In our monthly “So, you wanna be a…” series we will feature an interview with a Digital Nomad Girl with an interesting location independent job.
This month we chatted to the lovely Carolin, a social media marketing manager, web designer and blogger.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I am Carolin, originally from Germany and 26 years old.., well young 😉 I currently call the beaches of Bali my backyard but I have changed my location every few months over the past 1,5 years of being a digital nomad and called Chiang Mai, Sydney and Barcelona home for a considerable amount of that time with small trips to other destinations in-between. Soon I will yet again trade Bali for beautiful Australia.
What is your location independent job (or what are you working towards)?
I have a professional background in marketing so for me it made sense to start out with the skills I already have and just build upon them. After my work contract ended I just went. With no clients and no specific plan I slowly started as a freelancer building up a client portfolio and today focus mainly on social media marketing management. Additionally, I do some travel writing which is very fun and I design the odd website from time to time. I also write a travel blog called breathingtravel.com which has brought some amazing people and contacts into my life. Sometimes I even strike up some cool partnerships and collaborations. If someone told me this was possible 2 years ago I would’ve left right there!
How did you get into this line of work? How can others do the same?
I really quite liked my former normal office job working with marketing campaigns and social media across an international team and I sure had a great product to promote and was very passionate about it. However, I was missing the travel aspect in my life. I could already do many things remote back then and often worked from home. It only made sense to finally take the plunge and combine travel and work. I upgraded my skills with a web design course and build my blog breathingtravel.com as a first project where I still share my travel and digital nomad lifestyle experiences to date.
I think first and foremost you have to believe in yourself! Surrounding yourself with like-minded people will for sure help too. Work hard on building your business and have specific goals! I think anyone can become a digital nomad, your success is a simple combination of some skills and even more MINDSET! Revamp those skills if you don’t have them yet: read, sign up for an online course, watch Youtube tutorials.., the options are endless. And then everything else is your attitude and determination.
What made you pursue a life as a Digital Nomad?
I have always been pretty travellous, I went on a high school exchange year in 11th grade, took a gap year after I graduated and travelled a lot during my university studies as well as completing two study abroad semester. Haha kinda funny reading my words there, it sounds just so obvious that I am destined to travel! I love being on the road and meeting new people, and I don’t want to be limited to doing that in the few weeks of holidays of a conventional job. Sometimes it’s not even about travelling all the time, but about having the flexibility and freedom to just stay in a different country for a few months or move on whenever I want to.
Did your friends/family/colleagues think you’ve gone crazy? Were they supportive?
My family is very supportive, I think they are happy to see that I am happy and I guess also, that what I do pays the bills. They understand that travel is a great part of my life, and even though I miss them and they miss me, they still let me embark on a new trip with all their blessings every time. My friends are mostly supportive, some still don’t understand what I do, it’s hard to wrap your mind around when you only know a regular job. It’s okay though, I don’t think this lifestyle is for everyone either.
What is your favourite city/country/beach/mountain destination to work?
Right now I am in Canggu, Bali. I love that the beach is just right at my doorstep, I can go for a surf or talk a walk along the beach whenever, I live comfortably, have stable wifi and some cool cafés and restaurants around, everything I need really. I do love Thailand though, Chiang Mai is incredible, the food, the infrastructure (super fast wifi!), hard to beat for the small prices you pay up there! And I still have a love affair with Australia, one of the places that have a special place in my heart, despite it being quite expensive and internet speeds we still know from the last decade…
What do you struggle with most when you travel and work?
Balance. Between work and life. It’s easier when you told to come into the office at 9 and leave at 5, nobody gives you these rules as a freelancer working with several clients while running your own projects. Many days I still struggle to balance my work with life. I bet many entrepreneurs struggle with this and it’s not exclusively nomads. There are also many distractions when travelling, people to chat with, things to see and do. Everyone has to find their own schedule to stay focused and productive and even after many months of living like that I still feel not fully balanced. But I am positive over time it will come!
How do you connect with and meet new people while travelling?
I have made some wonderful connections in my very first destination as a nomad, Chiang Mai and somehow keep meeting those wonderful people again and again in different places. After all, the digital nomad world is still small. I often aim for destinations where I know there is some sort of nomad or entrepreneurial community as that makes new connections already easier, may it be in a local café, coworking space or at an event. In Chiang Mai it was often super obvious that all those people with their laptops in the many cafés are doing some sort of remote work so it was easy to start a conversation. I also made some cool contacts over Instagram as people found me over specific nomad-related hashtags.
Do you travel solo or with a boyfriend/girlfriend/friend/child/pet?
I started my digital nomad journey solo but then met my boyfriend on the road and we started travelling together. I still sometimes travel parts of the journey solo or with friends.
What item should every Digital Nomad Girl pack?
An open mind! You know about all the tech stuff, apps and clothes already, but I think if you come to a new country with an open, curious mind you will of course have a good time and succeed in whatever you have planned.
What advice would you give a girl friend who wanted to start out as a digital nomad?
You can do almost any job online with a few exceptions okay, but the variety is so great! The skills you already have are most likely in some way or the other transferrable to many jobs and projects, it’s simply up to you what you make out of it. Have some savings in order to start out and plan a bit ahead. And always have a Plan B and C. If you can, experiment with going on a workation before you quit your job or start freelancing on the side to build a portfolio and referrals. Lastly, always remember you are not alone, there are many girls out there with similar dreams!
What are your future travel plans?
I am about to go back to Australia for a bit and also do another house sit down there. For 2016 I will definitely be back to Bali, planning on going to the Philippines and Portugal. I would be stoked to visit some more of Europe in summer too but I have no fixed plans so far.
Do you have a favourite inspirational (cheesy optional) quote you’d like to share with us?
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.- I think it’s so very true as most people live in their comfort zones and are afraid to change or step out of the running system, afraid of the unknown so they stay where they are. Anyone who takes a step outside and embraces change will know that there are no boundaries.