Escape Artist #9: Christian, the SEO consultant

Imagine living with your girlfriend in Madrid, Spain, both of you having stable jobs there. After one hell of a trip to Sri Lanka you discover the possibilities of the digital nomad lifestyle. You just can’t seem to get the idea out of your head. So what do you do? You ask your boss for a 12 month leave of course! This is the story of Christian and Inês, in the middle of their 12 month adventure.

I started discovering blogs and online communities about this lifestyle, and along with Inês we knew that we had to go for it soon.

christian-e-ines-de-randomtrip

How do you make money as a digital nomad?

Mainly I make money working as a freelance SEO consultant. I help websites getting more traffic and more money from search engines. Besides that, I have my travel blog Random Trip with Inês, my “partner in crime” in travels and life, which I hope will make some money in the medium/long term. I also have a niche website that makes 100/200€ per month through Adsense with almost no maintenance work.

What are some typical tasks you have during a workday?

Depends on the client, but normally my tasks involve auditing websites technically from an SEO point of view and reporting. For our travel blog, I invest time creating content and finding ways to monetize it.

Christian working near the beach in Kuta Lombok, Indonesia.
Christian’s office in Kuta Lombok, Indonesia.

What’s your story? How did you end up where you are today? What motivated you to live this lifestyle?

I “discovered” the digital nomad lifestyle three years ago during a two week trip to Sri Lanka. It was my first time in Asia, we rented our own Tuk Tuk to drive around the island and I absolutely loved it! We got a local SIM card and were really surprised with how easy  it was to have internet, and how fast and reliable it was. Besides, everything was so cheap, so the idea of working as a freelancer while travelling through Southeast Asia started to grow inside of me.

After that, I started discovering blogs and online communities about this lifestyle, and along with Inês we knew that we had to go for it soon. It was complicated to jump into it, as we had stable jobs in Madrid, but month after month we couldn’t stop thinking about this new dream. Finally, in 2016 we asked for a one year’s leave in our jobs and bought a one-way ticket to start our adventure in East Timor.

If you want to become location independent, start working on it right now!

Christian driving a tuk tuk in Sri Lanka.
Christian on the trip that would change his life.

What are the best sides of living a digital nomad lifestyle?

There are lots, but these are the ones I’m enjoying more:

  • Freedom to live wherever I want / prefer.
  • Ability to relocate (I can live some months near the beach, some months near my family, etc.).
  • Choose when I work (no 9 to 17 – or to 18, 19, 20…) and where.
  • Follow one of my passions, travelling, while working at the same time.
  • Get more money from my work (if you get clients from countries where the rates are higher).
  • Work less hours: living in countries where the cost of living is lower, you can choose to work same hours and earn the same/more money, or to work less hours and live with less money but enjoy your time more.
  • Being part of a cool community of people all around the world who share the same interests as you.
  • Better productivity: all of the previous advantages make me happier and motivates me to work better to enjoy my new lifestyle and keep it.
  • Discovering that another way of living is possible: travelling with all the things I need in a couple of backpacks made me realize that I need way less things than I own(ed), and focus less on material things to enjoy life more.
  • Get to know countries better: when you travel for 15 or 21 days to a country, you want to see as much as you can so you end up spending 1 or 2 days in each place. When you work+travel, you need to spend more days in each place, in order to find a good place to work, so you can immerse yourself more in the local culture, and discover them in a slow pace.
Christian making fun of himself using street art.
Christian fighting Bruce Lee in George Town, Penang, Malaysia.

And the less glamorous ones?

Of course, with every lifestyle not everything is perfect, so these are some of the downsides I’m finding:

  • Instability: as I work as a freelancer, I don’t get a stable income so my lifestyle depends on my ability to continue getting new clients, and maintaining the ones I have.
  • Internet connection: as I’m travelling  internet in SE Asia normally works fine, but sometimes it doesn’t, so there are days where I need to invest time in finding a better internet connection in order to work.
  • Family and friends: as I’m travelling, I’m far away from family and friends during some months.
  • Focus: sometimes it’s complicated to choose not to go to that amazing beach I’m watching and work instead.

