MonthJune 2017

How to Get Started as a Digital Nomad

Everyone has the possibility to become a digital nomad. But not everyone has this ability right off the bat. It is not feasible to expect that you can go instantly from your cubicle job to a life of running a location independent business abroad (although it can be exciting to try this out for a short period). In general, you will need to get some things in place first; what that depends on your station in life and career. For instance, when you already have an up and running coaching practice or a web store the jump to become a digital nomad is easier than when you work at the local supermarket. But I am convinced that the lifestyle is possible for everyone who really wants to.

Some things to take into consideration are:

Do not aim too high

Go for a modest lifestyle sustaining income first. This means you can get in the digital nomad mode without too much planning and hassle. It makes sure you make the step without thinking it over too many times which can cause you to chicken out of the idea. When you think about it you do not need that much money on an international level to sustain yourself (i.e. $2000 a month can already be very good income for low-income countries).

When you have a certain skill, leverage it online as the freelancer. In case you do not have a specific skill you can always do online grunt work, as text writing, or being a virtual assistant. Now, that will not be fun but ensures that you get a modest income while you are working on your long term projects. Of course, when you have a good office job, it would be silly to throw it away just like that. Working in a regular job while building your location independent business at the same time can also be a decent avenue. Just make sure you make the move at some point in time though.

The only thing I would really recommend against is that you save a lot of money in order to be a digital nomad. This is fine when you are a tourist, but when you really want the lifestyle it gives the wrong mindset. You living on savings abroad is a “losing money” mindset, which gives you some sort of deadline at which you have to return home. IMO that is not what makes a location independent lifestyle successful. Success is based on a “making money” mindset so you will be able to live abroad indefinitely (in a technical sense).

Do not aim too low

Have a grand long-term goal towards which you are working. Making the first step is very important and you can do it with modest means. But when you only stick to this you will run into yourself and your dreams down the road in a few years’ time. It is better to also have some grand projects going on that can make money in the long run. For instance, you make money as a freelancer, which is great, but it is basically learning on a day by day basis. For a longer term view it makes sense to build some websites which can add value (i.e. a blog) or that you build a framework to employ other freelancers who work for you in some way, so you can grow your business.

This point can be summarized as: start small but think big. From time to time take a step back and think about how you can improve your skills/business/profit in the long run in a smart way – so not only by doing more work. This makes you a digital nomad to stay, and not only one that lives day by day.

Write down the steps towards your goal and quantify them

Note all the things you have to do in order for you to reach your goals. Make these steps small and attainable. Personally, I am a fan of to-do lists. It gives you a straightforward basis on what to work on for the day and as part of your bigger projects and goals.

Completing every step gives you also some sort of fulfillment and will give you the motivation to keep working on your projects. When you have to do a big step at once or have only one goal quantified can look like that the goal is not achievable or too big to tackle. Making the steps small make to your work on it little by little. And then, suddenly you big goal is achieved. That is a very gratifying feeling.

Do the work

Being a digital nomad and living location independent is not same as having a holiday (or at least not all the time). You will have to put in the necessary amount of work to make it happen. And perhaps when you start out you will have to do more work than ever. So it can happen that you find yourself on a beautiful beach or in a scenic mountainous area, just to find yourself working on your laptop on a new project, sweating away.

But when you really want it, it does not really matter. Because you know that what you want, becoming location independent, is worth it.

Have the right mindset

Of course, before all this, you need the correct mindset first. Do you really want it? Everyone has the possibility but that does not mean everyone should, can or wants to do it. You need to have a certain mindset that you want to be free, and not to be bound by normal conventions too much. Do not be swayed by social peer pressure.

And by the way, do not get too hung up on the principle of being a strict “digital nomad” or what it is supposed to be. That is not what it is. It is more about how to get the best out of yourself while using this skill to make money in a location independent way. So, think about your passions and core skills first, then think about how to make money from it online.

How to get Work as a Freelance Translator

Over the last three months, I have joined four outsourcing platforms as a freelancer translator: Fiverr, Odesk, Onehourtranslation, and Elance – all four quite different venues to secure translation jobs. In this post, I want to share some personal experiences and insights with starting freelancers or those of you who are thinking about going this route.

