Behind the scenes at my location-independent business, Q3 2020

by Gigi Griffis
Working in Tartu

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.

Let’s be honest: I don’t know how to open these posts in 2020. It feels weird not to acknowledge that the world is burning (quite literally, as I’m writing this in September). But I’m also tired of saying so. So this is the part where I acknowledge: 2020 is The Worst. And this is the part where I also acknowledge that while the world is burning, I’m still trying to run my freelance business. 

As usual, I’m here to give you a quarterly peek behind the curtain. How do I make money while living in Europe and traveling often? What kind of sales and marketing do I do? What does my freelance business (which is nearly 10 years old now!) look like behind the scenes?

Read on to find out. 

How I made money in Q3 2020

First: what exactly does a content strategist and copywriter do? It varies and depends heavily on sub-specialties. Over the years, I’ve done everything from developing audit guidelines for a 10,000+ page help desk portal to writing 400-word blog posts. I’ve handled full content strategies for small ad agencies and run social media for tech startups. And one of the things I love about what I do is that it’s always shifting. There’s always a new challenge.

So, what about this quarter? I didn’t do much strategy work, but had a reasonably full schedule of writing projects. Some of the specific tasks I took on in Q3 included:

:: Writing blog posts (both long- and short-form) on tech topics for non-technical audiences

:: Writing microsite copy on technical topics

:: Ghostwriting snarky marketing articles

:: Writing long-form blog posts on marketing and brain science

Sales & marketing in Q3 2020

I’m still actively managing my mental health by keeping my workload on the low side and my stress levels as low as possible, so this was another quarter of no sales activity for me. I also took the month of September off, so I didn’t want to spend a bunch of time marketing right before I was out of the office and unavailable. I plan to ramp things up in Q4.

New business: how I got new clients in Q3 2020

In July, I saw an uptick of business inquiries sent to me by referral. By August, I’d signed a new client and started work on our first small project. The client is a startup, which typically means the work will ramp up over time, so I’m feeling great about the possibilities of long-term partnership (which, as you know, is my favorite way to work). 

My location-independent freelance schedule

In July and August, I worked a pretty typical part-time schedule that ranged from 2 – 4 days per week. Then I took a much-needed month-long vacation this September, spending my days hiking in the Austrian Alps and reading magical books and generally ignoring anything work-related.

Location independence: where I worked

As you may already know, 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. We are lucky enough to have D visas to live in Estonia while Chad explores the possibility of starting his business here. So as lockdowns swept across the world, we spent all of Q2 in Tallinn, cozied up in a nice, spacious two-bedroom rental only two blocks from our favorite market and about 10 minutes from a small green park.

By the end of Q2, Estonia’s cases were nearly 0 and the country opened back up. Since our landlord could make quite a bit more on his rental by renting it short-term on Airbnb, we agreed to leave in early July. And since rental prices in Tallinn were going up-up-up as Estonia opened its borders to the rest of Europe for their summer vacations, we took several short train rides south and spent most of July and August in Tartu, Estonia (a cute university town on a river) and Riga, Latvia (which we already knew we liked from our visits last autumn).

In September, for vacation, we took a socially distanced, mask-wearing, short flight down Austria to spend our days hiking, cycling, and resting our stressy souls. 

Need some content, strategy, or web help?

I’m currently booking new clients for Q4. 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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