The Month in Review: Location Independence Month

Normally, we provide you with a fun look behind-the-scenes of One Woman Shop at the end of the month. (We know you spend the whole month looking forward to our behind-the-scenes column, don’t lie.)

But, in honor of the end of Location Independence Month, we thought we’d highlight everything that happened throughout July across the internet.

There were digital nomads across the world showing us their days as location-independent business owners on Instagram. There was a fast-paced #OWSchat over on Twitter. There was non-stop pinning on Pinterest. There were funny back-and-forths about those “you know you’re a digital nomad when…” moments.

Pinterest

#OWSchat

You know you’re a digital nomad when…

…you’re in the most exciting and beautiful place ever, but you end up spending the day inside, sitting on the floor and trying not to move – because you found that one spot where the wifi actually works — @marthehhagen

…your criteria for accommodations includes distance to nearest internet cafe — @thetessblankenship

…your biggest hotel pet peeve is the wifi speed, not the number of pillows or the water pressure — @seebrittwrite

…you bring your laptop camping. — @moonstruckinmt

…you guard your laptop like it’s your life — @bucketlistbombshells

…the thought of being in your home region for six months makes you feel hella claustrophobic and you impulse buy a ticket to Guatemala [or insert other country here] — @msemmamcg

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Why I Chose the Location-Independent Life — and 4 Ways To Dip Your Toes In, Too

How To Use Your Offline Travel Time Productively For Your Business

How To Use Your Offline Travel Time Productively For Your Business

Location, location, location. It’s not just an expression used by real estate agents. It’s something you might want to give some serious thought to.

Three years ago on a particularly rainy day, I was sitting on the train doing my normal one-hour commute to work and I was thinking about the meaning of life. Cue existentialism central.

I was working crazy hours as a city lawyer in London (I once arrived in the office on a Monday and left on a Thursday — no joke) and I was starting to think that maybe, just maybe, this was all some horrible joke. In the time it took me to finish my latte I made two very important decisions:

  1. Since, by the age of 28, I had still not decided what the purpose of my life was, I decided to make the purpose of my life a life of purpose. It’s not as circular as it sounds. It just means that I’ve decided to do a lot of living and learning.
  2. If my life was going to be a joke then I should be the one laughing. End of story.

So, with nothing even resembling a plan, I headed straight to my senior partner’s office.

And no, I did not quit my job. I know that’s probably what you were expecting to hear, so this is a good time to explain that I’m adventurous…not impulsive. Sure, some people just quit their job and fully commit to their new goals in a sink or swim sort of fashion. I prefer testing the waters.

First step: new location. And that’s what I asked for. An assignment to a different office (in Dubai, as it happened). That first step lead to another (a roadtrip through Oman where the idea and the first sketches of Tibba App was created), which lead to another (finding partners and building the app). A year later, the app was built and launched in Dubai — and it will very soon be available in London and the wider world.

It started with a small step, not a giant leap into the unknown, but I had to start somewhere — and that starting point was a new location. The growth will come from many, many more locations.

I decided to live a life of purpose, and becoming location independent is helping me do that. Here are four ways I recommend dipping your toes into the location-independent life, yourself:

1. Start with the purpose and work backwards

Why are you running your own business or looking to create one? Money and financial freedom is a very good answer to this question. So is adventure, lifestyle design, independence, freedom or anything else that you feel passionate about. Whatever it is, really think about where you are best placed to make this happen.

2. Don’t assume you have to live in Bali. What other options are there?

Have you ever researched the living costs in other places? Could you maybe save a small fortune by living in Barcelona instead of London? It’s really not that far, the cost of a flight is super cheap (£25 or so) and the cost of living is a fraction of London prices. You don’t have to live in digital nomad havens like Bali to be location independent and get the same benefits. Check out places closer to home that would allow you to maintain regular meetings with co-workers or clients, but that provide your preferred weather and cost advantages.

3. Trade skills, not bills

I might be slightly bias here since this is what my company, Tibba, does but trading skills instead of bills makes a huge difference to your cashflow. If you’re a photographer, why not trade your skills for everything from free yoga lessons at a local studio to help with your website from a SEO specialist. Work smart. This is often easier in digital nomad hubs and remote coworking spaces as everyone is already doing it, but we’re hoping to bring it to the wider market. What would you do if you didn’t have to pay for everything?

4. Outsource

The cost of hiring a freelancer varies dramatically in different countries. And if you’re actually in the same place as the person you’re outsourcing to (be it Poland, Buenos Aires or Manila) they can effectively become part of your team. The biggest frustration with outsourcing is miscommunication. The odds of successful communication increases drastically if you’re actually working in the same place (even if it’s just for a short while). Posting a job advertisement (in English) on Craigslist in whichever city you’re visiting will get you applicants that speak English (helpful), and you have the benefit of actually working with this person for a period of time. The difference in efficiency is massive compared to training someone over emails or the phone.

Determine your purpose, then get out and pursue it

It’s not all or nothing — and going after the location-independent life doesn’t have to be hard. Know your purpose, then find ways to start small while you fully explore the adventure.

