extremely minimalist, so my laptop and electronic dictionary are enough.”
Do you need any specific tools or softwares?
Federica suggests: “In terms of tools and apps, the so-called CAT tools (translation software) can make the translation process faster and your texts more consistent, so investing in one can be a good idea (most agencies require one anyway).”
Maria gives one word of warning – be mindful of time zones! As with any nomad job, always be mindful of your clients’ time zones and delivering your work on time – aka. on the client’s time!
Woo! Looks like overall, being a Translator is officially a nomad approved job.
What would you recommend to other nomad girls who’d like to get started working as a Translator?
Martina has tons of amazing advice for girls who are thinking about working as a translator.
Here is the step-by-step process that Martina recommends!
1. Pick a Niche
Martina says, “When you start out, it’s easy and normal to just go for general translations. However, the more you’re specialized, the less of a commodity you become and the higher of a rate you can command.
It’s not necessarily an easy step but it’s one you need to take at some point, so try to focus on one area or more you’d like to work with in the future and start from there. (legal, medical, marketing and so on).”
2. Think Carefully about Market Segment & Positioning
“Make sure you determine which market segment(s) you’re comfortable working with from the start, that will save you lots of frustration in the long-term. How do you position yourself? By putting yourself out there as the authority in your niche and by using specific language.
For starters, if you want to position yourself in a higher paying segment, I’d avoid using the word “freelancer”, which is widely associated with sites like Fiverr, and replace it with “professional” wherever possible. Which one sounds more authoritative to you – freelancer translator or translation professional / professional translator?
3. Don’t forget mindset!
Martina writes, “You do not work FOR anyone. You work WITH someone, as a partner, you add value and work with them to make them successful.
That’s crucial and it took me a few months to figure that out, coming from an employer when I started out. It might seem trivial now, but you’ll see these little details creeping up when you write your first 100s cover letters writing stuff like “I’d be honoured to work for your company…”
4. Build up your online presence
Martina says on this: “If you don’t want to be just anther translator, build up your online presence. Googling you is the first thing everyone does to make sure you’re legit these days, so you want to have social proof up and running…
CV / RESUME: use a template from a platform like Canva.com to make it visually appealing.
Generally, you want to include details such as the obvious ones (contact details, name, nationality etc), your language pairs, your experience and education, and so on. Refrain from mentioning anything that doesn’t have to do with translation, unless you have worked e.g. as a sommelier and now you translate about wines.
You’ll probably also want 1 CV for your agency clients and 1 for your direct clients, or 1 for each different niche.
If you’re starting out and have nothing to put in your portfolio, think of creative ways to assemble one. E.g. provide some free work (make sure you have clear conditions in place) or translate publicly available copy under CC (look it up on Google) to get samples for your ideal portfolio.
Creating a portfolio based on copy isn’t easy, look up the web for some inspo.
This doesn’t have to be fancy, you can put up a one page site from WP or Squarespace or the like. In fact, Martina built up www.theactionsportstranslator.com herself (with a few tweaks from a WP dev). Also, register a domain for your email address, @gmail domains and the like look fishy and end up in spam most of the time.
You probably don’t need to be on EVERY platform out there, just pick the ones you think would work for you best (AKA where your clients would hang out) and stick with them.
Do not do the mistake most translators do: don’t talk exclusively about translation from a translator’s perspective for other translators, because the only ones who’ll be interested in you content will be – you guessed it – translators.
Federica adds to this and says, “Getting the first clients could take a bit of time, but that should not discourage you. Keep studying, hone your skills, build up experience in the fields you’re interested in and don’t give up.
Consider doing volunteer work at first for organizations like Translators without Borders or the TED Project (subtitling TED Talks can be pretty interesting). The most fascinating part of the translation world is that you learn something new every day. It’s hard to get bored!”
On a side note – subtitling Ted Talks sounds SO fun!
Maria gives you some extra advice as well, “I would recommend choosing a niche and building your portfolio around it, don’t take just any translation job.
