Welcome to Location Independent Success Stories, the newest interview series on The Sweetest Way!
In each new post, I’ll be introducing you to someone who’s using their unique skills and talents to kick ass as a digital nomad and live life on their terms.
This week, I’m pleased to introduce you to Kim André Langholz, an entrepreneur hailing from Denmark.
Kim André Langholz is an E-Commerce Marketing Specialist, business coach, and digital nomad. Through Freelanceforaliving.com he teaches freelancers how to 2x their income using simple business tactics and behavioral psychology. You can also find Kim on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.
First, please tell us a little bit about yourself. What’s your background, and what are you doing now?
My name is Kim André Langholz, a married, mid-twenties guy from Denmark. Before I set out to travel the world with my wife I had spent five years taking a high school degree alongside a professional degree in metal fabrication. During my five years in school, I spent 3-4 hours daily reading about and testing online marketing theories. That landed me a marketing job in Spain a week after graduating which leads up to today where I work as a freelance e-commerce marketing specialist, helping e-commerce owners plan and execute online marketing strategies with an aim to grow their online revenue.
How often do you travel? Do you have one city that you consider a home base?
We’ve been traveling permanently since June 2015. We literally sold or gave away all our belongings. Since then we haven’t had a home/base although we have found some cities that could potentially serve as our home base one day.
Where are you now, and where do you plan to travel next?
We are currently in Lisbon, Portugal. We’ve been here for just over a month and in the beginning of December, we’ll be flying to Las Palmas, Gran Canaria to go on a cruise across the Atlantic Ocean. If all goes according to the plan we should be celebrating Christmas in New York and later in the evening in Montréal.
How do you typically choose your destinations?
It’s a case of looking at what flights are available from our current location, seeing if there are suitable Airbnb homes available in those cities and then selecting the city that seems to fit our needs the best. Our schedule can change from day to day so we try not to plan too far ahead.
When did you realize you wanted to become location independent, and what were your reasons behind that decision?
It was back in 2008-09’ish after dealing with intense stress. I was in bad emotional shape back then and I remember questioning the daily routine a lot. I just couldn’t get my mind to accept that for the next 40+ years I had to live a 9-5 existence. Working hard for 40+ years to enjoy your life at the end of your life just felt pointless to me so I started looking for other lifestyle options and came across working online.
What were some of the first steps you took toward achieving this lifestyle for yourself?
I always wanted to be a business owner so when I figured out that I needed some kind of online business to achieve the lifestyle I wanted, I simply looked for different options that could be done this way. First I started importing and selling LEDs through sites equivalent to eBay.
Then I started researching what it would take to open my own online store, which then opened my eyes to the online marketing world which quickly caught my attention to the point where I would spend 3-4 hours daily reading about marketing strategies, behavioral psychology, selling etc.
As I still had four years of studying ahead of me I was in no hurry to start something. So I kind of experimented with my newly attained knowledge for four years before putting it to any real use and by the time I had to deliver, I had enough experience and knowledge to land a good marketing job in Spain.
Of all the places you’ve lived and worked so far, which one was the best suited for people living a location independent lifestyle and why?
This is a hard question because it really depends on what you as a location independent entrepreneur are looking for in a place.
Personally, I’m looking for a place that I could one day settle and start a family.
I look at aspects such as safety, infrastructural development, tax/business legislation and culture. While I do love tranquil paradise/beach destinations, they so far haven’t been able to offer what I value dearly so in my eyes they wouldn’t be “good enough” but for other location independent entrepreneurs who might not care that much about the same things that I do, those places might be paradise.
To my wife and I, Montréal has to be the best city we’ve been in so far. The city is beautiful, the atmosphere is romantic and inspiring, the people are incredibly welcoming, it’s just as developed as New York, Copenhagen or any other western capital but the living costs are the same as in Spain and the food scene is just insanely good.
Tell us about your work. What is your primary source of income? How did you get started doing what you’re doing?
My primary income is from helping e-commerce businesses grow their revenue. I help e-commerce owners plan and execute online marketing strategies with an aim to grow their online revenue. The marketing strategies we implement range from SEO and paid advertisement, to social media, e-mail marketing etc.