Digital nomad and location independence resources

5 Challenges of Being a Digital Nomad (And How I Overcame Them)

How To Use Your Offline Travel Time Productively For Your Business

How To Use Your Offline Travel Time Productively For Your Business

The benefits of being a digital nomad are well publicized and are what draw so many to this lifestyle in the first place. What’s harder to talk about, and what often gets glossed over, are the very real obstacles you will encounter along the way.

It’s been more than three years since I started my location-independent business and I’ve seen my fair share of highs and lows. Below are the top digital nomad challenges I’ve faced, and the exact solutions I found to overcome them.

1. Friends and family not understanding how I could be “at work” when I’m not in an office.

Of all the challenges I’ve faced, this one hurts the most on a personal level. People mistakenly believe my life is an endless vacation. Whenever I travel abroad, whether it’s Peru or France, someone asks if they can join me for extended stays. While I’d love to see them, the fact of the matter is I’m working. Asking to stay with a digital nomad for an extended period of time and expecting them to host you is basically like barging into an employee’s office in the middle of a workday. You wouldn’t do that to a friend who works a desk job, would you?

Solution: Set boundaries — and stick to them!

I find it’s best to let go of the expectation that your relatives or even your best friend will ever understand your digital nomad lifestyle. Even so, it is important to set boundaries with them. Make it clear when you are at work and when you are not. If they want to join you on your travels, make sure they’re okay with exploring the city on their own while you work, or ask them to visit you on weekends (if those are the days you have off).

It’s been hard handling this because I don’t like to hurt people’s feelings, but even when I’ve had friends join me in a foreign place, I let them know when I have a deadline, and then I go do my work in a separate place (usually a local coffee shop). They can go exploring, and we meet up later. Those who truly love you will respect your boundaries and your work.

2. Not having a stable address.

Digital nomads love to say they have no set address — but that simply can’t be true. You have to have an address. It’s required to pay taxes, it’s required for your ID cards, and it’s definitely required for any business!

Solution: Pick a city to use as your home base, and open up a private or virtual mailbox there.

Since I move so much, I opened a private mailbox with The UPS Store in my home base, San Francisco. Employees will email you notifications whenever you receive mail. You can also authorize people to pick up mail for you.

Alternatively, you can use a virtual mailbox like TravelingMailbox.com. They’ll scan all your mail so you can access it online from anywhere in the world. I haven’t used them myself, but I’ve heard good things.

3. Feeling lonely.

I’m an introvert and a solo traveler; I do really well alone. So I was shocked when I found myself feeling depressed after I quit my desk job. Without the constant interaction with my coworkers and the supervision of my manager, I felt down and unmotivated.

Solutions:

Join online entrepreneur communities. Ones I recommend: One Woman Shop (of course!) and Blog + Biz BFFs.

Ask a fellow business owner to be your accountability partner. It is crucial to have a confidante who is also a business owner; they can understand you on a level that friends and family can’t. I have a “business bestie” who’s also a solopreneur, and we check in via video chat every Friday for one hour. This has done wonders for my productivity and sanity. She holds me accountable and offers advice that others simply wouldn’t know how to give!

For fun, try Meetup.com. When I was feeling lonely in Paris, I went to a Spanish conversation Meetup. It was great to connect with locals and expats while also practicing my Spanish skills!

4. Juggling travel and work.

Constant travel can undermine your personal and business health. Many of us live this lifestyle because we dread routine, yet routine is essential to productivity. Each time you travel to a new location, you’re having to find the stable wi-fi connection, where to live, where to buy groceries, and more. If you’re constantly changing locations, your mental energy will be spent on making sense of your surroundings, and there won’t be much left to focus on your business.

Solution: Travel slowly.

This is why I’m an advocate of slow travel. I stayed in Cusco, Peru, for four and a half months. This allowed me to rent an apartment, set up my own wi-fi, and work as needed. I stayed in Paris for five weeks, also renting my own apartment and settling into a routine. Now I’m based out of San Francisco and spend most of my time here. Being location independent doesn’t mean you have to change locations every day. Go with what works best for you.

5. Feeling burnt out.

As a location-independent solopreneur, work life can sometimes overlap with personal life to the point I can’t even distinguish between the two. This becomes especially problematic while traveling. My hotel room, airplane seat, or restaurant table becomes my office, and it can be hard to switch out of “work mode” and enjoy my surroundings.

Solution: Take a real vacation!

As an employee, you’re given vacation days. As a solopreneur, you have to give yourself the vacation days! It’s so easy to forget, especially because you’re the sole person responsible for your business, but taking a vacation is crucial to recharge your batteries and come back to work refreshed and productive.

Though I’d traveled a lot since starting my business in 2013, I didn’t take a real vacation (you know, the kind where you don’t do any work) until late 2015! I was so caught up in making sure I was growing my business that I neglected my personal well-being.