If you never worked as a translator, check out other translators’ portfolios for your language pair to see what a good translation looks like — it’s not about translating the words, it’s about getting the message across. And don’t forget to read a lot in your native language.”
Martina leaves us with some amazing resources for getting started. Here they are:
And… there you go! If you’re a persistent person who is fluent in at least 2 languages, translating might just be the perfect digital nomad job for you. I hope we answered all your questions, if you have any more, please leave them in the comments and our girls and I will try our best to answer them all.
Are you an interested in becoming a Translator? Please share below!
If you enjoyed this post, please share it with others who might like it, too, and to find out more about the girls you can find their author bios below:
Maria Sokolova is a Translator and Proofreader. Originally from Krasnodar, Russia, she has been travelling almost non-stop for the past 5 years. You can get in touch with her via her Facebook or her Instagram.
Federica Bruniera is a Translator originally from Italy, and is currently in Colombia. You can connect with her on Instagram or her Website.
Martina is an Italian professional translator, business owner, outdoor enthusiast, and true world citizen. She’s been making premium products and brands accessible to the Italian, Swiss Italian, and European markets for over 8 years. Her work can be found online on Linkedin, Website and theactionsportstranslator.com.
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.
In our new blog series ‘Online Job of the Month’ we share the most interesting online jobs with you. You might think only web developers and graphic designers can be digital nomads. But there are actually a wide variety of interesting (and profitable) jobs out there for aspiring Digital Nomad Girls. This month we will tell you all about working as an Online English Teacher.
We talked to Emma Wolno, Laura Lee and Gery Ciftcioglu who are successfully working as Online English Teachers while travelling the world. So without further ado, let’s dive in!
What exactly is an Online English Teacher? What do they do?
Emma says that as an Online English Teacher, essentially”I teach children in China English lessons over a video conferencing platform. Because of the huge demand in China, there are lots of Online English Teaching companies.”
So what does Emma do? “My duties are teaching 25 minute lessons to 5-12 year olds. I teach them vocabulary, help them practice their speaking skills, and a little bit of grammar as well.”
Gery does similar things in her job in that, “I conduct one on one lessons over the phone or Skype. There is little lesson preparation where I have to get familiar with student’s goals and previous lessons, and after the lesson, I have to write a short report of what we’ve done and what the homework is as well as what the student is supposed to do in the next lesson.”
Laura says that DaDa (the English teaching company she works for) makes things easy for her, in that “All the lessons are prepared so I can roll out of bed twenty minutes before classes start, put on my blue t-shirt and I’m ready to go! When I first started I’d spend a little time flicking through the lessons but after a while they become so familiar even that isn’t necessary anymore…
I spend a few hours teaching then head to a cafe to write my after class assessments. This usually takes around twenty to thirty minutes (longer if I get sucked into Facebook!)”
Laura also adds that, “With DaDa you get assigned regular students, most of mine I’ve been teaching for an entire year now. I love that I get to see them progress and you really do start to feel like part of the family! I’ve been introduced to my students’ families, friends, pets and I’ve even been taken on a holiday or two (via the webcam of course).”
That sounds so lovely!
What kind of skills do I need to become an Online English Teacher?
The most important skills are:
good command of the English language
being able to conceptualize a lesson, break things down, and explain ideas well
understanding what students need and want from you as a teacher
being friendly and enthusiastic!
Laura mentions that, “Don’t worry if you don’t have any teaching experience, it obviously doesn’t hurt, but it isn’t a requirement!”
All agree that you have to be warm, enthusiastic and have high energy. “The kids are often young and maybe haven’t interacted with foreigners that much, so they expect you to be very friendly and animated for the younger children. ” Emma added.
Laura believes that, “If you enjoy working with kids, have lots of energy and are able to adapt to different situations, you can teach online.”
In terms of working online, Gery adds that “you need to be skilled in planning your time and in working well independently.”
That is a job requirement for most online or remote-based jobs! I speak from experience. 🙂 If you need help with productivity while working online, check out our blog post on that here.
Do you need any qualifications or certificates?
