Behind the scenes at my location-independent business, Q2 2020

by Gigi Griffis
Desk in Tallinn

This post is part of a series about how I make money while traveling the world. I’ve been on the road for nearly eight years. For a deeper look at how I started my business and began traveling full-time, start here.

Well, we’re halfway through the worst and weirdest year. And as you may already know, I’ve been holed up in our temporary home in Estonia while the world figures out the new normal. The only thing that’s business as usual for me is…well, business. I’m still writing and strategizing and helping clients communicate. And I’m still tracking how I do all that in order to share a peek behind the scenes here. 

So, how did Q2 2020 go in my business? Relatively well, all things considered, though I’ve certainly shifted course in a few unexpected ways.

As I mentioned in my last update, in Q2 I had to draw some firm lines for myself about how much I could reasonably take on, both in order to always deliver what I say I’ll deliver (something that’s very important to me) and to take care of my mental health (also vital). Because with the isolation of the virus, the uncertainty about our visa situation, and personal crises that just seemed to keep piling up, my productivity was down and my only options were to either cut back on my workload or work myself into burnout.

If you know me, you know I chose the former. As someone who has struggled with both physical and mental health issues over the years, I know if I go too far down the burnout highway, there’s no fast way back to equilibrium.

So, all this to say that in Q2, I politely let go of one client and made no effort to get more, dropping myself back down to my usual halftime schedule instead of the more full-time schedule I juggled in 2019 and the early part of this year. 

How I made money in Q2 2020

So, what exactly do I do in order to make money? My official titles are Content Strategist and Copywriter. What that means task-wise varies a bit each quarter, but this quarter I was responsible for:

:: Writing blog posts on tech topics for non-technical audiences

:: Crafting white papers on tech topics

:: Ghostwriting LinkedIn articles and blog posts for industry leaders

I also took on a small pro-bono project helping craft resumes, cover letters, and job descriptions.

Sales & marketing in Q2 2020

As I mentioned before, I was headed for burnout in Q1, so in Q2 all I did was back way off. The only marketing-related activity I took on was attending a virtual conference and trying to make good long-term connections.

New business: how I got new clients in Q2 2020

This quarter, I started a project with a new team at an existing client, but didn’t sign any truly new clients.

My location-independent freelance schedule

As I mentioned above, in Q2, I started saying no to more projects in order to keep my commitments on the low end. The transition from close-to-full-time back down to halftime was a gradual one. April was still a too-busy month as I wrapped up prior commitments, and I worked most weekends. By May, after saying no to several projects, I was wildly relieved to be back to my normal four-day workweek. And by the end of the quarter I’d gone down to a little over half-time, which is a good rhythm for me right now. 

Location independence: where I worked

If you’ve followed this blog awhile, you already know that I’ve been traveling the world full-time since 2012. I typically live in one place for anywhere from one to four months, working from holiday rentals and coffee shops and occasionally co-working spaces. Of course, in 2020, that all changed. Borders closed. Stay-at-home orders came down the pipeline. And nomads scrambled for a new plan

Luckily, we have D visas to live in Estonia while Chad explores the possibility of starting his business here. So when Italy’s quarantine net dropped, we flew back, rented a very nice apartment near our favorite market, applied to extend our D visas through February, and hunkered down to wait out the crisis.

So, for all of Q2, Estonia is where you would have found us: leaning over the desk in the sunny second bedroom, cross-legged on the couch with a view over red metal rooftops, and, eventually, as the weather started to warm, out on the little balcony soaking up some sunshine as we worked.

Like many people all over the world, we’re stressed and stir-crazy sometimes, but ultimately Estonia was a very good place to be this quarter. They handled the crisis well and the number of cases here has been comparatively low. The latest news indicates even after opening up, Estonia only has a case or two show up each day and hasn’t had any deaths in quite some time. 

Need some content, strategy, or web help?

One of my clients is slowing down their production schedule in Q3, which means my schedule is opening up a little, and I’m open to new client engagements. If you need someone like me, please reach out.

I’m particularly great at:

:: Writing content about technical topics for a a non-technical audience

:: Inbound marketing/content marketing

:: Developing writing guidelines for your team

:: Organizing navigation and site content

:: Coming up with headlines, taglines, and brand campaigns

:: Optimizing content for SEO

:: Managing blogs 

Tech businesses I’ve worked with include Dell, BestVPN, ComplyData (oil and gas compliance software), miiCloud (face recognition software), Atlassian, Amplitude, and Lytics Customer Data Platform. Agency clients have included Atlas Advertising, Fractl (the infographic masters), and Catalyst Marketing.

If you’d like to chat about what I can do for your business, drop me a line.

Are you a freelancer or business owner? Tell us about your quarter. Feel free to drop any questions you might have in the comments. 

Is there something you wish I’d cover in these quarterly reports? Please let me know. I want them to be as useful as possible, so if you have a suggestion, drop it in the comments or reach out to me on Facebook anytime.

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Siobhan July 27, 2020 - 7:24 am

I love that you place your health above $$. I know it’s how you’ve approached work or a while now, but it really is a valuable (and rare) approach. Glad Estonia has worked out fairly well!

Willow August 5, 2020 - 11:17 pm

I, unfortunately, know all about the “personal crises that just seem to keep piling up” this year and I know how they can sap your energy. My energy. Everybody’s energy. It seems like you understand the symptoms of burnout very well and quickly make the necessary changes. I am glad Estonia has been a good place to hide out, too. I have some fear that the pandemic will never end here, since the case numbers keep rising, but what can you do but do your best to be safe? In a way, it’s exciting to think about having time to build my business, but in another, conserving my energy and resting seem so important this year.


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