Before taking my vacation, I wrote an email to all my clients one month in advance, explaining that I would be on vacation (it’s important you use that actual word!) and would be unavailable for one week. I told them if there was anything urgent, they could send me an email with “urgent” in the subject line. A few days before I left, I sent them a reminder email going over what they could expect from me while I was away. I then had a friend check my inbox daily and let me know if there were any urgent emails (you can also hire a virtual assistant for this). At the end of that week, I felt amazing and was able to be more creative and productive with my clients! Vacation does wonders.

I hope sharing my lessons learned as a digital nomad will help others going through similar challenges. Whenever you find yourself struggling, just remember why you began. Being location independent is not easy, but it affords you the freedom to work from anywhere, call your own shots, and explore the world — something most people only dream about. For me, it is definitely worth it!

Digital nomad and location independence resources

How To Use Your Offline Travel Time Productively For Your Business

How To Use Your Offline Travel Time Productively For Your Business

How To Use Your Offline Travel Time Productively For Your Business

I run not just one, but two online businesses. Yet I spend a lot of time offline on airplanes and expedition ships, and I take road trips frequently. It might seem strange for someone who makes their living online to constantly espouse the importance of consistency in being offline for stretches of time…but it’s quite the blessing in disguise.

Because being online all the time can distract you from tapping into some serious creativity.

Rather than seeing my offline time as time that I’m away from my business, I treat it as my creative getaway time to write, write, write, or to generate ideas without all the noise of the internet getting in the way.

Here’s how I leverage my offline time best:

Prepare for offline time

Making the most of your time offline means preparing for it before it happens. Here are a few ways I recommend you do that:

1. Clear enough space on your smartphone to capture some voice recordings and/or photos if the opportunity comes up and inspiration strikes.

2. Make sure you have the right software/apps on your phone and/or laptop so you can do some distraction-free work offline (see the apps section below for my recommendations) or go old school and have a journal at hand for your journey.

3. If you’ve already written up outlines or brainstorms for your business (or have other materials, like emails, that you need to reference), make sure you’ve synced them from wherever they are onto your laptop hard drive and can access them during your offline time.

4. Pay extra attention that you have all the chargers and adaptors you need for your electronics. I keep all of mine in one large pencil-case style holder in my laptop bag. I also have a multi-adaptor for working in different countries and a tiny portable battery pack so I can recharge my iPhone twice if I’m remote for a few days.

Enjoy distraction-free writing

During your time offline, write like your life depends on it.

Being on trains or planes or in automobiles is hands down where I get the most writing done. It’s easy to be lazy and stare out the window or watch movies. But sister, plug in those earphones and write like your life depends on it. It can be blog post content, detailed to-do lists, the framework for your next course, random Facebook rants you want to share on a topic that’s important to you…just write.

Hash it out, verbally

If you’re traveling with a partner or friend, talk through concepts, projects, or ideas that you’ve been incubating. I often talk through blog post ideas or even course content with my husband while on road trips, and not only do I get clearer on the language I want to use, but he asks me great questions for clarification.

I’ve come up with some of my most powerful creative ideas and content during a verbal brainstorm. It helps if the person you’re hashing things out with isn’t an online entrepreneur, because they can give you an unbiased perspective. Take notes as you go (Richard Branson does this on his hand) or, even better, record it with your smartphone and transcribe the good bits later on.

Strategically re-enter the online sphere

It’s all-too-easy to write drafts or capture ideas while offline and then come back to have them languish out of sight and out of mind. Don’t let this happen! If you’ve written some great stuff, use Google Keep to set yourself a to-do related to each specific piece. (More on Google Keep, below.) Maybe it’s a blog post you want to polish up, or a chapter of your next book you’ve drafted that needs an edit. Set a due date and reminder to hold yourself accountable for following up and getting it out into the world.

On another note, got photos of magnificence you want to share? Instagram doesn’t always have to be instant. Go ahead and post some images for us to see or batch schedule an “offline series” through Later so that your followers feel like they’ve come along on the journey with you.

Apps I use and love

Here are the apps I use to make the above possible, and why they’re awesome:

  • Dragon Dictate – I love Dragon Dictate because it transcribes my recordings for me, saving a lot of time. It’s a one-time, upfront investment but it’ll pay off for years if you’re the type of person who likes to think out loud.
  • Evernote – Evernote is everything to me. I keep blog post ideas, recipes, resources I plan on referencing, household budget stuff, and everything you can imagine in there. It’s such a great repository because you can add the web clipper to your browser and clip items from the internet into Evernote for later reference. What?! Awesome. I even write my blog posts in Evernote and then use the Share function to send them to my virtual assistant.
  • Later (formerly Latergramme) – I love Later because while I usually use Instagram in real time, I have oodles of great images from years past that I want to use for my brand’s visual storytelling. I spend a couple of hours each month loading those images into Later and scheduling them out for the month, so that my content is varied.
  • Google Keep – For someone like me, who’s online then offline then online and offline again, I desperately needed a place where I could keep to-do’s that would auto-sync in the cloud with my other devices. Google Keep is fantastic and it’s more dynamic than a simple to-do list. You can set reminders, add images or files to the to-do, and even color code the to-do item. It’s just cool. Try it. (Editor’s note: Asana makes a great alternative, as well.)

