A few days ago, Brent and I handed over the keys to our apartment in Chiang Mai and said farewell to Asia permanently after more than 2.5 years. That means it has been almost 5 months since I wrote this post filling you in on our first month as full-time freelancers. I think it’s about time for another update, wouldn’t you say?
I’m Still Here
Before I started freelance writing full-time, I read the warnings of others bloggers and online entrepreneurs advising would-be digital nomads that this lifestyle isn’t all typing up romantic travel stories on the beach while throwing back cocktails. I believed them, but part of me still imagined that working online would be far more glamorous than it actually is.
I thought I’d have so much time to travel around Asia over the summer without the limited vacation of a full-time job weighing me down. Instead, I’ve been bound to my laptop. When I did travel, I actually felt less free than I once did during vacations. Carefree sightseeing was replaced by dashing around a completely unfamiliar city looking for a Wi-Fi signal and a quiet place to work.
The highs and lows I wrote about when Brent and I first came to Chiang Mai are still very real. Yet, despite all the struggles and successes we’ve experienced over the past few months, we’re still here and we’re still making it work. We earned enough to live, travel, and even save a bit during our time in Chiang Mai. When doubts arise, this overriding fact still trumps them all.
It’s Still Kind of Scary
It gets a little easier every day, but I still haven’t become completely comfortable with the unpredictability of my freelance income.
The inherent uncertainty of this career feels acceptable when I have more than enough work, but when I find myself without a major project, the paranoid parts of my brain start convincing the sane parts that I’ll never get hired for anything ever again. That’s about when I start accepting low-paying jobs just to tame the anxiety. It’s a habit that’s putting me on the road to burn-out, and one that I’m trying to break.
In order to make this lifestyle work over the long-term, I know I need to learn how to gratefully accept the breaks when they come, and then work like crazy when the projects roll in again.
Freelancing and Blogging
If there’s one thing that has universally sucked about freelancing, it’s the effect that it has had on this blog. Those of you who are regular readers may have noticed that my posting schedule has dropped from twice a week, to something more like twice a month.
It feels like every time I sit down to write a post, I get offered a new project that takes precedence over this blog. Freelance projects equal an income which the blog, sadly, does not. I’ve thought about re-focusing on monetizing the blog a little more, but that requires a major investment of time with little hope of immediate financial return in the beginning – it’s not something I feel confident or financially stable enough to commit to right now.
Beyond that, freelance writing keeps me in front of my laptop at least 8 hours a day. I find myself reluctant to try to squeeze blogging in there too, adding even more screen time to my life (because, you know, fresh air and birds and life-outside-of-cafés and all that other good stuff). I’ve also never been one to slap half-baked posts online just for the sake of churning out regular content. I only want to post when I have time to sit down and really think about what I want to say.
I still haven’t figured out a solution to this issue. I do know that I want to keep blogging and that’s not going change. I’ll continue to bring you the best content that I can, as often as I can, while I work towards finding a balance between writing for pay and writing for fun.
Where to Next?
Returning to what I mentioned at the beginning of this post – yes, Brent and I are no longer in Asia. And we have no plans to return anytime soon. So where are we now?
If you follow me on Facebook you already know that we’re in….Stockholm! We’ll be spending a few days here before continuing on to Spain, where we’ll be doing our first-ever house sit in Los Barrios, a town found about 30 minutes away from the border with Gibraltar.
Brent and I spent 8 months in Europe when we first left Canada in 2011. It was basically my first time traveling and looking back now, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing! I’m pumped about having the chance to re-visit some places with a new perspective, plus check a few more off the bucket list.
Our house sit will last for about 6 weeks, and then, for the first time in a very long time, our plans afterwards are still completely open.