Laura shares that mostly it depends on the company; some have requirements that others don’t. “Most companies, including DaDa, require a Bachelor’s degree in any subject, it doesn’t have to be in teaching. DaDa also usually accepts a TEFL certificate and teaching experience as an alternative,” she adds.
Gery agrees that “Most companies require you to have a CELTA or TEFL certificate in addition to a Bachelors degree, which could be in anything.” Emma adds that, “A TEFL or TESOL course will definitely help you get hired, but wasn’t required for my VIPKID.”
All three of the interviewed mention that your Bachelor’s degree does not have to in teaching or English language – you just need to have a degree in something!
What about being a native English speaker? Gery mentions, “It also helps if you are a native speaker, but for many employers, that isn’t a necessity. Some companies are interested in hiring bilingual teachers as well.”
Laura suggests to those interested in becoming an Online English Teacher: “If you’re new to teaching it might be worth getting an online TEFL to improve your chance of being offered higher pay. You can get one on Groupon for a few dollars and they don’t usually take long to complete!”
Emma also recommends, “You could use mentoring, tutoring or even babysitting experience to show you can work with young kids. I had done a few months of teaching English in Cambodia, but I also used my two years as a Snowboarding instructor when I applied!”
Where do you find jobs as an Online English Teacher?
This is probably one of the first question you’d like answered before getting into any field, as a nomad or not. And the answers might surprise you.
The demand is apparently huge, which is great news for you!
Emma says, “You can find them online by researching the various companies and applying. The demand is so huge as more and more kids in China are learning English, so there are tons of companies that are almost always hiring. Some are better than others, so be sure to review them carefully and read a few blogs. There is also a lot of great information of YouTube!”
Laura recommends that “Social media and word of mouth are the way to go! There are plenty of Facebook groups, YouTube channels and blogs for online teachers. I recommend joining a few and seeing what people have to say about the different companies. You can find out a lot from speaking to current teachers.”
Gery echos the statements of the other two that doing your research is key, “I began by reading in the facebook group ‘Online ESL Reviews‘. Its members shared very valuable information about schools, conditions and personal experiences from the jobs. Then I went to the remote jobs websites. TEFL.com also publishes online job offers. Another one is teachaway.com but the best source of information are the people in the Facebook group.”
So in summary: do your research! Google for reviews, ask in Facebook groups, and make sure you apply to a company that you really love.
How much can I earn as an Online English Teacher?
“If you are a native speaker willing to teach kids, you may be able to earn as much as 25-30 USD an hour. If you are experienced and have a good, clear accent but you aren’t native and you don’t want to work with young children or their parents, you may be able to make up to 16 USD or euros an hour” says Gery.
Laura works with DaDa and says that there, “the maximum pay advertised is $25 per hour. Realistically though, starting rates are more likely to be between $15 and $20 depending on your qualifications, experience and performance in your demo class.”
Emma says, “If you do this job part-time or as a side-hustle such as I do, you can expect to take home an extra $400-$1000 per month. The hourly wage can be anywhere from $14-26 to USD an hour.”
So in general, the hourly rate for being an Online English Teacher seems to be around the range of $14 – $20, with the highs being at $25 – $30.
What about bonuses? Laura says, “A lot of companies also offer bonuses for various things! With DaDa, we get bonuses for converting trial students, retaining regular students and we can even collect points to exchange for Amazon vouchers.”
How do Online English Teachers price their services? Hourly, per project, per word?
“Most companies will give you a base rate determined on your experience and education. From there you can get small bonuses to increase your wage. It might be possible to charge higher rates if you worked directly with individuals to teach/tutor them English, but of course it’s harder to find clients and with a company it’s all sorted for you” Emma says.
Laura says that, “Generally companies pay by class. Some companies only pay for the classes you have scheduled, others such as DaDa, pay standby time. This means that if at any point during your contract hours a class is cancelled or a space isn’t filled you are still guaranteed to get half pay for that time.”
Gery says that for her it’s “usually per hour. This may vary from employer to employer but some companies let you negotiate your price and others are very rigid.”
Is it easy to work as an Online English Teacher while travelling?