And now, for a final alternative: Don’t do anything related to your business

For real. Sometimes, I decide to completely unplug and read things that feed my creative and critical brain, like re-reading one of Russell Brand’s autobiographies or listening to This American Life. A great lesson I’ve learned in my six years as a content creator is that the more great quality content you consume, the better a content creator you’ll become.

How do you leverage your offline time best? I’d love to hear your additions to my list.

Digital nomad and location independence resources

#OWSchat is back! Let’s Talk Location Independence, Shall We?

#OWSchat from One Woman Shop

You may have noticed a theme this month here at OWS — in fact, we sure hope you’ve noticed a theme, because we’ve been all about location independence and living the digital nomad lifestyle since July kicked off.

So what better way to bring it to a close than an hour-long Twitter chat about the challenges, the fears, the must-dos, and more? Join us Wednesday, July 27 at 9pm EST over on Twitter with the hashtag #OWSchat to do just that!

Whether you’re fully immersed in the digital nomad lifestyle, you’re thinking about it, or you simply love taking advantage of your location independence close to home, this chat’s for you.

Looking forward to chatting Wednesday, 7/27 at 9pm EST!

PS – First ever Twitter chat? We highly recommend using a platform like TweetChat to keep things organized.

How to Make Long-Distance (Business) Relationships Work

How to Make Long-Distance (Business) Relationships Work

How to Make Long-Distance (Business) Relationships Work

Ahhh, long distance relationships.

They start out so full of hope and enthusiasm – but all that sizzle can quickly fizzle.

The phone calls become texts, the texts become emails…and before you know it, your communication has been reduced to a “Happy Birthday” one-liner on your Facebook wall once a year.

That’s because long distance relationships — personal and professional — take work.

But cultivating and nurturing a network of clients, peers, mentors, media contacts and other influencers that you can take with you anywhere is well worth the effort.

If you and your business are hitting the road, here are some ideas for keeping your long distance relationships fresh and fun.

Set up video call dates

It’s Friday, the sun is setting on your oh-so-dreamy destination, and there’s a Pink Starburst cocktail with your name on it. Why not take it international by inviting an online friend to join you via video call?

An after-work drink or coffee date over Skype or FaceTime is the ultimate way to connect with someone new or touch base with an old friend from a distance. Yes, video calls do require a little more effort than email or social media (getting out of your pajamas, for one), but they’re as close to an in-person meetup as you can get when that’s just not possible.

Tech Tip: Arrange your video calls using a free scheduling tool such as Acuity or Calendly to avoid time zone confusion.

Bust a cheerleading move

No matter where you’re from, chances are you’ve watched enough American teen movies to know that if you want to Bring It On, you need to pack the pompoms. (Stick with me here.) Cheering on your tribe from afar is one of the most effective ways to deepen your connection with them – and best of all, it’s easy to do.

A fellow coach has a new podcast interview or guest post coming out? Leave a comment to let them know you were listening/reading and which parts you enjoyed the most. Your mentor is launching a new program? Pop the virtual champagne by sharing their offering on social media. A friend in one of your Facebook groups is feeling nervous about a big speaking gig? Pump her up with positivity or send her something funny to loosen those pre-speech nerves.

Tech Tip: Use online monitoring tools such as Hootsuite Streams, Mention or Google Alerts to listen for conversations about specific contacts and keywords.

Treat social media like a cocktail party

Instead of social media networking feeling like another task on your to-do list, imagine you’re attending a cocktail party, champagne glass in hand, mixing and mingling with a room full of lovely new people. (Just don’t stay out too late if you’ve got work to do…) This is your opportunity to be a charming conversationalist — generously sharing your own expertise and insights, making introductions, and endorsing the skills of people you’ve worked with.

Groups on Facebook and LinkedIn that attract the people you’d like to meet (clients, influencers, peers) and have the right vibe for you (structured vs. organic, assertive vs. nurturing, etc.) are a great place to start making new friends online — especially if you’re feeling a little isolated on the road. For a more real-time experience, join Twitter chats or Facebook Live events. (Editor’s note: Find relevant chats on the One Woman Shop calendar!)

Tech Tip: Add the Rapportive plugin to Gmail to get LinkedIn profiles right inside your inbox — a great memory-jogger for details about new connections who email you!

Keep your “wolf pack” in the loop

With most community-building advice focused on being generous and adding value, it’s easy to forget relationships are a two-way street and that you can, and should, share what you’ve got going on in your own business. People who know, like, and trust you will genuinely want to support you (because that’s what friends do), so give them the opportunity to help.

Being Boss founders, Emily Thompson and Kathleen Shannon, explain how to email your “wolf pack” – a close group of peers, clients, mastermind friends and mentors – prior to launching a new offering in episode #63 of their podcast (around minute 28). Your wolf pack email simply explains what you’re up to, politely invites recipients to share the details (if they wish), and includes a swipe file of share messaging and graphics to make it super quick and easy. (See how to create an epic swipe file here.)

