It’s the end of October. Which means it’s been almost three years since I found myself in a mouldy room in London. With a leaking ceiling. Without functioning heat. Wondering whether “this” was what freelancing was about: insecurity, shitty projects, lots of struggles. Just the memory of it gives me goosebumps.
Those who know me personally know how much I loved the job at Somewhere I had before. Going freelance was something that while it made sense at the time, wasn’t anything I was planning on doing. I needed to be location independent and had no other option. I had to learn to deal with the situation and do so quickly.
Over time, I have learned that sometimes, we need to fall deep to pick ourselves up in a whole new glory.
My way out of that mess and how I was feeling then was the first book. A book I conceptualized, produced, and financed within three months. I had the idea because I needed to learn how to freelance myself, and the insights of the women were so cool, I thought I should share them, so I did.
It actually still baffles me how many people wrote me after they read the book about how much it made their year different. How it encouraged them to make a leap and go freelance.
Given for the past three years around this time, I was mostly at home interviewing people, transcribing their interviews, editing, or writing, I’m now wondering if I should do it again. Or if I should do something different. I’m also thinking about ways to make it something more.
When looking at the numbers, none of the books were financially feasible. At least not directly. Each one helped me produce the next one, and with each, I still took a personal loss. It’s not even what I would have paid everyone who worked on the books what I believe they deserved for their excellent work. Most certainly, without the three Kickstarter campaigns I ran, none of the books would have been realized. To this day, the biggest benefit I got from writing these books was the feedback I received from the ones amongst you who felt encouraged to create and do so in self-initiative.
I’ve conducted a little questionnaire. It’s for me to learn about your needs and wants. Given it’s Christmas soon and you have probably already heard “Last Christmas” at least once, I’ve decided to raffle five books amongst those who fill out the questionnaire:
Click here to view survey
Thank you for your help,
As you might have already seen, the campaign to fund Work Trips and Road Trips has been incredibly slow and we’ve only reached 58% with just one week left. Kickstarter is All Or Nothing, which means I’ll only receive the funds if the project hits 100% of its goal before the 4th of March.
It’s been a crazy month. I've written a ton of guest blog posts and the project has been featured all over the internet. (Literally! Scroll down to read some of the posts.) Many of you have shared a link to this campaign too. Something I’m incredibly grateful for!
Nevertheless, the closer this project comes to an end, the more obvious it is to me that I need a plan B to get Work Trips And Road Trips funded to pay the team.
There have been obstacles from the beginning. I first tried to launch this project at the end of my Creative Mornings talk on how plan B is always better. Oh the irony! After failing to go live due to a bug on the Kickstarter website, my plan B that day was to launch after the talk, on a Friday afternoon. Note to self: you should never launch a Kickstarter project on a Friday, especially not in the afternoon.
When I woke up at 5am this morning and scrolled through my Facebook feed (it’s literally impossible to sleep longer than that when you have a project live. It’s pure adrenaline!), I came across this New York Times article, that explains how Trump has taken over the internet and become probably more talked-about than anyone else on this planet, and how it’s impossible to notice anything that’s not Trump-related (like this project).
As Britain struggles with a weak Pound and with the US reevaluating life under Trump, I feel like it's time to share my plan B with you to make this project happen after all.
Ok, so what is my plan B? My plan B is to offer you help with revamping your website. (We'll most likely build one from scratch!) ... and yes, please spread the word about this offer!
I can restructure your content and create a site map that best represents you or your company. I can help you gather references about your work and can also help you write the copy. If you’re a visual designer, I can also consult you on how to generate a scalable (others would call this passive) income with your creations. If you choose to create your website with Squarespace, we can basically build the entire site together.
I'm not a designer. You should know. Squarespace sites are mostly photo-based and you don’t need any sort of programming skills. I have, for example, built my own website in about a week while doing all sorts of other things. If you’d like my help, I’ve included a €1,000 package here on my Kickstarter page. I’d love to work with you!
Alright! Let’s get this project funded and let’s get you a shiny, new website!
PS: If you have any sorts of concerns and want to jump on a Skype call before you decide to back the reward to have me help you with your website, email email@example.com
PPS: This project has been featured on Design Taxi, Femtastics, This is Jane Wayne, Berlin Loves You, Vinazine, The Startup Valley, and in the Matriarch newsletter. There will be a few more guest posts going live. I’ve written one for the Travelettes blog (about how to plan for a vacation as a freelancer), a post for Creative Boom (about how to prepare to go nomadic) and even Sherpa (you should try it!), the new travel app will feature the book in the newsletter next week.
Every time I run a Kickstarter, I ask my editor to write a note to share with you. It's the first time I get feedback on the content and so as you can imagine I'm incredibly nervous and simultaneously also very curious to know what she has to say. Diana's words made me cry.. I felt relieved and grateful.. Here is what she said:
This book couldn’t be more opposite of my current lifestyle. However, with that being said, it’s also my favorite project to date.
