How to Become a Successful Online Freelancer While Touring the World

George J. Ziogas

Have laptop will travel

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“Have Gun — Will Travel” was the title of a 1960s TV series and also the strapline of the main character, a freelance mercenary gunfighter named Paladin. Today, very different kinds of freelancers offer a multitude of services and many travel the world while doing it. These ones, however, carry laptops, not six guns.

Their services include writing, web designing, digital marketing, programming, graphic design, traditional artwork, photography, online training, and medical advice, to name just some. They choose this kind of work because they can do it anywhere and because they love traveling. Not surprisingly, most favor sunny places with low living costs.

Successful freelancers are smart, motivated people and are well aware of their skills as well as their limitations. So, if they encounter lucrative work that appeals to them, but requires specific skills they don’t yet have, they acquire them quickly online. 

Most people don’t realize the amount of learning resources that are available on the internet, much of it free. Acquiring new skills may mean studying part-time while working, or putting off paid work for a while and devoting all available hours to study. Either way, it’s time well spent when the rewards are big.

Beginning the process is challenging and it raises many questions. Apart from “Am I crazy?” the most common three questions would-be freelancers ask are: “Do I have any skill I can sell online?” “How will I drum up clients?” “Will I earn enough to live on?”

To answer the first question, potential freelancers need to rack their brains, identify all their skills, and list them. That seems obvious, but most people are surprised that those lists often produce skills they’d forgotten they had or had taken for granted and certainly never associated with making money. Here are some examples.

Many people are good amateur artists and with a little application and practice could become online portrait artists. Drawing good portraits from photos provided by customers is big business for freelancers. Better still, if they’re good caricaturists, then they could make even more money, as these are especially in high demand online. Similarly, many people are reasonable, but not yet professional writers. With a little effort and practice, they could hone their skills and produce articles for online clients.

Providing online advice and assistance is another area where freelancers are in demand. For a fee, those with the necessary knowledge offer advice on a wide range of subjects including, autos, computers, food, restaurants, internet, home appliances, holidays, travel, accommodation, sport, health, pets, tools, DIY, interior design.

At the more specialized and generally more lucrative end of freelancing are highly-qualified online professionals. These freelancers rarely deal directly with the general public, but sell their services to companies. 

These professionals include accountants, tax advisers, lawyers, project managers, marketing consultants, and technical writers. And in the medical field, nurses, doctors, pharmacists and radiologists. The clients of freelance online medical experts are generally hospitals, big medical practices, and health insurers. In short, the demand for online services at every level is huge.

The answers to the second and third questions: “How will I drum up clients?” and “Will I earn enough to live on” are more complex. Before taking bold steps like quitting an existing “normal” job, successful freelancers usually spend many months researching the online marketplace and test it by offering their services on as many freelance sites as possible. 

An internet search will unearth many of those sites, and users’ and other freelancers’ reviews and comments will give a good indication as to how those sites operate and which ones best match the prospective freelancer’s skills and preferences.

Only when they’re satisfied that a viable market exists for their specific skills and that they can earn enough do they consider quitting their job. So, when they finally take the plunge, they already have an established client base and ongoing work.

Not all freelancers have an insatiable wanderlust. Some prefer to stay put, work from home, and travel only for vacations. They freelance to be their own boss and have more control over their lives, but for those who want to combine being their own boss with the freedom to travel where and whenever they like, online freelancing is the ideal way to do it. You might say that for those intrepid explorers their laptop gives them wings.

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