Recently, as I was browsing for more inspiration on what to write on the topic of freelancing and I stumbled upon an excellent article that I wish to share with my fellow readers here. Miriam is an excellent writer and her thoughts are crystal clear as if you are not reading her words but hearing them coming out from her mouth.
I do hope you enjoy this one as much as I did.
Do I have to downgrade my level of life if I want to work for myself and be location independent in a high-cost western country (more specifically – America)? Can I still afford to pay the rent for my house and car and still be free to work from my own garden with a laptop? Or do I have to go to live in Thailand to afford being free? These are the questions, that I’m having all the time.
Unless you got a big heritage or a millionaire family, seems like you have only 2 choices to earn money if you want to live in a place, like California – to become a “slave” of an employee and be imprisoned for 8-15 hours per day in an office/factory to afford a mid-level life, or become a location independent worker and struggle to earn money (at least in the beginning).
It’s not only me, having this issues. So I researched to see what other freelance workers are saying and what do they think. Here I summed up the 5 main issues that freelancers/location independent workers face:
1. Finding remote work online, that will pay your bills in a high-cost place, like America or any European country – especially when starting out.
If you follow the bloggers, who work and travel all the time, you will see that their earnings are nearly enough to afford a life in a place like Thailand or Malaysia (of course, there are always exceptions and people who choose to live that life). Yes, you can live on the beach in Brazil and be a freelance worker, but can you afford to live on the beaches of Santa Monica, CA with the same business/income? I think I can even write a PhD Thesis on this topic, but you got the idea 🙂
2. Competing with freelancers, location independent professionals from low cost countries.
This is the ever-actual one. How on earth do you compete with graphic designers from Pakistan, who offer to work for $4 per hour or even worse, a native English content writer, who lives in Thailand right now and can afford to work for $10 per hour? And I’m not saying it’s bad to have a competition, I’m just really curious how I can charge that low, when the minimum salary that will make sense for me to work for is $30/hour. And if you check the job postings on pages like freelance.com or upwork.com, you’ll see, that even Silicon Valley-based companies are looking for the lowest possible rates to hire for. (This reminds me of competing with production in China, but that’s a topic for another post 🙂 )
3. Diversifying income sources.
A lot of freelance workers say that their main challenge is to get more income sources – whether it’s getting more clients to diversify the income sources or doing different jobs not to depend on 1 income stream. If nothing, there’s always a chance that some day your client might prefer a $4/hour employee from point 2 above 🙂
4. To get big clients, you still have to meet with them from time to time to show you are real.
Whether you are working as a freelance contractor or a remote employee, most of the companies still want to see you weekly or monthly, if you want them to be your long-term clients. Of course, it’s nothing compared to sitting in the office all day long. I guess it’s human to want to see and “touch” something physically to trust in it, but then it makes it hard for me to work for a company in New York, for example. If I’m not available to meet, then the chance is that I can get short-term, low-cost projects only.
5. Dealing with the legality of working in another country if you want to travel and work.
No country allows you work legally if you are there with a tourist visa, which is how most of the freelancers travel. Making money on the way, while still being legal and not facing a deportation, concerns a lot of “digital nomads”, especially when they travel for longer periods of time. The only way is to work for cash or food/stay on the go or run your business online, while paying taxes in your home country.
There are a lot of steps, that you have to take before becoming location independent, such as registering your business, getting a health insurance, paying your taxes in a right way etc. and it can be scary or not as much, depending where you live :). But don’t be scared, we’ll go through everything together.
As I’m living in Los Angeles, CA, I’m going to put step-by-step guides about registering your own business in California, getting a health insurance as an independent worker and organizing everything legally. I’m going through all of it – doing all the research and preparing to register my company, so I thought you might as well benefit from my work. Just follow my blog to get notified about new posts.
I’m sure there are a lot of other issues, which we freelancers face. Please, write in the comments bellow what difficulties are you facing while working for yourself and how are you trying to overcome them. You can also put your questions for which you would like me to do some research and find answers.
Yours with love,
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