Tech Tip: Create a Google Drive or Dropbox folder for launch images and messaging to share with your “wolf pack.”

Long distance doesn’t have to mean long gone

The beauty of our online businesses is that we can take them anywhere — and when you cultivate relationships that can stand the test of time, you better believe they’ll follow you anywhere, as well.

Digital nomad and location independence resources

5 Myths You Might Believe About Running a Location-Independent Business

How To Use Your Offline Travel Time Productively For Your Business

How To Use Your Offline Travel Time Productively For Your Business

We’ve all read articles about running a location-independent business and working four hours a week, while sitting on the beach and raking in the money.

This isn’t one of those articles. What this is: My honest version of what my location-independent lifestyle looks like as I travel and run my solo business.

In my reading about being location independent (I’ve done a lot), I’ve discovered several myths that are believed to be true — ones I’ve been able to debunk throughout my experiences. Before I get to those, though, please remember this: Everyone’s version of running a location-independent business and living the digital nomad lifestyle is different.

Now, let’s dig in.

Myth #1: Running a location-independent business is lonely

I’m not going to lie — yes, it can be. You have most likely left your family and friends back home to travel to places where no one knows you. But, it doesn’t have to be lonely.

First thing’s first: Go slow — you’re not on a vacation. Meet your neighbors, learn the basics of the language, find niche communities in your area. One of the best ways to assimilate as a business owner is to find co-working spaces and/or cafes where other people are working — and strike up conversations. Often, these people are in the same boat as you and you can find common ground.

In my case, I am currently in Mexico doing volunteer work with my husband, so our community of fellow volunteers has become our “Mexico family,” relieving any feelings of loneliness I experienced when first arriving.

Other ways to beat the feelings of loneliness are in online communities. It’s not always the same, but often there are entrepreneurs traveling through the same area that you can catch up and share your experiences with.

Of course, sometimes nothing beats catching up with family and friends back home. Fortunately, there are a plethora of apps that allow for regular catch-ups without breaking the bank. Some of my favorites: Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, and Voxer.

Myth #2: You get to work from the beach every day

We’ve all heard this one — and it’s a big attraction for some, but not for me. Don’t get me wrong, it can be done in certain places. But in my case? It doesn’t quite work: the best beaches are deserted, which means no internet, I don’t enjoy having sand in my laptop keys, and I don’t associate the beach with work — I associate it with relaxation.

Instead, I work from my little apartment most of the time, sometimes breaking it up to work at a cafe. To get outside and enjoy the scenery, I’ll often take a break and go for a walk to the Malecon (ocean boardwalk) to enjoy the sunset with the locals, then come back and finish working.

My working hours vary depending on the project and the client, but on average I work 20 hours per week, and I am more productive in an environment where I can concentrate without too many distractions. The beach just isn’t one of those.

Myth #3: Running a location-independent business is easy

This isn’t meant to scare you off; rather, it’s to point out that it’s not as easy as packing up your laptop and charging cord and hitting the road.

A truly location-independent, digital nomad lifestyle takes a lot of initial planning to get your mindset right, prepare your family and clients back home, figure out what to do with your stuff (sell or store), successfully set up your finances, and more.

Once you start traveling, language barriers can be difficult. There are times when you get frustrated because you don’t understand what is going on, but it all comes down to your mindset and your attitude. Quite simply, if you can laugh at yourself, you will be fine.

Here’s a story that might help with that: When my husband and I were first here in Mexico, we learnt the correct phrases (in Spanish) to ask for people who spoke English. One afternoon, my husband was having difficulty pronouncing certain words and rolling his ‘R’s. (We’re Australian — we don’t pronounce ever our R’s!) So instead of asking for people — “personas” — who speak English, he was asking for nipples — “pezones” — who speak English! The locals had a good laugh at his expense, and so did he once he realized what he was saying. Making an effort to learn some of the language gives you insight into their culture, and sometimes into your own personality flaws.

Another difficulty can be time zone differences. In my case, all of my clients are back home in Australia. This means a time zone difference of 16 hours, so if I want to schedule meetings, it’s always in the afternoon-evening or late at night, if needed. It’s all part of being location independent.

Myth #4: Location independence is expensive

If you live as a location-independent business owner in the same way you vacation, then yes, it can get expensive. You cannot maintain that level of spending and live long term as a location-independent entrepreneur.

It’s important to establish your level of what you can and can’t live without. When on the road, can you live without hot water; plush comfy sofas; air conditioning? In my case, here in Mexico, I can live without hot water in the summer. (It’s too hot to have a hot shower!) But, air conditioning is essential for me. Knowing what you can and can’t live without will help you determine your expenses. You’ll be surprised at what you can do without and still enjoy the experience.

