Hey nomads! It’s always a treat when we get to feature one of our own…and this time around it’s Natalie, a freelance copywriter and editor based out of Dublin, Ireland (but in true nomad fashion, has a move planned for her near future.)
Read on to discover how she’s making her way as a writer on the road, and how her unique travel style has fueled both her adventures and work.
Tell us a bit about yourself. What inspires you to travel?
I always knew I didn’t want to stay in one place all my life. I’m from a small English city, which wasn’t very metropolitan while I was growing up, and has only recently entered the 21st century with things like coffee and the internet. When the time came to go away to university, I moved as far as I felt able—I wanted independence and anonymity. After that, I moved to London, where it’s even easier to hide yourself in the big city.
When the opportunity came up for a move abroad, I seized it. I’ve been living in Ireland since, building my network and working on the sorts of writing projects that allow me to take my work with me wherever I go. I don’t consider myself a nomad in the sense that a lot of people might imagine—that #vanlife thing—I’m not moving from week to week, or even month to month. My career has been built around a series of medium-term moves. For me, it’s the difference between experiencing a place as a tourist, and living there, bedding in, learning about the people and the city.
I’m about to move again, to Bristol. After that, I’m thinking somewhere hot for a few years.
You’ve made a living as a writer. What was the biggest hurdle in finding freelance clients and what did you do to resolve it?
Dublin is quite different from England in that I found considerable importance placed on networks—I think a lot of professionals meet people to do business with in their social spheres, which probably has something to do with the size of the place (Dublin is sometimes humorously referred to as a “big small town.”) I had to work extra hard to build a network – and being from out of town, I was probably at a disadvantage.
Luckily, I met a great group of people who helped me find writing gigs and odd jobs. I had to work hard, but it was totally worth it. I think I was offered opportunities in Ireland that I wouldn’t have had a chance at, working somewhere as competitive as London. And the great thing about Ireland is that it shares a common travel area with the UK—meaning that I can go back and forth between the two! (Thanks to the Good Friday agreement. No thanks to Brexit).
Can you give us a “snapshot” of your work days on the road? How do you balance that with exploring?
I’m crashing with a friend at the moment, so I don’t have more than a (small) carful of stuff with me—just the clothes, shoes and toiletries I need. I get going early, laptop in my rucksack, and work out of the library in the local town, where you can set up all day and not be bothered. I might take a break for lunch and explore. Next weekend, I’ll pack up again and take the ferry across to Wales, then drive to England. I might stop overnight and do some exploring in Wales, but even if I just take a break for a few hours, I’ve become pretty good at setting up an ad hoc workstation in the car! (This Ikea iPad stand is a godsend, and wedges right into the steering wheel for a mobile office.)
If you could work from anywhere in the world (assuming limitless wi-fi and limitless income) where would you live, and why?
I traveled with my partner to Reykjavik for a week in early 2015, and I fell in love with the northern hemisphere life. Although it was dark by 2pm, I loved the days—taking sauna breaks, eating hot dogs and working or studying in cozy cafes, spacious museum lobbies or free galleries. The people were friendly, the capital is big but not too big, there’s fresh fish and cold air and a good welcome. I think my perfect setup would be balancing life somewhere cold with regular trips somewhere warmer—possibly Dubrovnik or northern Spain.
What advice would you give to fellow Nomads hoping to create a career that allows them to travel?
Get good at communicating. Build a network, in several countries if you can. Make yourself a really nice website. Be wise with your money.
And just because you travel to work and work when you travel doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have time off! Whether that’s a day, a week, or just carving out time in each day for yourself. Work at your own pace and don’t let yourself be taken advantage of. Join a union, if you can. Some of them offer legal protection and freelancer’s insurance. Consider investing in those. Don’t get f****d over. Know your rights.
Want to see Natalie’s work? Visit her website here.