It was more or less a coincidence that I stumbled upon online marketing, but when I did, I was hooked. The more I learned and tested, the more I needed to know and all of a sudden I found myself out of high school and running the Danish marketing campaigns for an international travel agency.
Then I wanted more freedom so I quit my job, moved back to Denmark and started a freelance business. To get this going I first reached out to all the local companies in my area and I was fortunate enough to land a few clients. Then these clients started referring me around to their network and within 4 months I was able to support my wife and I.
I worked like that for a long time in Denmark but then one day it dawned on me that if I could support myself in Denmark, I could most certainly do it in Spain or any other country for that matter. In that same week, we cancelled our lease and starting preparing for our new lifestyle.
Well, that’s the short version of how it started. I’ve previously published a more detailed post on how I went from living broke in a basement to traveling the world in 18 months. In the same time span, I also founded an e-commerce store with my wife, which we sold to a competitor just a week before starting on our journey.
If someone else wanted to follow a path similar to yours, what advice would you give them?
Identify how you can provide value to other people and when you’ve done that, then maximize the skill set that is required to do so.
I often get asked questions related to: ”How can I make money to travel the world like you do” and it all comes down to one simple fact: People will pay you to help them solve their problems.
Instead of looking for a quick way to earn money, start figuring out what kind of problems you can solve for people. When you solve a problem, people will happily pay you according to how big their problem is or according to the value you provide.
Take your time developing the right skills and try to learn from the best. Read books, do an internship or whatever enables you to learn from the best. You need to put yourself in a position, where you’ll be needed not only now, but for the next 40+ years so forget about the quick money schemes.
Do you have other income sources as well? What are some of the other ways you earn a living?
I have several small side-incomes and I always recommend that you do.
I run a few affiliate websites which generate a little income every month. This, however, is not something that I’ve been actively working on for the last two years, which my payouts have started to show.
I also have a little hobby blog: Freelanceforaliving.com where I help freelancers build a successful freelancing business. It wasn’t meant to be a side-income but through that site, I’ve gotten requests to work as a mentor/coach to a few freelancers who wants to build up a big enough business to quit their 9-5 job.
In your opinion, what is the hardest thing about living a location independent lifestyle?
There are many things that are hard when you’re traveling–visas, staying productive, keeping the business going etc, but being away from family is by far the hardest.
When we started traveling, my grandmother had recently been diagnosed with cancer. I was in a big dilemma cause I could either fulfil my dream of traveling before starting a family on my own (traveling with a kid is not something I particularly want) or I could stay in Denmark and spend as much time with her as possible which could, and turned out to be, several years.
We ended up traveling while she continued fighting cancer. Whenever we had an opportunity to visit Denmark we would grab it just to see her one last time. And every time, it broke my heart saying goodbye to her not knowing if this was the last goodbye, but that was the deal and she wouldn’t want it another way.
Ultimately, she didn’t make it and she passed away the night before we arrived home for a surprise visit in March. That was a big blow and still today, the thing that worries me the most is getting a call and hearing that something has happened to a family member.
Before traveling, I felt like I had an eternity with all of them and now I’ve realized that if I’m not going to start a family in Denmark I will, realistically, only be seeing them 1-3 times per year in the years I’m lucky enough to have them around.
That constant thought and debate about what to do are way harder than any travel/work problem I have and might face.
What are some of the things you like about this lifestyle the most?
The thing I like most about being a location independent entrepreneur is having the freedom to decide where I’m going to end up. Most people will never have the freedom to just move to another country or to earn twice as much if they just wanted to.
Feeling limited to a certain life or outcome is the worst feeling in the world and I’ve fought hard to break out of the “box” that limits so many people.
I remember once telling my mother that the only thing I literally felt I couldn’t achieve was to become the president of the United States.
That’s the feeling I have gotten from becoming location independent and that’s the thing I like the most about living this way. It really opens your eyes to a new world of possibilities.
How did becoming location independent change your relationship with travel? Do you do things differently now?