Living frugally doesn’t mean that tickets, other accommodations, food, memberships, and more, won’t add up. This is where you need to get creative: There are always deals on flights, and if you search for accommodations where the locals search (not always on sites like AirBnB and Craigslist), you can find some good deals. I found that searching for accommodations online in Spanish allowed me to find cheaper accommodations here in Mexico.

Myth #5: That much time spent with your spouse/partner is crazy

To be honest, this is one I was concerned about most, as since my partner and I have been together, we had always worked full time for different companies. In fact, back home, I worked out that I was spending more time with my co-workers than with my husband.

In reality though, this lifestyle has brought us closer together. For one, we are experiencing different things together, both good and bad. Second, while I still have my work, he is able pursue his own interests, and though we spend most of our time together, we haven’t gotten sick of each other, even after six years of living as on-and-off digital nomads.

A truth: Running a location-independent business isn’t for everyone

Everyone’s version of location independence will differ — and for some, the lifestyle may not be appealing at all.

Sometimes, I find it challenging and frustrating because nothing is the same as the comfort zone of home, but overall I find it extremely rewarding. I have learnt a lot about myself as a person, and as an entrepreneur. (Not all of it good!) But the biggest truth I’ve learned is this: As long as you have the right mindset and don’t take yourself too seriously, you can do it, too.

Are you currently location independent? What are the biggest myths you’ve found? Tell me your version.

Digital nomad and location independence resources

How to Prepare for Working Without Wifi

How to prepare for working without wifi

How to Prepare for Working Without Wifi

Have you ever picked one coffee shop over another just because it had better wifi? Yep, me too. The ability to work anywhere is amazing, but it comes with a catch — constant reliance on connecting to the Internet. Needless to say, as digital solopreneurs, we live on wifi — and tend to panic when it comes to working without wifi.

So what happens when we don’t have consistent access to a strong network? I’m about to find out: I’m preparing for a 10 day road trip* from Raleigh, NC to Seattle, WA and will be working as I can along the way. Half of the time I’m staying in Airbnb properties, which will more than likely have wifi, but the other half, I’m camping off the grid.

As I prep for working offline, I want to share what I’ve learned with you. So before the panic sets in as you go wifi-less, let’s explore our options.

1. Come down from the cloud

Draft what you can

Don’t let the lack of internet stop you from drafting an email, blog post, etc. When it comes time to write something (anything!) type it out in draft form. You can use Microsoft Word, Evernote or Google Drive Offline.

Evernote is my go-to option for drafting. If you have the app installed on your computer, the free application will work as normal when offline. It just won’t be syncing your data to the cloud until you reconnect.

Google Drive’s offline ability syncs all your G-Drive files locally to your computer (which does take up space on your hard drive), and then syncs back to the cloud when you are online again. It’s a good option for those who use Google Drive a lot in their business. Note: You must have internet access to turn on Google Drive Offline, so prep this before going into that wifi-less zone!

Save resources

When you know you’ll be going offline soon, it’s a good idea to copy and paste/save anything that you might need to refer to while you’re working offline. This includes:

  • Emails/email attachments (are there any important instructions in emails that you will need to look at while working on a task?)
  • Online articles (Go to file > print > then at the bottom of the print dialogue there should be an option to save as a PDF)
  • Documents from cloud-based storage (i.e., Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, etc.)
  • Images

A few more notes

  • Since most of these options for working offline require storage on your hard drive, consider getting an external hard drive to host your downloaded files.
  • If your computer isn’t available and you need to write out long drafts on your phone, I recommend getting a Bluetooth keyboard to save yourself from Carpal Tunnel. I have this one and love it.

BYO-wifi

Hey, no one said you can’t bring your own wifi to the wifi-less party. Since I’m going to try to work some in the car, and at camping spots, I decided to get a mobile hotspot. While you can use your phone as a mobile hotspot, it drains your battery fast. Also, I happen to have unlimited data from AT&T, so they disable the ability to use your phone as a hotspot (sneaky fine print).

After doing some research online about mobile hotspots, I decided to go with Karma Go. This was one of the few (if not only) hotspots available that didn’t go through a cell phone service provider.

Why I chose it:

  • Pay as you go, or pay monthly – both do not require a contract
  • Small, portable size (fits in your back pocket)
  • Cool brand – they are a company who is trying to disrupt traditional internet service providers. And I like their design, both on their website and the physical product. Cue the, “Brand loyalty is an important factor for Millennials.”

Downsides:

  • Upfront cost of $150 for the device (but I got it over the 4th of July sale for $100)
  • May not be the most secure option. They don’t have password protected wifi on the standard plan. I upgraded for $5.00 to include the password protection.
  • Coverage – since they are fairly new, they don’t have as complete of coverage as AT&T or Verizon. I haven’t tried it out yet, but reviews say it has not been a problem.

Make friends with pen and paper

Okay, so there will be times when there is no wifi signal in sight. And there will be times when our devices lose power and there is no electricity in sight. That is when pen and paper might be your best bet. For me, using my planner is perfect because I can schedule calls, write down my list of things to do and jot down ideas as they come to me. There is also a pocket in it for stashing receipts if need be. I keep my planner in my laptop bag so I always have it on hand when I need to check my schedule.