Although I have that nine-to-five job and that steady paycheck, making my lifestyle the complete opposite from these women, I still found it incredibly inspiring and relatable. These interviews aren’t just badass, but they’re practical. These women aren’t preaching for people to up and quit their jobs (unless you’re truly unhappy and unfulfilled) and book a plane ticket on a whim. Some are cautious and careful, like me. Some are more introverted, like me. And some think ahead, plan in advance, look at their budget and responsibilities, and plan trips to work towards, exactly like I would.
It’s refreshing to see women with varying personalities and mindsets live a life of location independency, even if I don’t think it’s for me. The part about taking extended trips, that’s for me. It makes it more relatable for any reader that even if you’re not the type to completely go without a homebase, there’s still a way for you to work and travel, or take long vacations. Not every woman is the same, and that’s what makes this book so special, honest, and real.
It’s in our human nature to seek similarities in the relationships we make. We love to find people we can relate to. Personally, there were two women that completely resonated with me, so they were my favorite interviews to read and edit: Vanessa and Becky. Vanessa is similar to me on a professional basis because we’re both writers. Copywriters, more specifically. I copywrite full-time for a fashion company, so my mind was whirling reading her story about what my next steps could be. It was exciting as it was informative.
Becky, on the other hand, was relatable on a personal basis because I’ve been in her shoes before. She quit her job to spend more time with her mother who was suffering from terminal cancer. She put her relationships before her work. I preach to that same choir. At one point, I was unemployed and living at home because I was focusing my energy on being a full-time caretaker for my yia yia who was suffering from dementia. That was my priority, not making money. There’s always time for that. There’s not always time for being with the people you love, especially when they need you the most.
Work Trips and Road Trips isn’t this picture-perfect book that preaches how being location independent is better than your lifestyle. (And be warned, some women even talk about the downsides to their lifestyles that others need to be prepared for before they go location independent.) Like I mentioned before, it’s honest and it’s real. Plus, it’s just flat out cool. There’s something everyone can relate to and resonate with, even if you’re like me and have a daily routine. And although I wish I could take extended vacations, I’m just not realistically in a position to do so...yet. But, it got the wheels in my brain turning, which is the whole point anyway, right?
I wish I could give so much away because this book truly is wonderful on a lot of levels, even if you’re not a freelancer and simply want to hear amazing stories. If anything, read it to feel empowered that anything is always possible.
Please help us spread the word: we're two weeks in and we're only at 41%. There are still two weeks to go but we need your help. So please tell all your curious, restless and adventure-seeking friends about this project! Thank you!
Whenever I look for someone to work with on projects, I look for someone with the right attitude. I don’t care much if the person I want to work with has never done what I need done before. What I care about is if they care about the project and aren’t afraid to try things out. I care to find someone who has a style and is cheerful to take on any challenge.
When looking for a designer for Work Trips and Road Trips, I looked at many different portfolios and saw some amazing work, and if I could have, I would have hired every single one of the designers that applied. (Which, of course, wasn’t possible.) One thing I had in my mind was that given the books come as a series, I needed to look for someone who has a style, but who can also live up to Diana Ovezea's style and the direction she created when designing This Year Will Be Different.
And luckily, I found Chris.
Whenever I work with designers, I usually give them a briefing to browse the books people share on Instagram because that’s where you can learn to understand what type of covers catch people’s attention.
These are the ones Chris found that she felt inspired by...Great titles, right?!
Then, she created mood boards to better understand the colors we could potentially work with...
…and last but not least, she sent over a selection of covers that we’d love to hear your opinion about. This is where you get to have some input! What do you think about the colors? What do you think about the different styles? Do you have a preference? Tell us what you think!
I cannot wait to read your comments! <3
PS: I have updated the description of this project. Please share the link with the friends who you know might be interested. We have a long way to go! <3
I always believe that it’s actually hard to run a Kickstarter project for a book because you don't have a lot of pages carefully edited by the time you go live. Also, there is so much text all over the internet, having more text isn't the most eye catching thing on the planet, especially if you want people to pitch in some coins for you to finalize such an extensive project, such as writing a book.
When I was working on This Year Will Be Different, I hired an illustrator because I once bought a book that I hated, but simultaneously also loved because it was so pretty. I hired an illustrator because I was, and I guess I am to this day, very nervous about my work.
Back then and even today, I thought that if people don’t enjoy my words, they might at least cherish the prettiness of the book(s)…Now, I absolutely love that each and every book has been carefully beautified, and I love even more that two of the three books have been carefully beautified by the wonderful Ewelina Dymek. I simply love, love, love her work!