Before we started our location independent lifestyle our only purpose of traveling was to relax and get a break from the everyday life. I had never experienced another way of traveling.
When we travel today it isn’t to get away from our day-to-day lifestyle, but to find a place we like more than Denmark and that requires us to live just like we would have lived back home. Taking the metro, bus, or walking. Doing grocery shopping instead of eating out three times a day (although that still happens) and just generally interacting more with the local culture than we would if we had just been on a one-week all-inclusive vacation.
What do you think are some of the necessary traits or skills someone should have if they plan to pursue a location independent lifestyle?
You NEED to have self-discipline. The work needs to get done and you need to do it, no matter how sick you are or how little you feel like doing it.
Working from a new place isn’t always easy and you will struggle with the internet connection, language barriers etc. You need to have a strong mindset and a mentality that just keeps going no matter the barriers you’ll eventually run into.
An openness to foreign culture/people and a willingness to adapt is also hugely beneficial.
Productivity is a major challenge for many digital nomads. Share with us one of your best tips for staying motivated and getting sh*t done.
Rent an office space. I’ve tried so many methods to get things done and stay motivated but the only thing that has been really effective and also more fun is to rent an office space in a co-work environment.
As I’m writing this I’m on my 10th hour working from a co-work space in Lisbon. I’m surrounded by people who are working hard and I have a gorgeous 11th-floor view over Lisbon. That’s something that works for me and I should have done this months ago, but that’s a part of the game. You experiment and when you find something that works for you, you go with it.
Motivation is fleeting and I can’t count on mine to get things done so I try to create systems that just work for me. For me, working alongside my wife certainly helps. If she didn’t work as well it would have been very tough to get things done, as it’s always more enjoyable to do something else with her rather than work hard.
Do you have any location independent role models who have helped you or motivated you to achieve your goals?
Reading The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss has been one of the things that turned my way of thinking around, but other than reading everything he publishes, I don’t have any location independent role model per se.
I do however have a huge line of entrepreneurs or specialists that I look up to – Tony Robbins and Ramit Sethi are some of my favourites, but I read a lot and try to learn from a lot of different entrepreneurs.
What’s one of the most valuable purchases you’ve made for your business–something that wasn’t necessarily expensive, but provided you with a lot of value and helped you grow/learn/improve?
The best investment I made was a course offered by Ramit Sethi – Zero to Launch. I think it cost me a little more than 2,000 USD but I would have happily paid twice that. Investing in knowledge from the right people can be a huge game changer.
Another investment that I highly recommend anyone to make is to get a coach. We could all need one and a good coach can turn your life around in a second.
Tell us about one of the biggest mistakes you’ve made and how others can avoid it.
My biggest mistake has cost me more than 100,000 USD.
For me, getting new clients was, and still is, uncomfortable. So when I was able to make a living as a freelancer, I stopped trying to grow my business. I would actually turn down a lot of potential clients, as I didn’t want to feel uncomfortable speaking with them on the phone or trying to make a deal with them.
Back then I was working like 40 hours/month and making a reasonable living so there was no incentive to ”having to deal” with these potential clients. This lasted for almost two years until I realized that all the clients I had turned down could, with a pessimistic estimate, had given me more than 100K in revenue.
So I have paid more than 100K for being comfortable instead of just a little uncomfortable. That’s a mistake I won’t make again…
Finally, if you could offer your younger, less experienced self one piece of advice for this journey, what would it be?
”Don’t back down from an uncomfortable situation and never give up. Life will be tough, but the tough moments needs to be lived through for it to change you.”
All the experiences I’ve had has made me who I am and I believe that it has all been a necessary part of my growth. Even though I could reveal a shortcut to my younger self I wouldn’t as I don’t think I would have had the same empathy and understanding of people that I have today.
An obviously related to the above question, I would have told myself to not run away when things get uncomfortable. In fact, I would advise myself to pursue what’s uncomfortable.
Still have questions for Kim about working online or building a location independent lifestyle? Leave a comment down below!
Read more interviews in the Location Independent Success Stories series:
Images courtesy of Kim André Langholz.