Another great option for writing things down is a Moleskine notebook. The quality is great so you don’t have to worry about it getting beat up in your purse. (This is also a great way to record memories while traveling!)

Life doesn’t have to come to an end without wifi

Armed with these tactics for working offline, I feel prepared for a road trip of limited to no wifi. But that doesn’t mean that I won’t shout “hallelujah!” when I spot a Starbucks.

*For anyone interested, here is a rough game plan for the road trip — cheers to location independence!

Day 1: Raleigh, NC –> Nashville, TN
Day 2: Nashville, TN –> Oklahoma City, OK
Day 3: Oklahoma City, OK –> Santa Fe, NM
Day 4: Santa Fe, NM –> Telluride, CO – Moab, UT
Day 5: Moab, UT
Day 6: Moab, UT –> Salt Lake City, UT
Day 7: Salt Lake City, UT –> Grand Teton Natl Park, WY
Day 8: The Tetons –> Boise, ID
Day 9: Boise, ID –> Seattle, WA
Day 10: Seattle, WA!

Digital nomad and location independence resources

Wifi, Quiet, and Community: How to Find Places to Work When You’re Traveling

Wifi, Quiet, and Community: How to Find Places to Work When You’re Traveling

Wifi, Quiet, and Community: How to Find Places to Work When You’re Traveling

One of the biggest issues location-independent entrepreneurs face is finding temporary workspaces that suit all of our needs (#thestruggleisreal). When you arrive in a new country or city, it can be pretty challenging to find that perfect working space — one that combines solid internet, great coffee, a quiet ambiance, and the chance to meet other digital nomads to befriend on your travels.

Even in your hometown, you might be looking for new cafés or workspaces to change up your routine and get out of the house. Working from home in your pajamas can be great, but sometimes a girl needs to get dressed and get out to feel productive (and escape all the distractions that come with a home office).

There are more options than ever for you to set up shop with your laptop and notebook. Whether you’re a digital nomad who roams the world, or a location-independent boss that stays put in her city, here’s how I recommend finding a space to work that suits you.

Coffee & wifi

To find a nearby café or coworking space, all you need is your smartphone. A quick search in Google maps for “cafés near me” will show you spots nearby where you can grab a coffee and set up your office for an hour or two. But with this method, you always run the risk of the place having poor wifi — or none at all.

Luckily, many-a-nomad before us has faced this issue, and a few of them have created solutions for us. There are café hunting apps that not only tell you where the nearest latte is, but how fast the wifi is, how many outlets the place has, and if they have food or not. (So, pretty much everything you need to know before setting up camp for an afternoon.)

Start here:

Coworking bliss

Maybe café working isn’t really your thing. After all, it can be noisy and distracting with the constant rotation of customers. That might make coworking spaces a better option for you. Coworking spaces are a shared office environment where freelancers, entrepreneurs, and small teams can rent a desk or office. Some coworking spaces allow drop-in and flex passes, while others strictly rent by the month.

Start here:

  • Copass, an organization that offers a membership to over 500 coworking spaces around the world, also has a pretty extensive directory.
  • WeWork is an organization that has a network of coworking spaces in many locations around the world, and is expected to continue growing rapidly as it expands to new locations. With its recent valuation at $16 billion, I think it’s pretty safe to say that we will be seeing more coworking spaces opening all over the place.

Because existing apps and directories online are usually pretty incomplete (it’s a tall task to cover coworking all over the world!), oftentimes the best way to find coworking near you is Google. You can also try finding the main startup scene online community and website for your city. Chances are, they will have a list of coworking spaces nearby.

Temporary office spaces

Sometimes you need a space a little quieter than a café and you need more alone time than a coworking space can provide. For example, if you’re giving a webinar, recording a podcast, or having an in-person interview with a brand new client, you might want to look into short term office space rental. There are a few companies that are offering office space rental by the hour or day.

Start here:

Use those sites to search for available temporary offices in your city. You can find a desk, a conference room, or a private office to suit your needs for the day, without having to commit to an entire month of rent. Perfect for those days when you need more space.

Join a nomad community

With more and more entrepreneurs and freelancers choosing the nomad life, there are tons of communities popping up that you can join to meet likeminded people, find travel buddies, and learn some nomad lifestyle tips (like the best wifi/brunch combo in town).

If you are looking for a community to live and travel with, consider joining a group like Remote Year or Hacker Paradise. These organizations bring together entrepreneurs, freelancers, and remote workers for a coworking adventure. They make most of your living and travel arrangements for you, so you don’t have to worry about all the logistics of being constantly on the move.

If you’re looking for a shorter term stay in a coworking/coliving environment, something like Outsite or Surf Office might interest you. These organizations offer accommodations along with a dedicated workspace in beautiful locations like Lake Tahoe, San Diego, Lisbon, and Gran Canaria.