I wanted to share the wonderful illustrations with you. I simply love them and I’m excited we were able to add a little learning to each of them. I guess it will give you some sense of what you’ll read about. Also, please let me know in the comments which interview you’d want to read next. I’ll make sure to share one more with you before this campaign’s over!
For more images click here.
I wanted to take some time to shed light on all the people I consider my team. If I’d have more time during this Kickstarter madness, I’d probably want to draw a (big) family tree to capture the greatness of this venture. Given the occasion and the book title, I’d probably draw a palm tree.
I’d start with drawing Diana, Ewe, Christiane, and Sarah, then I’d draw the faces of everyone who decided to help make this book a reality. I’d draw the faces of the women I featured, I’d draw the faces of the journalists and bloggers who were kind enough to write about this book, and I’d draw the faces of the people who helped us spread the news about this project on social media. Then, I’d most definitely draw the faces of all of you, dear backers. 121, and counting!
For now, I won’t draw a tree. Not yet, anyway. :) But I’ll tell you a bit more about the team that I’ve gathered to make this idea come to life.
Please meet the wonderful...
Diana, who has edited all three books. I found her – believe it or not – on Elance. I was desperately looking for someone who’d have time to start editing immediately, and she was trying to shift careers from teaching to editing. As we all know, it’s hard to break into a field and after her initial, overly-emotional email, we decided to Skype. It was a love at first sight, so to say, because it was one of the most cheerful Skype calls of my life. Now, we actually Skype a lot, and each and every Skype call is an event worth creating A Life Event reminder to post on Facebook.
Ewe is my trusted soul who made this book an eye candy. I found Ewe on Behance when I was looking for an illustrator for This Year Will Be Different. I really wanted to work with her again, so I asked her to create the visuals for Work Trips and Road Trips. However, with this assignment, I asked her to do something she’s never done before. I really wanted to work on another project with her, but then again, I really didn’t want to have the same style of illustrations in two books. When I saw her first drafts, I wasn’t too sure it was such a good idea to ask her to work on something that was most likely out of her comfort zone, but with the second and third batches of collages, she really got me! All l I can say now is just: WOW!
A lady that not even our loyal #SMARTCREATIVES know is Christiane. She found me through the Austrian business network for women, Sorority. We talked about where she’s at in her freelance career, and as it usually goes, as it also was with Diana, I like to work with people on projects that ponder about the sort of questions I’m addressing in the projects themselves. So here you go, soon you’ll get to see Christiane’s designs for Work Trips and Road Trips. She’s the one making sure the fonts are big enough and the cover is catchy!
Of course, I have another secret ace in my sleeve. It’s not just the four of us working on this project. I also have my dear friend Sarah, who is, at least in my opinion, the most patient person I know. She’s the one who’s shot the last two Kickstarter videos with me and also both of my Skillshare classes. I get incredibly nervous in front of the camera, so I need someone on my side who doesn’t lose it when it takes 1.5 hours to get 2.5 minutes of video footage. When Sarah and I met, we’d have never thought we’d one day do these sort of things together. We were both working at a strategic consultancy and happened to share a side of the table at the company where we worked.
Let me tell you one thing: if you find people you really enjoy working with, be nice to them and keep them close!
Now, the team isn’t just us and with my future plans for this little endeavour of mine, it’s also going to be you! (I’ll share more details soon.) For now, please take the chance and introduce yourself in the comments. Tell us who you are, where you’re from, and what sort of project you’re working on that you’ve self-initiated and want the entire world know about. And in case you don’t have such a project just yet, tell us what skills you have so that people who initiate projects could find you. I can’t wait to read your comments!
Ok.. this might be the longest Kickstarter update I've ever written.. but if you really want to have the full story, here it is.. :)
Whenever I work on a book, I try to conduct the interviews in a way that feels as if you’d be having coffee with a friend. As if you’d be sitting at a table with someone you know and trust, having the opportunity to ask them the sort of questions you’re most curious about.
As freelancing in the creative industries is a rather new trend, it might be that you don’t have such a wide network of trusted freelancers that you could ask what you’re most curious about.
When interviewing for Work Trips and Road Trips I asked about everyone’s background. I asked about the setup of everyone’s business. I asked about everyone's relationship to travel, about their time management, and, of course, about budgeting and finances. I wanted to make the interviews inspirational and simultaneously practical.
When I first started researching who to interview for this book, the first two names I wrote down were Kaitlyn Reed and Natalie Howard. I met Kaitlyn through her boyfriend who was an active member of Somewhere.com, of which I was the community manager. Taylor and Kaitlyn have been living on Airbnb for more than four years, which you can read more about on Airbnb’s blog (and soon and in more detail in #WTART).
Natalie, another Airbnb story, was staying with my dear friends, Christian and Sarah, when I was also staying at their apartment in Berlin. As coincidences go, we were both heading to DNX, the Digital Nomad Conference. While talking to Natalie, I realized she might be one of the smartest gals I’ve ever met. And so, here you go, I knew she must be a part of this book!