The truth is that everybody is blessed with its own expertise, and more often than not, the person who would be able to get a certain job done might not equipped with the ability to get the job in the first place, and vice versa. A while ago I was ‘hired’ by a client who claimed that he needed professional translators to translate some business texts from English to Chinese. However, shortly thereafter I realized that he wasn’t the business owner nor even a translation agency. He was an individual translator just like me, only that he somehow managed to secure much more jobs than he could handle all on his own, so he re-outsourced his work to other freelance translators and offered them lower pay than what he was offered by his clients. This way he managed to make money without even having to translate by himself anymore.

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When you step into the translators’ community don’t be surprised if in the beginning you find yourself in the bottom of the hierarchy – even if you are very experienced in the offline world. Therefore you should not get frustrated when you application is declined when the elected one has “I live Japan. I have master degree in English.” written on his profile. The very first thing you should set straight before hitting the ‘sign up’ button is to battle against your own uncertainty. Convince yourself that you can do the job and then arm yourself with unbreakable mindset and ultimate patience to defeat the any potential setbacks along the way.

Up next is to make yourself available online for potential clients. For examples, I will use Odesk and Fiverr to show you a few tips about how to make a decent profile, how to apply for jobs, and how to get the job done ahead of the deadline without making yourself stressed and crazy.

How to make a decent profile?

Also known as: how to make a glamorous and attractive profile without having to lie? My fundamental philosophy is to be my better-true-self whenever it’s possible. When filling in the blanks upon registration, use a good natural picture of yourself (the one that can present your confidence and good attitude, preferably but not necessarily, frontal picture with a big smile and composed posture). When writing an overview about yourself, make a logical outline first. I would recommend you to first give your clients a brief idea of your competence, in my case, language skills. Then highlight your language skills by explaining how you got to possess these language skills.

For example, as a Japanese native speaker, you are able to speak English at a native level because you have attended an international school where the language for teaching was English, or you have studied abroad, or you are none of these but passed the TOEFL test with flying colors. Do whatever necessary to enhance your profile. Set up your rate based on your evaluation of yourself or you can do a check up on your competitor’s rates and then find your most competitive position. Fill up the portfolio and pass the tests as well as possible. Those tests are actually much easier than you might think. However, you can only take them once. Don’t be lazy. Laziness won’t get you anywhere when you choose to be a freelancer because you don’t have a fixed boss to get steady assignments from every day when you set foot in the office. Take as much time as you need to create an original and sincere and convincible profile. Get rid of the grammar mistakes and typos. If you really find it difficult for you to present yourself in words, as an alternative, you can also hire a professional ghost writer online to write it based on the information you provided.

Now that you are registered, the next step is to wait for orders or actively apply for jobs (recommended when you start out).

How to apply for jobs?

1) Be alert

As a rookie, you are most likely to be ignored by professional clients and targeted by scammers. To diminish the risk of being taken advantage of, remember to always check for references. For example, on Odesk, take a few seconds before applying to check the client’s previous feedbacks. When it’s a fixed price job, the payment is merely depending on your client’s integrity. On Fiverr, remember to not do the job until the client places an official order and activates the order. There are a lot of rules on both of the two websites. Again, don’t be lazy and at least skim through the policies and rules beforehand to avoid unnecessary pitfalls.

2) Start with small jobs

Although your profile is important, your ratings are even more important. There is a wide variety of clients out there. Most of them value ratings and experiences very much but there’s still some of them who are willing to give a chance to a newbie. On Odesk, new contractors usually have very limited applications to use every week. In the beginning, in order to make the best of your limited chances, you might want to focus on small jobs, for they are easier to get and the quick turnaround enables you to get more ratings quickly and to build up your connections. Eventually, you will get the attention of bigger clients.

