Travelancing is the dream job for people who can be found perusing travel sites, subscribing to travel deal newsletters, or researching international flight prices to their favorite destinations. Unfortunately, money is always a big roadblock and the fateful words “I can’t afford that” turns that dream into a veritable fantasy.
But what if I showed you set-by-step how to make money while traveling from city to city across Europe, Asia, or South America? I’ve done it as a web developer and I truly believe you can do the same as well. Of course web development isn’t the only option, but I can absolutely speak from experience that it works. On top of that, you’ll be able to use these same techniques as a graphic or web designer writer as well.
There are a few skills you’ll need in order to make it all happen, so let’s dive right in.
Learn to Implement
Implementation is the first stepping stone to developing your first website. Essentially, implementation means you’re able to use pre-built tools in conjunction with each other to solve a problem.
In short, website implementation is a simple recipe:
- Install CMS (Content Management System – WordPress is my personal favorite)
- Install Theme/Layout (this is the skin – there are hundreds of thousands of premade options available)
- Install Plugins/Modules (these are for additional functionality your site may need)
Once you’re able to do this, you’ll be able to handle small projects with ease. Most clients who want things done “as cheap as possible” will be happy with this method and this puts $50 to $1500 in your pocket (yes, you need to pay taxes).
Implementation is easier, faster, and more reliable than coding from scratch. The most powerful argument for implementation is that you’re using popular, thoroughly-tested products with a technical support team behind them. This way, you have extra help if/when things go wrong.
Things go wrong. Make sure you pay for products – the support you’ll receive is usually worth ten times the price you paid.
Build a Portfolio Site
One of the first things you should do as a web developer is create your own website that showcases what you’ve been able to build. This is critical in proving to clients that you’re able to do the things you say you can do. At first, it won’t be very impressive and that’s OK. Let it serve as inspiration to create bigger and better things.
Make sure to include a way for potential clients to contact you – whether that be a contact form, email address, or your Twitter handle – and include links to live examples of your work instead of just images.
Learn to Code
The inevitably invariable question that follows any implementation without fail is “Can you customize this?“. This is also the single reason I believe the web development industry will never be replaced by DIY site builders like Squarespace or Wix. Customers will always want to customize their site in a way that your implementation options don’t account for – and that’s exactly where being able to code comes in handy.
Everyone learns differently, so it’s up to you to choose the best path to accomplishing this goal.
- If you learn by reading the textbook, I’d recommend reading every article in each of the W3Schools HTML, CSS, and JS series.
- If you learn by doing, I’d recommend Codecademy, Team Treehouse, or just opening up a text file and jumping in.
- If you learn from videos, Khan Academy is always reliable.
- Hate all my recommendations? Google around, there’s a ton of information online about how to learn to code.
When you have a firm understanding of code, practice by customizing your portfolio site that you’ve definitely built already – right? Try modifying the font color and size or experiment with different hover effects on links and images. These are all common modifications your clients will ask for.
How To Get Clients While Travelancing
This is the most critical component of travelancing. Without clients, there’s no money and without money, there’s no travelling. Your ability to get paid is more important than ever – and you only have yourself to rely on, so never stop searching for projects.
1. Tell everyone what you do. Literally.
The first step in acquiring new clients is the most obvious yet untapped method available is to tell people what you do. I cannot stress this enough: word of mouth is more powerful than any other marketing method available to you.
Tell your family and friends what you can do – and give them the link to your portfolio site. They will be the first people to recommend you when the topic ever comes up in conversation with people they meet. For example: my mother met someone at her office whose son needed a new website for his business. So, my mother connected me with him – 3 degrees of separation and no effort on my part.
2. Tell everyone what you do. (I mean it!)
Don’t just stop with your friends and family, tell everyone you meet. Tell the people you meet at bars or the people in line at the ziplining retreat or the people hanging around the hostel. Tell your waitress and your barber – even if they don’t speak english.
Wear stupid tee-shirts that say “I build websites” and put a sticker on your laptop that reads the same. Print cheap ugly business cards from Vistaprint and hand them out to the people you meet. Leave some on coffee tables and desks and with the hostel manager.
You may think it won’t work or it’s cliche, but word-of-mouth is the best method I’ve found for promoting business. Hopefully, you’ll be just as surprised as I was.
3. Under-Promise and Over-Deliver
Live by this mantra. Going the extra mile for you clients and blowing them away will pay for itself 10-fold for years to come.
Deliver your projects a week early and go out of your way to create something extra that you know your client will need, but didn’t think to ask for. Are they creating a new website? Spend a few bucks on Fiverr to get them a potential logo. Think they’ll want to customize the colors and size of text? Build it into the website options.
When a client feels taken care of, they’ll remember forever. Not only will you secure their business in the future, but you’ll have their personal recommendation available to anyone who will listen.
Take care of your clients and they’ll take care of you.
4. Apply, Apply, Apply
The internet and the rise of Ecommerce has paved the way for large 2-sided marketplaces that allow people to hire and be hired without ever meeting. In short, you can literally apply to projects online next to hundreds of other applicants from all over the world.
Set up a profile on Upwork and get started applying to jobs. It’s not fun and you will be rejected by a majority of projects. Someone will underbid you or have a better portfolio or flat out just apply faster than you and land the project. You’ll need tough skin to say the least.
It’s a ruthless world, but the money is there for the taking. Once you build up a history and get a better sense for what works (like sending selfie video proposals), you’ll be able to land bigger and better projects this way. Get on there ASAP and spend at least an hour every day applying to jobs.
You have everything you need to get started today. Pick a skill and learn it. Tell everyone what you do. Put together a portfolio. Get paid.
It’s simple, but it certainly isn’t easy. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below and I’ll answer every single one. Or, if you’d like a deeper discussion on travelancing and the different opportunities available, contact us!