What’s your top tips for people that want to earn place independent income?

Everything depends heavily on the type of work you do and what your abilities are, but if you want to become location independent, start working on it right now! It’s better to learn new abilities and/or get clients while you work at another company and do the switch afterwards.

Christian at Ko Ngai in Thailand.
Christian saying yes to life at Ko Ngai in Thailand.

Do you have any tips for resources (web pages, books, courses etc.) for aspiring digital nomads?

There are lots, and each month I discover new ones! I highly recommend these ones:

  • http://hashtagnomads.com/: one of the biggest DN communities.
  • http://remoters.net/ : a website focused on provide resources for digital nomads and remote companies (jobs, insprational interviews, evens…). (Disclaimer: I was one of the founders of this website, although I left the project to focus on my freelance work and side projects).
  • https://www.thebasetrip.com/: amazing website to get lots of information about your destination country (visa, money exchange, internet speed, weather, socket types…).
  • https://copass.org/: if you like to work in coworking spaces, pay a fixed fee monthly and get access to almost any coworking space in the world.
  • http://nodesk.co/: a big collection of resources for digital nomads.
  • https://workfrom.co/: a directory/app of places to work from, with really useful information like WiFi speed, number of tables, availability of sockets, etc.

Each day more companies jump into the remote work wagon.

Please mention some amazing places you’ve discovered lately that you definitely want to go back to.

Since I started travelling and working at the same time I’ve been in East Timor, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand and I definitely want to go back to each and one of those places, but some of my favourites until now are:

Atauro Island (East Timor): located close to Dili, the waters surrounding Atauro Island are the ones with most biodiversity in the whole world. This was our bungalow in front of the sea, where you can watch the sunrise.

Christian's bungalow in Atauro Island ,East Timor.

Labuan Bajo (Flores, Indonesia): before jumping on a boat tour from Flores to Lombok, to see the Komodo Dragons and lots of islands, we spend a couple of days working from Labuan Bajo.

Inês working in Labuan Bajo, Flores, Indonesia.
Inês and Christian’s office in Labuan Bajo, Flores, Indonesia.

Kuta Lombok (Lombok, Indonesia): we spent a week working and enjoying the beach there.

Inês working near the beach in Kuta Lombok, Indonesia.
Inês working near the beach in Kuta Lombok, Indonesia.

George Town (Penang, Malaysia): our favourite city in Southeast Asia so far! Amazing street food, breathtaking street art and lots of places to work from.

Central Highlands (Vietnam): our favourite place in Vietnam so far. We spend 5 amazing days doing a motorbike tour through the Central Highlands of Vietnam, from Dalat to Hoi An. Amazing landscapes, amazing people, and almost no foreigners.

Christian and Inês on a motorbike tour through the Central Highlands of Vietnam.
Christian and Inês on a motorbike tour through the Central Highlands of Vietnam.

Do you think this type of work and lifestyle is possible in the long run? How would you balance it with starting a family?

I think that as a single person or as a couple it is definitely possible to maintain this lifestyle in the long term easily. Whether you have your own business, work as a freelancer or work for a company that allows you to work remotely, it’s up to you to decide if you want to travel a lot or settle down for some months in a place you like.

For families, I think it’s fairly possible too! Maybe it seems more complicated because of education for the little ones, but you see more and more families doing it thanks to home-schooling and exams at the embassies for instance. The upside is the amazing moments you will share as a family and the experiences you will be giving your kids, who are likely to grow up more open minded, caring and generous.

Each day more companies jump into the remote work wagon, and workers find the advantages of this lifestyle, I’m sure everything will get easier in the future and “obstacles” will decrease.

Do you want more people to follow you? If so, how would be the best way to do that?

Of course! You can connect with me on:

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