3) Submit an application that can help you grab the client’s heart

In case you find it too time-consuming to write a cover letter every time you apply, you can make a standard template. However, this might save you time but won’t get you any further unless you season it according to the job posting to adjust to the client’s specific taste. Besides displaying how skillful you are for the job requirements, you might want to show the client your seriousness and enthusiasm by asking questions about the job posting. Last but not least, do a review before submitting. It’s ok if your wording is mediocre but make sure your texts flow naturally without any grammar mistakes and typos.

4) When is the best time to submit an application? The earlier, the better.

The early bird gets the worm. As a beginner with no substantial credit yet to back you up, you can compensate by NOT BEING LAZY. Get up 1 hour earlier or stay up 30 mins later depending on the time zones for you, your competitors and the clients. First come, first serve. Also, time is money, for both the client and yourself.

Finally, two days later, maybe two weeks later, someone hired you! Then comes up the next question:

How to overpower the deadline rather than being enslaved by the deadline?

In the earlier stage of my not-so-long freelance career, I messed up my daily activities by devoting all my priorities on my contracts and orders. All that to impress the client and also to get the jobs finished so that I can proceed to my next job. I was so stressed that I began to doubt my choice of becoming a freelancer. It turned out that being hasty was not the same as being fast. The client won’t be satisfied unless your work is impeccable. Don’t expect you can get away with the little defects resulting from your hastiness. In the end, it takes you much more time to revise your work again and again, than have it done rather slowly and carefully. Although not too slow, because most clients still will give good ratings if you do good follow-ups but late delivery is inexcusable. Some clients even can use it as a potent reason to not pay you at all.

I was advised by a successful freelancer that I should learn to focus my attention. When there’s a lot on your plate and your time is limited, the only thing you can do is to increase your productivity by putting all your attention on your current task. Put things in order according to their flexibility and importance. Devote your most energetic hours to conquer the most difficult tasks. When it’s time to have a romantic dinner with your loved one, then forget all about the contracts. You know what matters the most.

I believe the one shared goal for those who choose to become freelancers is to enjoy the freedom. It takes strong mindset, positive attitude and enormous devotion and more to get closer and closer to this goal. The beginning is always the hardest, but it’s not impossible. Many people have made it. Why shouldn’t you?

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How to Hire a Virtual Assistant

Do you want to make your online business more efficient? Hire a virtual assistant. A virtual assistant is, as the name implies, a person that helps you to achieve tasks online. In this way, you can save time on routines and focus on more and/or new projects. The tasks that can be done by your assistant can be as diverse as:

–       Writing articles, web content

–       Translation services

–       Link building for your websites

–       Managing your website(s)

–       Online research

–       Data Entry

–       Standard business processes (i.e. sending emails)

The Advantages of a Virtual Assistant

There are some specific advantages of hiring a virtual assistant – why would you hire them otherwise? The main reasons to hire a virtual assistant are:

> They can be contacted in a location independent matter. That means you can communicate with them online from anywhere you want (and they with you) by using email, Skype and/or social media.

> They are cheap. By using geo-arbitrage you can hire a virtual assistant from low-income countries. In this way, you have a relative cheap assistant while they make an above average income from your pay. Some VA’s charge as low as $100 a month (full-time employment).

> They can be experienced and good. Some have worked in a specific field (i.e. writing) for many years. Now, this is obviously not true for all of them and you will have a strict hiring policy but when you find a good virtual assistant they are worth gold.

> You can focus on your core competencies. When you outsource standard task you will have more free time to pursue new projects where you can utilize your core competencies more efficiently and to a greater extent.

As such, there are some real good reasons why you should consider hiring a virtual assistant. Of course, there are also some drawbacks. For one, you will have to instruct your virtual assistant(s) when they start out. This takes time. Second, you will have to go recruit them and find the good ones. This will also take time. But eventually, these drawbacks are minor compared to the advantages. Your only limitation is actually the amount of work that you can outsource (in other words, the size of your online business).

Where to Find Virtual Assistants

You can find virtual assistants in many sizes, and as such in many places. You can even start to ask around your family and or friends if they know someone who wants to earn an extra buck. But in general there a many good website dedicated to providing you a virtual assistant. Some examples:

Odesk – You can find virtual assistants here of all kinds

Elance – Mainly for designers, writers, programmers

OneHourTranslation – Best place to find translators and interpreters

Online jobs – For virtual assistants from the Philippines

You will also be able to find virtual assistants through online agencies if you do a google search.

