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 live the location independent lifestyle of their dreams.
This week, I’m pleased to be introducing you to another blogger in the location independence niche, whom I connected with via the affiliate marketing course I enrolled in last year, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.
Amy and I have a lot in common beyond just being passionate about location independence (including a love of San Francisco and an affinity for Tim Ferriss), and I was super excited to get this chance to pick her brain. I hope you enjoy her thoughtful responses as much as I did!
Amy Rigby is a freelance writer and the founder of The Wherever Writer, a travel and entrepreneurship blog. An avid traveler, she has visited Machu Picchu twice, run across the world’s widest avenue in Buenos Aires, and eaten her fill of gourmet cheeses in Paris. Amy is passionate about empowering freelancers to work remotely and travel freely.
Read more posts on Location Independence:
- Location Independence: What It Is (and What It Isn’t)
- Is a Location Independent Lifestyle the Right Choice for You?
- 100 Little Things That Happen When You Become a Digital Nomad
- 5 Challenges of a Location Independent Lifestyle and How to Overcome Them
First, please tell us a little bit about yourself. What’s your background, and what are you doing now?
Hi, I’m Amy! I’m a writer, and I run the travel and entrepreneurship blog The Wherever Writer. My background is in journalism, and I worked in broadcast news before transitioning to freelance marketing and writing.
How often do you travel? Do you have one city that you consider a home base?
I’ve gone on an international trip every year since 2014. I am a very slow traveler. I tend to stay in one place for one to five months at a time. I used to consider San Francisco my home base. Now I’m searching for a new one.
Where are you now, and where do you plan to travel next?
I’m currently in Florida and planning a trip to Europe.
How do you typically choose your destinations?
I don’t do too much thinking and researching before deciding my next destinations. I choose them on a whim, mostly depending on what appeals to me at the time! Sometimes it’s something as simple as seeing a movie or a photo or maybe hearing a language I’ve been yearning to learn, and that ignites my wanderlust for a certain country.
When did you realize you wanted to become location independent and what were your reasons behind that decision?
I realized I wanted to be location independent pretty immediately. After graduating from college, I got my first desk job and within three months knew it wasn’t the lifestyle for me. After six months, I left to start my own location-independent business.
What were some of the first steps you took toward achieving this lifestyle?
I know this is so cliched, but it started with me reading The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. While I didn’t end up following the strategy he promotes in the book, it was a complete game changer for me just to see that this lifestyle of long-term travel and working remotely was even possible.
I wish I could remember how I found out about it and where I bought the book. All I remember is I got the book and then got really sick one day and had to stay home from work. It was fortuitous because that gave me an entire day to devour the book. After reading it, I knew I would leave my desk job soon.
I spent a few months unsure of how to get started. Then I decided to put out an ad on Craigslist advertising videography and writing services—and it worked! I landed a gig shooting video for a jeweler in San Francisco. After that, I landed copywriting gigs from that Craigslist ad. I still have an amazing client today (nearly four years later!) thanks to Craigslist.
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?
Oh, that’s tricky. I want to say San Francisco, because it’s definitely a city where being an entrepreneur is almost the norm, and there are tons of coworking spaces. But the biggest drawback is the high cost of living.
Tell us about your work. What is your primary source of income?
For the past couple of years, I’ve been working mostly as a digital marketer, meaning I do things like manage social media, create email marketing campaigns, write blog posts, and even write some press releases. My primary source of income has been from marketing, but I’ve recently shifted my focus to writing and am earning income from affiliate marketing and digital products.
How did you find this kind of work/get started doing what you’re doing?
I found it in a roundabout way. Again, I studied journalism but was disenchanted with the news industry and needed to find a different job. I ended up on the marketing team of a startup and eventually transitioned to becoming a freelance marketing consultant for startups.
What does the average workday look like for you?
There’s definitely not an average workday for me! I don’t live a very structured life, but one thing I try to do every morning is make coffee and eggs (eating breakfast is important to me!) and give myself time to have a leisurely breakfast before pulling out my laptop and diving into work.
Related post: 4 Morning Rituals That Keep Me Productive & Sane
If someone else wanted to follow a path similar to yours, what advice would you give them?
