One of my goals for 2017 is to write more frequently, every day as a matter of fact. Coupled with that, in conjunction with some stuff I’ve recently learned about vulnerability and human connection, I’ve decided each month I’m going to do a fairly high-level update on the things that have happened to me in the previous month.
This will be a warts and all post series covering the full gamut of my life as a digital nomad. It will include anything that’s interesting, as well as lessons I’ve learned, successes and failures, business, travel, and life. I hope it will be personal and personable.
When I left Ireland in 2015, to properly begin my digital nomad journey, one of the main reasons was I was really unhappy with my life there. I will deal with that in more detail in future posts; specifically why, how and what I’m going to be working on this year as ventures (because it is all connects).
For now, it will suffice to say my digital nomad journey and, in a greater sense, my journey to discover what happiness is and how to get more of it in my own life got off to a very rocky start. However, as in all things in life, the difficult, challenging times provide the biggest opportunities for personal growth, the best insights into our own power and resilience, and help most with becoming a better person.
As a result, and because this is both my first post in this series and my January post I’m going to share my goals for the year with you.
- Write something every day – (blog posts or the book I’m working on. Not copy.)
- Become completely debt free & begin the process of buying property
- Explore more of this amazing planet we live on (aka, don’t stay in one place more than three months)
- Find a beautiful, smart, adventurous woman who wants to share this journey of life and travel with me
- Launch a premium marketing agency designed to do one thing only: increase sales for local businesses
- Launch a transformational connection digital nomad event called Nomadpalooza
- Create a course teaching everything I’ve learned about how to be a top tier freelancer and earn real money while traveling the world
- Learn Spanish to a conversational level
January was one of the most…let’s say…full bodied months I’ve experienced for quite some time. Having said goodbye to my Kiwi girlfriend and come home from New Zealand for Christmas at the end of November last year, I was thrust back into my life in Dublin. It was an adjustment, to say the least.
Christmas with the family was lovely. However, as soon as it was over, my feet were itchy to explore again. Shortly after Christmas, my girlfriend and I broke up. We were together for almost a year. That really threw me for a loop because I had been planning to meet her in Ireland in January. Then, we were to travel to Spain together.
Out of respect for her, I’ll limit what I say on the “why” of that. Ultimately (from my perspective), it came down to her not really having any interest in living like a digital nomad, moving around from country to country every two or three months. I believe she didn’t like the idea of living out of a suitcase either (even for just a year or two). She was also uncomfortable with the uncertainty of how she might find her way and make a living, having worked exclusively offline up until then.
So once again, as happened so many times in 2016, my best-laid plans had come to naught. However, all was not lost! I put a lot of time into researching, the weather, Internet situation and cost of living in a LOT of places in Europe. All that research led me a favorite option, which was anywhere in the Canary Islands.
By a fluke of a good chance, a cosmic roll of the dice if you will, I had recently been invited to join a group on Facebook for Irish Digital Nomads by my now housemate, Niall
Work/business was going well. I had more happy, well-paying client’s than ever before through my freelancing endeavors. As a result, it had created a lovely level of stability around my income. I was busy doing a lot of SEO and Inbound Marketing
/Marketing Automation work, as well as some strategic marketing consultation, where my efforts have been directly affecting the results of my clients.
When I left Ireland in 2015, one of my ambitions was to chase the summer season for a while and enjoy more vitamin D than my body was accustomed. So, after speaking on FB to Niall who recommended this co-working and co-living place in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
, I booked a flight. In short, two weeks later I was on my way to start another new chapter of my life.
Single again and filled with mixed emotions about once more leaving my family, who I knew I would miss, and once again exploring somewhere new which I knew would be exciting.
So much has happened since that morning I left Dublin airport. It’s really hard to believe it’s only been two weeks. Right now I’m living in as close to paradise as Europe has to offer in my view. Or at least during the Winter. Daytime average temperatures are 21 – 25 degrees Celsius. I regularly walk the couple of blocks to the beach to just sit and read while soaking up the warm sunshine. The cost of living here is low which means I’m able to bank more cash (and pay back more debt – more on that in another installment) while doing 10 times the amount of social/fun things I was doing while in Dublin or New Zealand.
I’m working as hard or harder than ever but its balanced now with lots of play. I’m also doing Spanish classes.
Highs ‘n lows of the month:
- Spent New Years Eve miserable and missed a big family get together on New Years Day, due to a nasty head cold and sinus infection (aka super vicious dose of manflu)
- Got to hang out with a lot of friends in Ireland before I left again which was great. Some of them I hadn’t seen in literally years because Ireland still exports a lot of her people (bold Ireland!)
- Met an extremely vibrant community of digital nomads here in Las Palmas, some of whom I’m lucky to now consider friends
- Living with people who are all working hard and smart towards similar business goals, which has led to great business, marketing, and life insights. For this I am hugely grateful.
- Sightseeing tour of the middle, mountainy part of the Island and the dunes at Maspalomas
- Begun my journey with gusto to learn Spanish
- Discovered €1 tapas and vino night on Thursday evenings in Veguetta
- Discovered there’s another version of the same thing on Friday evenings in another part of town
- Likely cracked two ribs on my first surfing excursion in a momentary lapse of concentration while the sea was teaching me who’s boss
- Bought an insanely sexy orange bike for better exploration of the city
- Delivered a favorably received talk on a CWC organized pitch night
- Expanded my freelance client base to 5 concurrent long-term contracts (only three really active at any one time). This is testing the limits of what I can get done in a week but I really like the income stability it brings.
- Incepted two new business ideas that are both more scalable and less about money than my current freelancing business
- Completely got on top of the bookkeeping side of my business for the first time in years (98% because of the contribution of effort from my Superstar Operations Manager)
In 2017 so far about 98% of my income has come from freelancing. The other 2% is from existing web design hosting and support contracts. Largely this Lime Canvas percentage is lower than usual because of costs (developer and tax primarily).
I’m currently spending between 20 – 30 hours a week in billable freelancing hours. The rest of the time I spend maintaining Lime Canvas client websites, liaising/delegating to my team of 2 (Design/Development & Operations) and fighting against the onslaught of my Inbox and or Trello.
This year I will launch three new businesses, but I’d rather talk about those in detail as they come online. So, for now, I’ll just briefly mention the first one.
In January I launched the 1st iteration of the Nomadpalooza.com website. It is my hope this event will evolve into the largest transformational annual digital nomad event (and retreat) in the world. If you are a digital nomad or want to become one, sign up for Nomadpalooza announcements and updates here
. This will allow you full details and early bird pricing once we begin to lock things into place.
Interesting Lessons Learned/Take-aways:
Social proof is conversion king.
In a test by one of my roomies, his conversion rate dramatically increased from FB ads traffic. To explain, he simply added a “Join 2,900 other people who love these courses” Facebook widget showing his Facebook page follower count to his page.
The power of social proof is something I’ve been aware of for a long time. In fact, it’s also something I’ve used in as heavy-handed a fashion as possible (I literally don’t think it’s possible to have too much social proof) to help me win new higher paying freelancing clients.
The sea is mightier than the rib. Respect the sea, or it will fuck you up.
When your body has damaged ribs, it prevents you from sneezing, which is probably a seriously important biological safety precaution.
Just beware of pepper…