Maybe you’re not ready to commit to living with strangers, but still want to meet other nomads. Good news — there are communities for that, too! Join the #Nomads Slack community to connect with over 10,000 nomads and find people in the cities you’re planning on traveling to. Similarly, joining groups like One Woman Shop will introduce you to solopreneurs living all over the world who you can connect with. There’s no better way to discover local gems than from people who’ve been there!

Getting work done on the road has never been easier

Finding the perfect workspace as a digital nomad isn’t easy — but fortunately, there are options galore to make the search simpler than it’s ever been before. And once you’ve found that perfect place, you can settle into a routine before your wanderlust sets in and your next digital nomad adventure begins.

Tell me in the comments below: What will you be adding to your workspace bucket list?

Digital nomad and location independence resources

The Top Resources for Digital Nomads

It’s Location Independence Month, 2016 edition, here on One Woman Shop! In honor of our third annual celebration of location independence, we’re re-releasing the list of resources for digital nomads that made its debut back in 2014. 

We welcome your additions to this list! For consideration, please email hello@onewomanshop.com

For meeting other digital nomads on the ground

  • Couchsurfing: Not just for finding a couch (or bed) to crash on — you can also attend their meetups or use their new Hangout feature to connect with other travelers
  • Create Your Nomadtopia: A Facebook Group for sharing resources and ideas for creating a location-independent life (aka Nomadtopia)
  • Nomadbase: Uses real-time location updates from social media to help you connect with other digital nomads in the area
  • #nomads: A Slack channel of over 10,000 digital nomads, categorized by location. (We love the way they put it: “Let’s kill lonely, together!”)

For working/learning with other digital nomads

  • WiFi Tribe: A co-working/co-living experiment with a new location every month (though you can opt in or out based on your schedule and interests)
  • Nomad Cruise: Cross the Atlantic on a cruise ship with over 200 other digital nomads
  • Institute of Code: An all-inclusive 10 day development bootcamp in locations around the world
  • Remote Year: 75 digital nomads. 12 cities. 1 year.

For finding paid and volunteer gigs

  • Working NomadsA curated list of remote jobs, for the modern working nomad
  • FlexJobs: A paid service for finding telecommuting jobs
  • HelpX: Find places to volunteer in exchange food and accommodation; includes farms, homestays, B&Bs, hostels, and more
  • WWOOF: Find volunteer opportunities on organic farms worldwide

For finding office space and coworking spaces globally

  • Copass: Access the largest network of coworking spaces with one Pass
  • ShareDesk: A global coworking space finder
  • Impact Hub: 81 coworking locations around the world focused on social impact

For choosing your next location

  • Nomad List: A search engine for finding cities to travel to or live in based on your interests and needs (think: categories like Safest Cities for Solo Female Travelers and Best Cities for Single Women)

For booking + organizing your travel

  • Skyscanner: A flight search engine. Our favorite feature? Type “Everywhere” in the search bar to find the lowest fares available from your current location
  • KAYAK Explore: Another way to choose your next location based on airfare costs
  • Rome2rio: Discover how to get anywhere by plane, train, bus, ferry and automobile
  • TripIt: All of your travel itineraries, in one place

For accommodations

  • Hostels.com: The search engine for finding an affordable, well-rated hostel around the world
  • Airbnb: A community marketplace for people to list, discover and book unique spaces around the world through mobile phones or the internet
  • Couchsurfing: A site for connecting with individuals who host you for free
  • Hotel Tonight: For finding a last minute hotel room

For budgeting, currency conversion, + travel hacking

  • Trail Wallet: An easy travel expense tracker for iPhone
  • XE Converter: Calculate live currency and foreign exchange rates with this free currency app
  • Mint: A free web-based personal financial management service
  • Chase Sapphire: A highly recommended credit card for earning airfare miles
  • Travel Hacking Cartel: A private paid service to help you travel hack (like earning frequent flier miles without flying)

For travel insurance

  • World Nomads: Travel insurance for independent travellers from more than 150 countries
  • Seven Corners: Another trusted travel insurance company with a variety of insurance plan options

For packing

  • Tom Bihn: No-nonsense travel bags, organizers, laptop bags, and packing cubes (God’s gift to digital nomads)
  • ban.do: Shop the travel section for colorful passport holders, luggage tags, and charging cords
  • Tortuga Backpacks: A city-friendly alternative to traditional backpackers that are designed for hikers

For language learning

  • Duolingo: A gamification app that lets you read, listen, and speak in 23 languages
  • Memrise: A language learning app that encourages you “grow” skills like you would a plant

For miscellaneous things

  • Happy Cow: for finding vegetarian-friendly restaurants
  • Find Me Gluten Free: A smartphone app for finding gluten-free friendly restaurants. Hop over to the international section if you’re traveling abroad
  • Postagram: Upload your travel photos and send them to friends around the world as postcards — for $.99

One Woman Shop resources

  • Tools We Love: A list of tools that help you effectively run a location-independent business
  • At-Home Workout Resources: A list of YouTube channels; many of which don’t require any special equipment

P.S. Want to read every single post we’ve ever featured about location independence? Head here.

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