Whether you’re going on a business trip or you simply like to travel for extended periods of time, there is nothing wrong with mixing business and pleasure by freelancing abroad. In fact, working is an excellent way to fund your trip and gain experience along the way. Plus, you never know what connections you’ll make and how far your ideas will grow from the inspiration that travel offers you.
A mistake freelancers don’t want to make is assuming freelancing abroad is a walk in the park. It’s far from it. Away from the comfort of home, and your routine, it’s not hard to get lost in a life that’s unproductive and counterintuitive. While freedom and flexibility are essential assets, you don’t want to simultaneously lose your acumen and get into bad habits. Travelling freelancers often fall into this trap. But there are some basic fundamentals to freelancing abroad that can help you avoid these common pitfalls and find the ideal balance between work and play.
Find Different Work Environments When Freelancing Abroad
It’s human nature to find one place to work and to turn up day after day with a positive mental attitude. And, while it will feel good to be there in the beginning, the novelty will soon wear away. When it does, you’ll have to put up with the problem that most people have with offices: monotony. Even a work-friendly coffee shop can grow old in a foreign country.
But, where there is one, there is bound to be another. All you need to do is check them out and see if they’re suitable. By building up a list of work environments, the boredom that other people contend with shouldn’t be an issue. Every place needs the essentials, from healthy food and drinks to free WiFi. Also, don’t forget that coffee shops haven’t monopolised the remote working industry. Workplaces for freelancers exist, and you can hire them on a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly basis, depending on your requirements.
With different places to work, and when no one atmosphere is the same, this can help you to keep some diversity alive in your work schedule, which allows many freelancers to maintain high levels of productivity. Keep in mind, though, that not every freelancer is alike. You may find freelancing abroad easier if you have just one or two reliable places to work, such as your apartment and then a coworking space you have a membership for.
If Freelancing Abroad, It’s Helpful to Define Your Hours
Changing working hours is a perk of freelancing. So, it’s vital that you keep the flexibility wherever possible, or else your career will begin to grind you down and make you unhappy. Having a flexible working schedule when you’re freelancing abroad will also ensure you don’t miss out on new opportunities and travel experiences. Nevertheless, making decisions about your daily schedule in the morning is risky and it can be incredibly tempting to oversleep and spend your mornings in bed. This may all sound pretty attractive. Until you spend your week working into the early hours. This is a bad habit that can have all sorts of negative consequences, such as disrupting your social life and your ability to get adequate, restful sleep.
With that in mind, it’s smart to organise your schedule the night before. That way, you maintain the flexibility you value without mismanaging your time. If there is a valid reason to start later, you can manage it accordingly. However, if there isn’t, it’s more efficient and better for your lifestyle if you begin and finish early. Aside from overworking yourself, it prevents you from rushing and missing deadlines. Freelancing Abroad: How I Learned the Fundamentals is a useful article that points out, based on personal experience, how setting hours is necessary for defining availability and appeasing clients.
You might want to consider outlining set hours if you haven’t already. Not for you, but also your clients and customers.
Remember Time Zones
Staying on the topic of availability, it’s not as straightforward as telling people your office hours are from 9 am to 5 pm. This may work for freelancers who live where all their clients live. But if you’re freelancing abroad, then you are running an international service, and this needs factoring into your process. Why? It’s because of time zones. What is the middle of the afternoon for one person is the dead of night for another.
Staying on top of time zones is tricky, especially when you move a lot and don’t know your whereabouts from one week to the next. Thankfully, there are plenty of tools that help you to remember the most important ones (your clients’ time zones). Firstly, the world clock on your phone is basic and effective simultaneously. All you need to do is choose the locations of each individual or company and cross-reference them when a deadline approaches.
An underrated trick is to tell the relevant parties about your whereabouts. There’s no reason to go into intimate details, but making them aware of travel commitments should stop naggy emails and messages. By communicating with them, it’ll come as less of a surprise.
Commit to Long-Term Work
Projects that last for months, or ones that provide recurring opportunities, are hard to find anywhere in the world. As a result, it’s imperative to grab them when they come across your path. Life as a freelancer is challenging because you could be chaotically busy one week and sitting idly, twiddling your thumbs the next. With constant long-term work on the books, you’ll always have a job that keeps a roof over your head, pays the bills, and funds your travels.
The obvious drawback is that this kind of long-term commitment may narrow your freedom in some ways. Remember, though, that a job you complete regularly will soon become second nature, meaning you’ll be able to finish it quickly and to a high standard. Also, forming a partnership with a client provides you with benefits you don’t have if you only complete tasks for them sporadically (such as increased income and security to enjoy travel experiences). Furthermore, because a long-term client will get to know you and value your skills, they could happily negotiate a compromise which affords you more flexibility (this will be more achievable if you freelance compared to if you worked remotely and full-time for a client while abroad).
Evaluate Your Phone Contract
A phone contract might not be at the top of your list right now. At the moment, you’re busy networking and investing your time in projects. Anyway, the specific SIM you have isn’t too important these days thanks to WhatsApp and public WiFi, so you’re happy to put it at the bottom of your list. This is a mistake, though. For two crucial reasons: money and communication.
Financially, a package not geared for international travel will cost you a fortune. Whether it’s phone calls or roaming the internet, the features are much more expensive. As a freelancer, you don’t want to waste your budget on a mobile contract, but you still to budget for one that is set up for international calling and data roaming. Freelancers who rely on a limited repertoire of communication, such as WhatsApp and Skype only may stand out as unreliable and harder-to-reach in comparison to competitors.
Also, you run the risk of isolating clients and customers by not extending your reach. Needing WiFi to conduct a phone call means you will more than likely miss vital correspondence. Always ensure that your mobile contract is meeting your freelancing needs.
Abandon the Lone Wolf Attitude
The lone wolf attitude is tempting for freelancers, as it can provide one with a strong sense of confidence in one’s ability to be self-independent, never having to depend on others. However, reaching out for help is also an excellent way to create a productive and lucrative freelancing operation. This could be through outsourcing certain tasks or connecting with fellow freelancers and entrepreneurs. A certain balance between self-reliance and a collaborative approach – which needs to be adjusted from time to time – is essential to freelancing abroad in a sustainable way.