Digital Nomads Report In From The Roade_darrellj | Sep 26, 2014
Occasionally we invite entrepreneurs to discuss issues of importance to our community. Here are some thoughts from Morten Storgaard, a Denmark-based startup fanatic and digital nomad who travels the world working with his business partner (and wife of seven years) Maria.
My wife Maria and I have been working to become geographically independent for over two years. Here is how we were able to live a more fulfilling life in Denmark while also travelling extensively while we work.
When we first decided to make the change to a digital nomad lifestyle, we were both working long days at our own startup. We owned a print-on-demand webshop, which required our attention on a daily basis. There was never a free moment, as we were needed to keep the printers running, get pictures framed and shipped and so forth. We realized that in order to travel more, and to successfully immerse ourselves in other cultures, we had to leave that behind.
To begin the process of independence we arranged a meeting with our investor, and worked out an exit plan that would take one year to execute. The plan worked, although being an entrepreneur, I would have to say that the exit part was difficult. When you like building stuff, it’s hard to take out a full year for an exit (at least when you know it won’t make you rich).
Well, we got out, and as we started to plan for our new life we also started a blog, Go Downsize, about simple living. We covered the downsizing process in depth, and today that blog is part of our income stream as we have ads and affiliate links on the site. We write about how to live better in a small apartment, which is a good idea if you want to travel as much as possible. We also chose to sell most of our stuff and get debt free, and now we are almost there. You can follow the process on our blog if you’re interested.
Starting a new business without employees.
After downsizing our apartment from 1,000 to 450 square feet, we needed to get creative about space saving and optimizing the space we did had.
With this in mind we decided to build a bed that would fold up on the wall during the day (called a Murphy bed). This would allow us to use the room as an office, gym, and dining room during the day.
We even built a website around Murphy beds, and our new business was born. One thing we decided to do differently this time, as we didn’t want to manage people on a daily basis, was to build a business that could run more automatically. In the beginning we did everything ourselves, and it was fun. But small tasks can take a long time if you lack the experience.
This is when we decided to hire freelancers on Elance-oDesk for individual assignments. This decision has been one of the best choices we made. Maria and I started out with small tasks, like the logos for our websites, which were created by a great graphic designer from the Philippines. Soon after this we had another freelancer help us make some changes to the creative theme on our website.
Where else do we work with freelancers?
Originally for Go Downsize and Murphy Bed HQ, we only used freelancers for specialized skills. But for our latest website (a board game webshop), we have worked with freelancers for everything from copywriting and graphics to coding and handling. I wish I had started doing this earlier, because it’s much more fun to focus on the things I’m really good at.
My advice: Only do what you do best and let other experts around the globe work for you. They can get the job done faster and better than you, because it’s their expertise.
I would say that graphics are probably the easiest thing to hire freelancers for, and if you haven’t tried it yet, this could be a good place to start. Too often I have tried to create web graphics myself, but if you want to look professional, you need to work with people who are good—really good.
We have been working with one designer regularly, and I recommend finding a good long-term partner for graphics. The same goes for coding. You can see how our board game project turned out here.
If the workload is too big for one freelancer, consider this: Get a good designer to do the overall design from the start (or create a design manual), and then hire other freelancers to work within these guidelines. This way you get a consistent look and feel through out the entire website.
So take a good look at your workload. There might be tasks you do again and again, that others could do more efficiently and effectively. Wouldn’t it be awesome to be able to focus more on the stuff that comes more naturally to you? And as an added bonus, you’ll have freedom to travel and grow your business while you’re on the road. That’s why being a digital nomad is so rewarding.