Then, I knew I’d also like to talk to Liz Wellington who I met online while writing My Creative (Side) Business. The incredible Emma Gannon mentioned Liz’s article in her newsletter (that you should subscribe to: http://eepurl.com/cokDqr) and I couldn’t help myself, but had to disagree with Liz’s arguments. Apparently (and luckily), you can become friends with someone you disagree with on the internet, which I think is pretty cool!
Anyway, I knew I wanted to talk to Liz because she’s incredibly reflected and has very witty thoughts about a lot of things, as you’ll soon read.
But it’s not that I just meet people online. There are also people I’ve met in real life. Like Theresa Lachner, a sex blogger and an experienced digital nomad, who – even though she runs a blog – manages to go completely undercover and offline for several weeks, was once sitting at a table next to me. She’s a mutual friend of Tim Chimoy, one of the first digital nomads from Germany.
Another person that immediately came to my mind when I was thinking about who to interview was my friend Michele, a photographer. I met her in the door of a book store and because we’ve known of each other for awhile, we started chatting and it led to five years of friendship and counting. What I find fascinating about Michele is that she has a dog and still manages to travel regularly.
I was also damn lucky when I met Dani Bradford at the 99U conference in New York last year. We both signed up for Ryan Holiday’s master class and ended up chatting before the talk. Dani has worked for National Geographic and – let’s be honest – if someone tells you they’ve worked for National Geographic, you pretty much want to talk to them. So there you go, that’s why you’ll read more about Dani! Consider me a fangirl of this power woman!
Then, there is Vanessa Bruckner. One day, I received a message on Facebook from our mutual friend Cristiana Ventura (you might remember her story from This Year Will Be Different). She met Vanessa in Bali and because Vanessa and I are both from Vienna, Cris decided we had to meet! We did and now, here you go, Vanessa is a part of this upcoming book.
But it’s not that I knew everyone in person before I interviewed them. There were quite a few that I looked for online. I contacted Benson from WorkHardAnywhere.com and asked him for referrals. He said I should definitely talk to Yasmine Akermark, the founder of GoTibba.com, and Stephanie Danforth, a freelance graphic designer. He sent me reference articles and I knew he was right! I contacted them right away.
Then, I also sent a message to Marc Weldon, who participated in the Remote Year. I asked him whether he had an illustrator in his group that he could connect me to and that’s how I met Lauren Hom! LUCKY ME!
I also really wanted to have someone who did something with food, so I sent a message to Joe Serra Jr., whose project I supported on Kickstarter, and within minutes, he said I had to talk to Yana Gilbuena. I contacted her on Instagram after she hadn’t responded to my email for several weeks and this is how we got to chat!
When I first met Kayleigh Owen, a digital project manager from London, we were both in a really difficult place. I pulled myself out by writing This Year Will Be Different; she pulled herself out of her hole by cutting back her spendings and going on an eight month long journey to work with charities.
Then, there is Becky Burton who I met through our mutual friend Joshua Black. Josh supported This Year Will Be Different on Kickstarter and he gave the book to Becky during her farewell dinner. I don’t really know how it started. Becky quit her job in New York to move back home to take care of her mother who was diagnosed with terminal cancer, she she had to make freelancing work to be able to spend more time with her family. I only met Becky months after I interviewed her, so when I edited Becky's interview and sent it to her for approval, she more or less changed all of it. Most certainly for the better, as it made me cry!
You’ll realize that Becky's a really good writer and you’ll probably want to order one of her books on Amazon immediately after you’ve read her thoughtful words.
Having talked to Becky and Kayleigh about their very social intentions when they decided to shift priorities to make space for their personal lives, I knew I also had to talk to Jule Müller, who cut back on work to help refugees when they first arrived in Germany. As practical as her interview is, it’s also extraordinarily moving.
Last but not least, there is Laura Karasinski. Laura is an extraordinarily talented designer that’s cutting back on work to be able to explore the world. She was the last one I talked to when compiling this book. With her, I mostly talked about the concept of “enough” and when to say “no” to a client when you get more requests than you can or want to handle. She’s, quite frankly, incredible and on top of everything else, she also sleeps ten hours a night!
I tried to talk to women who work in different fields. I talked to an event planner, an illustrator, a brand consultant, a photographer, and some other fields from within the creative industries.
When I work on these books and once I finish editing these interviews, I start thinking about the storyline for the book. And so, I’m currently writing the articles that will accompany the wise words of the women I introduced you to above.
As of now, and while the interviews are done, I’m still writing my parts, so if you have ideas for the book, don’t hesitate to contact me! I’d love to hear your thoughts and reminders on what I shouldn’t forget to address in my writing.
See the Kickstarter page here.