So… what’s it actually like to work as a traveling Online English Teacher? Are you able to balance traveling and working set times?
“Absolutely! All you need is a laptop with a webcam, a headset, a decent wifi connection and maybe a puppet or two. A quiet space is definitely preferable but I know teachers who have taught in hostels, airports and even on a train through India, so anything is possible!
I’m currently travelling around Eastern Europe and this is my only job. I left the UK with zero savings and I have been able to support myself and even save a little money too! I travel slowly and stay in AirBnBs so working full time suits me.
If you want more flexibility, I’d recommend choosing just a few contract hours (four hours a week is the minimum) and adding extra hours to your schedule when you find places with great wifi” Laura suggests.
Gery agrees and says, “I’d say it is relatively easy. You need to have a good internet connection, a quiet environment, and a good set of headphones with a microphone.
Emma also agrees with the other two, saying “Definitely! The great thing about VIPKID is that they don’t mind if you take time off, and no one will really notice. It’s not like a traditional job where you ask for time off, you either open your schedule for classes or you don’t. So sometimes I’ll work a lot one week and then take some time off.
If I want to do the job while on the road, that’s possible, too. My only recommendation is to make sure you stay in an Airbnb or get a private room, hostels would not be ideal. VIPKID likes you to have props in the classroom, so I recommend buying a mini whiteboard and a few lightweight supplies to bring along. I’ve also started using a software called Manycam, which allows you to display graphics and rewards on your screen, which is perfect for traveling as you don’t need to bring anything really!” So the consensus is yes! Being an Online English Teacher is a nomad approved job.
What would you recommend to other nomad girls who’d like to get started working as an Online English Teacher?
Laura says: “Do your research.” There are hundreds of companies out there and some will suit you better than others. Decide what is important to you and go from there.
She suggests asking yourself:
Do you want to teach adults or children?
Would you prefer to teach one to one or groups?
Do you want to teach on a laptop or from your phone?
Do you want to use pre-prepared lessons or make your own?
Laura says, “Answering these questions will help you figure out what you’re looking for in a company and help you narrow down your search! Once you’ve found a company that suits you, find a recruiter or referrer who will help you through the process. Having someone to answer all your questions and give you advice can help take a lot of stress out of the process.
If you’re interested in working with DaDa and would like me to help you through the application process, feel free to send me an email or a message on Facebook! Working online can be lonely so I recommend finding a support network. Most companies have their own Facebook groups and these can be a place to meet other teachers, share student stories and ask questions.” If you’re thinking about working with DaDa, you can find Laura’s information below!
Emma also agrees that the first step should be to research. She says, “I would recommend doing some research about the different companies and seeing what would be a good fit for you. If you are concerned about your lack of teaching experience, you could start taking an online TEFL course to boost your confidence and get yourself classroom ready.
The application for VIPKID is the hardest part (it’s quite lengthly) so I would highly recommend reaching out to an experienced teacher for tips on the interview process. If you’d like to chat with me I would be happy to refer you and give you some tips on how to get hired,” so make sure to reach out to Emma if you need tips! Her info is below as well.
There you go future Online English Teacher. If you’re a friendly, enthusiastic person who likes teaching and has great English, teaching English online might just be the perfect digital nomad job for you. I hope we answered all your questions, if you have any more, please leave them in the comments and our girls and I will try our best to answer them all.
Are you an interested in becoming an Online English Teacher? Please share below!
If you enjoyed this post, please share it with others who might like it too!
To find out more about the girls you can find their author bios below:
Emma Wolno is an Online English Teacher. Originally from Ottawa, Canada, she is currently based in Berlin! You can get in touch with her via her Website or her Instagram.
Laura Lee is an online English teacher who runs a blog that share tips for teaching online and how to get started teaching with DaDa! She’s from Nottingham in the UK and is now travelling around Eastern Europe. You can connect with her on Facebook or her Website.
Gery is originally from Bulgaria, but currently lives in Istanbul, Turkey. You can find her on Facebook or her Website.