How to Find a Good Virtual Assistant

They key thing in finding a virtual assistant it that she or he clicks with you as a person. Your way of working at your business has to be understood by the VA. So it makes sense to find persons who are compatible with you on this level. A good way to find this out is just to talk with them over email or on Skype for a little bit. In this way, you can also test their language (i.e. English) abilities and their communication skills (if needed).

The second thing you have to look at is past experience and education from the VA, with the former much more important than the latter. Obviously, if the VA has worked in similar business as yours before that is an advantage. In case you are serious in hiring a certain VA (or need to choose between a couple of good candidates) you can also ask for references and contact the company they worked for before. In this way, it is not dissimilar to a standard hiring process. It is even better if you know others with an online business who can recommend you, virtual assistants, they work or have worked with.

Now, prices among VA’s differ wildly. Some charge as low as $100 a month, while real experienced ones charge a normal 4 figure monthly salary. More expensive is not always better though. First, it depends on your requirements for the job. In case it is a simple data entry job or link building, this is not hard to learn so you do need an experienced VA. Also experienced does not equate to more capable, but obviously your chances to find a really good VA a bigger in the high end than in the low end.

Essentially, the more time you are willing to spend to search for the perfect VA, the bigger the chance is that you will find him or her. And when you have a good one for the long term it really can grow your business. So it can be very beneficial to invest something upfront in a VA as it will provide you many benefits in the long run.


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Adult education online: reasons to study

From now on, people could exchange information in the blink of an eye. We can do lots of things online today, for example, instant communication or video chatting. The later was especially handy in terms of studying. How to sign a successful contract? How to get a dream job without coming out? What do you need to know to become a music critic? You will learn everything if you study online! Nowadays to become one who studies at the prestigious world university, is no need to worry about visa and recommendations from teachers. It is enough to have the internet connection and a willingness to learn!

There are thousands of courses in numerous disciplines nowadays. It is especially convenient to study foreign languages, economics, biology, history, social science, psychology online. For a small fee or even for free, you can get a certificate which will confirm your listener status. In addition, some functions and possibilities of the Internet make it possible for the implementation of active learning environment that encourages students to solve their problems and make decisions independently, becoming communicators.

Online education is too widespread nowadays, so if you still hesitate between starting a new course or do not waste time for it, the information below would be useful for you.

There are some proper reasons to study online. Therefore, when you are doing it, you might be:

  1.    A time lord. The course tasks are available at any moment. So students are able to decide in which way to take this course by themselves;
  2.    Not glued to your desk, because the courses are available from any part of the world (with access to the Internet). Please, sit down in your cozy armchair and get your knowledge;
  3.    A master of your knowledge and skills, according to a flexible organization of educational process. Any educational subject has got more simple and more complex sections. Online training allows the teacher to concentrate on the more difficult sections of the course, stating simple pieces for self-study;
  4.    Good at modern technologies. Online courses enable use in learning all means of multimedia, animation, video, sound, and color. This provides a material visibility for teaching and allows you to use most of the mechanisms of perception;
  5.    A family budget keeper. You want to get some additional skills, but don’t want to lose huge sums of money:
  6.    Keen on self-education:
  7.    A professional dancer even if you are fifty. You are highly motivated and sure that extra knowledge is suited to any age and would be useful for everyone.


According to The New York Times, the 2012th was a year of public and free online education. In 2012 a few influential educational platforms were launched. They outlined a new trend towards democratization and virtualization of education. It caused a lot of discussions about how quickly the traditional education system exhaust itself, faced with a serious competitor.

The online education system has its drawbacks. The percentage of completion programs is quite low. This is partly due to the fact that this process requires some personal discipline. Also, online education is generally not recognized by the official institutions.

If you are ready to waste your time for self-improvement, you are tired of boring lectures, but you are a self-motivated person and you are interested in the creation of a solid background or you have already finished your education unless you want to learn something new, online study is for you.

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