In our DNG interview series, we feature interviews with Digital Nomad Girls from around the world with interesting location independent jobs. This month we meet Digital Nomad Girl Bettina, a digital marketing consultant and agency owner from Austria. Bettina is also one of our Facebook Group Admins who helps to run our community.
Hi Bettina! Please tell us a bit about yourself
I’m originally from Austria and I’m location independent for almost 2 years now. I’ve always had a passion for travel – even my parents thought that one day I just won’t come back home… turned out they were kind of right. 🙂 I’ve lived in the US for a while when I was 19 and in 2014 I moved to the Netherlands for 2 years.
After that, I started backpacking through Southeast Asia and started working as a freelancer. I knew I wanted to become location independent since I’ve first heard about it in 2013, but never really had the (excuse my language) balls to do it. I didn’t know anyone who was self-employed or who had heard of the Digital Nomad lifestyle before.
I started improving skills that I thought would help me make this lifestyle possible, but it took me some years of research and the right people to finally make the move towards a location independent lifestyle. In October 2016 I turned my freelancing into a consultancy and agency business.
What is your location independent job?
I help entrepreneurs and SMB’s (small & medium sized companies) increase revenue and sales by optimizing their online presence and identifying the right online marketing & sales strategies. I also have a location independent team I work with who help me implement those techniques. BTW I’m always looking for skilled and fun people to work with. I’m also the organizer of the location independent meet-ups in Austria. At least I’m trying to set them up every time I’m home.
How did you get into this line of work? How can others do the same?
I’ve always had a big interest in marketing and I’m good with people. Besides that, even though I’m not a programmer, I have a geeky side. This is why I started playing around with websites and blogging. I improved my writing skills, learned more about SEO, social media and ads and participated in many trainings offline and online (e.g. Google gives free courses). Furthermore, I worked for more experienced people and tried to implement these techniques for myself and then also for my clients. I still read a lot and the more successful I am, the more I try to invest in my own education.
I feel this is something people still hesitate because they think of it as expensive instead of what they will get in return in the long term. Of course be careful with scams but you’ll figure that out really quickly and most courses are refundable anyways. Further, interact with other people on social media and go to networking events. I’m holding a lot of workshops recently and this also gives me some expert status, plus I met plenty of really successful and inspiring people during these conferences. Don’t be shy. Most people are flattered when you talk to them and ask questions.
What motivated you to pursue a life as a digital nomad?
I’ve always been ambitious. When I was younger I wanted to be a successful businesswoman. When I got my first full-time job I ended up with burnout. I’ve tried other jobs too and even though I wasn’t a lazy person I just couldn’t be excited about working. The first weeks were always interesting because I’ve learned something new but after a while, I felt stuck, I hated to go to the same office, doing the same tasks again. I also felt like I couldn’t really show how good I was and many of my ideas to improve the business got turned down because “it wasn’t a priority”, even though I knew it would make a big impact on their success.
I got frustrated and started to work on my own projects to become better at what I was doing. My problem was that I didn’t have anyone as a role model who could help me with my questions about working for yourself. People told me to play safe, but when I finally met others in Asia that did what I always wanted to do and some of those were even less skilled, I thought what am I waiting for, let’s do this. And it was the best decision I’ve ever made.
Did your friends/family/colleagues think you’ve gone crazy? Were they supportive?
Most of them didn’t understand what I was doing. Many still don’t know. My mom told me recently “you are just on Facebook all day anyways” my dad doesn’t understand how I can make money when I’m just having fun – because I make it look easy.
My family wasn’t supportive in the beginning. But just because they didn’t know better. Coming from Austria everyone gets a “good” pension one day, but when you are an entrepreneur the system isn’t too great. Also, it’s risky. Now that they’ve realized that I’m actually good at what I’m doing and it works they are really proud and think it’s cool (but still don’t understand what I’m doing :D) Everyone else I’ve met so far is impressed and would love to do the same.
What do you struggle with most when you work and travel?
Productivity. In the beginning, I was moving a lot, but this takes so much time. You have to adjust to a place, find your way around, meet people, organize accommodation and flight etc. Now I’m trying to stay in one place for a while and do rather “short” trips in between (week or two) or stay in one place for at least a month and don’t move at all. At the moment I plan my travels according to my business meetings and conferences. This is my priority for now.
Oh and also time zones – I’d love to go to South America but when I was in the US it was a pain to stay in touch with clients. I always felt like I’m running late, while in Asia I was I was one step ahead.
How do you connect with and meet people when travelling?
Through different Facebook groups, Meetups and conferences I’m attending. Also through friends.
What advice would you give a girlfriend who wanted to start out as a digital nomad?
Find out what you love doing and what you are good at. If you have no idea then do some research or ask your friends. Then start freelancing and get some contacts and experience. After that turn it into a business, because as a freelancer you will probably not make a lot of money on the long term and you exchange hours for money – that’s not the ideal situation.
Quick Fire Round:
When I feel lonely, I … go on Facebook or Meetup.com and look for (new) contacts. (But I never feel lonely to be honest)
My favourite digital nomad location is … so far Bali and Budapest
The one item I always pack is … My laptop and my iPhone.
In 5 years time, I want to be … A business owner with a business that runs more or less without me.
My all-time favourite quote is … “You don’t have to be the most knowledgeable person in the world on your topic, you just have to be one chapter ahead of the people you’re helping” I read this in a book and it’s a very powerful message. We intend to think we are not good enough at something or there are others that know more, but when you realize this, then nothing can stop you (to become a digital nomad).