Meet Sarah, a digital nomad from Florida, USA, currently living the digital nomad dream in Bali, working with a startup, and taking in the startup scene there.
What are you up to these days?
I’m currently the head of marketing for a remote tech startup. Previously I was doing search engine optimization and building websites. I’m really into my work at the moment and even started a podcast about remote startups.
My hobbies are constantly changing depending on where I am (like Muay Thai in Phuket for example) but, I usually end up back near the water somehow, from sailing to paddle boarding.
How long have you been a digital nomad?
For one year and 10 months. My digital nomad lifestyle has been through several transitional phases, I think the best way to describe it is:
Phase 1: Teaching English Kindergarten in Phuket, Thailand and working on SEO freelance on the side. Traveled to Philippines.
Phase 2: Went to Myanmar and Sri Lanka before I moved to Chiang Mai to tutor ESL (English as a Second Language) part time and get my remote work going full time.
Phase 3: Quit all my tutoring and teaching gigs (sad but necessary) for SEO projects and also working on a remote tech startup.
Phase 4: Moved to Bali to work with our startup team in a co-living co-working space for a month (finally felt like a real digital nomad!)
Phase 5: Started really getting involved in the remote working scene of Bali.
How did you get started with SEO and marketing?
I learned about SEO from my first job which was a remote tech startup, which I ended up being fired from! I had a lot to learn about myself and about working alone.
Honestly, the best advice I can give is don’t give up. Perseverance and grit is a mantra I think of often from watching Angela Duckworth.
I continued to learn about SEO and marketing through online self-education. When I knew it was time to step it up, I went to Chiang Mai to learn from the veteran digital nomad SEO guys out there.
Even though I do marketing consults and don’t do much SEO anymore it taught me how to self-educate and hustle. It’s important to understand that I was never afraid of it being just a stepping stone.
Don’t constrain yourself to one skill or industry, be open to figuring out what works for you.
What tools/apps do you use to help you with working remotely?
Slack, Trello, Toggl, Grammarly. Doodle and Calendly for figuring out timezones. LastPass is my ultimate savior for keeping and sharing passwords.
Mentors and accountability partners are also helpful at times and often keep digital nomad life afloat.
What do you love the most about being a digital nomad?
Visa runs! They don’t have to suck if you make them into a mini vacation.
But really I think the best times turned out to be the best because of who I was with. Meeting up with old friends in new places is the ultimate!
Better yet, meeting up and running into friends and friends of friends.
I met a girl, Alex, in Thailand who had been working in Belgium with my close guy friend from home, Wally the month or so before. Then I saw her again in Myanmar and so we decided to travel to Sri Lanka together.
Now I consider her one of my closest friends and are thinking of business partnerships for the future. Small world moments like that always make my jaw drop.
On the flip side, what’s the saddest/worse thing about being a digital nomad?
I think one of the worst moments I had was some of the growing pains with becoming a digital nomad.
A lot of transitions means a lot of change which isn’t always easy. I remember crying when I had to change gigs at one point because I was SO overwhelmed by all the change in friends, relationships, houses, locations, etc.
But my advice is to keep calm and travel on.
Did you run into any safety issues while traveling?
Only a few times. One was me just being paranoid thinking a taxi driver was kidnapping me because he kicked me out in the middle of the highway to get into a different car.
Really he was just ripping me off to not get to my final destination and get into a different cab. Language barriers always makes things tricky.
Travel issues as a women usually involve getting exceptionally ripped off when male service folks think they can get away with harassing and hassling. So they can get money, time and conversation out of you.
Don’t cave. Be strong with what you want and what you are willing to put up with.
What would be your advice to an aspiring digital nomad?
Just do it. Take the leap. You will realize it wasn’t actually as much of a leap as your mind led you to believe.