Educate yourself. Invest in books or online courses. And get a mentor! Someone who has done what you want to do and can show you the ropes.
How much could someone expect to earn when just starting out? How much do you earn now?
The range varies for sure! Last year I grossed $55K.
Do you have other income sources as well?
Again, my main source of income has been my marketing services. My travel blog earns some money from affiliate income and ads. I also earn money from my eBook about living in Cusco, Peru.
Related post: How I Earn Money Online as a Digital Nomad
In your opinion, what is the hardest thing about living a location independent lifestyle?
Being location independent can often undermine any sense of community because I’m moving all the time. That’s starting to get rough—the uncertainty and restlessness. For me, travel is not the most important thing in my life. I value my community, my faith, and my friends and family. And sometimes it feels like a digital nomad lifestyle is in direct contrast to those things I value.
What are some of the things you like about it the most?
The flexibility. One good thing about working remotely and for myself is that if a friend has an emergency and needs my help, I can be there for them. I don’t have to ask a boss for time off.
How did becoming location independent change your relationship with travel? Do you do things differently now?
Yes, I travel much more slowly now that I’m location independent because there’s no need to rush!
On the flip side, my trips have almost NEVER been a “vacation” in the true sense of the word. I’m constantly on my laptop—at the airport, the hotel, you name it. When people come to visit me, I feel guilty about having to work while they’re there to have fun. That’s been tough to handle.
Do you have any great money-saving travel tips to share?
Yes—get into travel hacking! Learn how to leverage miles and points to book free flights. I booked my first “free flight” last year using credit card points, and it was also my first time flying first class.
Related post: The Top Ways I Save Money On Travel
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’ve got to be extremely self-motivated because there will be no one else to hold you accountable. You’ve also got to be able to stomach A LOT of uncertainty. I often land in a city without a long-term place to stay and without knowing anyone. Then I pack up in a couple months and do it all over again in a different place.
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.
I can’t stress enough the importance of community, even one that’s online. One thing that’s helped me is finding Facebook groups with fellow business owners and location independent entrepreneurs. I love being able to learn from them and share in their ups and downs.
I also meet regularly with an accountability partner. She’s a fellow freelancer and we meet via video chat to go over our business goals and provide each other with feedback.
Do you have any location independent role models who have helped you or motivated you to achieve your goals?
One of the hardest things about living a location independent life is that I actually don’t have any friends who are doing the same thing! So I’ve felt kind of alone in this.
However, I have found some online role models whom I follow. Johnny FD is awesome! His podcast, Travel Like a Boss, has provided me with some actionable tips, and he’s always so up-front about the digital nomad lifestyle.
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?
I think hiring an accountant was one of the best investments for my business, simply because it took lots off my plate by outsourcing something I don’t enjoy doing nor have any expertise in (taxes) to someone who’s an expert in it. It has relieved a lot of my stress!
Tell us about one of the biggest mistakes you’ve made and how others can avoid it.
I can almost guarantee you a mistake most freelancers make when starting out is they fail to account for income taxes and retirement savings.
Freelancers, I beg of you, be extra safe and save 30% of your paychecks in anticipation of paying income tax (which you’ll have to pay quarterly). It’s no fun to end up with a huge tax bill in April because you failed to pay enough quarterly taxes in the last year.
Then set aside some of your income for retirement! An easy way is to open a Roth IRA. You do need to be planning for retirement since you no longer have an employer-sponsored retirement plan as an option.
Any last pieces of advice for others who might be aspiring to location independence this year?
Be patient. I know you keep looking around and seeing those “overnight successes,” but I can guarantee you there are years of hard work (and failures!) behind them that you cannot see. You can do this!
Read more interviews in the Location Independent Success Stories series:
- How to Travel the World as a Freelance Social Media Manager
- Working from Anywhere as a Self-Taught E-Commerce Marketing Specialist
- How One Couple Turned Their Travel Obsession Into a Lifestyle
- Living the Digital Nomad Lifestyle as a Professional Translator
- Freelance Your Way to Location Independence: A Copywriter & Copy Editor Tell All
- From Aspiring Actress to Remote Worker: In Search of Flexibility
- How This Blogger Built Her Dream Location Independent RV Lifestyle