Are you getting more work than you can take on? Working crazy hours but feel like you can’t raise your rates anymore? Maybe it’s time to scale your business! Our featured expert in the Inner Circle this month is Esther Inman, who successfully scaled her freelance business to an agency over the last few years. This is such an important topic, so I’ve put together a blog post with 3 signs that it’s time to Scale Your Business.
As digital nomads we work hard to create as much freedom in our lives as possible. When you started out on your nomad journey you probably imagined yourself waking up in beautiful new cities or beach towns, getting a few hours of super productive work in and then exploring in the afternoons.
But chances are, a few years down the road, instead of working the elusive ‘4-Hour Workweek’ and having adventures every day, you feel like you’re always working, juggling too many clients who need you round the clock, and not making as much money ask you’d like.
You’ve tried ‘working smarter not harder’, increased your rates and tested all the productivity hacks under the sun, but somehow you’re still feeling overwhelmed and underpaid. Don’t worry, you’re not a ‘bad digital nomad’ (seriously, I’ve heard so many people say this about themselves!), but it might just be time for you to scale your business and take it to the next level.
Here are the 3 main signs that it’s time to scale, and a short overview of how to go about it:
Sign 1: You work too much
Do you have more clients wanting to hire you than you can take on? Maybe you’ve already taken on too many and now you’ve got so much work that you simply can’t juggle it all. You’ve missed some deadlines, or the quality of your work is starting to suffer because you’ve got too much on your plate.
You’re probably working all hours of the day, and even on weekends. And worst of all, you feel like your work-life balance is a total joke, as you can’t even remember the last time you took a full weekend off, or even *gasp* a vacation.
Sign 2: You can’t grow your income anymore
Do you feel like you’ve hit a ceiling with your earnings? You might have already increased your hourly rate and your package prices a few times and feel like there isn’t any room left to raise them. The market simply won’t allow for you to charge anymore.
But at the same time, you can only work so many hours, so your earnings are stagnating. You’ve completely maxed out the time you can work and the amount of money you can make with that time.
This is a really common situation, and every successful freelancer will reach this point.
Sign 3: You’re burning out
This is a really common sign and you might have mistaken it for being ‘too unproductive’ or just disorganised. While that’s also possible, burnout is a sign of being ready to scale up your business.
You might even feel like your work isn’t enjoyable anymore, that you’re overwhelmed and aren’t even enjoying this business you set up.
If you’ve nodded along while reading the signs above, then it’s time for you to level up your business! Yay!
It probably sounds super daunting to scale up your business and take on even more work, right? But only by taking your biz to the next level will you be able to create more balance and freedom and make time for all the other important things in your life, like travel, family, friends, hobbies (remember those?), exercise and all the other good stuff.
You’ll also be able to build some extra income streams and finally increase your income, which will, in turn, give you even more freedom.
Now the big question is ‘how do I do that?’ and while this topic is waaay too big to dive into here, I’ll quickly highlight the steps you’ll have to take.
The most important thing is to define your core offer and know exactly what you’re offering your clients. This is crucial, as you’ll have to get clear on all the different roles that you’ve taken on so far. For example, if you’ve been offering web design and branding, you could be wearing the hats of designer, brand consultant, web designer, project manager, copywriter, accountant, marketer, UX expert…and the list goes on. You get the idea!
Get clear on all the different roles and then find contractors to bring onto your team. They can be on a retainer or project-based pay. Of course, there is a lot of work involved in vetting and hiring a whole bunch of contractors, which we won’t get into here.
Next, you’ll want to add some extra income streams to your business. These can be passive, but they don’t have to be, as you now have a team to help you.
And last, but not least, you’ll want to properly ramp up your marketing efforts by putting a client funnel into place. It will be your main job to get more clients, so freelance platforms and hanging out in Facebook groups won’t cut it anymore. A client funnel can be automated and help you bring in qualified leads for your business.
I know it sounds like a tonne of work, and it will definitely be a learning curve. But like our expert, Esther said in the Inner Circle, “Baby, it’s time to scale!”.
If you’d like to learn how to grow your freelance business step-by-step into an agency model, then come and join us in the DNG Inner Circle! Join the waitlist here.